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A wide river and a huge impenetrable desert

date of entry 08/12/1990
mileage 53,593

capital Niamey

area 1.267.000 km²

population 17.129.076

GDP 4,174 Bill. US-Dollar

official language French

When the Holtorfs visited Niger in the early 1990s, it was a relatively safe country for travellers. Anyone who reached Niger from the Sahara had arrived in southern Africa. Today the country on the upper reaches of the eponymous river is more troubled. The risk of attack and kidnapping makes extended tours currently almost impossible. The desert regions in the north in particular are virtually off limits for travellers.
  • Using a towrope Gunther Holtorf quickly managed to set the vehicle upright again. The front axle was damaged though and first had to be mended.
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  • The country is named after the wide Niger River. It is West Africa's lifeline.
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  • It means fertile land for farming, an opportunity for fishing and a transport route that can be used year-round.
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  • Farmers sold their produce at small markets along the river during the visit at the end of 1990.
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  • The female traders wore the brightly-coloured clothing that is typical of western Africa.
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  • At the mouth of the river traders waited for their goods to be transported.
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  • Otto was stopped by a herd of goats out in the countryside. Interested locals immediately gathered around Gunther Holtorf, who took photos.
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  • Artistically plaited pigtails decorated the heads of young girls.
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  • They were the result of a painstaking plaiting process.
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  • Women carrying traditional baskets on their head
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  • Two small trees in the savannah had to suffice for the night camp. The two other ends of the hammocks were supported by Otto’s roof rack.
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  • Clay buildings for grain storage
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  • In northern Niger the fertile landscape slowly gives way to desert
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  • More and more frequently the Holtorfs encountered nomads with their camels
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  • They trekked through the barren landscape with their undemanding animals, covering long distances
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  • In the desert Otto came across a brother: another Mercedes G-Class, also from Germany. They travelled together for a while. Once, however, the driver turned the vehicle with its short wheelbase onto its side.
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  • Video: Niger – Otto’s great thirst