Algerian Odyssey

Algeria is the largest country in Africa. It stretches from the Mediterranean to the depths of the Sahara and has hosted some of history’s most important civilisations. This journey takes you back more than two thousand years in time and shows the many facets of a much-maligned country.

Starting in the lively capital of Algiers we explore its fascinating historic quarter – the casbah – then visit some of its most enigmatic archaeological sites, the thousand-year old citadel of Beni Hammad and the ancient Roman city of Djemila. We then travel to the ‘city of bridges’, Constantine, with its dramatic location above the Rhumel Gorge. Medracen and Timgad show us more remnants of Algeria’s complex history, before we head south to the vast Sahara.

The M’Zab Valley is home to some well-preserved towns, home to the Mozabites who have preserved their culture and traditions more than most. Wandering through the alleys and markets here feels quintessentially ‘exotic’, as robed desert dwellers haggle for goods and the smell of spices hangs in the air. Further into the Sahara we visit traditional mud brick villages, with their ancient ksars. a testament to the time when desert communities needed protection from outsiders. And we also explore vast areas of sand dunes and salt lakes.

Back in the north, the incredible Islamic monuments of Tlemcen are a reminder of the past glories of North Africa, when it ruled Spain as Andalucia (or Al Andalus). We end our journey with a visit to Tipasa, where we step in the footsteps of the Phoenicians. We see the vast ‘tomb of the Christian’, built by the Numidians who were once rulers of this land.

Often eclipsed by its neighbour to the west, Algeria is starting to be discovered by more intrepid visitors, keen to uncover its secrets, and you won’t find hordes of other visitors here. This trip offers an exciting introduction to a country has long been off the travel radar.

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Algerian Odyssey

Highlights

  • Explore the Casbah of Algiers
  • Visit Saharan oases
  • The Andalucian architecture of Tlemcen
  • Roman ruins of Timgad and Cherchell
  • The towns of the M’Zab Valley

Day 1 - Algiers

Arrive in Algiers and transfer to the hotel. Depending on when you arrive there may be time to explore the city. Overnight Hotel Suisse or similar.

Algiers

Algiers enjoys an enviable location, located on a series of hills overlooking the Mediterranean, and is one of the most attractive cities of North Africa. Founded by the Phoenicians and conquered by Rome, it has seen its fair share of invaders over the years, all of which have left it imbued with a rich and varied cultural heritage.

During the 18th and early 19th century it was a notorious haven for the pirates of Barbary, who preyed on merchant ships along the coast, prompting intervention from the French and the annexation of Algeria in an early example of European colonial involvement in Africa. Under their rule some impressive buildings were constructed, giving the city a European feel in places. The whitewashed buildings, blue shutters and wide avenues are more reminiscent of Marseilles than Marrakech.

Most interesting of all is the Casbah, a maze of narrow winding streets, Ottoman mosques and palaces that is the heart of old Algiers. This was an area of fierce resistance against the French during the resistance of the 1960s. For many years this was considered out of bounds to visitors, but it is now accessible with a guide and one of the most enigmatic parts of the city.

Day 2 - Algiers

A full day exploring this enigmatic city. We visit the UNESCO listed casbah area, the most traditional part of the city as well as the Museum of Antiquities and the renowned Bardo Museum, among other sites. Overnight Hotel Suisse or similar. (BD)


Day 3 - Beni Hammad – Setif

Visit the ancient citadel of Beni Hammad, the 11th century capital of the Hammamid dynasty and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From here continue to Setif and visit its museum with exhibits dating back to the Numidian era. Overnight Hotel Ibis or similar. (BD)


Day 4 - Djemila - Constantine

Travel to the historic city of Djemila, founded by the Romans in the 1st century. Explore its ruins before continuing to Constantine for the night. Overnight Protea Hotel or similar. (BD)


Day 5 - Constantine

Spend today exploring the charming city of Constantine, perched dramatically on a steep gorge. We also visit the nearby Roman site of Tiddis. Overnight Protea Hotel or similar. (BD)

Constantine

Constantine, the ‘city of bridges’, is a dramatic city of precipitous cliffs and deep gorges, the lofty setting for one of Algeria’s most labyrinthine casbahs. Constantine boasts an excellent museum (noted in particular for its Roman mosaics) as well as the delightful Palace of Ahmed Bey and a handful of hidden mosques.

This is one of the oldest cities in Algeria, dating back to the time of the Numidians in the 2nd century BC. It takes its name from the Roman Emperor Constantine, who rebuilt the city in the 4th century, and has been inhabited by Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans and the French. The Ottoman district of the town is perhaps the most interesting, with winding streets and buildings that are 400 years or more in age. Although many are unfortunately falling into disrepair it still exudes a certain ambience and is well worth exploring.

