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Algeria

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Algeria
You raise a few eyebrows when you say you’re travelling to Algeria. Though the country,
ravaged by civil war in the early 1990s, is taking tentative steps towards tourism, it is still
a destination mainly for the adventurous and the patient. Yet there is so much to see here:
vast parts of the Sahara desert remain unexplored; the Neolithic cave paintings of Tassili
N’Ajjer and the volcanic peaks of the Hoggar mountains are Unesco listed; tribal culture is
very much alive; the mysterious and ultrareligious towns of the M’zab region offer a peek
into life as it was lived hundreds of years ago; and the Tuareg capital, Tamanrasset, is a forest
of veiled ‘blue men’ driving jeeps and drinking mint tea. To the north, the Mediterranean
coast is almost completely undeveloped, and the capital, Algiers, is a bombastic mixture of
traditional and modern Algeria. Refreshingly, the day-to-day hassle common to many Arab
countries is conspicuously absent.
Many Algerians and the country’s intrepid explorers like the lack of visitors: the difficult
transport and next to no tourist infrastructure make it almost impossible for Algeria to turn
into a holiday magnet like its neighbour, Tunisia. Chances of this happening are low, because
Algeria’s economy doesn’t depend on tourism and the continuing reports of militant attacks
in certain areas, though seldom reported in Western media, mean that it will be a long time
before Algeria is swamped by visitors. So, if you have lots of time, patience and a healthy
but cautious sense of adventure, take advantage of this dusty gem and explore Algeria.
FAST FACTS
Area 2.3 million sq km
ATMs None
Borders Niger and Tunisia open; Morocco
closed; Mali, Mauritania and Libya crossings
not advised

lonelyplanet.com

HIGHLIGHTS
Algiers (p73) See modern and traditional
Algeria meet in the country’s fascinating
capital.
Tamanrasset (p76) Get lost among the Blue
Men – the Tuaregs – and explore Saharan
culture.
Assekrem (p77) Watch the sun set beyond
a sea of mountains, and absorb Algeria’s
most breathtaking view.
Timimoun (p76) Explore beautiful desert
architecture and sigh over the sand dunes
on the edges of town.
Ghardaïa (p75) Bargain for a technicolour
carpet, before peeking inside the ancient
Muslim town, Beni Isguen.

