Jump to content


Recommended Posts

25 days in Algeria…  Where to begin: History; Culture; Geology; Architecture; Contrasts?  Perhaps the greatest aspect of visiting Algeria NOW is the raw experience.  Tourism infrastructures (East/South African, North American and European in particular) are limited, giving the ‘intrepid’ traveler an extraordinary opportunity.  Following is a thumbnail (single pic examples) outline of what we experienced in Algeria.  We’ll follow this up with a more thorough ‘day by day’ report and finally with our notes on what we’d change/recommend for future visits to Algeria.


If you’re interests are more contemporary, there are monuments, museums, and tributes to the sacrifices of the Algerian War.  Here, the Martyr’s Memorial in Algiers.



Maybe Colonial/French architecture is your passion…



Step back a bit further in time with visits to the Kasbahs. This in Algiers...



Or farther back and into more classic desert architectures… This being Ghardaia in the M’Zab Valley



Back to Roman times?  Incredible access to expansive and unique cities. 

Walk back through the ages as you descend the hogback ridge on which Djemila resides. 



Or the very unique site of Tiddis, cascading down a steep mountainside.



Or Timgad, known as the Pompeii of Africa.



And still more… Tipasa, sprawling on the bluffs and down to the Mediterranean sea.



Want to look further back?  Mausoleums and tombs? Here, from the 3rd BCE, the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania where it is believed the Numidian Berber King Juba II and Cleopatra II were buried.



Dare I suggest even farther back?  Rock art estimated to be as old as 10th to 6th centuries BCE when the area was more savannah than desert and populated with animals now long extinct from the area.  Some painted…



Some etched…



Or more contemporary (relatively) art are mosaics from Roman times.



Or natures quirky sculptures such as this larger-than-life hedgehog.



And the dramatic and stark beauty of the many desert landscapes, just 3 examples here…








There are gardens and groves…



Cultural experiences from folk music and art to making (and eating) sand bread.






Balconies of Ghoufi Canyon…



Morning light streaming into a former French army barracks remade into a classic hotel…



Enough with this preamble, suffice to say Algeria offers so much to see and experience.  While there are some challenges visiting Algeria now (to be outlined later in this TR), we found them to be insignificant relative to all we saw and experienced.  Pre trip planning, final/actual itinerary, and start of day to day details to post in the coming days.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

~ @GBE:


Thank you for posting this wide variety of images.


Beautiful photography.


Those large tree trunks along the walkway are impressive.


      Tom K.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@GBEyou do visit the most interesting places! Thanks for posting these fascinating images and I'm looking forward to your day to day account when you have time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wonderful photos to give a taster. I look forward to the rest of your report 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Oh this is SO interesting. I'm thinking of heading off later this year. I only have 10 days though. Be really interested to read your trip report and also on who you travelled with/how you travelled- only guidebooks I can find are in french or online.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looking forward to this.  The desert landscapes are stunning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wow looks fascinating, what a history-- definitely will be following along! But how can you possibly finish this report before you leave for Egypt? :lol:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

An@GBEtrio report is always fascinating. Following along. Thanks for sharing this. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you @Tom Kellie  That is one of several similar paths but of different tree species in the Botanical Garden Hamma in Algiers.  Despite being there in the winter when very few flowers were in bloom, it was a fascinating visit and an absolute jewel nestled within the urban and industrial sprawl of Algiers.  Side note:  The 1932 Tarzan movie was partially filmed in these gardens.  The tree from which Johnny Weissmuller made his ‘call’ is still there.


@Treepol – Funny how Algeria wasn’t even on our list of places to consider 3 years ago yet became our first destination to visit in North Africa; And, arguably the most fascinating. 


Thank you @TonyQ – This trip we limited our camera gear to our new phones, a Nikon 750, and a 16 – 35mm lens.  I’m amazed by the quality of the phone pictures.  While the wide angle was good to have, I think it would have been good to have something in the 35 – 110 range as well.  Live and learn…


@ExtraordinaryAlex – I’ll cover in more detail at the start of the daily portion, but to give you a jump start: we booked with chaloafrica.com and worked directly with and traveled with @Sangeeta.  Freedom to travel outside of Algiers can be tricky depending on your nationality.  For example, as US citizens we were required to have police or military escort when outside Algiers: though in the desert our Tuareg guides had an arrangement with the military that allowed us to travel without an escort.  This sort of logistic coordination really requires a strong agent along with a solid ground team to make it work.  We had both working with Chalo.


@Zim Girl – The desert is what drew us to Algeria.  And it did not disappoint.  The variation in landscapes seemed to be without end.  I’m really looking forward to getting into the daily pics and recalling and sharing the many shifts and variations.


