Info: Algeria now difficult to travel in
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Oct 1, 2012 12:42 PM Last Post By: Artabanes
Jan 17, 2012 8:50 AM
Info: Algeria now difficult to travel inI was just doing the Mali to Niger and up through Algeria route, not usually a problem, but I started getting troubles, and finally the whole effort ground to a hault in Agadez. Mali was okay, but with lots of police warnings to turn back, and one police passport confiscation in Gao... they gave it back the next day. I was hoping for easier going in Niger but it was not to be. In Agadez, the usual place to pick up a visa for Algeria, the police took my passport, and I had to negotiate with them to let me have it back so i could visit the Algerian Consulate. At first the Algerians were smiling and saying, "no problem", pick up your visa tomorrow, but when I came back, they said that no visa could be given, as of December 1. After doing an Air mountain trip I put a lot of effort into getting around the difficulty... the usual things, look for someone who can 'facilitate' the visa, try for the business visa instead, try with more documents, try to talk to the head guy... no luck. They told me to try in Niamey... Here is an exam^ple of one of the replies I got from a person specializing in getting people visas and taking them on excursions to the south of Algeria:
Thank you for contacting me. The telecom lines are very bad. I can hardly understand what you are saying over the phone and my internet line is rather weak. Anyway coming back to your visa enquiry: As I told you on the phone as from 1st December all the Algerian consulates and Embassies have been advised by the ministry of foreign affairs not to issue any tourist visas for trips to the south of Algeria any more. They need a special authorisation by the ministry of tourism, the ministry of interior and the ministry of foreign affairs. Even if the Algerian consulate is willing to exceptionally give you a visa (which I doubt very much that they are allowed to!) the police at the border post in In Guezzam will not let you through if you are not accompanied by an Algerian travel agency throughout the whole time of your trip through Algeria. Travel restrictions and security measures have become very severe these last two months since the latest kidnappings in Tindouf (Algeria) and Timbuktu (Mali). You will therefore understand that travelling through Algeria as an individual foreigner ( all European, American, Canadian, Australian nationals) is not really fun anymore. First of all your trip will become excessively expensive (€150 vehicle/guide rental a day, the trip from In Guezzam to Tamanrasset would cost you €450!), secondly you will not be free to go where you want as your itinerary will have to be approved by the authorities, thirdly the only public transport that you will be allowed to use is the airplane. You will also understand that under these circumstances no serious and honest travel agent could come up with any suitable proposition. I am really terribly sorry not to be of any more help to you but I sincerely recommend that you should abandon your plan of coming to Algeria. Furthermore, I also advise you to be extremely careful where ever you go in the whole of the Sahara Sahel region! Let's just hope for better times when I will be ever so glad to organise your trip in the most beautiful desert of the world.
Thank you very much and take care
So I bussed a thousand km back to the Niger river, and tried again there, with nearly all the right paperwork.
They were simpythetic enough to overlook the fact that i am not a Niger resident, but the process would have taken 14 days, and I didn't have that long left on my visa. Besides, I couldn't wait 14 days to get a thumbs up or down on a visa enquiry. Anyhow, I had to fly to Tunis, and there I tried again. The result was a flat refusal: they only give visas to Tunisia residents. I complained that the usual non-resident visa possibilities are all to the south of Algeria, and thus had been shut down on dec 1, so they should have pity on someone who was caught up in this in mid-travel, but they would not hear it.
Anyhow... I also tried the Libyan consulates in Agadez and Niamey, but they are not set up for visas yet. The Libyan embassy in Tunis seems to be more amenable, and I might get a visa there, to allow me to apply again in Tripoli, but I am not counting on it.... also I heard that the Algerian consulate in Morocco doesn't give out visas to non-residents either.
The point is, Algeria is harder for the overlander to travel in than usual, and you may have to get your visa in your home country, thus curtailing the freedom of your travel dates, and not bother with the south, which is the best part. Or wait and see if things get better;
Happy trails :o)
I'll add some more info if I do end up getting in on this trip.
Jan 18, 2012 5:47 AM
Interesting post. You're right that Algeria isn't suitable for overlanders or self-travel. You can only get your visa in your country of residence. However, it's not true to say that Algeria is difficult to travel in. With a tour, is as easy as other countries and delightfully enjoyable because of its off-the-beaten track nature. You should appreciate the security measures that are in place for the south and also neighbouring countries because the threat of terrorism is very real in these places. While the Algeria's south is widely known internationally, it's not the only place to go. You should check out hidden gems such as Timimoun and Taghit, both which are still part of the Sahara, but much more secure and easy for tourists. It's got all the magic of Sahara as do Tamanrasset except for the monolithic mountains.
