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Algerian Sahara Walk

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Algerian Sahara Walk

  • Location: Algeria
  • Duration: 9 Days/8 Nights (*depending on flight times)
  • Departing from: Paris airport on Day 1
  • Tour finishes: Paris airport on Day 9 (*or on Day 8, depending on flight times)
  • Departures 2017: Private departures only. Please contact us for more information.
  • Price 2017: Price upon request.
  • Departures 2018: Private departures only. Please contact us for more information.
  • Price 2018: Price upon request.

The Sahara is one of the largest and most beautiful deserts in the world. On this trip you will explore a small part of it, the Tadrart. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982, it is part of the National Park of “Tassilli des n’ajjers” (Plateau of Chasms), a mix of canyons and stone forests that make up this prehistoric landscape. Located in southeastern Algeria near Niger and Lybia, this “tassili” is only 250 km long and 50 km wide, but it harbours an outstanding landscape of the central Sahara.  The Tadrart is also home to one of the most important collections of prehistoric cave art in the world, offering a permanent open-air art exhibition on rocks and in caves.  There are some 10-15,000 rock paintings that depict hunting scenes, with elephant, giraffes, lions, and both human and spiritual beings. Come and witness what this 9,000-year-old civilisation tells us about human history in this part of the world.

Southern Algeria is the heart of Touareg territory. This nomadic tribe numbers some one million people, scattered throughout various parts of the Sahara. The men wear an indigo-coloured fabric which stains their skin and has earned them the name of “Blue People of the Desert.” They will be our guides during our 4×4 and trekking tour. They will drive us through an ever-changing landscape, from fantastic volcanic mountains to rolling sand dunes and deep canyons, and from beautiful sunrises to flamboyant sunsets.  We camp each night under the Saharan sky and share simple food with our local guides and hosts.
(Luggage is transferred by 4×4 and our local Touareg guides set up camp and prepare all of our meals. The tour begins and ends in Paris, then once we are in the desert we sleep out under the stars.)

Algerian Sahara Walk itinerary

Day 1

Meet your guide, Virginie, at the Paris “Charles de Gaulle” airport and depart for a 3-hour flight to Djanet (a former military airbase in the middle of the desert). There you will be met by your Touareg guides, who will load your gear into the 4×4 and then set off on a 3-hour drive. The first 30 minutes is on a paved road, then we turn onto a track which leads into the Tadrart National Park, a UNESCO World Biosphere preserve. We stop for lunch in the shade of a hardy acacia tree. After lunch we have another transfer to the start of our first walk. A two-hour walk over a ridge leads us down to the campsite which the boys have set up for us in the lee of an enormous limestone escarpment. Dinner by campfire light.

Days 2 – 8

A typical day: You open your eyes and wake to a clear, pale blue sky. There is no tent to obscure your views as you turn your head and take in the dramatic landscape of immense rock pillars that seem to grow out of the surrounding undulating dunes. The air is fresh, there is a slight breeze as you get out of your sleeping bag.  You have a half-litre of water with which to wash, so you wander off to find some privacy and do your ablutions.  Instead of making like a bear in the woods, I guess you make like a jackal in the desert. Everyone eventually reconvenes around the breakfast fire where our cook Haled has stoked the fire and made some tea or coffee. Breakfast is toast, cereal and fruit. We then pack up our bedrolls and prepare for our morning walk. The air is quickly getting warmer so you change  [Algeria-Sahara-5] out of your fleece and into a T-shirt. Grab your backpack, water and camera, and follow Mohamed out of camp as he leads you on a morning of discovery. The desert is vast, but it is certainly not empty. Wadis (dried lake beds), rock caves, escarpments, and deep water supplies lie  hidden amongst the limestone rocks. Ancient paintings and engravings only appear when revealed by your guide. After a couple of hours of walking, we arrive at the lunch stop that the cook and drivers have set up. They always manage to find a shady spot. The fire is going again and a welcome cup of tea is offered. Lunch can be salad, fruit, cheese, couscous etc. After lunch we always enjoy a siesta. Some people fall asleep, others take the time to read a book or update their journal.