@janzin – We think one of the great opportunities in Algeria are the remains of so many eras.  I hope to be well into the TR (if not done) by the time we leave for Egypt (5 days and counting).  Egypt and Jordan should provide a good contrast view as they have fully developed tourism infrastructures… I’m curious if we will miss the freedom to roam and explore or more appreciate the level of preservation and presentation.


@AKR1 – Algeria certainly provides impressive content.  I’ll endeavor to do it justice.  To that end, as travel information and trip reports on Algeria are limited, I’m leaning toward a more detailed and descriptive report.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The core part of this trip was a Chalo Africa pre-set tour to include Tassil N’Ajerr and Ahaggar NPs in the deep southeast with a couple of days in and around Algiers at the end.  We understood there were many unknowns and to a certain extent we were joining Sangeeta on Chalo’s “due diligence” inaugural trip to Algeria.


Terese and I added 6 days to the beginning and 1 day at the end of the pre-set tour to do our own exploring, though we had little to no knowledge of what was available to explore.  We considered flying into Tunis for a few days and then driving or flying to Algiers.  After reviewing a proposal from the Algerian ground team and looking at flight options, we decided it made more sense to fly to Algiers and make a loop through the northeast visiting ruins and seeing general points of interest: Tunisia could wait and really should be a trip unto itself.  The new proposal included everywhere on our final plan with the exception of Tiddis.  What struck me as odd was the proposed routing:  It included significant down time, considerable back tracking, and several flights.  What was I missing?  I started researching the locations, working with Google Maps, and expanding possible sites based on the fragments of information I was able to find online.  We sent a revised itinerary with estimated drive times and site visit times.  – This was also when we asked Sangeeta when she was going to ask us if she could join us😊 – The ground team made 1 adjustment, essentially confirming our time estimates, and we finalized the plan. 


(Through the above process and based on what we learned while traveling we think it is essential to book through an agent.  If you are fluent in Arabic and/or French, you may be able to work directly with an Algerian company.  But keep in mind they likely have very little experience working with and anticipating expectations of western tourists.  We think this experience is pretty important to create an itinerary and program that makes the most of your time and expectations.

The Algerian government has said they want to increase tourism.  With that will come changes, such as the change from getting visas in advance to getting them on arrival: that occurred a few days after our arrival.  We expect there will be more changes.  One more reason to work with an agent(s), one that is on top of changes as they occur and is capable of making adjustments on the fly… as we learned firsthand!)


Our pre-trip itinerary simply listed Setif/Djemila, Constantine/Tiddis, Timgad, Ghoufi Canyon, Biskra and Ghardaia.  Following is the itinerary, expanded to include each site and point of interest we experienced during our 6-day pre-tour add-on:

·         December 28 – Arrive Algiers and drive to Setif

·         29th – Visit Setif Archaeological Museum. Drive to Djemila to explore the ruins and museum.  Drive on to Constantine, Cirta Museum, and visit the Monument to the Dead.

·         30th – New Constantine Mosque.  Drive to Tiddis ruins site.  Back to Constantine and drop off at  Monument for walk down, across bridge, walk through kasbah and the Ahmed Bey Palace.

·         31st – Drive to Medracen Mausoleum, on to Lambese Roman ruins site and Tazoult museum, and Timgad ruins site and museum.

·         January 1st – Drive into and over the Atlas Mtns, November 1, 1954 Thaghith monument, Ghoufi Canyon, and on to Biskra with visit to Date Palm farm, Botanical Gardens, and market.

·         2nd – Drive to Ghardaia.  Tour Beni Isguen.

·         3rd – Tour Ghardaia and Ghardaia Market Square.  Fly back to Algiers for the start of the group tour…


This map shows the basic route we drove.  With side trips and such we estimate about 1500 km.  Keep in mind, Algeria is the largest country on the African continent and the 10th largest worldwide.  This route only covered a relatively small area in the northeast part of the country.  And knowing what we know now, we only scratched the surface along this route.  Not a bad thing, but there simply wasn’t time or awareness to immerse or otherwise explore any of the sites.



Day 1 – December 28th:

It’s an easy 2 hour and 45-minute flight from LHR to ALG. We arrived just before 1pm.  The international terminal is new, opened in spring 2019, well maintained, and easy to navigate.  We already had our visas so anticipated a rather straightforward process going through passport control.  Alas, there is an entry form required; And, it is printed in Arabic and French, neither of which we speak or read.  We gave it our best effort and handed them over to the ??? annoyed, frustrated, bored ??? agent who read back the name of our hotel in Setif.  At least that’s what we think he was saying.  We smiled and said ‘Oui’, not sure exactly what we were agreeing with.  He then stamped our visas and sent us through.  There is a security scan for bags before exiting to curbside, but no issues for us and nothing to declare.  Sangeeta arrived about an hour later (yes, she joined us!) and by 3 we were with Said (our guide for the next 24 days) and Adel (our driver for the next 6 days) in our very comfortable and roomy Mercedes van heading out of the airport.


