Trans-Sahara Trade Routes Illustration

Ancient African Kingdoms
Trade Routes

Camels and camel trains opened trade between west and east Africa. Crossing the Sahara Desert was never easy. But camels made it possible. Camels were nicknamed the ships of the desert.

Camels can carry a great deal of weight. They go without water for a long time. They can keep their footing in sand. They can move quite rapidly.

It did not take long before towns sprang up wherever there was an oasis. Routes, of course, followed the these scattered patches of green.

In the late 1400s, Portugal tried to find a way around Africa by sea. They were successful. The southern tip of Africa was named The Cape of Good Hope. Vasco da Gama, a famous Portuguese explorer, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and continued on to India.

Traders began to travel and trade by ship. Even though travel across the desert did slow down, it never stopped. Travel by ship might be far less dangerous while at sea, but there were few natural harbors along the African coastline to safely anchor a ship.

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