As the last major town on the road south to Niger, Tam (as it’s affectionately known) is a surprisingly busy place with plenty of modern amenities, including banks, Air Algérie offices, innumerable travel agencies and an ONAT (Office National du Tourisme) branch. Almost everything can be found on the main street, Ave Emir Abdelkader, and the main square, Pl du 1er Novembre.
Around 80km northeast lies the fantastical landscape of Assekrem, part of the Hoggar range. Watching the sun set and rise across the sea of mountains from here is a bucket list experience of every serious traveller. There is a basic refuge (DA1800 half board per person), where you can rest up, stay warm and join in a game of checkers with the Tuaregs. The owners, Tim Missaw Tours, can arrange transport and a guide.
At the time of writing, although considered safe by most Algerians and receiving reasonably good numbers of travellers, it is only possible to visit this region as part of a fully escorted tour, official proof of which is needed on arrival. This can be done as part of a tour, or prebooked directly with guides in Tamanrasset. All offer a range of 4WD and camel-trekking circuits to Assekrem, the Hoggar and on to Djanet. Expect to pay from around €90 to €200 per person per night (this will include all meals, accommodation and transport), with a minimum of three nights suggested for Assekrem alone.
Air Algérie flies between Tamanrasset and the major northern towns – Algiers, Oran, Constantine, Djanet and Ghardaïa. The French company Aigle Azur also has weekly flights to Paris and Marseille.
The bus station is on the road to the north of town. By bus it takes around 20 hours to Ghardaïa, or 30 hours to Algiers.