Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Want to go on an original trip? Head off to Algeria!

Often, when you have decided to go on holiday and you are trying to make your mind up about where you want to go, you are afraid to seem trite and predictable, eventually choosing a common destination, that holiday corner where all tourists meet.

A strange feeling of anxiety grips you and you start humming to yourself "It won't happen with me!"

Then, an idea starts to creep into your mind... It is a great idea, no doubt an original one. There is that country on the north coast of Africa... They were talking about it on the telly... What's its name again?

Al... Alg... Algeria...

Got it!

Travelling to Algeria will definitely be the best way to stand out from the crowd, being that this country stands on the fringes of Sahara desert which is not such a popular travel destination (apart from the real adventure types).

Either you are a fan of desert landscapes or you like Arabic cultures, what is sure is that, up to some years ago, Algeria was not a hot spot on the world travel map.

Recent surveys have definitely confirmed that more and more tourists from all over the world choose to spend their holidays in Algeria. Indeed, if you take a stroll through the local streets, you will pick up lots of different languages, proving how heterogeneous tourists are there.

The cosmopolitan Algiers
A trip to Algeria can reasonably start from the country's capital, Algiers, indeed one of the most charming cities along the northern coast of Africa. Originally a Phoenician colony with commercial functions, it became later a Roman town occupying the marine district of the present-day city.

Fountain in the Kasbah, Algiers

On the one side, you can decide to lose yourself in the maze of narrow alleys and lanes making up the Kasbah quarter where the typical old shops continue to create an atmosphere capable of capturing the visitor. Here you can admire the great mosques of the 17th century.
On the other hand, you can take a walk through the city focusing on the monuments that commemorate the more recent past of this nation, for example the Monument des Martyrs celebrating the war for the independence, or the Notre Dame d'Afrique, indeed one of the most famous representative monuments in the city, erected back in 1862 by the Europeans that settled there during the French rule.

The Houari Boumedienne International Airport is about 20 miles from the city: here the planes of the most important world's airlines stop over.

Algiers offers a good range of hotels where you can stay at very reasonable prices.

Béjaïa: right in the heart of the Berber-speaking district
If you wish to familiarize with the local Berber culture, then you should go to the city of Béjaïa, one of the oldest cities in Algeria, at more than 200 kilometres from Algiers. 

Béjaïa view

People who love beautiful views on the sea and contrasts between mountains and transparent waters will definitely appreciate this place. Plus, if you are passionate about trekking and hiking, the area is extraordinarily rich in trails for tours and excursions.
Talking about trekking, if you dare, you can even challenge the great Sahara desert on a camel.

If you decide to stop at Béjaïa for the night, you can take these accommodation options into consideration.

Constantine, the city of bridges
In the north-east sector of Algeria, almost 400 kilometres from Algiers, there is one of the country’s most astonishing cities: Constantine, renamed for the Roman emperor in the 4th century.

constantine algeria city of bridges

It is not on the coast, but is tucked away 100 kilometres inland from the Mediterranean coast.
Literally perched on a rocky peak, a deep canyon divides it from the surrounding lands. In virtue of its unique topography, Constantine is called the city of bridges and indeed some of them are extraordinarily impressive.
Apart from that of the Roman period, which lies almost at the bottom of the ditch, there is one more recent amazing construction. Unable to build pillars quite high up at the base of the canyon, the designers found themselves forced to not use at all: the bridge seems to fly today, backed just by black steel cables that will anchor to the ground, from the air.


An authentic adrenaline shot 
If you want to experience something unique, then you have to venture into the country’s desert heart.
Get on a plane from Algiers to Djanet, an oasis city in south-east Algeria, towards the boundaries with Libia. The area is famous as a human settlement since Neolithic times. Nearby you will get the chance to visit one of most spectacular places on the planet, the Tassili n'Ajjer, a vast plateau covering an area of 72,000 sq. km which can be reached exclusively by foot, after a long and hard journey.

The Tassili plateau prehistoric drawings

Up to 8.000 years ago, this region was totally different from what it appears now: the landscape was very similar to that of present-day savanna, rich both in plants and animals. Several prehistoric civilizations inhabited the area leaving evident proof of their presence there.
Have you ever heard the expression the Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic? Over 15,000 drawings and engravings earned the Tassili plateau this appellative, telling us about the evolution of human life on the edge of the Sahara beginning from 10,000 B.C.

Final tips
Unfortunately, Algeria has today a delicate political situation so that journeys in the North African country are not recommended, especially if you have in mind to travel to the desert part in the south or to the east sector towards Libia and Tunisia.

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