Jan 18, 2012 1:31 PM
Jan 18, 2012 2:26 PM
Jan 19, 2012 1:54 AM
4I was really looking forward to the Aleria part of this Africa trip, but as it was 9 months of travel, I couldn't estimate when or if I'd make it to Algeria, so getting a visa back in Canada before I left was not an option... especially as the on-the-road visas were easy to get in Agadez up until Dec 1. I haven't given up yet... I have various invitations to Algeria including an invitation from a man in Djanet who is a tour guide. If I was a european I could just fly or boat back to Europe, get the visa and return, but for me Ottawa, Canada is far away, and I only go to Canada maybe once a year. I think these new restrictions are likely to cause the most hastle for overlanders such as myself.
Also, I'm sure that parts, or even most of Algeria is safe for travelers.... I think these restrictions have more to do with the whim of some of the local administrators.... although a governor was kidnapped recently in the south, but released by Libyan forces who intercepted the kidnappers. I will try again in Tripoli, and if that fails, I'll have to put off Algeria travel, sadly, until after a visa run to Canada. :o)
Jan 19, 2012 8:13 AM
5I've contacted an Algerian agency for my next travel in Southern Algeria:
Yes, it's more difficult since Dec. 1, but not impossible.
You have to contact your chosen agency, who will obtain the "different" authorizations from "different" authorities ( i.e 2 monthes, may be) and after go to the Algerian consulate (the one near your home) with all the paperwork and you can obtain your visa within 2 weeks.
Jan 19, 2012 10:01 AM
Jan 21, 2012 8:44 AM
7I was in Tamanraseet and even a bit more in the south just two weeks ago.
I guess that you wont get a visa , sorry to be negative, but with our visa it was really a mess and we revieved them just one hour before the check in at the airport in Franlfurt, And we traveld with an agency. It took aprox two month to get the Visa
The goverment claims that there are Al-qaida terrorists in the dessert:
Iam not shure if this true, the locals say there are NO Terrorits al all and that the informations '' sont mal entendre'', and my feelings say that there are reasons, but thats a bit off topic.
If you need contact adress in TAM from a local agency you can ask me, I guess they are also active in Djanet.
I hope you can fix to get a Visa because it is really great in the dessert, never experiences such a wideness before..
Edited by: SiriusB
Mar 17, 2012 2:08 AM
Mar 20, 2012 3:47 AM
Jun 6, 2012 12:55 PM
10If you can go. I was in TAM this winter and it seemded very safe.
There are repords that Alquada Magreb is more a constuct of the inteligece services which should help to give reasons to the militarisation of the hole region. And to weipe out tourism there and touareg economy and culture... I do not know if this true but . Even the britsh guy who negotiated about the freeing of the kidnaped people in 2008 wrote some articels about that toppic and claimed that the secret service was involved in that kidnapping.... And maybe it has become ruffer than it has been in winter. But if you stay with locals its totaly doable and really wearth it IMO.
If you have futher questions you can also PM me.
Sep 4, 2012 1:15 PM
11Alpha Canis Maioris,
I think the current situation in Azawad shows that there is more to this than just conspiracy theories.
The situation was already very difficult in june 2010 when I was stuck at Assamaka and In Guezzam (with 10 Algerian border police killed at Tinzouatene on the Malian border just days later) and no doubt is much worse now.
Already then the Algerian gendarmes disapproved of me having ridden the bus from Tam to In Guezzam: "donc vous avez pris le risque"
Oct 1, 2012 7:02 AM
12mmm, just wondered how it was with the visa nowadays... Are there problems getting them only if I go south or it doesnt really depend on my itinerary? What if I send in an itinerary listing only north and then decide to go south and hire a local agency? I dont want to cheat or have problems with authorities or some gangsters of what so ever kind either but just asking if this is a possibility once I get there and hear people saying I shouldnt miss the south of the country... to know beforehand.
Oct 1, 2012 12:42 PM
13Nebt, look at this. This describes a bit my experience 2 years ago. Things might have changed since then, especially in the south. But back then, once in the country, it was possible (with a lot of police and gendarmerie hassles though) to independently travel all the way from Tebessa to In Guezzam, and back up to Algiers.
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