The Hidden Journeys Project aims to enliven the flying experience and transform it into a fascinating exploration of the people, places and environments thousands of miles below by providing inspiring information to air travellers about the parts of the world they fly over (www.hiddenjourneys.co.uk
The latest guide to be released explores the fascinating landscapes of Northern Africa, covering the Kufra oasis, the Tibesti Mountains, Lake Chad and Abuja along the flight path from Cairo to Lagos.
The flight path between Cairo and Lagos crosses some of the driest parts of the planet. Yet these inhospitable places are inhabited by millions of people who rely on crucial water from the most surprising of places: from the annual floods of the Nile which supports farming in Egypt, to the ancient aquifer that underlies the Libyan Desert, to the shrinking Lake Chad that supports 30 million people.
However, an ever-growing population is putting strain on this finite water supply as billions of litres are consumed each year to quench cities and irrigate crops. For example the Great Man-Made River Project in Libya threatens to drain the underground aquifer that has supported life here for thousands of years, Lake Chad has shrunk to a hundredth of its original size and rapid expansion of the city of Lagos has led to reclaiming of land from its vital coastal habitats.
At either end of this flight path are the two largest cities in Africa: both are dynamic, vibrant mega-cities which grow by thousands of people each year. In contrast to these cities, and as a demonstration of the incredible diversity which exists in Africa, is the fascinating story of life in the desert that has gone on for centuries.
A view from the Saladin Citadel of Cairo, built on the top of Mokattam Hill in the centre of the old city. © RGS-IBG by Michael Jenner
Minarets on the skyline in Old Cairo, reminding us of the thousands of mosques that have been established across the city. © Scott Haddow
The labyrinth-like landscape of eroded rocks in the west of the Tibesti region. © Franck Zecchin
Badagry Creek flowing in from the left of the image, and the edge of the lagoon on the right, joining to flow into the Atlantic at the bottom. © NASA/JSC
The geometric fields are a product of farmers utilising the ground water to cultivate fields. © Josh Calder
The Chari River is the main feeder river for Lake Chad, providing the lake with 90 percent of its total water. © Ben Allen
A night-time satellite view of Cairo and the Nile Delta. © NASA Johnson Space Center/Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth
Nearly 90 percent of Libya is covered in desert, with three major sand seas covering the country. © Rob Glover