If you like desert go North from Tamanrasset, with a guide and driver and head towards Mertoutek. Camp in the desert, see Nomads, prehistoric rock art and enjoy the sunsets, silence and peace.
My trip was organised by Timgad Voyages in Batna, Algeria. They supplied me with guides, driver and everything I needed for the trip.
A few people have emailed me asking about transport arrangements and hotels in Tamanrasset. I booked my flights from the UK with British airways who fly London Gatwick to Algiers a few times a week. All my arrangements in Algeria and in Tamanrasset were made by Timgad Voyages, a specialist tour company based in Batna, Algeria. They have been...more
Tamanrasset and Djanet are the two algerian pearls, starting point for discovering the deepest saharian locations. If on the map both cities seem close to each other and located on ancient caravan roads, they are difficult to bind. From Tamanrasset or Djanet, no busses are linking the two places. If you want to see the two places in one trip, the...more
This is the low cost solution to reach the southern city of Tamanrasset, you can cross all the northern Sahara (Algiers, Ghardaïa, In Salah, Tamanrasset) by bus. Total cost is around 30-35€. However the trip has some limitations : (1) time! two days are necessary to cover ~2600km, and add at least another for relaxing after this long trip! (2)...more
The jewellery workshops have the craftsmen making the silver Tuareg jewellery that is so unique to the Southern Sahara region. You can watch them work on the floor in the workshop, crafting the jewellery by hand in the fire and then of course go and buy some in the shop. I have seen it for sale in a few places but these prices are lower than...more
Search in the old souq (market) area for tuareg jewelry and leather arts : they have a very old nomadic tradition and create beautiful coloured leather bags. A traditional object is the southern cross (as in the sky) which comes from Nigerian handworkers, as headpiece of a necklace. Leather goods are usually painted in green, red, black with some...more
There's an enormous market in this city where you can buy almost everything from clothes or shoes to food and species.There also there are some shops all around it. * Traditional clothes: Women wear a very nice and big piece of cloth with a lot of colours that can be a very nice thing to have.* Bereber collars* Speciesmore
The local language in Tamanrasset area is Tamahak but most people speak Arabic and French. If you don't speak any French or Arabic you will need to have a guide as very few people speak English. Certainly people on the streets don't speak any at all so asking directions, ordering drinks and food and everything else has to be done in French or...more
When visiting people's homes or going inside most buildings you will be expected to take off your shoes. This applies even to when you are camping in the desert and sitting on the mat in the sand around the camp fire, and when visiting nomads. Before you step onto, or sit on a carpet shoes must be removed.more
The Tuaregs in the Tamanrasset area place great emphasis on greeting, shaking hands and asking how you are. There is a very formal set of greetings which starts with "as salaam halekum" then "hamdallah" and "labes" and only once you have gone through this procedure to a satisfactory level will they let you take photographs or talk.English people...more
People go early to bed, and wake up early. If you intend to move in the city during the night, ask your hosts where you can go or not. In a more general manner, the places close to the oueds are not safe after 8-9PM. If you don't go with a local or someone familiar with the city, you should probably keep cool at your hotel/home and drink the traditional tea with your friends, or go in a café close to the place you will go back. Usually shops and café close not later than 10:30PM. Causes for this insecurity is an uncontrolled immigration from the southern countries and some unsolved social issues in the city. In a more general view, it is easy to go and feel safe in Tam, in particular if you know someone locally, by the way, Tamanrasset is a military zone!
If Tamanrasset is a great place for tourism, there is a little misunderstanding of this fact by the banks! Tamanrasset is secure if you carry cash with you, with care of course... however there is always a risk if you do not stay to trustable friend's homes. The surest way for non Algerians is to carry cash in Euros or Dollars. Both work but there...more
Since some west european tourist were caught with lots of archeologic objects, authorities may ask about any stone or sand you carry with you. Note that you can be controlled in ANY place you will pass a checkpoint (I was checked twice in Tamanrasset and Algiers). Any stone with a strange color, shape - especially if they look like prehistoric...more
You will be expected to take your shoes off frequently when visiting people so they need to be easy to get on and off. But you may also want to keep the sand off your feet and the beetles and insects off them too so flip flops are not ideal. Neither are lace ups. Shoes with Velcro fastening would be ideal - wish I had taken some!more
If you pack absolutely everything in sealable plastic bags inside your bag the sand has less chance to get into everything. You should also take spare ones to bring back any litter - don't leave it in the desert. The chech (traditional head cover) is much more effective than a sun hat. It is much better at keeping the sun off and is cooler. It...more
In winter, light clothes covering the whole body - for cultural and practical reasons. Wear the taguelmust! the traditional tuareg cheich has excellent properties for protecting your head against cold and heat. For nights in the desert, take a good sleeping bag, especially against wind. Moreover, the temperature in the mountains can go very low...more
Mertoutek is a permanent Tuareg village in an "oued" or oasis North of Tamanrasset.
There is a compound for tourists with a "zeriba" traditional hut and water from a tap in the compound. There are no toilets, however, and I was told to go up the hill out of sight!
The villagers are friendly and there is a national park guide based there who will take you to see the pre-historic rock art in the hills around the area.
Ever thought of running on the tracks of Hoggar? a local agency "Paysages du Sud" in association with a swiss agency based in Geneva proposes a 3 days race around Tamanrasset, the second day is a real marathon! This is a difficult race. I will put a little bit more on that soon : just the local organiser in Tamanrasset is called "Paysages du Sud".
PAYSAGES DU SUD
Centre Commercial Local N°31
(see Tel. below)
If you are in Tam and you are going to start a route think that you don't know when are you going to see enough water to take a shower again!
But be concerned with the quantity you use, you are in the middle of the Sahara and the Saharians need it like the air they breathe!