Heinrich Barth's Great Expedition through the Sahara and the Sahel
Heinrich Barth
Heinrich Barth's route

In 1849 Barth joined a British expedition to Lake Chad aiming to establish closer contacts with the Empire of Bornu, put a stop to the slave trade through the Sahara and carry out scientific studies. His five-year journey covering almost 20,000 km took him to the land of the Tuareg, to Bornu, North Cameroon and finally to the ancient caravan metropolis of Timbuktu. Barth's three companions all died during the journey and in Germany Barth himself was for a long time believed dead. Heinrich Barth's 3,500 page-long magnum opus "Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa in the Years 1849-55" constitutes the greatest individual achievement in nineteenth- century African studies. His report deals at length with different ethnic groups and regions, providing a wealth of information on languages, customs, political institutions and Islam in Africa. Right to the present day scholars in this field consider it an invaluable source on the history of North and West Africa.

"Ich bin niemals weiter vorgedrungen, ohne zu wissen, dass ich hinter mir einen aufrichtigen Freund liess." (Barth 1857, I: XIII)