The Tuareg, the Blue Men of the desert, or the Kel Tamahaq, as they prefer to be known in Algeria, number around two million and belong to no fewer than eight territorial groups. The Kel Ahaggar live around the Hoggar and Tassil-n-Ajjer mountain regions.

They are well known throughout history for establishing a complex society unprecedented in nomadic tribes, and with a sophisticated system of laws and hierarchies.

Yet in the modern age some speak of them with pity, as just another aspect of the planet laid siege to by a painful transition into the modern world, but this to me is a rather simplistic and naïve interpretation of the events that have taken place in central Sahara during the last twenty or thirty years.

Like many other nomadic groups, they continue to be threatened by conflict, politics and the settled world’s constant quest for pure, natural resources. Ostracised by successive governments and denied access to their ancient, historical homelands, generations have grown up displaced.

Many have been forced to abandon the nomadic life and have turned to the cities to make a living, like so many wandering people – the Sami reindeer warriors of arctic Scandinavia who now live in houses and travel for brief periods to hunt or mark their reindeer; or the Inuits of Canada and Alaska, whose dog-drawn sledges have become mostly relics.

Although the Tuareg have played a huge role in the Sahara, as great as French colonization in the region, little is understood about them today. In my journey with them, I hope to set aside the traditional stereotypes and discover more about what inspires and drives them in the modern age.