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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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  #1  
Old 31 Jul 2008
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Question 3 month trans-sahara exped - safety concerns

I'm hoping to set off from the UK in March 2009 and spend 3 months getting thoroughly lost in various countries in North Africa under the guise of "crossing the Sahara".

The more I have tried to research a route the more complicated things appear and just as I thought I might have a plausible (very) rough draft of a route, I'm starting to think actually traveling through some of the countries may well be a little unwise.

Basically I want to enter Morocco then go: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Tunisia, Europe.

Ideally I'd like to go through to Egypt too, but the carnet deposit kills that idea.

At the moment what I'm reading is making me think that Niger, Algeria and Mali should really be avoided completely, even with a strong sense of adventure.

I dont particularly want to go to Niger (actually I do, but I could live without it I guess) but really want to get to Libya and thought it was a better option than the Mali/Algeria border region.

With Libya's land borders closed things are frustratingly difficult.

So what does everyone think of the route and the safety warnings about travel to Niger, Algeria and Mali. I'm teetering between deciding "cancel it" and "sod it, lets go anyway".
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Old 31 Jul 2008
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Regarding Algeria - the southern part of the country is safe for traveling (I was there in January for one month) - of course you need a guide which can limit you quite a lot and of course several very nice pistes are closed but in Libya you would need a guide as well.

The border between Mali and Algeria is as far as I know open although you might drive in a convoy on Malian side.

Regards,
Tom
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Old 31 Jul 2008
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... Niger, Algeria and Mali should really be avoided completely, even with a strong sense of adventure...

I think it would be more accurate to say parts of these countries should be avoided - and they have been well known for years. Guessing your route from Mori to Burkina you will avoid far east Mali as everyone does, in Niger at the moment you can't go to the Aïr/Ténéré (the best part - you must stick on the TSH) and in Algeria it's the easily avoided northeast that is consistently risky.

Short of cancelling you could still have a great desert trip in just Morocco & Mori (no escorts), or Libya/Algeria via Tunisia (expensive escorts). You can't see the best of Niger these days and IMO the Mali desert (as opposed to the country itself) is comparatively dull apart from ticking off Timbuktu.

It could all change by next year, but the way things have gone lately, that could only be a good thing!

Ch

NB: March is not a great time to head into the Sahara for 3 months but I guess you've thought of that.
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Old 31 Jul 2008
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Mali

I was in Mali for a month in April/May.

I think your biggest risk is most likely to involve losing your money to a multi-lingual bar girl in Bamako! As Chris pointed out, the standard route from Mauritania to Burkina via Mali should not present any major additional security or safety concerns. I notice a few of the embassies recommend against travel to Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, but this seems incredibly conservative.

Although Timbuktu is a bit over-rated, a visit to Djenne and Dogon country is an absolute must.
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Old 31 Jul 2008
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Thanks for the replies! I've been getting more and more confused about routes and travel area's the more I've tried to decide a route.

I'm applying for a bursary from the RGS that gives me £10,000 and a Land Rover (I know, sorry but my bike riding days are pretty much over) to go on a journey that "goes beyond when exploring their understanding of a particular geographical concept."

I've always wanted to visit the Sahara and originally planned a tour of the countries I mentioned in my first post, but have since decided that may be somewhat of an over-reach. I'd like to still do a good amount of North Africa and the Sahara and think that visiting countries that share a common bond with the UK by sitting on the Prime Meridian will make for a good pitch to the RGS, while hopefully providing a less complicated but still rewarding journey.

So this means working out a route that allows me to visit Algeria, Mali, Burkina, Ghana and hopefully leaves me a lot of time to just explore Morocco.. The route doesn't have to follow the prime meridian, although that would the perfect solution.

Is it plausible to travel the trans-sahara route north to south through Algeria now-a-days?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Roach View Post
I was in Mali for a month in April/May.

I think your biggest risk is most likely to involve losing your money to a multi-lingual bar girl in Bamako!
That would actually carry more of a risk than simply loosing my money, my girlfriend will be on the trip too!



Quote:
Originally Posted by tom cruiser View Post
Regarding Algeria - the southern part of the country is safe for traveling (I was there in January for one month)
How far south where you, I thought the south, especially the border area, was generally considered less safe.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Scott View Post

NB: March is not a great time to head into the Sahara for 3 months but I guess you've thought of that.
Yes, unfortunately I'm fairly restricted in the times available to me. The expedition has to take place between March and September.

Last edited by pawperso; 31 Jul 2008 at 20:30.
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Old 1 Aug 2008
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I wanted to go from Reegane to Bordj Mokhtar but at the gendarmerie they said that we need to drive in the convoy. So we went to Tamanraset from where the road to Bordj El Mokhtar was open (no convoys etc...) but unfortunatelly we run out of time so went to Djanet via Tassili du Hoggar and back home.

Tom
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