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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 23 Aug 2010
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Travel to Timimoun - any special docs required?

Hey there - I'm travelling, via public transport, through Algeria and Tunisia for 6 weeks in March / April 2011. Timimoun will likely be the furthest south I will travel. Do I need any special documentation / permission to travel this far south? Is it a requirement to have an official guide at the 29th parallel?

Rough plan - Algier flight to Beni-Abes then taxi/bus Timimoun, el-Golea, Ghardaia, El-Oued - border crossing to Tunisia - Tozeur and on from there...

Any advice appreciated! tks.
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  #2  
Old 24 Aug 2010
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It seems to be all about getting a visa with not too many strings. If you can get the visa with just a hotel booking, then technically you ought to be able to arrive by plane and be let loose. As with many countries like this, it's the getting in that counts - once in you're off the radar. It depends on what the Alg-in-Can embassy will be used to. In London for example they are used to/expect a faxed invite from an travel agent that corresponds to a visa app. Hotel booking scam does not seem to work, but it does with other nationalities like Portuguese it seems.

For a while I thought arriving by plane in Alg (the way you are doing it - more chance of success) was a good dodge until one time I arrived and they said at immigration 'where is your escort?!' (there could have been more bombs in Algiers at that time - lately less bombs in the city that is).

So, if you can get a visa with just an invitation for a hotel (getting an answer was always the crux, but there are one of two who play the game), then you ought to be allowed out the intl airport (immigration) at Algiers, walk to the domestic terminal and get your plane to Beni.

Never heard of 29th parallel; it seems Reganne and In Salah and Hassi M are points where an unescorted foreign vehicle won't get past. But in Alg it's never cut and dry from year to year or place to place - until it is - usually further south or in a more strict wilaya (province) like Adrar or Ilizzi.

When I have flown direct Europe to Tam (deep south, formerly slack wilaya), one was easily able to get past immigration and out the door, but then getting on a bus out of town would be tricky with checkpoints. In Tam they are used to/expect tour groups flying in, being met by guides and off they go.

Short version: your plan is a good one (would not work in the other direction) but it will help a lot if you look like a local, keep a low profile (from police) and speak French or even Arabic. You will pass through lots of nice towns and great dunes near Kerzaz and north of El G, plus have fun meeting the locals on the bus.

At Taleb Larbi (El Oued border to Tuni) they may be a bit alarmed about how you got there, but by then you will have a feel for the place and a good story.

Ch

Last edited by Chris Scott; 24 Aug 2010 at 19:03. Reason: unescorted
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  #3  
Old 24 Aug 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Scott View Post
It seems to be all about getting a visa with not too many strings. If you can get the visa with just a hotel booking, then technically you ought to be able to arrive by plane and be let loose. As with many countries like this, it's the getting in that counts - once in you're off the radar. It depends on what the Alg-in-Can embassy will be used to. In London for example they are used to/expect a faxed invite from an travel agent that corresponds to a visa app. Hotel booking scam does not seem to work, but it does with other nationalities like Portuguese it seems.

For a while I thought arriving by plane in Alg (the way you are doing it - more chance of success) was a good dodge until one time I arrived and they said at immigration 'where is your escort?!' (there could have been more bombs in Algiers at that time - lately less bombs in the city that is).

So, if you can get a visa with just an invitation for a hotel (getting an answer was always the crux, but there are one of two who play the game), then you ought to be allowed out the intl airport (immigration) at Algiers, walk to the domestic terminal and get your plane to Beni.

Never heard of 29th parallel; it seems Reganne and In Salah and Hassi M are points where a foreign vehicle at least won't get past. But in Alg it's never cut and dry from year to year or place to place - until it is - usually further south or in a more strict wilaya (province) like Adrar or Ilizzi.

When I have flown direct Europe to Tam (deep south, formerly slack wilaya), one was easily able to get past immigration and out the door, but then getting on a bus out of town would be tricky with checkpoints. In Tam they are used to/expect tour groups flying in, being met by guides and off they go.

