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Old 23 Oct 2002
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Safety in the northern Tenere

In our trip to Algeria next spring we are planning to explore the area south east of Djanet around Mt.Tiska and the start of the balises to Niger, and then over to the Gautier mountains, including an overnight camp in the open half way between Tiska and the mountains. One of our group has expressed concern about the risk of robbers/bandits. Is this likely to be a problem this far from the Niger border? Obviously we can be seen for 30km, but we can also see anyone approaching us, assuming we are alert.

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Old 23 Oct 2002
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I would have thought you will be fine, the biggest prob will be the Alg border guards patrolling that area (based at Afellellah well) and worth avoiding just for the hassle.

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Old 23 Oct 2002
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Some GPS points for a circuit: Djanet, Mnt Tiska, south of Erg D'Admer, thru Gautier Mntns and back west past In Afellellah on to the tar road to Djanet are at the bottom of this posting.

The northern Tenere well north of the Niger cut line seems OK. On the nights I have stayed out near Mnt Tiska in 2000 and 2001/02 there has always been some traffic prowling around the eastern side of Tiska at night. Might be best to night over on the western side of Tiska.

Also there is a hidden miliary post (23 36.334N 09 49.658E 800 m) south of Mnt Tiska west of Adrar Mariaou - hidden behind the dune east of the balise line. In 2000 the miliary intercepted us in 2 TLC pickups. In 2001 we drove right passed the military camp (we hadn't learnt its location in 2000). This caused a bit of a moment, because 30 or so troops in plain clothes ran down the sand dune with AKs. We didn't know who they were. When they levelled an SKS-LMG on a tripod and a bloke stood by with a belt feed, we started to take them more seriously. They kept us for a few hours, but didn't pose too much of a hassle. They were basically bored stiff (there was no vehicle at the camp).

We avoided the military at In Afellellah by driving south and west of it.

All in all, it makes for a lovely circuit of the N Tenere.

T001 24 19.291 09 40.659 1131 m 13.52
T002W 24 17.984 09 41.798 1091 m 14.05
T003 24 10.396 09 45.978 1048 m 14.40
T004W 24 08.041 09 46.968 1034 m 14.49
T005WF 23 58.714 09 50.007 1016 m
AL2412 23 58.476 09 50.177 1008 m east of Mnt Tiska
T006 23 53.062 09 51.772 904 m 12:56 River bed, follow SSW
T007W 23 49.130 09 49.612 876 m 13.17
T008 23 44.895 09 44.890 834 m 13:47 exit river bed
T009WF 23 41.325 09 45.604 798 m 14:10 Balise nr 53 T010WF 23 31.958 09 50.202 766 m 15:29
T011WF 23 22.074 09 55.425 754 m 16:15
AL2512 23 15.563 10 03.631 719 m campsite in shallow bowl east of Balise line, empty wine bottle left behind

T012WF 23 13.208 10 00.237 736 m
T013 23 10.568 09 52.548 758 m entry to corridor/valley
T014WF 23 10.385 09 48.982 781 m
T015 23 12.302 09 41.725 829 m exit from corridor
T016WF 23 14.175 09 38.926 845 m
T017 23 16.621 09 36.454 834 m
T018 23 17.935 09 35.553 821 m 8 acacias and dried up well,
T018W 23 17.995 09 35.503 823 m
T019 23 20.540 09 33.935 805 m dunes on RHS, reach open pan
T020W 23 22.617 09 35.282 812 m
T021 23 23.430 09 35.817 794 m I beam Sahara patrol beacon
T022 23 24.154 09 34.701 798 m tyres mark piste to Infellahlah
T023W 23 28.113 09 27.686 824 m
T024 23 28.051 09 20.210 832 m across rocky slope onto open oued
T025 23 26.511 09 16.603 820 m
T026 23 25.092 09 13.967 807 m crossing tracks to Infehlala at 90 degrees
T027 23 24.258 09 11.583 839 m going round large dune field
T028W 23 26.009 09 03.064 869 m trees in oued
T029 23 28.489 08 59.719 882 m pick up tracks in wadi
T030 23 31.543 08 57.971 897 m following tracks on small rocky plateau
T031WF 23 36.499 08 59.939 855 m trees on large open flat plains, dunes to east
T032W 23 46.720 08 55.019 867 m grass band at 90 degrees, 9.5 L
T033 23 53.877 08 50.266 882 m pick up main track north
T034 23 58.697 08 44.516 895 m
T035 24 05.065 08 38.107 910 m Amamoukene Oua Mellene mountains on right
T036 24 14.001 08 34.094 936 m
T037 24 19.987 08 36.565 950 m
T038 24 29.833 08 37.254 991 m view of Tassili N Ajjer
T039 24 35.497 08 39.802 1000 m
T040 24 43.772 08 43.873 1045 m soft sand
T041 24 49.431 08 44.370 1075 m
T042 24 54.190 08 44.638 1106 m oued sersouf and tar road to Djanet

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Old 24 Oct 2002
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Thanks to both of you for the all the info. I didn't know about the military in this area. So who are the people travelling at night, smugglers or what? Do the military search your vehicles? What if they turn up sat phones or 2 way radios? Should we park up out of sight of anyone at night?


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Old 24 Oct 2002
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Not sure who the people are travelling through at night - might be smugglers - might be military looking for smugglers. Either way, a low profile is the way forward.

The military are fine - a bit of a hassle in that they kept us for a while, but certainly no more than that. Algerian military are, on the whole, v.helpful.

I've been told that the conscripts at posts like that in the N.Tenere are for those 'who don't fit in well with the military' and are therefore sent out to the sticks. They looked pretty unruly - but they were fine.

The key point is to expect a military presence at those reference points. We were thinking of doing a runner while we were still out of range of the small arms AKs (we thought the guys on the dunes were bandits) - but the bigger pieces they were setting up would have made a mess of our vehicle and we were glad to have stopped in the end.

Overall, the military presence in the Tenere is a good thing, because the bandits will steer clear of the N half. Which they seem to do (action happens south of the cut line in Niger).

Might be an idea to drive off the balise line anyway, once you are about 50 km south of the military post. I reckon 25 km west of the balise line and you'd have total peace and quiet. Afterall, its one of the nicest places on earth.
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Old 24 Oct 2002
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"Afterall, its one of the nicest places on earth."

You clearly havent been to Port Hedland, bud!
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