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Algeria: Bicycle Tour Travel Guide

 

 


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by David Mozer

[An introduction and overview to travel in Africa is available by clicking here.  If you are look for a bicycle tour to this country, this link might help you.]

The information below may have been extracted from a more comprehensive "Country Supplement" to the book "Bicycling In Africa".  For information on these publications click on the links.

Algeria is a morally conservative country as reflect in the success of Muslim fundamentalist in 1991 elections. The conservatism has it positive aspect in that you will find generous, honest and helpful people, who stay that way. But in its "conservativeness" the rights of women have not progressed as far as they have in its neighbors, especially Tunisia. This becomes a serious problem when Algerian men start making assumptions about the availability and morals of unveiled western women -- women traveling together or a male companion are not always enough to discourage the advances.

Some what related to this is on going strife between the secular military government and the Muslim fundamentalist movement. Add to this a deteriorating economy and disenfranchised urban masses and you begin to understand why the country has had a series of "states of emergency." Conditions have not always been ideal for tourism so check on current conditions before doing extensive holiday planning.

Routes

Mediterranean Coast: The coastal roads are hilly in parts, but not difficult. The major roads are well-surfaced, wide and safe, but many secondary roads have been allowed to disintegrate. Expect to find heavy traffic near Algiers and on the main road to Constantine. There is a secondary coastal secondary road between Algiers and Constantine.

The Atlas Mountains: The Atlas mountains in this reach are mostly well rounded and laced with paved roads. You will get your exercise, but should find enough good food and water to reward the effort. Besides friendly people and beautiful scenery, the regions is full of history. If you need a criteria for picking a route, determine your destination by selecting a handful of ruins to visit.

[Note: As of 2007, independent tourist travel was restricted in Algeria, south of the Atlas Mountains -- you are required to have a guide to travel in many areas.]

Edge of the Sahara: For those who would like to experience a bit of the desert but aren't up to the effort required for a trans-Sahara trek, there is do-able, but not always easy loop that runs through Ghardaia, Ouargla, Touggourt and Biskra. At Touggourt it is worth the side trip to El Oued or continue on into Tunisia. It is a lot of territory but you will be amazed at how different each of these towns are and by the overall diversity in the landscape.

South of Ghardaia: This is where you start heading across the Sahara. The are paved roads into southern Algeria to Bechar/Reggane and El Golea/In Salah, but crossing the Sahara is another story. It can be very scenic and spiritual. It can also be very monotonous, hot, windy and stormy -- as in sandstorm. Riding into the desert is a serious, life-threatening business. You cannot go roaming around -- if you really want to see the desert leave the bike and get a camel or four wheel drive (I don't believe I wrote that). The government requires you to register with the police whenever you come into a desert town. You should be prepared to carry a good supply of water and food yourself. The food of the desert is dates, dates and dates. You can expect to be able to replenish your water supply from passing cars and trucks. When you hear a vehicle coming stop, hold your water bottle and give you best signal that you are running dry -- it may be past "method acting".

If you still think you want to cross the Sahara there are three routes out of Algeria: Bechar/Tindorf/Mauritania, Reggane/Bordj-Mokhtar/Mali and In Salah/Tamanrasset/Niger. As of the early 90's all three were technically closed or not advised for tourists. The first because of the war in the Western Sahara. The second because a Touareg insurrection in northern Mali. And, the third and recently most popular, because military actions in Niger. Check on current conditions before you start.

Again, crossing the Sahara is serious business in many ways. This paper does not purport to begin to tell you what you really need to know to take on the trip. You should read and research equipment and current conditions much more extensively before setting off.

Links of Interest:

 

Regional Resources:

Egypt
Mali
Morocco
Niger
Tunisia

 
 

 

For current news on Africa and more web sites with country-by-country information go to the link section and click on "Africa: News, Background, Travel."

Africa Guide Home   IBF's Bibliography: Africa   IBF's Travel Page   IBF's Africa index 

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