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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 31 May 2001
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Have been told by several people to avoid Algeria right now due to a) security situation and b) unfriendliness towards foriegners. Not so worried about the latter but does anyone have some up-to-date infor,ation based on more than hearsay. I am planning to cross from Morroco to Tunisia in mid to end July; Thanks, Ivan
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Old 9 Jun 2001
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Algeria in the south is fine - the north is another story. There is no chance that you will get across the Moroccan border to Alg - it is closed - and not much chance you'd get out the other side without a few heavy moments.

Chris S

Author of Sahara Overland and the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, among other things


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Old 10 Jun 2001
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Hello Chris,
you may recall we met in Fleet Street when i bought your books.
Anyway we've been working out a route and we need to know if we can cross into Algeria via the south of Tunisia.Is this far enough south to avoid the problems in Northern Algeria?



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Old 5 Jan 2002
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I know, from having worked in Algeria, that if you cross into Algeria from Tunisia anywhere south of the Atlas mountains (in other words, anywhere south of about parallel with Ouargla) you will be in the unpopulated area of the country - the Big Eastern Desert - and thus south of the populated area where you would have serious security concerns due to civil unrest.

I think you could travel by road from Tozeur (a delightful city) through Ouargla and then south through Hassi Messaoud. I have never ridden or driven that route, but I have flown over that area a lot, and observed a reasonable amount of habitation along the way - as well as quite a few commecial farms (irrigated) on either side of the border. I have no idea whether there is an approved border crossing post there or not.

The security in the desert is very tightly controlled, due to the desire of the government to protect the massive oil exploration and production facilities that exist all around Ouargla and Hassi Messaoud. You will need to have a 'desert pass' (Lassiez passiez?) to enter that area, that is a separate and different document than a visa. Take lots of passport size photos with you.

Hassi Messaoud is a large industrial town, population about 30,000, that exists to serve the oil industry. When you drive into that town, you'll think you are in either West Texas or Fort McMurray, Canada. You can buy anything you would need or want there (groceries, food, fuel, tools, etc.) although parts specific to a motorcycle might be difficult to find. Other than that, Hassi's a cultural rat-hole, nothing there to stay for.

If you have any work connection whatsoever with the oil industry or oilwell service industry in Europe or North America, you'll probably find a branch of your company in that town. There is a rotating population of about 3,000 to 5,000 expatriates at any given time. When I stayed there it was not uncommon to see dual-sport bikes from out of the country passing through once or twice a week.
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Old 10 Feb 2002
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The regular crossing is Nefta - El Oued - took 3 hours for 8 of us last month.
Travel is getting better in the south and its quite safe and quiet - esp once you are past the oilfields, Laisser pass is issued in 10 mins near Hassi M and then never needed. No need for ppt photos in Alg (thou useful further south maybe).

More on my sahara site

Chris S

Author of Sahara Overland and the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, among other things


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