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Tibesti Mountains, Sahara Desert, Chad

Tibesti, also called Tibesti Massif, or Tibesti Mountains, are the largest and highest range in the Sahara. Tibesti Mountains are a volcanic group of inactive volcanoes with one potentially active volcano in the central Sahara desert in the Bourkou-Ennedi-Tibesti Region of northern Chad. The highest peak in the range is Emi Koussi (11,204 ft./ 3415 m).

In northwestern Chad, the mountains extend into Northeastern Niger and Southern Libya. The formation is about 300 miles (480 km) long and up to 175 miles (280 km) wide. The temperatures vary tremendously here, and in a single day at 8,000 feet, it can be 20 degrees Fahrenheit before dawn, yet reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit at midday.

The range is characterized by huge walls of black volcanic rock that have been dramatically carved by erosion. Numerous volcanic spires surround the main peaks. The mountains are formed of eruptive rocks that forced their way through a substratum of crystalline rocks covered by sandstone; the sandstone scarp rises steeply.

Tibesti Mountains is home of the fierce Toubou tribe, this astonishing region of chasms and crags has seldom been seen by non-Muslims and remains closed to travelers. The inhabitants are distantly related to the Tuareg of the Western Sahara, and were made famous by Herodotus as the ‘Troglodytes’, stocky but immensely agile cave-dwellers.

There are a number of wildlife species in the Tibesti Mountains like the 50 endangered Painted Hunting Dogs, and other carnivorous species. Hiking and climbing is one of the famous activity here, but sometimes the extremely dry climate and variable temperatures can be serious challenges.

Besides the hiking and climbing a popular tourist attraction in the area is a three-mile-wide, 2400-foot deep crater filled with blinding white salt. The range is said to be home to the best racing camels in the world. The mountains are known for their ancient cave paintings, mostly dating from the 5th to the 3rd millennium BC, and for the geysers and hot springs around Soboroum.