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Algeria: Saharan Desert Adventure

TOUR IN

AFRICA

  • 22 Oct
  • -
  • 01 Nov 2024
  • |
  • 11 days

$3619

per person

Availability: 12 places

    The south-east of Algeria is blessed with some of the most spectacular desert scenery on earth, with towering sand dunes, unusual rock formations and deep red sand. It's also home to an extraordinary collection of ancient rock art including over 15,000 cave paintings. Of huge historic importance, they depict scenes of everyday life in Africa around 12,000 years ago, as well as wildlife such as giraffe, rhinoceros and elephant, in what UNESCO describe as an outdoor museum. 

    On this journey we'll fly over 1,200 miles south from Algiers to Djanet. From there we'll set off into the desert south of Djanet for four nights with our Tuareg guides, drivers and cook, who will introduce us to this extraordinary area and the desert way of life. While wild camping in the desert, our crew will prepare fabulous meals for us, setting up camp and showing us centuries-old nomadic rituals such as tea-making. We'll then return to Djanet for a day and night of relative home comforts before heading north to spend two further days and nights exploring the beautiful Tassili region, before returning north to Algiers. 

    With no mobile signal and sleeping in dome tents, this is a tour for the adventurous in spirit who are wanting the time and space to soak up the beauty of the Sahara in one of the world's last great remaining wilderness areas.

    Day 1

    DAY 1: Tour starts in Algiers

    Our journey begins in Algiers, the lively Algerian capital where we'll first start by exploring the Casbah, the beating heart of the city. The entire Casbah is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, ensuring its whitewashed walls and 18th century buildings are maintained. After enjoying a cup of traditional Algerian tea on a roof terrace overlooking the city and the Bay of Algiers, we'll explore the narrow alleyways and learn about the central role the Casbah played in the uprising against the French. We'll also discover more of Algiers, including the harbour, the Ketchaoua Mosque and the Post Office, before visiting the Basilica of Notre Dame, high above the city.
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    Day 2

    DAY 2: Algiers - Tipasa - Djanet

    This morning we will drive east to visit the archaeological museum of Cherchell before continuing on to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tipasa on the Mediterranean coast. This Roman port rose to prominence under the emperor Septimus Severus (AD193-211), and provides us with a remarkable collection of Punic, Roman and Numidian temples and monuments. We'll explore the amphitheatre, the ancient collonade and a beautiful private villa backing onto the sea. After lunch we'll then return to Algiers, via the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania. This imposing tomb is the final resting place of Berber Juba II and Cleopatra Selene II, who were the last king and queen of the ancient Kingdom of Mauretania. After dinner we will transfer to Algiers airport for the late night flight* to Djanet.
    *Please note that flight times (and therefore exact itineraries) are subject to change but the 2hr 15min flight to Djanet usually departs at about 23:00 meaning that we'll transfer directly to the guesthouse on arrival in Djanet in the early hours of Day 3.
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    Day 3

    DAY 3: Djanet - In Djarren - Moula Naga

    After breakfast, we'll drive south from Djanet along the last paved roads we'll see for a few days, before turning off-road to begin our desert adventure. Navigating the In Djarren circuit in comfortable 4WDs (max 3 clients per vehicle) and travelling between wadis and canyons, we'll stop for lunch in a picturesque spot to get our first taste of the amazing food our cook can rustle up in the desert, from grilled meats and salads to soups and couscous. In the afternoon we'll also get our first taste of the ancient rock art sites featuring engravings of giraffe and elephant. Arriving at the end of the day at Moula Naga, we'll enjoy an al fresco dinner before experiencing the tranquility of camping in beautiful isolation under the clear night sky.
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    Day 4

