Algeria - Desert and History


Algeria - Desert and History

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 12 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Dossier

Explore the history and culture of Algeria, with French charm and influences ranging from the Romans and the Turkish, through to the older, indigenous culture of the Berbers. On this tour we visit the desert oasis of Taghit, the urban delights of Oran with its Spanish air and fascinating Constantine with its bridges and medina. The undisputed highlights of this small group tour though, are the Roman remains, Ottoman palaces, stunning desert and beautiful scenery.

Algeria is a developing country which still has an image problem, and it receives few tourists, unlike its near neighbour Morocco. Visitors will not find the souks and markets that prevail in Morocco but this said Algeria is a marvellous country to visit with many fascinating sites and places of interest, and genuinely welcoming and hospitable people.


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●● | Wildlife ●○○○○

Tour Pace

Busy 

Tour Highlights

  • Discover Algiers and its famous Casbah
  • Visit the desert oasis of Taghit and uncover a way of life that has changed little in centuries
  • Explore Oran with its Andalusian and Ottoman heritage
  • Marvel at the well preserved Roman ruins many of which are in fabulous locations.

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels (see under "Important Information")
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum 12
Start Point: Algiers
End Point: Algiers
Transport: Minivan
Countries: Algeria

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

Day 1 – Algiers

Arrive in Algiers where you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Embark on an afternoon sightseeing tour of the city including the Martyrs Memorial and the Basilica de Notre Dame d'Afrique, and take a drive through the city centre. Overnight at ST Hotel or similar.

Algiers

Perched on the edge of the Mediterranean, opposite southern France, Algiers has long been an important city for trade between Europe and Africa. Over the years it has been home to numerous different civilisations, from the Phoenicians to the Romans and the Ottomans, but was captured by France in 1862 in one of its first forays into Africa. The legacy of French occupation is still evident with whitewashed colonial architecture making this a most striking and unusual African capital. Algiers has many sites to explore – perhaps the most interesting being the old Casbah quarter of the city, an incredibly atmospheric district filled with traditional buildings, although still not somewhere to venture without a guide. Within the Casbah are several Zaouias (religious schools) and tombs as well as good examples of old Ottoman buildings

Day 2 – Tipasa (76 kms, approx 1 hour in each direction)

Today we head out of the capital to Tipasa, home to an amazing collection of archaeological remains. On the way we visit the ‘Tomb of the Christian’, believed to date back to the 3rd century BC and belonging to the Numidian people. We continue to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tipasa, a fantastic collection of Roman ruins overlooking the sea, including villas and an ancient amphitheatre. Overnight at ST Hotel or similar, Algiers (BL)

"The Tomb of the Christian"

Near Sidi Rachid lies the ‘Tomb of the Christian’ or Qabr er Rumia, thought to be a tomb for Numidian Berber kings dating back to the 3rd or 4th century BC. It is also rumoured that the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is buried here. Built on a hill overlooking the plains below, it consists of a circular building topped with a pyramid, and is one of the most interesting sites in Algeria.

Tipasa

Seventy kilometres west of Algiers lies Tipasa, a pleasant enough town in its own right, but better known for its collection of ancient ruins. The Roman ruins at Tipasa are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and include many different structures – there are three ancient churches, the remains of an old port, an amphitheatre and villas, some of which still contain original mosaics.

Day 3 – Algiers - Constantine (1 hour flight)

We continue to delve deeper into Algiers, including a visit to the world class Bardo Museum, housed in a neo-Moorish villa. We will also explore the unique Casbah, an outstanding example of an historic Maghreb city, and one of the most enigmatic places in Algiers. We will eat lunch in a local house and visit a mosque inside the Casbah. Later in the day we will take a flight to Constantine. Overnight at Ibis Hotel Ibis or similar (BL)

Constantine

Located on a steep ravine, high above the Rhumel Gorge, Constantine is the third largest city in Algeria and a well- known centre of learning. Originally a Numidian settlement it was destroyed in 311 BC, before being re-built in 313 BC on the orders of Emperor Constantine, and named after him. The city came under Ottoman rule in 1529 from when it thrived and grew before falling to the French in 1837. Today the bridges are the main attraction, spanning the gorge and offering spectacular views, and they alone are reason enough to visit Constantine

Day 4 – Constantine to Tiddis (30 kms, approx 40 mins in each direction)

Today we head south stopping first at Medracen, the Tomb of the Numidian Kings, before continuing on to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Timgad. Witness the huge library, colonnaded streets, temples, amphitheatre, the arch of Trajan, and the basilica. In addition we will visit the Roman ruins of Lambaesis before returning to Constantine. Overnight at Ibis Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 5 – Timgad- Batna (142 kms, approx 4 hours total driving time)

