is the true Sahara with extensive sand seas (erg or edeyen or egede), rocky plateaux (reg or hamada or sarir), wadis and oases. Fazzan is the land of the Tuareg. It shares its landscapes, habitats, fauna and people with southern Algeria and northern Niger.

Fazzan stricto sensu is centred on the Edeyen Murzuq, the present depocentre of the Murzuq Basin. To the NW is the crescent-shape Messak, an extensive outcrop of the Cretaceous Nubian sandstones. Its escarpment to the West and NW culminates 300 m over the gravel plains and further, the Edeyen Awbari and Egede Wa-n-Kaza. The hamada dips about 2 towards the Edeyen Murzuq under which it vanishes. It is incised by canyons (wadis) and passes (tehi). The largest one, Tehi-n-Tilemsin, separates Messak Sattafet (black) from Messak Mellet (white). Along the wadis, prehistoric engravings among the finest in the Sahara are found.
West of the Egede Wa-n-Kaza lies the scenic Akakus range, famous for its cave paintings and erosional features in the Devonian Sandstones (arches and tassilis). Wide and rather green wadis flow toward the East. Wadi Tanezzuft, which runs across the cities of Al Barkat and Ghat separates the Akakus from the Tassili, which is mostly Algerian. North of the Edeyen Awbari is the Jabal Hasawnah (or Gargaf), a dry rocky place, not as rich as Messak and Akakus for both Environment and Archaeology.
To the SE, the Edeyen Murzuq is bounded by the extension of the Tibesti. Eastwards, important volcanic centres (Haruj al Aswad, Waw al Kebir and Waw an Namous, mark the limit with the Kufrah Region and Libyan Desert. JCR did not visit these regions, and no recent collecting is known.
The sand seas are very dry, with a rare flora of annual plants, of which the seeds germinate shortly after each rainfall. A small associated entomofauna is observed in such case. The only green spot with permanent vegetation are located around the salty Awbari lakes and where the mouth of the mountain wadis reaches the sands.

Depicted habitats:

Awbari lakes

Sand dunes habitats: ergs

Regs and dhayas: the Messak

Wadis in Messak

Green wadis in Titersin and Tassili

See "slide shows" for more images
(Akakus, Edeyen, Messak)


... Rock art, recent fossils and human artefact tell about wetter more hospitable periods. During the latest, about 6000 years ago, the area was rather similar to present day Kenya, with elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros and all the fauna of the African savannahs. Along the wadis, a remnant of these environments survives with Acacia and a relict fauna including for the Mammals, the Dorcas Gazelle, and insects like Macrotoma palmata (Cerambycidae) and Sterapis (Buprestidae), typical of the Sudano-Ethiopian fauna.

Nowadays, Fazzan receives scarce and irregular rain full. Still rather abundant near Algeria, the climate quickly gets dryer going east. In Messak, the last very important rainfall with generalised wadi floods happened in 1993. Since then most of the wadis have probably not received more than a shower every 3-5 years. Hence, in many wadis, particularly in their upper course, thorn trees are dying with the help of numerous wood borers. Althought very dry, this area is richer in Buprestids and Cerambycids than the wadis of the Tassili and the Akakus.