    DAY 4: Moula Naga – Tin Tekak

    After breakfast, we plan to take a scenic walk with our guide across the desert while the rest of the local crew pack up the camp before picking us up in the 4WDs en route. With no phone or internet access we will have no choice but to completely immerse ourselves in our surroundings. Fortunately, we are in one of the most beautiful regions on the planet. On one of the most scenic days of the tour, we drive across the deep pristine red sand of Tadrart, over high dunes, looking for wild camels and marvelling at the picturesque rock formations. Stopping for a picnic lunch, we'll have the afternoon for further exploration or just for taking in the scenery. Later we'll discover more ancient rock art, much of which has been estimated to be 15,000 years old and whose depictions of deer, elephant, giraffe and even fish tell of a time when the whole area was much more fertile. We'll camp by a towering sand dune and take a walk (up the dune if you wish) to take in a sunset against a cinematic backdrop of dunes, orange sand, grey salty crust floors and jagged rocks, whilst the camp is set up. After some traditional Tuareg tea, there'll be time to relax until evening dinner around the campfire.
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    Day 5

    DAY 5: Tin Tekak – Tin Merzouga

    Today we will take a morning walk through the spectacular scenery, hearing little but the hard salt formed by the annual rains here crunch beneath our feet. Once back in the 4WDs we'll experience how the scenery changes every few miles, stopping regularly for walks to see more rock art. Some of this art depicts battle scenes which experts believe shows the Berbers from the north on horseback conquering the pastoral farmers who used to live here, giving rise to the Tuareg nomads who now populate much of this area as well as parts of Libya, Mali and Mauritania. We will camp by the towering Tin Merzouga dune, the highest dune in this area. Those feeling brave can climb the dune for sunset, or just relax with a coffee or tea at the camp.
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    Day 6

    DAY 6: Tin Merzouga - Tassili de Monhor

    After our usual morning walk we will head to Afazo canyon and the In Djarren wadi, discovering rock art and unusual formations such as the window with a view and the hedgehog. Along the way we may meet some of the people making a living in this harsh environment, such as goat herders and camel breeders. We leave the Tadrart to join the Tassili de Monhor in the afternoon, to discover vast corridors of stone and more rock art. We'll make our camp in the evening in splendid isolation amongst the peaceful dunes.
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    Day 7

    DAY 7: Tassili de Monhor - Djanet

    Today we return to civilisation at Djanet (a drive of around 2-3  hrs) via Egharghar Wadi, stopping at the site of the Cow that Cries. The story behind this wonderfully moving rock art goes that a local farmer took his cows to the river to be watered, and upon seeing them crying, found it had dried up. This was the end of the fertile era for this part of the Sahara, and this ancient Picasso-esque piece of art has become especially poignant in these days of climate change and increasing desertification. After lunch we'll check in at our guesthouse for a well-earned shower, relaxing in a real bed and, for those who have missed the modern world, this should be a chance to catch up on messages and news via the internet.
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    Day 8

    DAY 8: Djanet - Timrass

    After breakfast we head into the desert once more for our final two nights. Driving one hour north of Djanet this time, we'll explore Timrass (meaning teeth), a dramatic area of rocks protruding from blonde sands. Here we'll discover more rock art including a mysterious 10,000 year old symbol, before camping in a picturesque spot for sunset amongst the dunes, hills and rock formations. Our cook will have stocked up on supplies and we may be lucky enough to try a classic Algerian couscous and stew dish tonight.
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    Day 9

    DAY 9: Timrass - Erg Admer

    After a morning walk we will explore the landscapes of Tekoubaouine and see more ancient rock art. Saving the best until last, the final night we will camp by the towering Erg Admer, amongst a sea of sand dunes. Enjoying a final dinner as our guides cook bread in the traditional Tuareg way, on hot coals under the sand, before the cook turns it into the local speciality Chakhchoukha. For those who can't get enough of the night sky, there'll be the chance to sleep outside and enjoy the clearest skies imaginable on this final unforgettable night.
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    Day 10

    DAY 10: Return to Djanet and fly to Algiers

    After breakfast and a last morning walk amongst the dramatic sand dunes, we'll drive the two hours back to the oasis town of Djanet, where we'll have lunch and time to explore the local market before transferring to the airport for our afternoon flight* to Algiers.
    *Please note that flights schedules (and therefore today's itinerary) are subject to change but flights usually depart Djanet late afternoon.
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    Day 11

    DAY 11: Tour ends in Algiers

    The tour ends after breakfast.
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