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Following my post above, and to shuffle a bit the discussion, just phoned the Algerian Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal.
The lady stated that touristic visas are being issued without any regional ban. I specifically asked her about a (potential) trip to Tam. in Jan2012 and she said that I just had to follow the normal procedure stated in their webpage (Portuguese, so use translator if necessary). http://www.emb-argelia.pt/index.php?...ares&Itemid=53
Location: Aussie expat in Switzerland half way RTW
Originally Posted by hieronymus
I don't think In Salah is considered part of the Grand Sud, maybe it's the most southern you're allowed to travel in Algeria.......
Hieronymus, you missed the point. I was stating that we could modify our travel plans when inside Algeria in response to Priffe. Whether further south or not, we could have without issue travelled to Tamaraset and in the desert with our guide. We choose not to go futher due to lack of time and not because of any travel restrictions.
Whether you choose to read what I wrote or not that's fine, just don't misinterpret for others please.
TC was there before the latest restrictions and I imagine could have travelled in all the areas that are open (see this map).
As for the current situation, I just received this.
Received a mail from a tour guide I met on a former voyage in Tassili N’ajjer. This part should interest you;
I'm not sure if you're aware, but the southern region, Djanet and Tamanrasset is officially closed to tourist as of 1 December 2011 until further notice due to security reasons. You should check with your operator and the embassy. No further details were given but it's most likely due to the proliferation of arms from Libya. There has been an increase in terrorism activities in Mail, Mauritania and Niger, and Algeria's probably playing it safe to prevent any tourist kidnappings. I don't think the situation is going to improve anytime soon until Libya is secured once again.
I could be wrong, but I suspect the Lisbon consulate may not have got the message rather than Portuguese be under some sort of exemption.
Also spotted this 6-month old news on El K which I don't recall reading before. Ties Alg in closer with AQIM and ABZ - not something you read so often and makes you think the tourism there may have been skating on thin ice. Of course, who knows if it's all as it reads...
I just read this very long thread and hope I can shed some light on it as a foreigner who has stayed in Algeria for 3 years and work in the tourism domain.
The southern areas, Tamanraset and Djanet included, was officially closed to foreigners between 1 to 10 dec. We know because one of our clients was granted a visa to go there only to have it officially revoked on 1 dec on grounds that the area was closed. On 10 dec, the director of tourism of Illizi, informed tour operators that the area was once again officially opened. So the 'strange reports' you've been getting is all true. It's just that the situation is very fluid for the moment. The proliferation of arms from Libya is a real threat to Algeria. While tourists may not like this fluidity, the government is playing it 'better safe than sorry'. Kidnapping of foreigners in the Maghreb always draws very big negative international attention - often overblown and not called-for. Nevertheless, that how the news works. So it may seem over the top to have so much police escort for tourists, and your company (Kira) having travel bans for you (many foreign companies have that here), but if you see it from their point of view, it makes sense. While having tourists would be very good for the grassroot economy, one incident can cost Algeria much more.
Now as for Adrar, there is no travel ban. In late October, after the incident in Tindouf (800+km from Timimoun), a gendamarie escort regulation is now enforced. That is tourists travelling by road between El Menia (otherwise known as El Golea, south of Ghardaia) and Ain Sefra must be registered with the gendamarie who will then provide armed escorts (FOC). I don't know how this will work for those travelling on public buses/taxi, but they are stopped for checks along the highway.
As for travelling to Tindouf, this is, as far as I know, off limits to tourists. Seeing some Spanish going there in the airport in no way means it's open. Most likely, you'll have to have special reasons for going there - and sight-seeing isn't one as there's nothing to see there.
The reason for seeming conflicting info/action from teh government is due to the lack of link between the various departments. The embassies can say one thing while the ministry of tourism says another. then you get to the immigration, and the officer does something else. And you finally get onto the road, the gendamarie road blocks may tell you something else. In the end, what matters is who you're dealing with at that precise moment. Tourists obviously find this extremely frustrating but that's just how the country works. Hence, in places like Algeria, it can be good to have an agency handle all these matters while you enjoy this otherwise, mavellous country.
Haven't heard other than the south was closed December 1, until further notice.
My idea, if I go, is to pick up Djanet guides somewhere in the north, Ouargla perhaps, and then go wherever they will let us. At the moment it is very hard to know that beforehand, and the situation can obviously suddenly change without notice.
Nice report Andras - havn't read it all but good to see some new images from that area.
Just got this from Brazil. It seems visas may depend on the consul and the '1-10 Dec closure' mentioned earlier may not be correct - or the message has not spread.
On Friday ... I got a visa [but] for only 5 days ... the explanation was that since my application said ... I would go to the South ... they allowed me to enter in the country but not to the region...
At the embassy here they argued that the advice from Algeria government [since Dec 1] was to deny visas if the application says that the tourist goes to any place close to the border in the South, however, the final decision is up to each consul. They also said that I might could try to apply for a visa extension in Alger.
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