Your holiday summary
Make your own way
|Price range||From £1745|
|Travel partner||Wild Frontiers|
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Among the vast sands of the Sahara it is home to some of the most beguiling oasis towns in the region; medieval gems that still hold on to traditions that have endured among the desert sands for centuries. It can also boast a number of World Heritage sites, including the spectacular M’zab Valley and the old Roman port of Tipaza, while its bustling capital, Algiers, offers a wonderfully engaging mix of Ottoman grandeur, colonial chic and modern vibrancy. This remarkable journey takes us deep into the heart of this unique country, both literally and spiritually, as we journey into from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Grand Erg Occidental and some of the most spectacular desert landscapes on the planet.
- Algiers: explore the museums and monuments of the Algerian capital
- Travel deep into the desert to the fascinating oases of Timimoun and Bou Saâda
- Visit Ghardaia and the stunning fortified villages of the M’zab Valley
- Explore the UNESCO site of Tipaza and the ancient Mauritanian capital of Cherchel
- Full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides and drivers.
- Meal plan as detailed in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner) with mineral water as required.
- All transport as outlined in the itinerary.
- All accommodation
- All entrance fees, as per itinerary
- A carbon-offsetting contribution to Carbon Clear (if booking international flights through WF office)
- Visas (if applicable)
- Local airport taxes
- Tips (always optional, but some guidance will be given in the predeparture information pack you’ll receive after booking)
- Beverages & any costs of a personal nature.
- International Flights
- Airport transfers (unless booking suggested flights through WF office)
Starting in the Algerian capital today, we’ll take an orientation tour of the city this afternoon. Overlooking the waters of the Mediterranean, Algiers began life as a Phoenician trading post, but it was the 10th century Berbers under Bologhine ibn Ziri who began the city’s rise to prosperity. Over time it fell to the Almohades, the Ottomans and the French, before a bloody struggle for independence finally saw the Algerians wrestle control from their colonial overlords in the early 1960s. Much of the historic heart of the city dates back to Ottoman times and includes the impressive facade of the Ketchaoua Mosque but, without doubt, the city’s most iconic structure is the impressive Cathedral of Notre Dame d’Afrique, an imposing 19th century basilica that commands some stunning views across the Bay of Algiers. Hotel (D)
Day 2: Fly to Timimoun:
Leaving Algiers behind today, we fly on to the small oasis town of Timimoun. Set amid the blazing sands of the Gourra region, part of the Grand Erg Occidental, this remote and inhospitable region is one of the most uninhabitable parts of the Sahara. A fascinating architectural fusion of Sudanese mud brick and French colonial, it lies among a grove of palms, its old town a jumbled mix of narrow streets and chaotic buildings that seem to clamour for space beneath the welcoming shade of billowing sheets of cloth. Subject to fight schedules we aim to arrive midafternoon allowing us some time to do some initial exploration before dinner. Traditional Guesthouse (B,L,D)
Day 3: In Timimoun:
Wonderfully photogenic, Timimoun is a perfect place to spend some time strolling through the old town with its old ksars (ancient dwellings), enjoying the wonderfully eccentric randomness of its Sudanese architecture including the Sid Moussa Mosque, as well as visiting the town’s market and handicraft shops. We’ll also enjoy the relative respite of the palmeraie, where the high mud walls and abundant palms, watered by ancient irrigation system known as fouggara provide welcome shelter from the heat of the midday sun. In the newer part of the town we’ll also find the ‘Oasis Rouge’, a building originally built by the French, but now housing a fascinating cultural centre whilst, beyond the town, the haunting dune landscapes of the Grand Erg Occidental provide a perfect destination for a desert excursion and a picnic. Traditional Guesthouse (B,L,D)
Day 4: Timimoun-Ghardaia:
To the north east of Timimoun, a full day’s drive across the desert, lies the UNESCO World Heritage setting of the M’zab Valley and the fortified villages (ksours) of Ghardaïa. The drive is one of the Algeria’s most spectacular and lies along the route taken by WF’s founder, Jonny Bealby when he rode his motorbike around Africa in a journey told in his first book, “Running With The Moon”. Ghardaia itself lies in the heart of the traditional homeland of the Ibadi Muslim sect, and is today part of a perfectly preserved piece of medieval splendour, made up of five fortified settlements that occupy the highest hills in the valley, each one crowned by a lone towering minaret. A distinctive blend of white and red buildings, these snapshots in time still retain the customs and traditions of a culture that has endured since the Mozabite Berbers of the 11th century, providing us with a unique insight into a way of life that can trace its ancestry back a thousand years. Traditional Guesthouse (B,L,D)
Days 5 & 6: In & around Ghardaia:
Over the next couple of days we will have a chance to explore something of this remarkable valley in depth, paying visits to the villages of Beni Izgen and Al Ateuf (the oldest of the fortified settlements), as well as stopping off to meander through the markets and palm groves of the M’zab Valley. The majority of the houses that lie scattered around these hilltops seem to almost fuse with the surrounding landscape, with their courtyards and terraces picked out in white against the brilliant blue of the desert sky. Each of the villages follows the same principle, with the houses being built in concentric circles around a central mosque and minaret, which are then in turn protected by high walls and ramparts. Originally, these villages were fed by a unique water distribution system that was devised by the Mozabites themselves to capture rainwater and divert it to the oasis by way of underground tunnels. Ghardaia today is a major centre of date production, as well as being renowned for its rugs and carpets. Traditional Guesthouse (B,L,D)
Day 7: Ghardaia - Algiers via Bou Saâda:
Lying somewhere between the Saharan Atlas Mountains and the el-Hodna Depression is the oasis of Bou Saâda, a desert community that once lay along the old caravan route that ran from West Africa up to the shores of the Mediterranean. In stark contrast to the barren mountains and salt marshes that surround it, the town is still a thriving centre of trade, with Arab and Berber nomads still a regular feature of the old town’s markets and winding alleyways. We’ll stop in the town en route back to the capital today, taking a chance to explore a little of the old medina and perhaps browse among the jewellery and carpet sellers for which the town is famed. From here we then complete the journey back to Algiers, arriving back in the city later today. Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 8: Day trip to Tipaza and Cherchel:
After breakfast this morning we take a drive west out of the city, heading for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tipaza. Considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in North Africa, this old Roman port rose to prominence under the emperor Septimus Severus (AD193-211) and, along with the nearby site of Cherchel (the former capital of ancient Mauritania), provides us with a remarkable collection of Punic, Roman and Numidian temples and monuments. Returning to Algiers, we then have an opportunity this afternoon to explore some of the city’s fascinating museums as well its famous Casbah. Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 9: Tour ends in Algiers:
Our tour ends this morning after breakfast. (B)
Extensions: Arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts. Explore the country after your tour on a bespoke Wild Extension or just allow a few days to relax afterwards. Maybe choose all of the above and get cheaper flights mid-week? Djemila – considered to be the best preserved Roman site in Algeria, the extensive site of Djemila can be visited as a day trip for Algiers or as part of a greater circuit taking in Annaba, Constantin and Timgad. Allow 1 – 7 days. Contact the office for extension specifics.
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