Algeria tour, Algerian Odyssey
Description of Algeria tour, Algerian Odyssey
Algeria might be up to its waist in desert, but it’s far from empty – this holiday takes in some of the best sights in a country that not many tourists visit. Start your trip with one of the highlights: the UNESCO-listed casbah at Algiers. Its Ottoman palaces and mosques might be crumbling, but they are as atmospheric as anything. Together, they tell the story of a deeply religious community that has lived between the Sahara and the sea for centuries.
This Algerian odyssey uses cars, 4WD and planes to span the country. Take the plunge south into the Sahara, passing salt lakes and dunes, and surfacing at oasis towns where mud-built walls and ksars (fortresses) have stood the test of time. Towns like Beni Hammad, Biskra, El Oued and Timimoun sit right on the edge of the desert.
The Romans came to Algeria and you can see traces of their lives in the ruins you’ll visit at Timgad, at Cherchell, at Djemila and at Tiddis, near Constantine. This tour also takes you to the M’Zab Valley towns where the Mozabite people – a Berber ethnic group – live under the high plateau. Your trip ends at Algiers again after a visit to the magnificent Islamic monuments at Tlemcen.
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PlanetMost of the time on this tour is spent in towns and cities, but we do spend a significant proportion of the trip exploring the desert regions of Algeria. When exploring these areas on foot we take care to stick to the trails (where they exist!) and not to damage any of the flora, as some parts of the region are quite a fragile environment.
We operate a strict no litter policy on our tours, and work to educate our drivers and other service providers so as to avoid contributing to this problem.
Similarly, in conjunction with our local team we work with hotels and guesthouses to implement best practices when it comes to environmental matters – in some places this is far behind what we might be used to in other parts of the world. This includes basic things like not replacing towels each day, as well as saving electricity and turning lights off – small things but Algeria, especially outside of Algiers is not as used to tourism as countries in western Europe.
We visit a number of sites and monuments on this tour that do not necessarily receive much funding from other sources; the entrance fees that we include help to maintain the heritage of this country for future generations – not just western travellers but more importantly to local people to whom they have far more cultural and historical significance.
PeopleOn all of tours we strive to include a strong focus on local communities and we are firm believers that tourism should have a positive impact on the places visited. On this tour we try to allow our travellers to gain a real insight into the traditional customs of the country; a good example of this is when we stop in Sidi El Abbes en route to Tlemcen, where we have drinks and snacks in a village house. Not only is this a great experience for travellers but it means that small scale community based tourism projects, often ignored by mainstream tourism, are able to benefit from our visit.
We also spend time visiting the Mozabite people in and around Ghardaia. We only visit communities that are pleased to receive us – it is important that we do not treat such communities just as ‘exhibits’, and we recognise that some traditional groups prefer to be left alone.
These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities. This also applies to any religious sites that we visit on this trip; Algeria is a deeply religious country and it is important that we respect these traditions.
We use locally owned suppliers and our partners here are deeply involved with the preservation of the culture and heritage of the country. Many of Algeria’s sites have been poorly maintained in the past and the entrance fees we pay to visit historic sites play an important part in their restoration and conservation.