I-n-Belbel Travel Guide

  • Tademaït
    Tademaït
    by JLBG
  • El-Goléa to In-Salah
    El-Goléa to In-Salah
    by JLBG
  • Kel-Hoggar Tuareg woman
    Kel-Hoggar Tuareg woman
    by JLBG

I-n-Belbel Things to Do

  • Daya

    Daya do not occur in the middle of the Sahara but on its edges. We have seen what was a reg. However, a reg is never completely flat. There are always places that are a little lower (may be only a few centimeters!) When there is some rain it will be collected in theses low lands, stay a while and infiltrates in the soil. Thus, it is possible to try...

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  • Oued

    An oued is a riverbed and there are plenty of oued (sorry ouadi is the Arab plural for oued!) in the Sahara. However, these riverbeds are dry most of the time. They might carry water one or two days every 5-10 years but there is water staying underneath the soil and there is always more vegetation around an oued than elsewhere. There are also more...

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  • Sebkha and chott

    We have explained what was an oasis, though, most if not all oasis have a problem. They, use water to fertilize either the palm grove or the gardens. A part of the water gets into the soil, another evaporates and the remaining gathers in the lowest part of the oasis. However, in the beginning, this water had a given salt content, low or high. In...

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  • Oasis

    It is hardly necessary to explain what is an oasis. An oasis is place where there is enough water to allow the growth either of palm trees and this is a palm grove oasis (El-Oued, In-Salah for example) or the growth of vegetables and this is a garden oasis (Tamanrasset for example). A sedentary population has lived in the oasis forever.

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  • Tassili

    Tassili means calcareous plateau in Tamachek. The Tassili N'Ajjer is the one that is the best known because of its famous rock art. I have built a page on the Tassili N'Ajjer National Park. There are several Tassili around the crystalline massif of the Hoggar : the Tassili N'Immidir stands in the North and I will build a page about two trecks in...

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  • Djebel

    Djebel means mountain in Arab. There are several massifs in the Sahara. The two that are best known are the Hoggar (Algeria) and the Tibesti (Chad). I will build a page on the Hoggar and will show the magnificent landscapes of the Tefedest and the Assekrem, the very heart of the Hoggar. Here is a sample.

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  • Gour

    A typical sight in many deserts is a “butte témoin”. In Northern America, they are called “mesa”. In the Sahara the nomads name them “gour”. They are parts of sedimentary layers that have been protected from the erosion because they were somehow harder that the neighboring rocks.

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  • Hamada

    When the wind has blown off all the grains and that there does not remain any soil, you can reach the rock. This gives a Hamada. A Hamada is a place where the soil is pure rock, more or less flat. True hamada are not many. You will find more often a Hamada with a thin layer of gravel or of sand and that will look almost like a reg.

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  • Erg

    Most of the time people think that a desert is a place entirely covered with sand, with dunes, sand winds that bury entire caravans if not cities, etc.This is not true and actually, erg (places covered with sand dunes) account for only 15% of the Sahara. When you drive across the Sahara, you will see few : roads avoid as much as possible the ergs...

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I-n-Belbel Restaurants

  • No restaurant 5

    May be this is not the best place for a meal but to have some siesta when it was really hot, that was perfect: excellent shade and a contact with the rock that remained cool as it had not been heated by the sun yet!

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  • no restaurant 4

    However, it might happen that there is no tree, no rock and no truck! Then you must rely completely on yourself. That was the case on the photo and all we could do was to draw a tent fabric along the car, which gave a poor and hot shade! Not the best bivouac but we could not do better!Btw, what about menus? Even if canned or dry food make the basis...

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  • No restaurant 3

    We once were helped to fix a small break down on the Land Rover by the drivers of one of those large trucks that drive the desert from north to south. After that, they invited to have mint tea and we had an unexpected bivouac under their truck. These trucks are so large that you can almost stand underneath. They offer a very comfortable shade and...

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I-n-Belbel Transportation

  • General guide lines for driving in the...

