Set in the Sahara Desert, 30 kilometers outside Timbuktu is the world's most remote festival. The M&G's Lisa Skinner and Lloyd Gedye took the bumpy ride.
The Festival in the Desert’s origins lie in the traditional annual gatherings of the nomadic Tuareg tribes of the Sahara, who gather at the end of the nomadic season to trade, settle disputes and share their music and dance. Following the peace treaty signed between the Tuareg rebels and The Malian government in the late 90s, many Tuareg soldiers turned to a life of music. In 2001, Festival director Manny Ansar decided to arrange a music festival held north of Timbuktu in the Sahara Desert. Since then the festival has grown from strength to strength, hosting 10 000 guests in 2008. The Festival in the Desert has become a Mecca of sorts for world music fans who are dedicated enough to travel into the Sahara Desert. As the festival MC would announce tin 2009, “Welcome to the Festival in the desert, welcome to the middle of nowhere!”