Short version: your plan is a good one (would not work in the other direction) but it will help a lot if you look like a local, keep a low profile (from police) and speak French or even Arabic. You will pass through lots of nice towns and great dunes near Kerzaz and north of El G, plus have fun meeting the locals on the bus.

At Taleb Larbi (El Oued border to Tuni) they may be a bit alarmed about how you got there, but by then you will have a feel for the place and a good story.

Ch
I wonder why the Algerian government is trying to do all it can in stopping/not allowing to develop its tourist sector?
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Old 24 Aug 2010
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In my opinion because:
They don't need the hassle/can't be bothered with the investment
The security reputation overseas is perceived as too bad
They aren't inclined to help the reprobate Tuareg of the south or the Berbers in the Kabylie in whose territories the most promising tourism lies
And most of all - for the moment they have enough gas and oil [for a few people] to get rich much quicker, with a bit of foreign help.

A similar story in Libya.
Without oil/gas, the other Maghrebi countries saw what they had to do a long time ago.

Ch
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  #5  
Old 24 Aug 2010
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Thank you.

Thanks very much for the quick replies. I have quite a bit of time to make sure all is on order for this trip. I started travelling solo 6 years ago with a trip through Britain, Land's End to John O'Groats and each successive trip has taken on new and different challenges. Last year took me through Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Now I'm heading a wee bit into the Sahara, but it was a trip through the Sinai where I fell in love with the desert. It's incredible. I wish I had friends who would travel with me to these places but that won't stop me from heading out anyway. Best.
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  #6  
Old 24 Aug 2010
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I just came back from Algeria last week - an unforgettable three week solo bike trip - with the help of Rui Pedro Tremoceiro that kindly gave me very precious tips. Crazy temperatures, a tough 7 day Ramadan (between the 11th and the 17th August), incredibly nice people along my way. In Ain Sefra I met an italian guy that had a very similar plan to yours (traveling by bus), although he wasn't traveling as further south as you are. He told me that he didn't have any special police control, mixing with all algerians in the bus. I suspect nobody expects a foreigner to travel in the country in the peak of the summer, specially close to Ramadan. My guess is that once you have the Visa and enter the country, you won't have problems in completing the tour.

In Beni Abbès there is a surprisingly good Sahara museum (free access), worth to visit, although sadly declining, near the Hotel Rym. The gentle man in charge of the Hotel accounting is a very nice guy and will help you find the museum.

From what I heard and saw in the country I concur with Chris' opinions about the mentality. The very fragile tourism infrastructures suffer with the lack of tourism. Many state run hotels are deteriorated and declining, and I seems there is no interest in renovation or improvement investments... Based on my chats with the algerian "gendarmes", I also agree that the critical line for foreigners to cross is Reganne - In Salah. I decided not to go further south than Timimoun because it was already too hot there for a guy on a bike and there was nothing of special interest to me in those towns.

In Beni Abbès I met 3 italian couples in their mobile homes that were heading to Tam, with a guide from a local agency, so I think it's not impossible for a foreigner vehicle to go all the way down to Tam, if 'properly' accompanied.

José.
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Old 24 Aug 2010
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Since the kidnappings 2003 there hasn't been hardly any attacks against tourists, right?
Not that many tourists around to attack, of course.
I think you will feel very safe travelling in Algeria.
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  #8  
Old 24 Aug 2010
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Feelling good!

I feel good about travelling around on my own. I have no intention of going further south than Timimoun, although I have read that there is a HUGE dune cutting it's way through the city of In'Salah that would be awesome to see. I just don't how much a 6 foot tall, blond/blue eyed Canadian who speaks no Arabic and very little French will "blend in". lol Either way, local travel is best (if you don't have your own motorbike!) and I've done it that way through much of the Near/Middle East all ready. Thanks again everyone for the info, keep it coming!
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  #9  
Old 8 Sep 2010
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At Timmimoun you can ask for help at Camping Rose des Sables. For sure, it´s the best place in town to stay and specially for eat. It´s usually open from October to March.
No special docs required, just the visa on your passport. Just show the letter of reservation from the camping and ... good journey!
I totally agree with CS point of view about today´s Algeria.

Rui.
Portugal
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