A Series in which Michael Palin explores nine fascinating countries and their cultures during a trek across the Sahara Desert.
Michael lands at Tangier in Morocco after crossing the Straits of Gibraltar, and passes through the High Atlas mountains after brief stops in Fez and Marrakesh. From here, the Sahawari people help him to negotiate the harsh, rugged terrain and guide him south to the Mauritanian border.
Michael arrives at the border of Niger and Algeria, the most desolate crossing, and then turning north Michael passes through the mountains of the Hoggar massif before pausing in the oil and gas fields of central Algeria. Then onto Libya to attend the very last reunion of the Desert Rats of Tobruk, before turning west along the North Coast past deserted classical sites at Apollonia, Cyrene and Leptis Magna.
Michael reaches Timbuktu along with a camel train carrying the giant salt blocks that made the city one of the greatest centres of Islamic learning up until the 16th century. He wanders through the rubble that is 21st century Timbuktu to find the Imam who shows him original astronomical textbooks that predate Galileo's discoveries by 200 years.
After a brief stopover in cosmopolitan Senegal, Michael endures two nights aboard the train to Bamako, where he meets up with the renowned kora player Toumani Diabete. Meanwhile, the Dogon people of West Africa introduce Michael to some of their origin myths, and a trip down the River Niger turns out to be far from plain sailing.