google-site-verification: googlea104b15742cb888b.html

User Login

19

September
2016
view-of-algiers-by-msmornington

A Week at Algeria’s World Heritage Sites

Algeria is not one of the countries that sparkle tourists’ interest, but if you intend to visit important places in the world, then you can’t leave out this amazing country. To the authorities in Algeria, security is key, so don’t be put off if you have to face a little hassle with getting necessary clearance for a visit.
When I first visited the country, the airport was my first shock; it was simply Spartan. The Houari Boumediene International Airport was devoid of high-end stores, restaurants and souvenir kiosks.
Of course, it was clean and welcoming, but the noticeable absence of this distraction told me there is no time for loitering there. After clearing with custom, I was able to change my money before leaving the airport. Outside the airport, there were many black market money changers—you’ll need to be smart and have done your research plus understand some French to deal with these guys.

airport

If you are a first time visitor, please hold some Euros and if you have to change money with the black market moneychangers, ensure you only change enough to get a cab to your destination.

Carol Drinkwater wrote this about Algeria: “I had not known what to expect. Camels and sand dunes, of course, but the hand-beaten jewellery, the tattooed tribeswomen, the breath-taking landscapes, the generosity, the fine classical ruins and the silence of the Sahara made this one of the most intoxicating experiences on earth. To see this extraordinary country before tourism imprints, one visit will simply not do.”

Carol’s perspective prepared me for my first trip and when I finally got to my hotel, I only needed a few resting hours before setting out to explore.

algiers-streets-and-public-spaces-by-hichem-merouche
mzab-by-yves-jalabert

7 a.m. the next day, I was up and ready to go. My friend was around early enough to pick me at the hotel and we later joined a group of tourists who were set to visit the Casbah. We set out for this World Heritage Site after a brief orientation.

The Casbah is an old town perched on a precipitous hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The site is a maze-like alley with dense sea of houses, domed mosques and minarets some of which dates back millennia. As we explored the area, we met old people who were eager to tell us the history of the place especially the insurgence phase leading to Algeria’s independence. This visit brought the reality of the 1966 movie, the Battle in Algiers, to me, as I was right at its setting.

view-the-casbah-by-lionel-viroulaud
algeria-kasbah-by-magharebia

We were done well after noon, and returned to our hotel to freshen up and prepare for our next trip. By 4:45, we were at the airport for a flight to Ghardaia to visit the M’Zab Valley, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The flight to Ghardaia was about an hour. When we touched down, it was obvious we have reached a different world. That night, we lodged in a hotel around Palmerie (grove of Palm trees), but before it got dark, I joined a few other guys to wander through the palmerie.   

We began our tour of M’Zab valley—Beni Isguen and Ghardaia specifically, the next day. M’Zab is a deep and narrow oasis valley within the Sahara. Five walled towns—Ghardaia, Melika, Beni Isguen, Bou Noura and El Atteuf, called the Pantapolis, made up the area. The towns were established in the 11th century, built on knoll that rises steeply from the oasis-filled valley by Mozabite Berbers who had migrated from Tahert after a devastating fire destroyed their homes in 909.

beni-isguen-mzab-valley-by-dan-sloan

The five towns spread some 10km along the Valley and form an amazing connection to original Algerian culture. Of the five towns, Ghardaia is the capital and main town, El-Ateuf is the oldest settlement, while Beni Isguen is the most enigmatic and traditional.

What’s common to these towns is the way they’ve preserved their original culture and cohesion throughout the years; virtually unaffected by the outside world.

Carol was right, to say “to see this extraordinary country before tourism imprints, one visit will simply not do.” I had barely finished exploring two cities of M’Zab valley when I got a call to run another assignment. But I am definitely going back.

Interested in visiting Algeria? Write to us at info@afrotourism.com You can also drop us a comment below and let us know what you think.

Michael Usifo

Michael Usifo

Creative Writer
Michael-Alvin, an imaginative get-it-done wordsmith, blends uncanny taste for facts gleaned from his training in law, and journalism by UNESCO, in his travels and reports about Africa for Afro Tourism.
Michael Usifo
Michael Usifo
Michael Usifo

Latest posts by Michael Usifo (see all)

ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestEmail this to someone
africa Africanfood Afro Tourism City Icon East Africa Festivals holidays Island Memories recipe wednesday South Africa Southern Africa top destination travel stories West Africa

Recent Posts

Archives

MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
2627282930  
       
1234567
22232425262728
293031    
       
     12
3456789
       
  12345
       
  12345
2728     
       
      1
2345678
3031     
   1234
567891011
       
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
282930    
       
     12
3456789
10111213141516
31      
   1234
       
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    
       
    123
45678910
11121314151617
       
  12345
6789101112
20212223242526
27282930   
       
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     
    123
45678910
18192021222324
252627282930 
       
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   
       
15161718192021
22232425262728
29      
       
    123
45678910
18192021222324
       
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
28293031   
       
      1
2345678
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
262728293031 
       
 123456
21222324252627
282930    
       
     12
3456789
10111213141516
24252627282930
31      
  12345
13141516171819
2728293031  
       
891011121314
2930     
       
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
       
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930   
       
      1
2345678
9101112131415
23242526272829
3031     
      1
9101112131415
16171819202122
232425262728 
       
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
262728293031 
       
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    
       
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
       
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031