Algeria - First Impressions

Recce Diary - from Pakistan to Algeria:

Algeria - First Impressions

I returned from my first trip to Algeria this week, it was a trip of a lifetime in a country that has so much to offer.

From the flavorsome food to the stunningly gorgeous Algerian people, I was really taken aback.

The ever changing landscapes of the Atlas Mountains, Sahara desert and entire Roman city ruins nuzzled alongside the rugged Mediterranean coast line, ensure there is always plenty to see and do.

 

After visiting this spectacular country I was shocked by how immensely untraveled it is. At no point did I even see another tourist, not in the capital, in the international airport or at any tourist sites.

It was very much a trip of firsts for me. I saw the Sahara for the first time and a camel that wasn’t locked up in a zoo. I was able to walk around three different markets without once being pestered to buy something.

It’s the first time I’ve been to a country where tourism hasn’t had a chance to lay its finger on it yet. I had my first police escort – although we later discovered that this was in fact totally over the top and unnecessary. One evening I even passed out on the British Ambassadors wife, not from the stiff whisky I’d been given moments before, but from dehydration (not enough water to compensate for the very dry air) which put somewhat of dampener on the evening!

 

The highlight – in my eyes was Ghardaia in the M’zab Valley, a settlement which is made of up five ancient towns all built upon the huge boulder hills and surrounded by luscious green palmeries . It is jam packed with culture and religion due to the Mozabite Berber tribes that live there.

My first stop was to the quaint town of El Atteuf, which is inhabited by 12,000 people made up of just 7 families! My delightful guide Mhamed, who I imagine was in his 70’s and cheekier than a schoolboy, led me up the tiny, stepped alleyways and it truly was like being taken around a pastel coloured fairytale town.

The 1000 year old palm tree doors and small pedestrian alleyways make up a town that has been built to accommodate the Mozabites strong traditions. Windows are small as large windows are deemed disrespectful to your neighbours, and alcoves are dug into the walls to provide a space for men to stand in to let the women walk past.

Honestly I don’t think the world knows enough about Algeria yet, yes in the past it’s been totally inaccessible but times are changing.

The far south of the country, on the Mali border is where the foreign office strongly advise not visit due to the presence of the Al Qaeda. But when you think of the utter scale of this country (it is 10 times the size of the UK) and the size of the Sahara, it is a long way away.

In Timimoun, the furthest south I travelled, I was closer to London than to the Mali border.

In reality I feel more threatened walking home from work at night!

 

Travel tip shared by Wild Frontiers
www.wildfrontiers.co.uk