Day 6 - Timgad – Batna

Visit Medracen with its Numidian tomb before continuing to Timgad. Here we explore the old Roman city, excavated to such an extent that you can gain a real feel for how it once was, with an amphitheatre, baths, temples and numerous other monuments. Continue to Batna for the night. Overnight Hotel Hazem or similar. (BLD)


Day 7 - Biskra – El Oued

Drive to Biskra via the canyon of Rhouffi, where the first shots of the Algerian rebellion were fired in 1954. After lunch at Biskra – the centre of an enormous oasis – we drive to El Oued. On the edge of the Sahara, El Oued is known as the ‘city of a thousand domes’ and is surrounded by the dunes of the Grand Erg Oriental. Overnight Hotel Souf or similar. (BLD)


Days 8-9 - Ghardaia

Drive to Ghardaia in the M’Zab Valley. This is one of the prettiest and most interesting places in the Sahara, with a collection of traditional towns and home to the Mozabite people, who follow different traditions and customs to the rest of Algeria. We explore the key sites including the traditional market of Beni Isguen, the ‘foggara’ irrigation system, and meet local people living lives not much different from their forefathers. Overnight Residence des Deux Tours or similar. (BLD)

M’Zab Valley

The towns that make up the M’Zab Valley are one of the most interesting places in all of Algeria, culturally unique and oozing with character and mystery. The Mozabite population are Berbers of the Ibadite sect of Islam with a distinct set of traditions, not least of which is the unique way in which the towns are constructed. With surrounding fortified walls, each town is built around a central mosque, the streets fanning out in concentric circles – viewed from the air the effect is quite extraordinary.

In previous years they lived a rather isolated existence, separate from the rest of Algeria and with their own rulers. While this has changed now, the spirit of independence endures. Until quite recently some of the cities locked their gates at night, with only residents permitted entry. Many people, especially women, wear traditional dress here and the towns are filled with busy souks where donkeys jostle for space with customers. Perhaps more than anywhere in the country the M’Zab Valley gives the visitor a glimpse of the Algeria of yesteryear.

Day 10 - El Golea – Timimoun

Head first to El Golea and visit its old 9th century ksar. From here continue to Timimoun – the ‘red oasis’ – through a scenery of rolling dunes. Overnight Lodge Djenane Malek or similar. (BLD)

Timimoun

The ‘red oasis’ town of Timimoun is one the prettiest in all of the Sahara, with picturesque dwellings made from mud, studded with sticks which poke out from them – described as the ‘Sudanese style’ of architecture. Its location is pretty special too, with lush palm groves and imposing sand dunes, and a ruined hilltop fort that overlooks the town. The population here is a mix of Arabs, Berbers and black Africans, a reminder that this was once an important stop on the Trans-Saharan slave trade.

Day 11 - Timimoun

Spend today exploring Timimoun and the surrounding area. In 4wd vehicles we drive to the nearby salt lake and visit dunes, villages and gardens, before returning to Timimoun in the evening. Overnight Lodge Djenane Malek or similar. (BLD)


Day 12 - Oran - Tlemcen

Fly to Oran, arriving early afternoon. From here drive to Tlemcen, founded in the 11th century and with a wealth of historic sites to explore. Overnight Hotel Zianides or similar. (BD)


Day 13 - Tlemcen

Spend the day in Tlemcen and the surrounding area. Visit the Great Mosque, often compared to that in Cordoba, Spain, the Mechouar – an old walled fortress – and the governor’s palace among other sites. Further afield we visit the Mansurah minaret, constructed in the style of Marrakech’s Koutoubia Mosque. Overnight Hotel Zianides or similar. (BD)

Tlemcen

Tlemcen is without a doubt one of Algeria’s prettiest towns, with elegant minarets and other historic sites, and was the capital of the Almoravid dynasty in the 13th century. Today it still retains something of an Andalusian flavour – the Almoravids having been responsible for the Muslim conquest of Spain. The city is full of traces of its past importance, with impressive historic sites such as the Mechouar, a former royal palace of the Zianides dynasty, ancient mosques and a lively souk to explore.

Day 14 - Algiers

Return to Oran and fly to Algiers. On arrival, head west to visit Cherchell, with its collection of Roman remains, and then on to Tipasa. Tipasa was a former Phoenician city and today is home to a striking Roman ruins set in a photogenic location between the mountains and sea. On the way back to Algiers, stop at the ‘Tomb of the Christian’, believed to be built for one of the Numidian kings. Overnight Hotel Suisse or similar. (BD)


Day 15 - Algiers

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)


Algerian Odyssey
Algerian Odyssey
Algerian Odyssey

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    You will be accompanied by an English speaking guide.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

All travellers will require a visa to enter Algeria, which must be obtained before travel. Most travellers will also need an invitation letter, which we will provide if requested. You should be aware that visas for Algeria can take some time to process and so you need to allow for this when applying. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

The local currency in Algeria is the Algerian dinar. It is best to bring Euros for exchange purposes.

It’s not difficult to change money in Algeria, either at banks or the hotels and your guide can assist with this. Algeria is very much a cash society – credit cards are not widely accepted, and ATM machines are not especially reliable.

When to go

As the largest country in Africa, Algeria experiences a number of different climate zones. The best time to visit the Sahara is the winter, when temperatures are at their least oppressive, but at this time the Mediterranean coast will most likely be cold and wet. The best times to visit are spring and autumn, when it’s not too hot in the desert nor too cold in the north.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the parts of Algeria that we visit on this tour.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated May 2019

Algerian Odyssey
Algerian Odyssey
Algerian Odyssey
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
04 April 2020
Price (PP) -
£2,549
Single Supplement -
£280
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
03 April 2021
Price (PP) -
£2,599
Single Supplement -
£280
Trip Status -
Available