Depending on the day, we may have an hour transfer to the beginning of our late afternoon walk. Sundown is about 7 p.m. so the heat of the day is waning, and the light is magical as it plays off the soaring dunes whose colours range impossibly from gray to gold, to yellow, to orange. We often walk in bare feet up the dunes, the south faces are hot to warm while the north-facing sand is positively cold to the touch! We wind our way to the new campsite; time to have a quick wash, and change into warm clothes. As the sun sets the temperature drops quickly. Soon we are all sporting long trousers, fleeces, and woolen hats, surmounted by headlamps. We gather around the fire where our Touareg guides prepare the meal while chatting amongst themselves. Dinner is always delicious, partly because the day’s exercise combined with the cool night air gives one a good appetite. We enjoy a small glass of the impeccably prepared and delicious tea that our Touareg hosts offer us after the meal. Now it is time for riddles and stories around the campfire, or music! The Touaregs are fabulous musicians. Moulay brings his 12 string lute with him and plays to himself and anyone else who wants to listen.  The other boys invariably lay down a percussion beat by clapping or beating on an upturned pot or empty water tank. Their melodic songs may well act as a lullaby. When it is time for bed you can find a good spot close to the fire or in the lee of the sheltering rocks, or you can wander out into the desert and plunk your mattress down and enjoy an unobstructed view of the heavens. And what a view it is. You have never seen so many stars in your life. You close your eyes and go to sleep, nestled in your warm sleeping bag.

Your Guides

Besides the stunning beauty of the desert landscapes, what really makes this trip so special are the local guides. The Touareg are a nomadic people who for centuries traded using camel caravans. Your guides continue to live as nomads, only now using 4X4s to ply the desert. They have a way about them that is very appealing. They love a good story or joke, do everything in the time it takes, with patience and efficiency. When they cross paths with another caravan smiles break out all around. Being with them around the campfire, hearing their stories, sharing their recipes, an d listening to them sing, you get a glimpse into a totally different world. Everything is different, but the basics remain the same. Friendship and family is what counts. But I am getting carried away! They also look after us and lead us unerringly through the desert for a week with good humour and patience.

Mohamed, our walking guide, knows the land like the back of his hand. He leads us to 10,000 year old cave drawings and engravings from a time when the Tadrart was a temperate climate teeming with wildlife. Elephants, tigers, crocodiles, and giraffe were painted and engraved on the rock walls by the Touareg’s ancient ancestors.

Departure – Day 8 or 9 (*depending on flight times)

Emerge from the desert. Stop at the hammam in Djanet for a wash before boarding your flight back to Paris (or, spend the night and fly out tomorrow morning).

Activity rating: 3 out of 5 = Moderate: Rolling terrain with some challenging climbs up the dunes. Daily activity usually between two to two and a half hours in the morning and two to two and a half hours in the afternoon. Some days have a shorter option. Max distance  16 kms  Note: 4x4 support and luggage transfers: we will be accompanied by at least 2 Toyota Land Cruisers and drivers. They move camp for us each day and transfer our luggage.  They also set up a lunch site and then the final campsite in the evening. This also allows you the possibility of taking a morning or afternoon off to relax.

Trip Cost Includes: 7 nights “accommodations” (7 nights sleeping out under the stars! There are no tents. Camping mattresses are provided); 7 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners; at least one Customwalks guide, a local Touareg walking guide, a cook and two drivers.  Two 4×4 Toyota Land Cruisers;  pick-up and drop-off at Tamanrasset airport

Booking: e-mail us to receive a booking contract (or use the “Reservation” page).

Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below. Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.

travel Guard insurance

Getting There: the trip starts in Paris at the “Charles de Gaulle” airport, where you will meet your guide for your flight to Djanet, in Algeria. Paris Roissy (“Charles de Gaulle”) and Paris Orly share a website (“Aeroports de Paris”) with useful information on schedules, ground transportation, etc.

Air: most intercontinental flights arrive at this airport, while others may go to Orly.

Rail or Bus: Charles de Gaulle airport is easily reached by train and bus from downtown Paris or other points in France. See their website for more details.

Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends back at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, after a group flight back from Djanet, Algeria.

If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, or feel free to e-mail us with any specific travel questions.

4.83/5
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4.83 out of 5
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Average ratings
5.0
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Quality of itinerary
4.0
Food quality & variety
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Value for money
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Reviews
4.8
by S Lane from Crawley, UK
Posted Feb 03, 2015

Our week in the Sahara was an amazing experience. There is so much more to see than just sand - incredible rock formations, billowing sand dunes, flat expanses of sand where you can see mirages, historical cave paintings and engravings, the whole of the night sky twinkling with stars when you lay down in your sleeping bag, groups of camels. Our Toureg guides were very friendly and looked after us really well, the tea ceremony was always a highlight of the day, seeing it prepared as well as drinking it. So many wonderful photographs and memories, we would love to go back and do it all again.



Our week in the Sahara was an amazing experience. There is so much more to see than just sand - incredible rock formations, billowing sand dunes, flat expanses of sand where you can see mirages, historical cave paintings and engravings, the whole of the night sky twinkling with stars when you lay down in your sleeping bag, groups of camels. Our Toureg guides were very friendly and looked after us really well, the tea ceremony was always a highlight of the day, seeing it prepared as well as drinking it. So many wonderful photographs and memories, we would love to go back and do it all again.
by S Lane from Crawley, UK

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