With a population of almost 3 million, it wasn’t a surprise we had a bit of traffic getting out of town, but not too bad. - The cities were a mix of wide avenues, narrow roads, and driving habits reminiscent of Rome or Naples.  Outside of town the roads are in pretty good shape, though mostly 2 lanes.  And they use speed bumps throughout Algeria to control speed.  Fortunately, they aren’t jarring and mostly noticeable because of the abrupt slowing. - In a short time, we worked our way out of the urban and suburban areas and into more and more farmland.  We climbed steadily through rolling hills, reaching the outskirts of Setif (3,500ft) in about 3 hours.  We received a call from the local police wondering where we were…?  It was then explained to us that outside of Algiers we would have a police escort; Evidently we were running a little behind and the police wanted to know where we were and what we were doing. - Why we were being escorted was an ever-changing story ranging from Algerian suspicions that ‘all Americans are CIA spies’ to ‘for our protection against terrorists and kidnapers’ and everything in between.  For the most part we were only aware of our escorts between the hand-offs and when finalizing start times.  They were, in fact, quite helpful at times taking us through checkpoints with nary a slowdown, using lights and sirens to get us around traffic backups, and even providing recommendations and one time providing a grand view stop for pictures where we probably shouldn’t have been stopping. – We pulled up to our hotel, the Tadj Mouada at around 6:00; Pretty close to the 3-hour estimate we made based on Google Maps.


The Tadj Mouada is a colonial era, boutique hotel that has been relatively well maintained and has a restaurant on premises.  Our room was large and clean with 2 single beds; Though, either the thermostat was broken or they simply override with central heating.  We ended up opening the windows in order to get the temperature down to a more comfortable level.  We met Sangeeta for dinner around 7:30. – Said and our driver stayed at another hotel. – We enjoy traveling with Sangeeta, this being our second trip with her.  On this trip we also appreciated that she speaks and reads French.  While we could have gotten by, she was both helpful and gracious with her translations on our behalf. 


Day 2 – December 29th:

Breakfast at the hotel was buffet style with boiled eggs, sliced meats and cheese, bread, pastries, etc.  We were checked out and on our way by 8:30: with police escort.  First stop was just down the street at the Setif Archaeological Museum.  Like all of the museums we visited, this museum is relatively small, exhibiting local artifacts and mosaics, but with minimal protection/preservation mechanisms.  As well, all signage is in Arabic and/or French.  It was very, very rare we ever saw English… anywhere.  These images were taken from the second story balcony.  (Where names/description of mosaics or ruins are provided, they were searched online upon our return home)

Conquest of India by Dionysus a.k.a. The Triumph of Bacchus (200 – 300 CE)



Birth of Venus (375 – 400 CE)



By 9 we were back on the road for the 1 hour drive to the town of Djemila and the ruins of Cuicul.  It’s a beautiful drive through rolling hills and a windy climb up and around to Djemila.  Parking is at the top of a hill with a museum just inside the gate and then the ruins running down the hogback ridge.  Cuicul was founded in the 1st century at the northern and lowest point on the ridge, excavations show how it grew and expanded in the 2nd century, perhaps experiencing its richest time, and into the 3rd century still growing up and south.  It is one of the few Roman cities that survived the fall of the empire and is believed to have been occupied through the 6th century.  There is information online should you be interested to learn more and/or identify some of the ruins in the images below.  For the purposes of this TR I’ll simply provide an assortment of images to give you a sense of the ruins.  Through various excavations there have been some efforts to ‘reconstruct’, but our understanding is that only materials found onsite were used. 


Inside the museum is a model of the ruins



Tremendous mosaics.  Though inside, they are otherwise not protected.  Some walls are sagging, necessitating the application of mesh fabrics to hold the individual pieces in place.  Some of this fabric can be seen at the bottom of the mosaic in the above image.  Below, from the House of Bacchus, Ambrosia being slain by King Lycurgus.



Outside the museum are a collection of artifacts, statues, pottery.  We’re not sure if they are on display as much as simply being stored. 





And on to the ruins…

Descending through the southern, newer residential area.



Severian Temple





Arch of Caracalla.



Theater with seating for ~3000.



Eastern double arch on road back from the theater.



The original forum.





Beginning ascent up western boulevard. 