    Main roads and tracks avoid ergs as much as possible. It is too "moving" and after as little as a few month, it might be covered by a dune. On our trip 60km from In-Salah to Foggaret-ez-Zoua, we found that after 40 km, the excellent surfaced road was covered by a several meters dune and that a track avoided it.When the road passes on a reg, wind...

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  • Driving on cold sand vs hot sand

    In French, a stupid popular sentence says “araignée du matin, chagrin, araignée du soir, espoir” (morning spider, sorrow, evening spider, hope), but this is only for the rythm! In the Sahara, on the countrary, we should say “morning sand, hope, evening sand, sorrow”.When you know you will have to drive a difficult part, try to do it in the early...

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  • Driving on washboard trails

    However, you cannot drive off-road everywhere in the Sahara. When the place is not suitable for off-road, you have to drive on a trail. When cars and trucks drive fast on a dirt road, after a while, it builds “waves” on the surface, called washboard (Tôle ondulée in French). Thanks Glenn aka VT Bwana_Brown for giving me the English equivalent! On...

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I-n-Belbel Warnings and Dangers

  • The Sahara is a cold country where the...

    The Sahara is a cold country where the sun hits hard!get both parts of that sentence. If you forget the first part, you might freeze a lot. At night and in the early morning, it can be cold and even very cold in Winter, especially if the wind blows, which occur most of the time. A jacket designed for high elevations in the Alps will in several...

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  • Save your skin, hide from the sun!

    Beware of sunburns! The parts that are the most difficult to protect from sunburns are: the nose, the hands and the top of the feet. Sunburns on the top of the feet occur often on camel treks as you need to take your shoes off to ride a camel and drive him. You can wear wool socks, though you do not feel the neck of the camel so well. You can...

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  • Save water!

    When you drive in the Sahara and never remain far away from your car, the way you clothe is less important than when you are on a trek for 8-10 days, out in the sun and the wind all the time. The trekker in the Sahara has two enemies:Dehydration is the first. In the desert you rarely sweat (apparently) but loose a lot of water and salts. To...

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I-n-Belbel Off The Beaten Path

  • 1977, my 5th travel to the Sahara

    I had a Land Rover and as I had already been to Tamanrasset, I knew that to drive from Alger to the Hoggar, there was no need to be two cars. Then we were four in a Land Rover and that’s all. I had proposed to my companions to drive as fast as possible from Algiers to Tamanrasset and not to visit anything on the way, in order to get as much time as...

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  • Why did I went to the Sahara?

    Since I was a kid, I have read books on the Sahara. One told the unlikely story of a French boy "stolen" by gypsies (the old myth of kids stolen by gypsies!), found by his "oncle d'Amérique" (the old myth of the uncle that made big money in America!). The uncle collects together with his nephew a "stolen" girl that became his friend during their...

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  • 2002, 10th travel to the Sahara:...

    In 2002, we made another travel to the desert. This one was in Southern Tunisia. Though entirely on surfaced roads, it gave a nice scent of the desert. We flew to Djerba and drove to Gabés, Gafsa, Metlaoui and a ride on the little red train in the "Gorge du Seldja", Tamerza, a mountain oasis, Tozeur, Chott-El-Djerid, Kebili and Douz and then, by a...

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I-n-Belbel Favorites

  • Launaea nudicaulis

    Launaea nudicaulis is an Asteraceae named Aghararam in tamahaq. It is common in the Northern Sahara.The young leaves can be cooked and eaten, in the same way than dandelion, a close relative. It is also an excellent feed for camels, especially when a mother has to feed a young one on her milk.

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  • Astragalus gombo

    Astragalus gombo is a Fabaceae named Akassaker in tamahaq. It is again a plant very common in the Sahara, 40-50 cm tall, with yellow flowers 25 mm long, gathered by 3-7. The long leaves are divided into 15 to 30 folioles covered with a whitish hair. It is an excellent feed for cattle. They are close relatives with beans and peas.

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  • Echium humile

    Echium humile is a Borraginaceae named Tainast in tamahaq. It is also found almost everywhere in the desert, most often between some stones that will have kept some moisture in the soil underneath.It is a relative to the European Echium vulgare, called in French Vipérine because its dry leaves look like the dry skin of a viper, after sloughing.

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