About us

Tinarawene’ is the plural of the word ‘desert’ in the traditional Tuareg language, Tamashek.

Tinarawene Desert Expeditions was created in Agadez, Niger in 2001 to introduce international visitors to the amazing landscapes, wilderness and nomadic people of the Sahara, Tenere and Air mountain districts.

With Tinarawene's locally born tour guides you not only see & experience some of the world most amazing sights but you'll also get to immerse yourself into one of the world's last remaining traditional cultures, with the people that live here.

Over the years Tinarawene's multi-lingual tours have explored the Africa deserts and West Africa with hundreds of foreign visitors including US Peace Corp members, French doctors, British backpackers and visiting dignitaries.  Today Tinarawene offers tours not only in Niger but also Benin, Togo, Mali, Burkina-Faso as well as Chad.

Meet the team

Souleymane Icha

Founder & CEO

Tinarawene’s founder, Souleymane Icha, was born in northern Niger and was brought up as a traditional Tuareg nomad before being taken off to boarding school and developing a flair for languages & business (he speaks 8 languages fluently).  He started Tinarawene Desert Expeditions in 2001 from his base in Agadez before expanding into a second office in the Niger capital Niamey in 2010.

Souleymane is an active member of the Tuareg community and regularly travels overseas to promote Tinarawene and raise food & funds for the less prosperous people of northern Niger, and his new charity Alamad. (Alamad promotes education for nomadic women and girls in Niger).

Mark Phillips


Since experiencing Tinarawene and northern Niger as a client in 2007, Mark Phillips, of the Australian outback tour company ‘MudMaps’ joined with Souleymane and integrated Tinarawene into the group’s offerings. (The term ‘mud map’ refers to an old Australian bush technique of drawing maps to fellow outback travellers on the ground or in the mud.)

Operating tours since 1991 MudMaps has won 3 tourism awards and travelled with thousands of international visitors throughout the Australian outback. Always immersing clients in traditional ways of life and avoiding touristy places MudMaps developed a reputation for quality and dependability.

As a qualified chartered accountant Mark has spent many years developing businesses in the IT & Travel industries including establishing industry associations and spearheading new travel products for the curious adventure traveller. Mark mentors the charity Alamad and has also recently established a new anti-poverty social venture named B’ginnings to help the world’s poorest nations develop self-sustaining indigenous enterprises.