05-Mar-2007 -- Continued from 25N 21E.
The confluence point 25N 14E is easily accessible from al-Qaṭrūn. Here you can smell the air of ancient days when caravans, mostly consisting of slaves, passed through. Also most of the famous German Africa explorers like Barth, Nachtigal, Rohlfs, and Vogel left their footprints here on their dangerous way south to Lake Chad.
Even today this small dusty town is a gateway to the North. Still some camel caravans end their long trip through the desert here, but the more usual sight are overloaded 6x6 Mercedes trucks with people sitting on top seeking their luck in the rich country of Libya or even in Europe. The historic Italian fort in the centre on a small hill has been well restored and is converted to a campsite. The hospitable manager, whose forefathers came from Niger, is happy to meet tourists and share a cup of sweet Tuareg tea with them.
For us al-Qaṭrūn was the starting point for the crossing of the Murzuq Sand Sea from East to West, a 280-km trip along the 25th parallel ending in the Akākus Mountains another 150 km further west. The Idhān Murzuq has the largest dunes in Libya in its north-western part, up to 200 meters high. Here in the south-eastern part the sand is flat but soft, so immediately behind the last buildings we were forced to reduce the tyre pressure radically.
We passed the night between the first low profiled dunes and after little more than one hour driving time from al-Qaṭrūn we arrived at the confluence point, were the landscape still consisted of low dune cordons.
The next one 25N 13E should require considerably more effort to get there...