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  #1  
Old 23 Dec 2009
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Algeria may get serious...

... over porous borders.

More news here

We've also noticed they are getting bit awkward over issuing tourist visas - even questioning me (who the London consulate deals with most years).

Maybe it's just a new guy in charge.

Ch
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  #2  
Old 23 Dec 2009
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Thanks for the update, Chris.

I think after all this is good news for all travelers.

"Algerian army deployed an extra force of 3,000 soldiers along its borders with Mali, Niger and Mauritania to prevent the infiltration of extremists into the country, a local daily reported on Tuesday."

The consul here is extremely nice and helpful and even the authorities we deal with in Algeria are really cooperative. Slow like a sick snail but that's not really news knowing their pace...
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  #3  
Old 23 Dec 2009
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Hmmm...is this the end of smuggling also?
Nomads won't like it.
With the coming oil, gas and mineral projects in the south of Algeria the army will have to take control of the area.
But those borders extend for around 2500 kms, a tall order to seal them.
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  #4  
Old 23 Dec 2009
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Interesting!

2003 more than 6000 soldiers didn't find us and now that will be 3000 soldiers extra. Every kilometer one soldier along the borderlines. - That's ridiculous.

Quote:
20 new state-of-the-art surveillance spots to guarantee zero infiltrations by extremists.
- Whatever that means. Maybe the Americans are helping. If - then don't come to near to this places. American soldiers often have nervous fingers.
Quote:
The army also banned movement without permission across 170 areas and provided the areas with military equipment to deal with any vehicles snaking through borders. It also announced it will regularly patrol the border areas.
For individuel travellers now free travelling is gone. Where to get all the permissions for crossing different areas?
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Old 23 Dec 2009
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Well there's been little free travelling in Alg since 2003. Perhaps now if some areas will be off limits and others more open. And with the proper permits it may become easier to move around.
I can hope, can't I?
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Old 24 Dec 2009
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I drove right across from Algiers to In Guezzam and back in Dec, most of it without any guides, alone. I was stopped perhaps 5 times on the way down, and twice on the way back. All other times I was waived through at the checkpoints, although it was probably clear I was a foreigner.

The only time I noticed the soldiers being nervous and strict at the checkpoints was leaving Tam northbound about 10 days ago. They weren't nice at all there. At all other checkpoints it was the usual exchange of greetings and niceties. I didn't even need to hand out the fiche on the way up - no one ever asked for it.

The only unpleasant experience with the officials on this trip was the customs at the port in Algiers, both arriving and leaving. Damn slow, and often without reason.
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Old 25 Dec 2009
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Famous walker, that sounds very good. Perhaps we can get on without guides then. At least along the major routes,
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Old 25 Dec 2009
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FW is a special case as I believe his invitation came from a contact in Algiers, not via an agency like most of us??

Although In Salah is said to be the town on the TSH where they stop you no matter what, the rule seems inconsistently applied - a common paradox in otherwise seemingly strict and organised Alg.

Had FW met with an intransigent official I suspect his Alg contact/sponsor may have got in trouble too, although from his experience it sounds like it may have been this guy ;-) and anyway with unusual transits they tend to radio on to the next checkpoint who will be expecting it.

When I first started going to Libya certain 'entrepreneurs' could enable your visa. It's all changed now of course but if such a deal was available in Alg it could be back to the free-roaming good old days. Just get on the piste asap and avoid dodgy areas and known checkpoints.
Realistically it would all be rather tense of course and so not for first-timers - and anyway the escort rules were introduced for a good reason...

Ch
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Old 25 Dec 2009
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Chris,

Thanks for the contact. No, I don't know him, although I'd thought about contacting my embassy prior to embarking on such a trip. Never did though.

I didn't particularly feel that I was a 'special case' this time, as I was being rather randomly stopped at some checkpoints and equally randomly waived through at other ones. I don't think there was any logic to that. All in all I think I passed about 60-70 percent of the checkpoints on the Trans-Sah highway unnoticed.

In Salah was indeed a special case. Coming down there seemed to be no way to avoid having a guide. Coming back up I actually drove right through the checkpoint (with a guide in the car, but no one stopped me or even looked at me - there was no one at all at the checkpoint), but then at the camping in town the guardian volunteered to call the police to make sure I am officially registered. He said he would get into trouble for having an unregistered foreigner stay at his camping.

Each time I was stopped in Algeria there was the usual exchange of greetings and questions-answers, and only a couple of times I was actually asked to give my personal details. I handed out my fiche which was enough - hardly once or twice it was checked against my passport. No one ever asked me as to the nature of my invitation/visa - I don't think it matters at all in fact, definitely not north of In Salah. My friends (Algerians) who assisted me with the visa support were definitely not worried about 'getting into trouble' in relation to it.
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Old 26 Dec 2009
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Thanks for clarifying that - now we know. Really there is no logic to these escort rules then or maybe the former permit/escort line (at El Golea a few years ago) is now fixed in In Salah and the equivalents to the west and east.

I think your Algerian friends have the potential to become very popular!

Ch
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