With the desert boasting some of the Sahara’s most beautiful dunes, the stark splendour of the Aïr Mountains & Ténéré Desert being one of West Africa’s most spectacular sights, and the intriguing, ancient trans-Saharan trade-route towns of Agadez and Zinder playing home to magnificent mazes of mudbrick architecture and fascinating locals, the international appeal of Niger as a destination is undeniable.
Odd then, that friends often ask prospective travellers ‘Why Niger?’. Press regarding Niger’s problems with localised food shortages dominates headlines and paints the entire nation in the same poor light. Some news reports would have you believe that locusts and drought regularly destroy Niger’s entire food supply. Niger is undoubtedly one of the world’s poorest countries, but taking your tourist dollars elsewhere only exacerbates the problem.
The lucky ones who do visit will witness enduring physical beauty and meet a vibrant mix of people, some of the planet’s most stoic and resilient citizens. Whether you squeeze into bush taxis with locals and travel between colourful villages, slide into a 4WD and tackle the Ténéré or lope into the Aïr aboard a camel, you’ll never forget your time in Niger.
Best places to stay in Niger
West Africa travel guide
West Africa has cachet and soul. Home to African landscapes of our imaginations and inhabited by an astonishing diversity of traditional peoples, this is Africa as it once was.
Cure Salée (Salt Cure) - world's best festivals
'1997 #277-16A Agadez hotel' by Dan Lundberg. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Location: Teguidda-n-Tessoumt, In-Gall, Niger Dates: a week in the first half of September Level of participation: 3 - make an extreme journey to the deepest Sahara to watch a beauty contest.
Niger destination guides
Desert of dreams: experiencing the Sahara
A fount of solitude and the desert of childhood imaginings, the Sahara Desert is like nowhere else on earth. It is the world’s largest desert, at once continental in its scale and exquisite in its detail, from a sand sea the size of a small European country to an orange sand dune sculpted to perfection by the wind.
West Africa: travel books to read before you go
This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s West Africa guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip. The following inspirational titles all range across more than one West African country. For travel literature about individual countries, please see the Directory section of each country chapter.