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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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Desert Travels - Motorcycle Journeys in the Sahara and West Africa!

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  #1  
Old 11 Jun 2006
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Crossing the sahara east to west???

Hi!
I am planning to drive (in my 4wd) from South Africa up to Egypt along the east coast.My dream would be then to cross to Mauretania and then up to spain through Marocco.

After I have been reading a lot the route seems to be very complicated, expensive and risky. I was hoping to drive along the coast cross from Tunisia, algeria down to Mali and then to drive to mauretania.

Can anyone shed some light if this is too hard and stupid? I have not travelled in Africa before but have travelled in asia and Australia on longer trips before.Any suggestions would be great.

I am leaving for South Africa in a week and are planning to cross Ethiopia to Sudan in end of January.

PER

Last edited by persedel; 11 Jun 2006 at 08:35.
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  #2  
Old 11 Jun 2006
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Hi Per,

the route is possible but extra costs of something about 1000 EUR arise for the compulsory guide in Libya and Algeria but cheap fuel compensates partially. I do not consider the route more risky than the rest of your trip. There are quite a lot of overlanders driving through Mau., Mali, Niger and less in Algeria. Actually crossing of northern Mali could be difficult because of the recent Toureg crisis but that could be sorted out until you arrive there; or travel through Niger instead of Mali.

Yves
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  #3  
Old 11 Jun 2006
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You should bear in mind that algerian visas are only issued to nationals and residents living in the country in which you are applying. The same can be also said for syrian visas.
I have read about people who overlandad all the way from South Africa to Egypt and got stuck in Egypt, as they couldn't get a syrian nor a lybian visa.
BTW, you NEED a Carnet de Passage for Egypt!
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  #4  
Old 11 Jun 2006
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Egypt - Libya

you can get the libyan visa at the border if you show the invitation-letter of your libyan agency. their guide must also wait at the border in Amsaad for you.
Ursula

Last edited by ursula; 11 Jun 2006 at 16:46.
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  #5  
Old 12 Jun 2006
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Thanks for that guys!

I have not checked but I cannot apply for that visa anyway as I am too late leaving in 6 days and I am from Sweden living in Australia.

I am not sure if I can sort that so far in advance either. I will get there in Feb or so.

I might be able to sort something out on swedish ground when I work in Ethiopia for 3 months at the end of the year.

Thanks again.

If anyone has any experince in getting into Algeria without preapplying for visa would be helpful.

/PER
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  #6  
Old 12 Jun 2006
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Hi Per
Your route is the exact opposite of the one I'm on at the moment. We've spent the last 5 months travelling through Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Algeria. I'm in Tunisia at the moment and we're heading to Libya when we've got our visas and then on to Egypt, through the Sudan to Ethiopia and heading in a southerly direction, zigzagging our way down the East side of Africa. We're planning to be in Cape Town by Christmas. Wish the trip could be longer, but we're limited by money.
A note on the Libyan visa. I checked at the Libyan embassy in Tunis and it's possible to get a transit visa, which enables you to travel across the top of the country (along the coast). You don't need any invitation or guide commitments for a transit visa. You just need a letter in Arabic, explaining who you are and why you need a transit visa. You submit this to the embassy, along with a copy of your passport. They evaluate your request and if given the OK, issue a transit visa for the cost of 31 Tunisian Dinar. I'm in the process of writing the letter and have to find someone to translate it into Arabic. I'll let you know how I get on with this. Watch this post. It may be possible to do the same thing in Cairo.

Of course, this option means we have to miss out on the Libyan desert, which would be fantastic, but the costs are too high. Algeria worked out cheaper so we decided to spend our money there. We went with Tanezrouft Voyages and we had an amazing trip with him into the Hoggar and then travelling northwards through the desert via Assekrem to In Salah. From In Salah, it was a bit of a trek to the border (1200km in 3 days) and the drive through the Grand Ergs was incredible. We were escorted all the way from Ain Guezzam (Niger border) to Taleb Larbi (Tunisian border). Algeria is the most wonderful country - the scenery is spectacular and the people are very gentle and friendly (careful in El Gorlea though). Mohammed, our guide, read us very well (we were travelling with a guy on a motorbike that had endless battery and wheel problems) and changed our itinerary when he saw the state of the bike on arrival at Ain Guezzam. Our itinerary enabled us to have as much experience of the desert as possible, given our money, time and bike limitations. I've travelled with guides before and I can't recommend Tanezrouft highly enough. It was an awesome trip.
Let me know if you'd like more info on our route so far and our route southwards. It might help you with your planning.
Good luck
Bel
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  #7  
Old 13 Jun 2006
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Algeria + Lybia

Hi Landygirl

Thanks for your report , it's a very interesting experience .
I've some questions about your trip in algeria : can you give me more infos about your route through this country ( offroad ? bivouacs ? timing ? ) .
How do you organize your rendez-vous with Tanezrouft voyages in In-Guezzam ? And about the price you've paid .
About Lybia , do you know if transit visa is available to cross Lybia to Niger border ?

RR.
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  #8  
Old 13 Jun 2006
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Thanks for the info Landygirl. That was very good. I will probably ask you a bit later on more stuff when I have a better view on what we are doing and when.

THen I still have a question on Algeria.
Does anyone know how I could possibly get a visa to ALgeria for Feb 07 when I am not in my own country???
Can I send the passport with my embassy and have frriends at home to sort it out?

