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Sahara Travel ForumTopics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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I am posing this question a little late perhaps, but I am currently in Tunis trying to organise a visa to visit Algeria. Ideally, I would like to enter the country by land but I am without vehicle. My question is: is it possible to cross the El Oued border using public transport?
And once in Algeria: is it possible to travel from El Oued down to, and around, the South of the country using public transport? Is there, say, a transport infrastructure (save for flying) that is open to foreigners?
I am aware of the new visas requirements (they do not seem to apply to the same extent in Tunis). And I am likewise aware of the various dangers involved in travelling in the country _ if I decide the risk is too great I simply won't go - but for now I am simply interested in hearing if it is even possible for me to travel without transport of my own.
Of course this might not be the best place to ask about travel without a vehicle, no matter!
Good question. I have not heard of anyone who has tried lately. If foreigners need guides in the south then I guess you will eventually come to a checkpoint around Hassi M or Ghardaia where you get stuck (just guessing here) - if you get on a southbound bus/taxi at all. From these towns even locals need a 'visa' to get south.
You would be better off avoiding the land border at Nefta/Taleb where they expect foreginers to be met by guides - and flying somewhere south - either to Algiers and from there a domestic flight (cheap) south - or direct from Tunis down south, if there are such flights.
It will of course be baking and maybe a bit tense - there have been general purposex (not religious) riots in Tam and less so in Djanet in the last month or so.
Keeping a low-profile, local appearance (headscarf) may get you a bit further down the road.
Hi Alice! So, did you make it? Did you get the Algerian visa in Tunis? What kind of paperwork did you have to provide? How much was it, and how long did it take? Where did you cross the border, and was it easy? How far south did you get? Any difficulties travelling on public transport - police hassle, lack of connections, anything else? Would you recommend to do it this way?
I've done the overland Atlantic route - Maroc-Mauri-Mali without a vehicle last year, and now looking for something a bit more challenging:-)
I am still at the initial stage of the preparation - the general plan is to take three months travelling across Algeria to Niger, then possibly a third country, hitching rides with overlanders and using public transport. I'd appreciate any recent info and advice, and promise to keep you posted on the progress - if there is any that is:-)
Your trip south: if you wish, I can give you the email of Paul Meyer who did this in reverse direction two (3?) years ago. He went from Nigeria - Benin - Niger - Algeria - Tunisia - Sicily ALL by public transport and lifts (and plus girlfriend). Mail me offline for the address.
It's not Paul Meier by chance? I know a Swiss bloke caled Paul Meier - he does a lot of travelling and I wouldn't be surprised it's him. I couldn't find your off-line contact - could you email Paul's details to me? Click on one of the little icons at the head of this message to email me.
I am curious to hear personal experiences about travelling in northern Algeria. I know that's been discussed before, and that's considered dangerous and all that, but there must be somebody who travelled in the north recently, and returned alive. What were the highlights? Great places to visit? Practical tips for travelling without a vehicle? Costs?
Northern Algeria is not within the scope of this forum but no less interesting and rewarding than anywhere else in North Africa (I've only ever shot through, going south). Try the Thorn Tree. Problem may be getting a visa, tho I believe the guide thing is only for the south.
The guide and visa questions is exactly what I am trying to work out now. Say, I apply for a visa without mentioning I am planning to go south, to get around the guide thing. Will my itinerary be actually listed in the visa? Will I be able to travel south and on to Niger with such a visa? Will I be required a guide at all if I travel by public transport? Or is there some kind of permit - like you said, the 'south visa' for the locals?
Another one - you ever heard of anyone getting Algeria/Niger visas in Moscow? I am from St. Petersburg, Russia, so I will have to get them there.
Sorry for posting the North Algeria questions on this forum:-) I'll be more Sahara-specific as I'll be planning out my way down to Niger later this winter.
>The guide and visa questions is exactly what I am trying to work out now. Say, I apply for a visa without mentioning I am planning to go south, to get around the guide thing.
Worth a go if you are really keen. What's the worst that can happen - you get kicked out, but by blatantly ignoring regs you may also mess it up for other travellers who are struggling to get back there. The Algies don’t mess about (there is no bakshish culture here that I have encountered).
