Hole in the Sky
The area around the Landing Zone in North Africa is the kingdom of Numidia, a Roman ally at the time the travelers arrive. Geographically it corresponds to the non-desert part of modern Algeria, the coastal plain and a few ranges of the Eastern Atlas Mountains with the valleys and lakes in among them. The people were Berbers, speaking a language loosely related to Phoenician and Hebrew.
At this time, King Masinissa has united all of Numidia in one kingdom. During the Second Punic War, Masinissa had switched his alliance from Carthage to Rome and helped crush Hannibal and his brothers causing the defeat of Carthage. The Romans have treated him well since then and he influences all the other Berber kingdoms, including Mauretania to the west and Garamantes to the southeast.
The desert south of Numidia is not so fierce as the modern Sahara and is ruled by various Berber nomadic tribes related to the Numidians and speaking nearly the same language. The Nomads herd sheep or goats mostly, some tribes have cattle, horses, donkeys or camels.
Across the desert there is a fertile area inhabited by black Africans and divided into competing kingdoms, the nearest of which is Gao. The Gao trade with Numidia bringing gold, ivory, rubies, slaves and spices to trade for salt, silver, cloth and dyes. Caravans are usually made up of camels because they can carry more than horses or donkeys and do not need water as often.
Numidia also trades with Carthage and Rome supplying both with wheat, wool, olives, ivory and slaves and trading for iron, cloth, wine and manufactured goods. The Roman, Greek and Punic towns of the coast get most of this trade.
Most trade is by barter but the Roman and Carthaginian mints have established some standards of Money and Coinage.