Landygirl it sounds like we are passing eachother on the east coast possibly then. It would be great to have a short stop somewhere and exchange experiences.

/PER
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  #9  
Old 14 Jun 2006
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Hi there
Per, we had to courier our passports to the UK for the visa processing there. It was a bit of a pain and very expensive, but the only way to do it, it seems. So yes, you will probably need to send your passport back home and have your friends sort it out. I know in the UK there are visa processing agencies, so perhaps in Sweden there are as well. It'd be a pleasure to meet up on the East Coast somewhere. Let me know your route and timings and perhaps your email address (send me a private message if you'd prefer) and we'll keep in touch.
Roro, we contacted Tanezrouft from their website and took it from there. Rendevous-ing at Ain Guezzam was easy enough, once we'd established a date. However, because of the problems we had with the bike, we were delayed by a further 2 days and then another half day. We were able to make contact with Tanezrouft to let them know, but unfortunately, Mohammed had already left In Salah to meet us and therefore had to sit around in Ain Guezzam waiting for us. When we got to the Algerian border, they seemed to be expecting us and phone Mohammed who arrived about 2 hours later. It all went pretty smoothly, actually, indicative of the professionalism of the agency and our guide!
We had about 17 days in Algeria. Not nearly enough, as I said, but we had some time restrictions (a flight to meet in Tunis, for one). I have to run right now, but will post details on our route perhaps tomorrow. Pretty much all of it was piste driving, with some dunes and some nasty rocky bits too. I can't remember the exact price we paid, but it was pretty much in line with the prices quoted on Tanezrouft's website, so have a look there.
About the Libya/Niger border - I'm not sure if this route is open, but I don't have all the facts. If it is, it's still unlikely that the transit visa will be issued because that route will necessitate a desert crossing. You're not allowed to traverse the Libyan desert without the company of an official guide, as far as I know.
'Til tomorrow
Bel
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  #10  
Old 15 Jun 2006
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'Til tomorrow

thanks a lot for your reply .... I'll wait for more details

RR.
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  #11  
Old 16 Jun 2006
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Thanks for the excellent information. I will send you a personal message about meeting up somewhere on the way.

Til later!

/PER
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  #12  
Old 1 Jul 2006
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Hi Per and RR
Sorry I've taken so long to get back to you with our Algerian route, but here it is. We did a 3 day loop through the Hoggar and again, I'm sorry but I've left the route details behind so can't put them in here!
After that, we travelled from Tam to In Salah via:
* Assekrem - stunning scenery en route and there - it's worth walking across the other side of the hill after the sun rise as the view round that side is spectacular for it's lack of any signs of humanity). Staying at the government rest house was great - a very chilled out place with comfy beds and great staff
* Mertoutek - through the Parc Nationale d'Hoggar, which has beautiful scenery and fabulous rock formations. We stayed at the park headquarters, which was simple, but comfortable and again, the staff were so friendly and welcoming. We did a tour of the gardens there, which was really interesting and saw some amazing rock paintings nearby
* Abbezou - fabulous dune amongst remarkable flatness. Walk up the steep boulders and feel the rock on the soles of your bare feet. Fantastic.
* Tejmout via Arak - Arak nothing to write home about, but after that, we picked up the old French road built in 1911 and stopped at the oasis of Tejmout, spending the night with some Tuaregs nearby. Tagala is a must, as well as fresh and soured camel milk! The oasis is a great place to do a bit of laundry and have a decent wash in lovely sweet water.
* Erg Tahoulahin - Enormous and beautiful. Spectacular sunrise from the top - best enjoyed ALL alone while your travel companions sleep on (not being morning people)! Nearby, we saw some more rock paintings, Taureg etchings and surprised a snack there!
* Guelta Tehelguin - You can't believe the depth and coolness of the water tehre. Watch the flies though - they bite hard and deep and the itch is excrutiating.
And then to In Salah and a rush north to the border at Taleb Larbi. What I've outlined doesn't begin to describe the raw beauty of it all. I would love to go again and will, once again, put myself completely in Mohammed's hands to decide on the best itinerary. He's excellent at reading his clients and working out what they'd need and appreciate.
We're waiting for our Libyan transit visa to be OK'ed. I'll update when we hear more about that in about a week's time.
Per, we're likely to be in Ethiopia sometime in August at the current rate. Hopefully early August. Hopefully we can meet up somewhere, but I'll wait to hear from you.
Bel
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  #13  
Old 1 Jul 2006
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Thanks !!

THanks a lot Landygirl for your infos ; I'll try to find the places you've described on a map ( those I don't already know :Abbezou,Tejmout,Erg Tahoulahine,Tehelguin ) .
RR.
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  #14  
Old 2 Jul 2006
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I attached a kml file for google earth showing the places.
Remove the suffix .txt to use the file as .kml for google earth.

Yves
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File Type: txt places_may-2006.kml.txt (2.6 KB, 241 views)
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  #15  
Old 8 Jul 2006
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Any news on transit visa

Landygirl -
How have you got on with the transit visa ? Does anyone else have experience of this ?
I have a friend who is thinking of traversing Libya from Tunisia to get through to Egypt. The transit visa would seem ideal if this means more independent travelling etc.
Pete
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