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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 13 Nov 2007
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route de hoggar practical info

hi this is a general request for some recent first-hand or reliable info on the hoggar route.

1. the exact locations of wells or settlements (important as i am going by bicycle)

2. the location of police roadblocks, and the rough cost of a baksheesh

3. the best way to the route - from oran or tunis?thinking of ferry costs from europe too.

no idiot replies please; no speculation etc. i have cycled through areas before that "informed" people have said were impossible or dangerous etc with no problems at all - parts of china 20 years back, southern sudan in 03, kashmir last summer etc etc
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  #2  
Old 13 Nov 2007
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Where exactly are you entering Algeria and exiting?
In Feb 2007, I went from Niger(via Assamaka) to Tunisia...
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  #3  
Old 14 Nov 2007
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"2.the location of police roadblocks, and the rough cost of a baksheesh"

No bakchich in algeria , as far I know ; we have done the route from Tunis to Djanet and then Assamaka (with our car) in Feb. 07 with a guide (of course) but no bakchich .

"3. the best way to the route - from oran or tunis?thinking of ferry costs from europe too."

Ferries are less expensive via Tunis (especially with a car) but I think there is another problem : I've heard than customs formalities and authorisations to take the road are more easy when you cross the border in Taleb Larbi (from Tunisia) .

RR.
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Old 14 Nov 2007
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no idiot replies please; no speculation etc. i have cycled through areas before that "informed" people have said were impossible or dangerous etc with no problems at all

Steady on pal, you're not on the Thorn Tree now. Alg is not impossible or dangerous but you will need an escort south of El Golea (and possibly in Niger too at the moment) which will get very expensive. He can carry all the water, etc.

Ch
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  #5  
Old 15 Nov 2007
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sorry, no offence intended - i can see that this is a serious travel info forum, unlike some of the other tourist message boards.

there is no exact plan, just whatever happens... flexiblity is key. i don´t mind entering from tunisia or an algerian port. whatever

so let me get this straight please... "i need an escort". why? who is going to check that i have an escort? where are the checkpoints? where are the water-stops?

i have spoken in person to sevarl people who have cycled the hoggar route some years back, so i now that in terms of water it is feasible - a bicycle is actually capable of carrying more weight than you might think.

i just can´t understand that the algerian dictators are so deperate for cash that they are going to station policeman in the middle of the sahara dessert for the sake of checking a few travellers have "guides"; for if it is not dangerous then why else would there be this rule other than being a little earner for the head of tourism - judging by the prices it seems someone at the top has a monopoly over this thing.

i´m sorry to go on, but i just fail to comprehend how in the shara dessert there is not some way of avoiding these ´checkpoints´.

any trip reports on here regarding water or checkpoint locations please? a search doesn´t pull up anything.

(am on a mate´s user name, so don´t confuse this with a motor trip to ghambia)

thanx
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  #6  
Old 15 Nov 2007
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guides etc

Having travelled the route this year (by car) I'd make a couple of points.

Police checkpoints are a fact of life all over N Africa (and most of Africa in fact) and can be an irritation but not necessarily a problem. In fact I've sometimes found them very helpful. We were very happy to camp by one South of Gao after being threatened at a remote location. And on previous trips I've found them to be top-class at arranging lifts when hitchhiking.

The key item to have at any checkpoint is a clear copy of your "fiche" with all of the details they need to record in their ledger. (Name/Nat/DOB/Passport & Visa details/.... make of bike)

The (many) checkpoints in Algeria were very professional and there was never any question of baksheesh. They are located at the entrance/exit of every town and at every major road intersection. I would say it has nothing to do with raising cash from travellers and is all about maintaining security and controlling smuggling.

Before we arrived in Algeria, I was dubious about the guide requirement. Whatever the reasons, I was very happy to have one. Apart from being great company, he always led to the best places to camp.

As having a car tailing you through the country would obviously be very expensive, you could consider throwing the bike in the back and enjoying the ride in a beautiful country.

Finally, while we had no problems in Northern Niger, things have changed for the worse since April - you'll find details on this forum.




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Old 15 Nov 2007
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Hi,

the first issue: to obtain the visa (at least in UK) - you will need a certificat d'herbergement or a booking confirmation of an travel agency.

>i need an escort". why? who is going to check that i have an escort?
why? Security
Gendarmerie, Police, Army
South of El Golea there will be no way to travel w/o.