Today we head south stopping first at Medracen, the Tomb of the Numidian Kings, before continuing on to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Timgad. Witness the huge library, colonnaded streets, temples, amphitheatre, the arch of Trajan, and the basilica. In addition we will visit the Roman ruins of Lambaesis and continue on to the attractive city of Batna. Overnight at Hazem Hotel or similar. (BL)

Timgad

The Roman town of Timgad was founded in the 1st century AD and prospered until the 7th century, when it was overrun by the Byzantines, before being destroyed by Arab invaders. Among the remains that can still be seen are an amphitheatre, Roman baths, temples, a Byzantine fortress and the Arch of Trajan; Timgad was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982.   

Day 6 – Djemila- Algiers (Total travel 445 kms, approx 5 hours 45 mins)

A full day excursion to the well preserved UNESCO World Heritage site of Djemila and the ancient garrison of Cuicul in their mountain setting. We will see the forum, temples, basilicas, triumphal arches and museum followed by a visit to Sétif and the archaeological museum with splendid Bacchus mosaics. Later in the day we return to Algiers. Overnight at ST Hotel or similar (BL)

Djemila

The well preserved Roman ruins of Djemila, meaning “beautiful”, are the remains of the city of Cuicul which was built in the 1st century BC as a garrison, and grew to become an important trading market. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th and 6th centuries the city was abandoned, and although it was never reoccupied, it was renamed Djemila by the Muslim inhabitants of the region. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981, in respect of its unusual mountain setting, the public baths, fountain, forum, arch of Caracalla, basilica and theatre are among the structures that can still be seen.

Day 7 – Algiers - Bechar (2 hours 15 mins flight) Bechar -Taghit (93 kms, approx 1 hour 20 mins)

Today we fly south-west to Bechar, and continue onward by road to the oasis town of Taghit, one of the most beautiful in the Algerian Sahara. Depending on our time of arrival we may have time to explore. Overnight at Saoura Hotel or similar (BLD)

Day 8 – Taghit

We spend the day visiting the rock paintings at "the end of the road" and exploring on foot the ksar and the old town, with its mud brick houses and winding streets, dominated by the dunes of the Grand Erg Occidental towering above. Overnight at Saoura Hotel or similar.(BLD)

Day 9 – Fly from Bechar – Oran (2 hour flight)

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Oran, Algeria’s second city (13:05-15:05). On arrival we spend time exploring the city including the Bey’s Palace and the 18th Century Grand Mosque. Overnight at Ibis Hotel or similar. (BL)

Oran

Founded in the 10th century by the Moors of Andalucia, Oran has had a varied past which has seen it being ruled by Spain, the Ottoman Empire and France – today remnants of that Spanish heritage still linger giving it rather a different feel to its larger cousin Algiers. The city is a mixture of different styles of architecture and is renowned as being one of the more liberal places in Algeria. Some of its key sights include the Grand Mosque, the delightful area of Santa Cruz and the Cathedral de Sacre Coeur. Within Algeria, Oran is renowned as being the birthplace of rai music, a quite distinctive genre with its roots in the poor and dispossessed community. Oran is a great place to spend time wandering along the seafront and stopping for a drink in the numerous cafes, to enjoy a spot of people watching.

Day 10 – Oran- Algiers- (412 kms, approx. 4 hours 30 mins)

We continue our exploration of Oran including the colonial era theatre, and the picturesque Santa Cruz area with its pretty church and fortress, offering great views over the whole of the city. Later we return to Algiers. Overnight at ST Hotel or similar. (BL)

Day 11 – Fine Arts Museum of Algiers- Botanical Gardens

Today enjoy a visit to the Fine Arts Museum of Algiers. Inaugurated in 1930, this little sanctuary of fine arts houses a treasure of 8000 paintings and sculptures including several “chef-d’oeuvres” belonging to Renoir, Delacroix, Picasso and Rodin among a long list of famous artists. Opposite the Museum are the Botanical Gardens and you will have the opportunity for a leisurely stroll. It is a place of outstanding beauty and its 30 hectares have an impressive collection of palms and trees along with a beautiful French style garden. Part of the park was used to shoot sequences of the original Tarzan movie in 1932. In the evening we will have a farewell dinner in a local restaurant Overnight at ST Hotel or similar. (BD)

Day 12 – Departure

Today is at leisure until the time comes to transfer to the airport for your international flight. (B)

Please read the information under "Security" in the Notes section.

Inclusions:
Arrival and departure transfers
Transport throughout with internal flights as mentioned in the itinerary.
All accommodation
Services of English speaking guide.
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Excluded:
International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks

Updated 27/03/2019