January 2003

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The highlights of this trip are the natural wonders of Sahara.
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  1. Tunisia:
  2. Tunis: great mosque and +minaret
  3. Carthage: Bardo museum and Roman villas
  4. Mahdia/Mahdiya
  5. El Jem: Amphitheater
  6. Kairouan/ Al Qairawan : +great mosque, medina
  7. Algeria:
  8. Algiers
  9. Djemila (Roman ruins)
  10. El Oued (1000 domes)
  11. Tlemcen: great Almoravid mosque of 12th c
  12. Tassili n'Ajjer: +cave art
  13. Libya:
  14. Sabratha (+Roman amphitheater of 200 AD)
  15. Ghadames
  16. Cyrene, Leptis Magna
  17. Fezzan mountains: +rock art
  18. Wadi Matkhandoush: +rock art
  19. Mauritania:
  20. click here
  21. Niger:
  22. Niamey
  23. +Parc National du W
  24. +Agadez (camel market, grande mosque)
  25. +Air Mountains (+Dabous petroglyphs)
  26. Zinder: market (300 kms south of Agadez)
  27. Tenere desert: +circle of rock, village of Fachi, +ghost town of Djado, market town of Faya Largeau
  28. +Archei canyon
  29. Chad:
  30. Ndjamena
  31. Abeche
  32. Zakouma National Park
  33. Ennedi mountains: +rock art
  34. Sudan:
    • Juba, capital of the south
    • Karima, market town on the Nile
    • Khartoum (Al Shifa, factory bombed by the USA)
    • Meroe, pyramids
    • Nuba MOuntains
    • Nubian Desert
    • Nyala, old sultanate capital
    • Omdurman, with tomb of the Mahdi
    • Port Sudan
    • Shendi, temples in the desert
  35. See Central Africa


Trip difficulty: difficult to strenuous
Length: 24 days
Season: Sep-Feb
  • Visas are the real problem in this part of the world. Africa is a wonderful part of the world. Unfortunately it is in the hands of a bunch of corrupt, incompetent, criminal and unfriendly politicians. The governments of Africa make it very difficult and expensive to obtain a visa. Some of the requirements are laughable. In 2007 the embassy of Mauritania still required "proof of transportation, letter of financial solvency from bank, proof of employment and an invitation letter". In 2009 Libya still required an Arabic translation of the entire passport. Welcome to the fifth or seventh world, not the third world.
  • It would be wise to avoid tourism in all the countries of Africa that make it difficult to obtain a tourist visa (by definition, they don't welcome tourists). The stupidity of these governments border on the demented. (Written in 2007. Hopefully it will improve with time).
  • A yellow fever certificate is required by just about all the countries in the region. If you don't have one, you might be vaccinated at the entry point.
  • Bottom line: visit some other countries.
  • Libya (2009) keeps relaxing visa procedures, but they are still a far cry from being "friendly". You do need to join a tour. Only a Libyan travel agency can obtain a tourist visa for you. Needless to say, Libyan travel agencies charge outrageous prices for this service. It takes weeks to obtain confirmation of the visa. You have to provide a photocopy of our passports and an Arabic translation of it (not a joke). Once you get a confirmation number that your visa has been approved, you can book a flight (airlines do require this number in order to make the booking).
  • Chad (2009) has probably the highest rate of poverty and corruption of northern Africa. Last but not least, photography is forbidden (it requires a permit that is both expensive and lengthy to obtain). The regime is supported by thousands of French troops. The presence of many foreigners (in theory, aid workers, but probably many of them agents who help France keep Chad as a de-facto colony) makes everything very expensive.
  • Sudan (2009) is one of the few countries that still turns back tourists whose passport has an Israeli stamp (together with fascist and racist Saudi Arabia and a few other crazy dictatorships). Travelers who wish to take any photographs must obtain a photography permit from the Ministry of Interior, Department of Aliens (no, it's not a joke). The visa costs (2011) $160 and takes 2-3 weeks in most countries ("only" a week in Kampala). The easiest place for obtaining the visa for Sudan is Cairo ($100), entering Sudan from the north (if you have time) or flying into Khartoum. People in northern Sudan are notoriously very friendly: it's the government that makes it unpleasant to travel there. One can also travel overland or by air to southern Sudan from Uganda or Ethiopia with just a permit from the friendlier Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), which is represented in both Kampala and Nairobi. Viceversa, Ugandan visa can be easily obtained at the border ($50). The rain season in Sudan is july to september.
  • Southern Sudan (2011) has become independence. Anarchy reigns on much of the region. Sudanese people are notoriously friendly, but anarchy is anarchy. In Kampala, Khartoum, Addis Abeba and Nairobi you can get a visa in one day $80. Elsewhere it's difficult because there are no embassies. Juba is one of the most expensive cities in the world because of the high number of foreign aid workers (at one point a bed in a tent cost $200). Transportation out of Juba is a lottery.
  • Niger (2009) is relatively safe. Agadez is open to tourists again, although your passports are carefully scrutinized by the police and all buses to Agadez must be escorted by military convoy. Recommended guide in Agadez: Aboubakar (or Boubakar) Ibrahim.
  • Aid workers anywhere in Africa are a real curse for the independent traveler: wherever there are lots of aid workers, prices for hotels, food and transportation skyrocket (higher than Europe or USA).
  • As of 2006, the stupidity of border officials in this region is colossal. Print webpages of tour operators and print fake hotel reservations. If they ask you for one, just show them the printouts. If you try to explain that you don't have a tour/hotel reservation, you might be denied entry.
  • TM, ®, Copyright © 1999 all rights reserved.