A spiritual journey in the heart of the Algerian desert | Djanet

Story by: Abir Ghenaiet     Date: 4 May 2021    Image by: Unsplash | Azzedine Rouichi

7 minutes reading time Algeria

Fasten your seatbelts, I am taking you on a sandy ride! Take a deep breath and think about these words: heat, stretches of sand, breathtaking landscapes, Tuaregs, dromedaries… How do you feel…? Probably you feel thirsty but not as thirsty as your mind will get once you finish reading this!

Back from my trip to DjanetAlgeria, I had to share my feelings and tips with you!

If you follow me on my Instagram account, oh wait! I do not have one because I choose to “Instalive” my travel, but worry not; this is way better than some enhanced pictures posted.

This trip was not planned, and everything was organized at the last minute. It has been years since I visited the South of Algeria, the country where my parents and I come from, but which I know very little about.

As a great fan of hot places and sand, I dreamed of the Sahara for a long time. The idea of ​ discovering this so mystical place trotted through my head without ever having passed the course of going there.

This time the temptation was too great to miss this golden opportunity! Here we go, I’ll take you with me!

Algerian Desert

Administrative formalities and recommended period:

Two possible options:

  • You are French of Algerian origin: you can apply for your Algerian passport to be able to enter and leave the country freely.
  • Apply for an entry visa from the Algerian Consulate at your place of residence. Several types of Visa exist. For the Tourist Visa, you will need to present an accommodation certificate or a hotel reservation and justify your stay. The Visa costs 85 €. Certain nationalities are exempt from this Visa (eg, Morocco, Tunisia).

If you are organizing your stay in the desert via a French tourism agency, the agency will take care of these arrangements for you. The Visa price may put some people off, but I assure you that you will not regret it once you cross the sands of the Sahara!

It is in principle recommended to go to southern Algeria between October and March, possibly in April and May, but beware of the winds and the heat.

Dune, Djanet, Algeria

The organization of my stay:

Means of transport:
As mentioned above, this trip was not planned initially. Everything was done at the last minute. To reach Djanet, located in the South-East of Algeria, not far from Libya, I had to take two flights: a first Paris / Algiers and a second Algiers / Djanet.

About 2h45 / 3h separate Algiers from Djanet. Two airlines operate national flights in the country: Tassili Airlines and Air Algeria.

These two companies do not circulate every day of the week (only at the end of the day or at night); I had to take the outward journey with Tassili and the return with Air Algeria. If you choose, I advise you to book your flights instead with Air Algeria and as soon as possible because the flights are quickly booked.

Important note: no need to burden yourself with a drone; it is strictly prohibited in Algeria!

The agency: Adessay Travels

It is almost essential to go through an agency or a guide to visit the Sahara and the Djanet region (and let you know how much I am not a fan of this kind of “organized” trip usually). By doing my little research, I saw that it was possible to call on French agencies which offer packs in hand but say higher prices say non-local agencies.

So yes, that makes it easier on an administrative level, especially for the Visa application, but honestly, you can easily take care of it independently.

So I opted for a local agency, without any intermediary: Adessay travels (For the record, Moula Moula is the name of a small desert bird in Touareg ). More than an agency, it is a family structure run by Tuaregs from Djanet, who know the desert and Tassili Najjer like the back of their hand. ; and who have passed on their knowledge for almost 30 years!

This local, authentic, and family aspect appealed to me, so I contacted them via phone before my departure to obtain a quote and validate the dates of the stay.

My 5 Days stay

On the 1st night, the guides come to pick us up at the airport and head for the 1st bivouac not far from the town of Djanet. Sleeping in a tent in a sleeping bag was a 1st for me! I won’t hide from you that I was a little apprehensive, but we get used to it relatively quickly in the end.

The following day, head to the local market to buy the cheches before hitting the road: the adventure can begin!

We had two fourone× 4 and 4 members of the agency available for three people: a Tuareg guide speaking several languages, one cook, and 2 drivers (not to mention all the necessary equipment to live and sleep for five days in the desert).

In 5 days, we have covered about 700 km including the Round Trip + the circuit within the Tadrart. It will take us about 4 hours to reach this area.

The first day was only cloudy during the trip, so the colors stand out less than on a sunny day but this in no way detracts from the charm of the stay. That day marked our entry into the Tadrart, more precisely in Adjalaté.

At the end of the afternoon, the direction the nugget of Tadrat, I named: the Tin Merzouga dune, the highest in Algeria and among the highest in Africa, culminating at
300m in height. The show is grandiose! Increased heart rate and hardening of the calves assured, to be able to reach the top; but once again the game is worth the candle! We are in the place closest to Libya. Only 30 km separates the mountains from the border.

I fell in love with this part of Tadrart which allowed me to admire one of the most beautiful sunsets that I have seen in my life

Once the sun goes down, it’s time to come back down from the dunes. In our bivouac setup, the Tuaregs await us with a good tea, sacred at home.

That same evening, the locals cook us vaguely, their famous bread baked under the embers and the sand… a delight!

Then, more activities and sightseeing on the second and third day. On the 4th day, after a night under the stars, we tackle the penultimate day of the stay. Wake up at
dawn to be able to climb the dunes once more and admire the magnificent sunrise, just as impressive as the sunset.

The hour of our last bivouac in the desert has come. This is the opportunity to meet camels, crossed on our campsite. The dromedaries of nomads often escape for a few daystoo feed.

Djanet, Sunset

5th and last day. I don’t realize that the trip is coming to an end. It is high time for the baggage pillar (or rather the bivouac ), to return to the starting point, Djanet.

This last day will be placed under the sign of the shower (haha!), The visit of the city and the rest. The return plane to Algiers is scheduled for2 am and the guide’s family was very kind to invite us to dinner and spend the evening with them. This once again confirms how warm and welcoming the Tuaregs are! We had a perfect evening chatting and drinking tea as tradition dictates Enough to end the stay on a high note…

Apart from the superb landscapes, the Algerian desert also has many cultural and historical aspects. As I could describe it to you above, we had the privilege to discover the Tuareg culture, to see vestiges of Prehistordays toy and to walk in a real open-air museum!

Many of you will be surprised by the beauty of the country. As I have said repeatedly, Algeria is full of wonders and is a hidden treasure worth exploring! If you like still pristine landscapes and authenticity, you won’t regret your visit

The Sahara is also a bubble of serenity that allows you to refocus on the essential and which allows you to discover unsuspected facets of your personality; the impression of finding oneself and facing one’s true “SELF”. Hours of walking that do a lot of good for both body and mind!

Finally, it is impossible to draw up a balance sheet without mentioning the Tuaregs. People so welcoming, caring, hospitable, kind, smiling… and I weigh my words! I fell in love with these people and their culture!

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