CLIMATE & WHEN TO GO
Algeria has a Mediterranean climate along
the coast, with mild, wet winters, and hot, dry
summers. The coastal area is best visited in
spring and summer months. The Sahara desert
has famously ferocious ...
ALGERIA
ALGERIA
lonelyplanet.com ALGERIA •• Highlights
You raise a few eyebrows when you say you’re travelling to Algeria. Though the country,
ravaged by civil war in the early 1990s, is taking tentative steps towards tourism, it is still
a destination mainly for the adventurous and the patient. Yet there is so much to see here:
vast parts of the Sahara desert remain unexplored; the Neolithic cave paintings of Tassili
N’Ajjer and the volcanic peaks of the Hoggar mountains are Unesco listed; tribal culture is
very much alive; the mysterious and ultrareligious towns of the M’zab region offer a peek
into life as it was lived hundreds of years ago; and the Tuareg capital, Tamanrasset, is a forest
of veiled ‘blue men’ driving jeeps and drinking mint tea. To the north, the Mediterranean
coast is almost completely undeveloped, and the capital, Algiers, is a bombastic mixture of
traditional and modern Algeria. Refreshingly, the day-to-day hassle common to many Arab
countries is conspicuously absent.
Many Algerians and the country’s intrepid explorers like the lack of visitors: the difficult
transport and next to no tourist infrastructure make it almost impossible for Algeria to turn
into a holiday magnet like its neighbour, Tunisia. Chances of this happening are low, because
Algeria’s economy doesn’t depend on tourism and the continuing reports of militant attacks
in certain areas, though seldom reported in Western media, mean that it will be a long time
before Algeria is swamped by visitors. So, if you have lots of time, patience and a healthy
but cautious sense of adventure, take advantage of this dusty gem and explore Algeria.
Algeria
HIGHLIGHTS
Algiers ( p73 ) See modern and traditional
Algeria meet in the country’s fascinating
capital.
Tamanrasset ( p76 ) Get lost among the Blue
Men – the Tuaregs – and explore Saharan
culture.
Assekrem ( p77 ) Watch the sun set beyond
a sea of mountains, and absorb Algeria’s
most breathtaking view.
Timimoun ( p76 ) Explore beautiful desert
architecture and sigh over the sand dunes
on the edges of town.
Ghardaïa ( p75 ) Bargain for a technicolour
carpet, before peeking inside the ancient
Muslim town, Beni Isguen.
CLIMATE & WHEN TO GO
Algeria has a Mediterranean climate along
the coast, with mild, wet winters, and hot, dry
summers. The coastal area is best visited in
spring and summer months. The Sahara desert
has famously ferocious summer temperatures,
so visiting this part of Algeria is best done be-
tween late autumn and early spring (Novem-
ber to April). Despite daytime temperatures
seldom falling below 25°C, desert nights can
be cold even in the height of summer. Rainfall
ranges from more than 1000mm per year in
the northern mountains, to zero in the Sahara.
Some places go decades without a drop.
ITINERARIES
One Week Fly to Tamanrasset ( p76 ) and
go on a desert expedition trip, walking
alongside camels and sleeping under the
stars for five days. Stopping over in Al-
giers ( p73 ) on your way back gives you
the perfect opportunity to explore the
capital for a couple of days.
Two Weeks As for the one-week itinerary,
but continue onto Ghardaïa ( p75 ) from
Algiers. Take in the beauties of this old-
fashioned town over two days, with its
market, colourful carpets and the daily
souq (market), and don’t miss spending
a day inside the ancient town of Beni
Isguen ( p75 ), where people have been liv-
ing according to strict Muslim laws for
centuries. Get a bus to Timimoun ( p76 )
and spend a couple of days relaxing, wan-
dering around town, and watching the
sand dunes, before catching a bus, then
plane back to Algiers.
HISTORY
The modern state of Algeria is a relatively
recent creation. The name was coined by the
Ottoman Turks in the 16th century to de-
scribe the territory controlled by the regency
of Algiers – initially a Turkish colony. The
regency broke free of the Ottoman Empire
and founded a military republic of unusual
stability. This endured almost 300 years until
spurious diplomatic problems prompted the
French to invade in the 19th century.
The Barbary Coast
Before the arrival of the French, Algeria was
known to Europeans as the Barbary (a corrup-
tion of Berber) Coast, whose notorious pirates
preyed on Christian shipping. The dreaded
Khayr al-Din, going under the chilling pseu-
donym of Barbarossa, was the first regent of
Algiers during this period, and at one point
WARNING
Despite an increase in interest in Algeria
as a travellers’ destination, parts of the
country remain unsafe. You should avoid
travelling to the northwest, and the desert
and mountain regions of the southeast, in
particular. We did on-the-ground research
in some parts of the south, east and the
country’s capital, but as we were not able
to do on-the-ground research in the entire
country, some information in this chapter
might not be reliable. Please check the situ-
ation before travelling to Algeria.
HOW MUCH?
Cup of tea US$0.50
Newspaper US$0.80
Antique tin box US$4
Lamb couscous US$1.50
Tuareg shawl US$5
LONELY PLANET INDEX
1L petrol US$1.50
1L bottled water US$0.50
Bottle of Algad Power Beer From US$5
Souvenir T-shirt US$4
Kebab US$1.50
FAST FACTS
Area 2.3 million sq km
ATM s None
Borders Niger and Tunisia open; Morocco
closed; Mali, Mauritania and Libya crossings
not advised
Budget US$35 to US$40 per day
Capital Algiers
Languages Arabic, Berber, French
Money Algerian dinar (DA); US$1 = DA71
Population 32.9 million
Seasons In the north: wet (October to March), dry
(June to September); in the south: hot (March to
October), cool (November to February)
Telephone Country code
%
213; international access code
%
00
Time GMT/UTC +1
Visa US$40 to US$50 for one month
© Lonely Planet Publications
68 69
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