Looking south…                                                               Looking north                                

image.jpeg.0fa008b8678883302b617df4b0dc6e9c.jpeg        image.jpeg.0871309e48d39fa7f0ca45895555be4b.jpeg

There were many detailed pieces left within the ruins.

image.jpeg.27178d87a9121289edd8bc7264fe0493.jpeg  image.jpeg.72111b8a9ccdadc4d8f57b9b66e3c93f.jpeg  image.jpeg.da4dfc16afa9edc88eb722c75cbb548c.jpeg


And, of course the group latrine..



Final look back as we ascend out of the Djemila/Cuicul ruins. 



Despite being a holiday and there being lots of families and youth groups on the site, you may have noticed few to no people in many of the pictures.  It never felt crowded. It’s possible we were the only ‘foreigners’ there and as such, we seemed to be as interesting as the site to some of the kids.  We enjoyed a couple of fun ‘hello, my name is’ interactions.   

We spent just 1 ¾ hours of the 2 ½ - 3 we’d allotted in our time estimate itinerary proposal.  We could have very easily used the full 3 hours, but we weren’t sure if our time estimates were realistic so went along when prompted to make our way back up and out.  We had a delicious lunch of soup, salad, and baguette at the café at the entrance/exit of the site.

The drive to Constantine was a continuation of rolling hills and farmland.  Really beautiful. The drive took a little over an 2 hours.  The police escort got us through a couple of backups and certainly saved us some time. We went straight to the Cirta Museum, arriving around 3:30. 

The Cirta Museum presents a broad variety of exhibits from ancient artifacts such as these clay lamps and votive stones, to statues and mosaics, as well as more contemporary paintings.

image.jpeg.86fb8ea06ff602d3a044003c98368049.jpeg        image.jpeg.6a92c7d0a34db1bb289c4c03c40f64b9.jpeg


image.jpeg.0d87e39fb9ba91b99abb15253909a116.jpeg   image.jpeg.c32f5372f41b71ddb66c42bd81d19694.jpeg   image.jpeg.7624d5b14ef683866ddb13e03fb22e48.jpeg



image.jpeg.ccd5215d44f1755283d545f99a74c31e.jpeg      image.jpeg.e2c2db77ab18398a0f8d54d9ab201d00.jpeg


From the museum we continued on to the Monument of the Dead, originally built by the French to commemorate those that died in WWI. 

image.jpeg.bac285d61621cde49f4ac5f20eb937d7.jpeg     image.jpeg.b6381d3c65aa4652dc6ef9d5ab0933ac.jpeg


View from the monument as the sun dipped low in the sky.



And then to our hotel, the NovaTel.  The location is great.  It is near the top of the city within walking distance of most everything to see.  Sadly, it has not been well maintained despite being only 10 – 15 years old.  And, management/attention to details was lacking (examples will be included at the end of the TR).  We were instructed to stay in the hotel, i.e. we were not allowed to take a walk without police escort.  Disappointing as we’d have likely gone to a local restaurant.  Instead, we had a rather uninspired meal at the hotel restaurant.  It was a good first full day in Algeria. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wow I am so  ignorant - I didn't know Algiers is the largest country in the african continent!

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Fascinating particularly seeing the Roman sites, as you probably know Leptis Magna in Libya is one of the greatest surviving Roman sites, it seems to have survived Libya’s war, but who knows when it will be safe for tourists to go there, I knew there must be Roman sites in Algeria but I didn’t know how impressive they were, it looks like they’re certainly worth visiting, good to know. It’s always interesting looking at Roman mosaics that have animals on them, that big mosaic behind the model of the ruins, besides lions, a leopard and a wild boar, appears to depict a Barbary Stag, a rare subspecies of Red Deer, I don’t know how many are left, but they do still survive in Cork Oak forests in the north of Algeria and Tunisia, but are. I think gone from Morocco, where I have been. Some of the other mosaics have tigers on them, obviously not from Algeria, but I’d guess the Romans had tigers in Algeria, as I presume they likely would have imported them for their arenas, probably from Armenia, Georgia or Turkey.



I’m looking forward to read more I know a little about the Saharan region, but not as much about the north.



It wasn’t, but was promoted in 2011, after Sudan split and South Sudan became the world’s newest country, the DRC then moved to number 2, Sudan is now number 3, then Libya, then Chad. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This looks like a fascinating report-hooked already- @GBE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

@GBEWOW!!! I so wish I could have joined you guys, as I had intended to go. Hopefully I will have another opportunity.
The trip report is fascinating - love the photos and the context. I think your pre-trip extension taking in the the ruins is definitely a must when visiting Algeria. 
Looking forward to your next trip installments.  Thanks, Rhonda

Edited by RC88COR
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy