The Air and Tenere natural reserves are considered to be the greatest secured area of Africa which covers the land of approximately 77,000 square kilometres (twice bigger than the area of Switzerland) blanketing the wide swathe of semi-desert and desert area on the boundary of Sahara desert in Niger (West Africa). The desert landscape is absolutely splendid and is alluring an increasing number of international tourists and you can too be-dazzled by its bewitching beauty once you take cheap flights to Niger and observe this natural area of a unique charm.
Basically, it comprises the volcanic rocky mass of the Air Mountains, flora and fauna of Tenere and Sahelian islet which has a unique climate. The area was included in the list of World Heritage Site in 1991. Two-fifth of the whole area is situated in the north-eastern side of the Air Mountains and the remaining in the western side of Tenere du Tafassasset desert. Towards the northern side from the middle of the reserve in the foothills of Tenere, there lies the Sanctuaire des Addax which covers the sixth of the total land.
This gigantic stony mass is antiquated, extremely eroded plateau-effected by high heat and pressure and is marked by a series of smooth-topped mountains whose domains are from northern to the southern side. The reserve includes Goundai, Agueraguer, Taghmert, Cherries, Tamgak, Greboun, Fadei and Adrar Bous,-all of them are granite encroachments except for the largest massif of Takaloukouzet. Besides, the extinct crater of Arakao and one of the greatest intrusive-igneous bodies of the world is also located here. Other striking features are the white-marble cliffs located in the lower area of Zagado Valley and the crystalline-metamorphic blue mountains of Izouzaoene located in the Sanctuary.
The area is well-known as the home of a variety of fauna. Almost 40 distinctive breeds of mammals, approximately 18 reptiles, 1 amphibian and around 165 birds are seen here. Outside Antarctica, this area is the only one in the world without fish. The place provides habitat to both the Sahelian and Saharan species, where many Saharan breeds can live without water but a large number of them can be found near Takaloukouzet and Tamgak massifs which has abundant water-reserves.
The Air harbour possesses almost 170 dama gazelle, 3,500 Barbary sheep and 12,000 dorcas gazelle. About 70 percent population of the Niger sheep is living here and dorcas gazelle have also increased their number due to the formation of the reserve. Some large carnivores such as wild dogs and lion panther disappeared a century ago because of hunting and now some 20 Cheetahs, a little number of Stripped Hyenas and Feral Donkeys are found here. Apart from them, you will also be able to watch some mammals like Olive Baboons and Patas monkeys.
The Air has its history dating back to almost 30,000 years so this area has an outstanding Neolithic and Palaeolithic significance featuring grindstones, mortars, axe-heads and arrow-heads. You will be mesmerized to see the early Islamic tombs in Tenere where the oldest house belongs to the 11th century. The area is easily approachable both with the airstrip and vehicles and for some enthusiastic travellers they offer you donkey and camel rides. Undoubtedly you will love to visit the fascinating natural reserves of Air and Tenere.