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North Africa Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
Photo by Michael Jordan, enjoying a meal at sunset, Zangskar Valley, India

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Michael Jordan
enjoying a meal at sunset,
Zangskar Valley, India



Trans Sahara Routes.

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  #76  
Old 21 Oct 2015
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Any news on that front? I'm thinking of joining a camel trekking coming spring at Djanet. Tour operator said: lots of military around, all safe. Does this coincide with your experience?
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  #77  
Old 23 Oct 2015
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I would not have any safety concerns in the Djanet area, the military presence was subdued but omnipresent in the past years, and they have a pretty impressive array of remote-sensing capabilities.


The issue seems to be with the issuing of visas at present. The advice: start early, apply at least 2-3 months in advance of planned trip.
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  #78  
Old 8 Nov 2015
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Since 2006 I was many times in Djanet area and Tadrart. I returned a week ago from the last trip. There were more tourists on Sebeiba than in previous years. Last year were Andrasz and two groups of Polish only, now Europeans were ca 50+. We met someone every day in Tadrart, even 14 Landcruisers in the same time near Tamezguida. Comparing - we didn’t met anybody in whole Tadrart on 2014. Army more than usual. Military camps in Essendilene and at the entrances to Wadi El Berdj and Wadi Injaren. In addition car patrols in Tadrart. Looks better than in previous years, but Algeria will changes soon related to the illness of President Bouteflika. You don’t know what will happens…
We received visas this year without problems, but I've heard about small groups of Italians, who didn’t receive the visas and Belgians, who received it but after ca 2 months waiting for authorisations from Algerian Foreign Affairs.. Last year we got visas after phone call of our friends from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs...
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  #79  
Old 9 Nov 2015
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Thanks a lot for these infos, it sounds that situation is a (little) better now though the main problem is to obtain visa when you want to go to Southern area.
14 Land Cruisers: which nationality? (Cars and drivers).
RR.
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  #80  
Old 9 Nov 2015
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All

Have read (some of) this thread. We are/were looking at going to Algeria for a month at or just after Christmas and travelling as backpackers. Train along the north coast and dipping down into the south for maybe a week or so of desert.

We've done a bit of travelling before as you can see from the overlandcruiser link, and Algeria is the only Maghreb country we haven't visited.

Is this a foolhardy / unrealistic idea?

Mark
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  #81  
Old 9 Nov 2015
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All you need is the visa and, as used to happen before, visas for certain nationalities dry up periodically.

To travel in the deep south you will need an escort which usually comes with the official invite needed to get the visa. You can't just roam around on buses, but give it a go. They can only send you back. Or get on a local plane - less checkpoints that way.

I think the Timimoun area (nice dunes, etc) may be north of the escort requirement.

I would look on Thorn Tree to see if any backpackers have managed to travel in the north.

But as a Brit, almost certainly the visa will be the crux. As has been said above: they are not refused outright, just never issued in time, so buy a refundable air ticket if there is such a thing.
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  #82  
Old 11 Nov 2015
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Originally Posted by roro View Post
Thanks a lot for these infos, it sounds that situation is a (little) better now though the main problem is to obtain visa when you want to go to Southern area.
14 Land Cruisers: which nationality? (Cars and drivers).
RR.
All Algerians. Tuaregs from Djanet. All tourist came by plane to Djanet.
Related to the visas - probably visas are issued for citizens from countries with quite good political relations with algerian goverment. This can be true, because I had in the group people from Germany - they obtain the visas with many problems.
The consul from Warsaw show me the fax with authorisation from Foreign Affairs in Algier and there were Japanese, Polish and people from Spain only.
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  #83  
Old 4 Dec 2015
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Originally Posted by Chris Scott View Post
All you need is the visa and, as used to happen before, visas for certain nationalities dry up periodically.

To travel in the deep south you will need an escort which usually comes with the official invite needed to get the visa. You can't just roam around on buses, but give it a go. They can only send you back. Or get on a local plane - less checkpoints that way.

I think the Timimoun area (nice dunes, etc) may be north of the escort requirement.

I would look on Thorn Tree to see if any backpackers have managed to travel in the north.

But as a Brit, almost certainly the visa will be the crux. As has been said above: they are not refused outright, just never issued in time, so buy a refundable air ticket if there is such a thing.
Hi Chris / all

We have this AM put in applications for our Algerian visas @ the London embassy. The receipt SAYS it will be ready on Fri 17th.....I asked the visa section whether we needed to call first to check before coming to the embassy and they said "no don't call us, just come at 3PM on the 17th and it will be ready - I promise!" Are we being naiive to believe this?

They also wanted an itinerary showing "approximate" dates, hotel names and places, so I had to run off to a nearby internet cafe and put one together - thank goodness I'd managed to lay my hands on a cc of the most recent Algeria Lonely Planet! I didn't give any indication that we'd be going to the deep south, or indeed anywhere in the red / orange bits on the latest FCO Travel Advice map.

I did have a look and post on TT about travelling as a backpacker in the north....a few people appear to have done so recently and 2 have even PM'd me asking me to let them know how I get on!

Mark
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  #84  
Old 4 Dec 2015
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Good for you Mark, and good luck.
Done without an agency invite I take it? Or what?