You can not enter or travel in Algeria under cover - you will be probably the only bicycle tourist in the whole country and attrack a lot of attention

Water: along the roads you will never have a problem, people are very helpfull.
Off road it is more difficult. Exact positions of most waterpoints are not known, except to nomads who don't use GPS. Tourists generally only know very few of them because theiy have a large autonomy.
To get an idea have a look at a travel guide book for 4x4 tourists, like Chris scotts Sahara Overland.
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  #8  
Old 15 Nov 2007
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i have spoken in person to sevarl people who have cycled the hoggar route some years back

I've met a few myself. It's a fantastic ride. But that was before 2003 when 32 European tourists in about 6 separate groups got kidnapped almost simultaneously and held for up to 6 months. Only 31 went home.
While that was an unprecedented event for Algeria, the authorities reacted with the long overdue regulation that already existed for much less obvious reasons in the Tenere (Niger), Libya and the Gilf (Egypt): the need for tourists to lodge an itinerary and be escorted (in the desert).

That's the way it is now; the 1980s golden age has passed. As Yves said you will be the only cycle tourist in the country (he contributed a chapter on Cycling in the Sahara Overland book) and every checkpoint will be expecting you.
Algeria is less of a tin pot African 'dictatorship' than you might think.
Some Germans tried to slip away from their guide a couple of years back, they got caught, fined, locked up for weeks, cars confiscated and for good measure framed (probably) as prehistoric artefact thieves.

any trip reports on here regarding water or checkpoint locations please? a search doesn´t pull up anything.
Plenty of trips reports here, including trans-Sahara Highway (TSH):
http://www.sahara-overland.com/Sfiles
There's also .../news .../routes ..../maps .../best fishing spots .../country info. Add that's just one website in English; there's 10 x more in French and German.
Try also: http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/ca...9&iCountryId=1

I'm afraid it seems you've jumped in without doing any research on Algeria - anyone who knows the country recognises your request for a baksheesh price list as rather ignorant (corruption exists there of course, but at a much higher level, as it does in the West).

It's very frustrating I know but you've missed the boat to undertake this great riding adventure independently. You might just be able to pull it off undercover/in disguise solo - an old 19th century explorers trick that worked right up until the point they got beaten to death or died of scurvy - but on a pushbike no chance.

It's not about money - Algeria is one of the richest oil producing countries in Africa. Tourism is more trouble than its worth but they tolerate it as it gives the people down south a bit of a living to stop them rioting. It's about control for the reasons donncha gave. There have been half a dozen deadly bombs this year and last week an attack on a desert airport. The 2003 event was a humiliation - they won't let it happen again.

Me, I'd be content to cycle aroud the north. You may not 'cross the Sahara' but will meet great people and still be the only cycle tourist in the country. Keep off the TSH and in the northwest you might even get down to Taghit and as far as Timimoun.

Ch
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Old 16 Nov 2007
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who's checking?

It's much less complicated than you think.

To get in (legally) you need a visa.
To get a visa, you need an invitation from a registered tourist agency.
If you are found without a guide, the agency could lose their licence (and with it their livelihood).

Therefore, your agency will refuse to let you go by yourself - where the police may or may not be situated is not an issue.

I agree with Chris' point that you should do a little more specific research to travelling in today's Algeria - it's not as simple as it was... This forum has all the answers, but it is best to at least have the basics before asking your questions.

Sam.
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Old 16 Nov 2007
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To get a visa, you need an invitation from a registered tourist agency.


It's worth clarifying that a 'certificate d'hebergement' (proof of lodging - ie: hotel booking for a night) will also do to get a visa for unescorted travels in the north. I confirmed this with the London consulate the other day (tho I suspect a good story/explanation for your travels will help matters as it's still very unusual to do this). Other consulates RTW may have greater or lesser requirements.

Ch
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  #11  
Old 19 Nov 2007
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much appreciated. dont get me wrong, i didn´t think it would be easy, and i have researched algeria today. i guess i was just hopeful that there would be some way around it for an adventurer.

a ride it the north might be worth aiming for.

how long do you think it will be before the guide restriction fo the south is lifted? after the road is fully surfaced?

regards.
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  #12  
Old 19 Nov 2007
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how long do you think it will be before the guide restriction fo the south is lifted?

IMO will be the day we teach the world to sing in per-fect har-mo-ny.
It was good while it lasted but it's here to stay

after the road is fully surfaced?
They have been surfacing that road south of Tam since I first went there in 1981...

Get the new LP and take a ride around the north - on a low profile bike it will be brilliant assuming the checkpoints dont grind you down. Arrive by plane not ferry or Tuni border.

Ch
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