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Algeria: History, Culture and The Sahara

ALGERIA

A Journey into the heart of the Sahara

2015 Departure is 01 November to 17 November

Join Helen on an exciting Algerian adventure. From the city of Algiers on the Mediterranean coast to the remote Hoggar Mountains deep in the Southern Sahara, experience a truly unique journey, with forays into some of the country’s more unusual hidden treasures, enjoying an incredible diversity of landscapes, local colour, food and music along the way!

Starting in Algiers we explore the legendary casbah, a narrow and winding maze of small alleys, the oldest and most secretive part of the city. Walk along the wide boulevards of this mesmerising city to absorb the atmosphere of colonial architecture built during the French occupation, essentially European, but exuding a typically North African ambience.

We then head eastwards Constantine, stopping to explore the magnificent archaeological sites of Djemila and Timgad. Leaving the whitewashed cities of the Mediterranean coast behind us, we plunge into the Sahara visiting the lesser known oases towns of El Oued, and Ghardaia. We enter a very different world to what we will experience in the northern part of the country with a distinctive local culture that has been preserved throughout the centuries; a mixture of traditional architecture, Berber culture, Islamic traditions, gorgeous oases and lively markets. Then a flight to Djanet where the Tuareg will drive us for 7 days through the ever-changing landscape of the Tadrart Mountains, varying from fantastic sharp volcanic peaks, to rolling sand dunes, deep canyons, green oases and gueltas. We camp each night in the stillness of the desert under a tranquil Saharan sky sharing simple food with our local guides and hosts.

 

SUNDAY 01 NOVEMBER 2015: ARRIVE ALGIERS

Arrive Algiers. We will be met upon arrival at the airport and transferred to the hotel. After settling in our guide will meet us later in the afternoon for a walking tour of the city centre and the Casbah. Welcome dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Algiers.

MONDAY 02 NOVEMBER 2015: ALGIERS – TIDDIS – DJEMILA - CONSTANTINE

This morning we drive to Constantine, stopping enroute to visit the Roman site of Tiddis. Perched on the side of a mountain, Tiddis was primarily a military outpost. Coin hoards attest to the international character of the city’s inhabitants, as do the many religions observed, including the worship of Semitic Ba’al and the Roman Saturn. After completing our visit, we move on to the stunning Roman city of Djemila (Cuicul), built along a strategic mountain ridge. It has all of the traditional Roman amenities, including a fine theatre, which held three thousand spectators and had wonderful views across the town. Then to Constantine for overnight.

TUESDAY 03 NOVEMBER 2015: CONSTANTINE – TIMGAD - BATNA

Today we drive to the Roman city of Timgad (Thamugadi), planned by Trajan on a regular grid for a population of about 15,000. Among its public buildings is a huge library, comparable to the library of Ephesus, which held 23,000 books. Needless to say, this site is vast and extremely interesting. We will spend most of the morning exploring the colonnaded streets, temples, housing quarters and public buildings, as well as the fine site museum before making a short visit to the remains of the military camp at Lambaesis. Drive to Batna for overnight.

WEDNESDAY 04 NOVEMBER 2015: BATNA – RHOUFI – EL OUED

Drive to the spectacular gorge of Tighanimine to see the troglodyte village of Rhoufi, and El Kantara ("Calceus Herculis"). Lunch in a private palm grove in Biskra before continuing on through the Sahara to El Oued ("town of a thousand domes"). Overnight El Oued.

THURSDAY 05 NOVEMBER 2015: EL OUED - GHARDAIA

Drive to Ghardaia, one of the five Mozabite towns that occupy the M’zab valley. The Mozabites are a conservative Islamic sect maintaining their traditional customs and dress, making this area particularly colourful. During our three-day stay, we will explore some of the neighbouring villages of the M’zab Valley. Overnight Ghardaia.

FRIDAY 06 NOVEMBER 2015: GHARDAIA – BENI ISGUEN – EL ATTEUF - GHARDAIA

This morning we leave the modern world behind us to visit Beni-Isguen and El Atteuf, the most traditional of all the Mozabite villages, and renowned for their lush palmeries. The Ibadis here are very conservative and do their best to isolate themselves from people with other beliefs. Most of the women wear white robes that cover them from head to ankle except for one eye, if you are married. If you are unmarried you are able to show your face. It is forbidden to take photos of them. Our Ibadi guide will take us on a walking tour of the villages, finishing in Beni-Isguen at the beautiful marketplace lined by houses that could have been colour-coordinated by Armani: beige, cream, dusty ochre and faded coffee. Return to Ghardaia for overnight.

SATURDAY 07 NOVEMBER 2015: GHARDAIA

Day at leisure

SUNDAY 08 NOVEMBER 2015: GHARDAIA – ALGIERS – DJANET

Fly to Algiers to connect with our flight to Djanet, in the southern Sahara. We are met upon arrival and transferred to our hotel for overnight.

