Overland from Algeria to Niger
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Jun 28, 2012 10:25 AM Last Post By: WanderinWilco
Jun 21, 2012 3:47 AM
I am planning a trip this summer, starting in Algiers and hopefully ending in Niamey. I am a European citizen. I'd like to do it on public transport as I don't have a 4x4 with me. From what I have read, this is a difficult proposition!
My understanding is that travel in the south of Algeria is restricted by the government and you need a tour guide. I also read that there is no public transport on southwards from Tamanrasset. Does anyone have any recent experience of heading down here?
Has anyone crossed the Algeria / Niger border? I read that Mikespencerbown tried doing this route in reverse and seems to have been sent back at Agadez, so it looks like the Niger government are also restricting access to the border areas.
Also, in terms of safety, what are the odds of getting into trouble? I know things by Mali are not so secure, but have not heard of many tourists heading to this part of the world.
Any help would be much appreciated!
Jun 21, 2012 4:29 AM
Jun 21, 2012 10:06 PM
2You don't hear reports from tourists north of Agadez because there's been serious civil unrest (a.k.a. civil war) for a few years now. You're not going there until things improve substantially, so it's just as well to quit thinking about it. Mike chose to go and learn this simple fact firsthand rather than listen to what he was told in advance; unless you're of like mind, save yourself the trouble.
Jun 22, 2012 2:24 AM
3Skunkman, when did you make the trip? Before the current unrest (and travel was forbidden past Agadez)? During?
Jun 22, 2012 3:00 AM
4it was 2 years ago, April 2010.
The area was already quite dangerous because i met 4 Europeans during my 2 weeks stay at agadez (waiting to cross to Algeria), 3 of them had been robbed at gunpoint: 2 on the way from Algeria to Arlit (serious doubts about them being set up by the police at assamaka) and one coming from Bilma.
At Assamaka, when i was waiting to cross to Algeria, a Touareg came to me and said "you know AQMI pays 50 Millions CFA for a whity like you?"
So think twice before entering Niger this way. Massive troubles are a possibility.
Jun 22, 2012 3:17 AM
Jun 22, 2012 5:43 AM
6I guess so because that old French man (Germaneau if think was his name) who ended up being killed, was kidnapped close to Arlit exactly 2 weeks after i left the place.
I hired a driver from Agadez to the border and he made me wear a scarf to make me look as "Touareg" as possible. When we crossed Arlit he told me it was much better for my safety that as few people as possible notice that car with a european inside.
Those are the though points: Arlit and Assamaka. Those are the places were the bandits spot you and call their accomplice to wait for you in the Tenere.
Crossing the Tenere, my driver avoided the Tin-track because obviously only people not knowing the area would use it: perfect place to trap foreigners.
Even though, he spent his time looking backward to check if no vehicle was following us in the distance.
A rather alarming journey i must say....
But you're right, it was aswell the most amazing and beautiful place i've travelled in my life!
Jun 22, 2012 6:22 AM
7When I crossed N - S in 2007 I got really unfriendly looks in Arlit when I got out of the car and tried changing money at a small hardware store. A crowd built up rapidly and nobody was smiling. About this time we came back into phone coverage and several frantic messages from our wives popped up, all saying that the FCO had (the day before) issued a "don't go!" warning for the area. We had passed a couple of grossly overloaded trucks carrying many dozens of hopeful illegals heading for the Med coast and a few Landcruisers patrolling with non-too-friendly occupants.
I'm glad I did the journey, it was a classic, but I wouldn't attempt a repeat performance.
Jun 27, 2012 11:35 AM
8I also read that there is no public transport on southwards from Tamanrasset
There was in june 2010. The gendarmerie in Tam told me I had to take a guide, but after talking to the police they allowed me to just take the small bus to In Guezzam, as long as I reported to the polide there upon arrival. Gendarmes at the checkpoint at In Guezzam disaproved of my presence on that bus.
Jun 28, 2012 10:17 AM
9Well, after a bit of research it seems that I am not heading overland between Algeria and Niger (or Niger and Algeria).
Current hurdles include:
Very long waiting times at the Algerian Consulate in London, as well as their insistence on extremely detailed travel itineraries, and documents sent through from travel companies in Algeria itself. I believe at the moment this would take over a month to organise.
Very high price of flights to Niamey, no doubt driven up by the expat workers.
Very high cost of tours in southern Algeria.
The Niger authorities currently not allowing foreigners any nearer the Algerian border than Agadez.
This last hurdle is a recent development, and may change depending on the security situation. This route has been taken before, both in public transport and by overland travellers. While there is a risk of kidnapping, this is by no means guaranteed. If you are kidnapped, it seems from past precedents that your chances of release are quite high, unless you are a British citizen, as Britain seems to be the only European nation not willing to make concessions to the hostage takers. Not sure whether that's a good or a bad thing.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who helped out with information and PMs. Also, Mr Bachir Hafach, who comes highly recommended on this board, got back to me with more details very quickly after I emailed him. Contact details can be found here: www.touaregbachir.blogspot.com
Maybe next time!
Jun 28, 2012 10:25 AM
10Never say die! Political situations in Africa change all the time. You may make it in a year or so..............
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