My say though, I've heard similar assurances before and all turned out to be a waste of time. There's something about not declining a visa outright, just stringing you along until your travel plans are cocked up. Don't think its just about keeping your money; maybe a quota thing or maybe that's what the Brits do to Algies in Algiers.

Last time I knew (many years ago) it was In Salah latitude (and other places - In Amenas maybe) where the strict controls were.
But like I may have said, that technically still means you can explore Timimoun region

Got an email recently from some bloke who said he rode his KTM down to Djanet and beyond in April. Yet to find out how he actually did it.

The sealed highways are not actually closed to foreigners wit escorts as far as I know. But who's going to go to Alg just to do that (apart from KTM man - ride to Djanet is actually pretty epic).
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  #85  
Old 4 Dec 2015
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Good for you Mark, and good luck.
Done without an agency invite I take it? Or what?

My say though, I've heard similar assurances before and all turned out to be a waste of time. There's something about not declining a visa outright, just stringing you along until your travel plans are cocked up. Don't think its just about keeping your money; maybe a quota thing or maybe that's what the Brits do to Algies in Algiers.
Hi Chris

I spoke to them on the phone before going in person to lodge the application and they said for a UK passport holder they wanted a hotel booking - which I did, for 2 days in a place in Algiers via Hotels.com - but that an invitation letter wasn't necessary. When we arrived, I met the same person I'd spoke to on the phone and who questioned why we'd applied for a 30 day visa but only had a hotel booked for 2 days; we said we were planning to travel around. Then she asked for the dreaded invitation letter, at which point I said we didn't have one. After that, she asked for the dreaded itinerary - and said it was fine when I brought one back.

You've got me worried now about whether it'll be ready on the 17th (as well as her telling me not to call them)! The hotel can be cancelled and refunded if it isn't, but we haven't yet dared buy a plane ticket. And we've both got to sort out annual leave at work.

Re the areas with controls - we may or may not go to those, and in any case won't without whatever guide / escort is required.

Mark
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  #86  
Old 4 Dec 2015
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I wonder wonder consular woman is a newb who hasn't done a tourist visa.
You may have slipped in by chance. Or its just the usual string-along.

Without your own vehicle is less of a commitment then.
Worth paying more for a plane ticket you can cancel last minute.
Worth also buying a domestic plane ticket down south - Djanet or Tam - and organising something there with an agency - Hoggar/Assekrem out of Tam with Timtar (4 e.g.) - or a plateau walk out of Djanet with Essendilene (also 4 e.g).
Saves days and dodges all the road checks. The north is not so interesting and IMO more risky for foreigners.
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  #87  
Old 4 Dec 2015
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Well - she was called Huda, and when I first called the visa section a couple of weeks ago I got through initially to someone who couldn't speak much English and who put me straight on to her instead. From the way she was rattling through on the phone what paperwork was needed and from how she dealt with us today, she didn't come across as inexperienced. And in fairness to her, she HAD said something on the phone about an itinerary - I just hadn't prepared a written / printed one in advance, hoping merely to point to places in the LP book.

I saw her letting one British woman collect her passport & visa during the morning application time slot even though collections were meant to be in the afternoon and there were other applicants there in various stages of their application processes; I didn't witness anyone complaining about "but you told me it would be ready today" but that might just be during the 30 mins or so I was there, and during the morning application time slot rather than the afternoon collection one!

Interesting what you say about the north being less risky for foreigners - the FCO says different https://assets.digital.cabinet-offic...vel_Advice.pdf
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  #88  
Old 4 Dec 2015
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Oh well, all will be revealed shortly and then there will a bundle for Hyde Park Gate - or not.

Quote:
Interesting what you say about the north being less risky for foreigners...
You can see I said the opposite, but yes it does contradict the FCO map.
As we've been seeing these last few weeks and months, the hardcore psychos are where the people are, not deep in the desert. Note the yellow patch to the right of Algiers. I would give that a red.
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  #89  
Old 9 Dec 2015
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Originally Posted by Chris Scott View Post
or a plateau walk out of Djanet with Essendilene (also 4 e.g).
Hi,
Plateau is closed for foreign tourists now. Alidemna the same.
Tadrart and NW-SW area (Tin Abaro, Tin Mouma, Tin Batoulet, Afara, Tasset, Ihrir, Idaren, etc..) are open.
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Artur
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  #90  
Old 18 Dec 2015
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Oh well, all will be revealed shortly and then there will a bundle for Hyde Park Gate - or not.
Yippee! Huda came good - we now have our Algerian visas!

It was a bit worrying up to the end, as a work colleague who is Algerian tried to call someone he knew at the consulate earlier in the week to check whether we were going to get them OK. Someone wasn't there, so he ended up talking to Huda - who said "if they've been told the 17th, they'll get them on the 17th" and this was exactly the same response I got when I called yesterday morning before going there in person; I'd have preferred it if she'd said something like 'what are your names - hold on while I check'!

I had a quick chat before leaving the embassy. Apparently the rumours about foreign ATM cards not working in Algeria are true. And just to see the response, I asked about going to Tamanrasset (stressing that I meant the city, not the surrounding countryside) and got told it's off-limits :-(

Any info/tips anyone can give me about any aspect of travel in Algeria would be greatly appreciated.
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