MONDAY 09 NOVEMBER 2015: DJANET

This morning we visit the desert town of Djanet, situated at the foot of the Tassili N'Ajjer, on the edge of Erg Admer, a vast 'sea of sand dunes'. It is exactly what you imagine an oasis village to be; a pleasant, calm village with large, shady palm trees where daily life follows the slow rhythm of the desert. In the centre of the village there is a small, but lively market, where people wearing traditional boubous and cheches (turban) buy and sell fresh vegetables, fruit, tea, sugar and of course fresh dates. The small shops around the market sell beautiful Tuareg jewellery and colourful cheches and are worthwhile rummaging about for a while. Djanet also has a museum that shows examples of prehistoric relics from its surroundings. Our walking tour of the town takes us to the old souq, medina and the extensive oasis. Late in the afternoon we set out for our first night camping in the desert.

TUESDAY 10 NOVEMBER 2015: TADRART - TANAOUT

Enroute to Tadrart we visit a Tuareg camp to see the beautiful rock art of Tanaout where ancient engravings of cattle and giraffes decorate the rock walls. In the afternoon we drive through the empty landscape navigating between the low rocky hills to find tonight’s campsite.

WEDNESDAY 11 NOVEMBER & THURSDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2015: EL BIREJ – TIN MERZOUGA

At the end of El Birej the high orange coloured sand dunes of Moul el Naga appear. The sharpness and shades of the dunes make this a classic desert landscape. The ride over the sand dunes is exciting and after passing some spectacular wind-sculpted arches we will arrive at the highest dunes of the Tadrart, the Tin Merzouga. From the foot of the dune a huge orange wall towers into the sky. A climb to the top is not easy but well worth the effort; experiencing the stillness of the air, with the sun low in the sky and absolute peace is unforgettable. From Tin Merzouga, we explore Oued In Djared, seeing numerous rock paintings and engravings enroute.

FRIDAY13 NOVEMBER 2015: OUED IN DJAREN - ALIDEMA

The Oued In Djaren takes us from the Tadrart through a vast empty landscape to Alidema, an area of orange sand contrasting with black rock formations.

SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2015: ALIDEMA – DJANET - ALGIERS

We end our Sahara tour crossing the route of the famous Berliet expedition of 1960. Arriving in Djanet in the early afternoon, we will have time to explore the town and freshen up before our late evening flight to Algiers.

SUNDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2015: ALGIERS – TIPASA - ALGIERS

This morning we drive 60kms westward from Algiers along the Mediterranean coast to visit the Punic and Roman archeological ruins at Tipasa, a former port town serving a rich agricultural hinterland. Tipasa was founded in the 5th century BC by the Phoenicians, and then turned into a Roman military colony by Emperor Claudius in 146

BC after the third and last Punic War. Under Roman rule, Tipasa grew to be an important port city with 20,000 residents. North Africa then was the breadbasket for Rome, providing half of its wheat and much of its olive oil. The Tipasa region specialized in exporting garum (fish paste) and vegetables to Rome. Although Tipasa became a World Heritage Site in 1982, the site is only about one-fourth excavated and the ruins have not been maintained. But the town’s Mediterranean setting between the mountains and the sea, is exquisite. Return to Algiers for overnight.

MONDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2015: ALGIERS - TOUR ENDS

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

COST: Land only price: AUD$5900 per person twin share. AUD$695 single supplement.

Includes all accommodation, all meals, excursions, entrance fees, English speaking guide to accompany the group for the duration of the tour, camping equipment, transport by minibus/ landcruisers, and internal flights.  Note international airfare, insurance and visa costs are not included.

Flights; Yes we can organise these as well. You can have a look at what is possible via our online website www.flightpassport.com Take the link to advanced as there is more flexibility. If Or, send us an email and someone here can work your airfrae out. If your planned airfare is more complicated then ask us to work out the price.

Tour price Includes all accommodation, all meals, excursions, entrance fees, English speaking guides, and all transport. Note insurance and visa costs are not included.

Tour Grading: This tour has been designed for a small group of no more than 8 people so as to take advantage of experiences not easily accessible to large tour groups, and to ensure the best of personal attention. Travelling in Algeria should be considered as an adventure holiday, so be prepared to rough it now and again. Some of the facilities encountered may not be to the standard found on a more conventional holiday. We travel through areas that, relatively speaking, have seen few tourists, therefore the infrastructure is not fully developed. By contrast, the warmth and hospitality extended to visitors by the Algerian people is exceptional. So if you have a reasonable level of fitness, an open mind, a positive attitude and a keen desire to experience a very unique and special culture, then Algeria is for you!

Algeria Map

Algerian World Heritage Sites

Photo Gallery

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