At the very least you will still need an 'attestation de hebergement' for a visa, north or south. I just got one yesterday (for the south) it says: "Nous assurerons donc la prise en charge de ces personnes [us, detailed] durant leurs sejour dans notre pays." Our loose itinerary follows.
For the north, a hotel reservation would do (you don’t have to use it of course), but many people have wasted a whole lot of time over the years contacting hotels up north to try and confirm a booking (and avoid the ‘agency invite’ route). Much better to get an invite from a friendly Algie, but then you going awol will get THEM into trouble.
Remember Alg is still on various FCO blacklists and until the kidnappings of 2003 (an aberration IMHO), it was the north that was deadly for tens of thousands of people and not a few foreigners.
>Will my itinerary be actually listed in the visa?
You mean in your passport? No, but more details than you imagine (entry point, all visa app info, etc) will be at the fingertips of the (special/secret?) police.
>Will I be able to travel south and on to Niger with such a visa?
For you, a visa is a visa - there are no restrictions included in it. but as in any country, your travel may be restricted, even with a platinum visa.
>Will I be required a guide at all if I travel by public transport?
I doubt it but dressing/looking/acting like a local and not a happy-clappy backpacker will help greatly. It takes one shaky cop wanting to be seen doing the right thing, and you're busted. We wanted to finish our upcoming trip [in the south] on public transport (and we may try it yet), but although it will be along a major route our guide/inviter was not so keen - primarily because our safety is officially his responsibility and the roadside checkpoints would be surprised indeed to see some foreigners on the bus. It would get back to him; his business might suffer.
>Or is there some kind of permit - like you said, the 'south visa' for the locals?
For travel in the north I don't know but I doubt it.
>Another one - you ever heard of anyone getting Algeria/Niger visas in Moscow? I am from St. Petersburg, Russia, so I will have to get them there.
Nope, but they were mates once in Soviet times. Now it's more the US.
As with many 'difficult' countries, getting the visa is the hard part - once you're in you're in - but I don’t think Alg is quite like that yet (as it was 20 years ago) - there has been too much massacring and there is more going on in that country than meets the eye (or gets in the press - the 2003 events for example...).
Its all very well writing a new chapter for the Worlds Most Dangerous Places and indeed North Alg may not be one of them (the danger of many countries is often exaggerated and urban mythologised as we know; Libya’s a perfect example and accounts for much of its cachet) but if nothing else you would do well to acquaint yourself and avoid the tense Kabylie areas south of the capital, head to the east and west coasts then down (ie, not TSH until there is no choice), follow the news in the Francophone press (eg: http://www.algeria-watch.org/francais.htm,http://www.elwatan.com/) and accept that even if you get a visa, your visit may not last as long as you hoped.
Worth remembering of course, it is the authorities that impose all these restrictions and the nutters on both sides which make them necessary - but the ordinary local people who have to live by them are great, especially in Alg.
It seems I've got my Algerian visa lined up, and I have more questions on vehicle-less travel in the south now. Say, if I get a lift with some overlanders, would I be just another passenger in their car and not need any special papers? Or does every person in the party have to be listed in some group document which will be checked every now and again? Would a foreign driver have any legal reasons not to take me as a passenger in Algeria? Will this driver's guide have legal reasons against taking me?
How frequent are the checkpoints in the south, and how often are you actually checked? Does every passenger in car get checked, or just the driver and his car's papers? Where does the South begin, from the legal point of view?
[This message has been edited by famous_walker (edited 21 October 2005).]
[This message has been edited by famous_walker (edited 21 October 2005).]
I believe the south begins on the Hassi M, Ouargla, Ghardaia line. Checkpoints at least at each town and at installations along the way.
If you have your visa you're in. Just before Hassi M (and maybe Ghardaia, etc) we got some pass issued - but I'm not sure if anyone ever asked to see it again.
As in other countries, it helps having the group and their details (DoB, ppt # issue and expiry, nationality, etc - + car details) listed on a print out to hand out. That's the info they want, you hand one over and move on.
Cant think why the guide or the driver would get in trouble - you have a visa, that is what counts.
Alice, how did your trip go? I am going to be traveling up the atlantic route by public transpo up to Gao and am entertaning the idea of going all the way through to Algeria and exiting to Spain. If I have a visa and I have entered from Mali, any idea what would happen if I am not supposed to be down there? I am already heading north so what can they do?
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