Saharan Algeria is the vast desert — dotted with oases — in the south of the country.
Sand Dune at the Cultural Park of Ahaggar in southern Algeria
Beni Isquen in the M'zab Valley
- In Eker test site (about 150 km north of Tamanrasset). France, the fourth country to produce a nuclear weapon conducted some of their early tests in Sahara as much of Western Africa still was a French colony into the 1960s. On May 1, 1962 and underground test at In Eker in today's Algeria went wrong and observers including soldiers and government officials were exposed to radiation. If you happen to drive north-south across Sahara along the road from Algiers to Tamanrasset, you will pass right next to the area.
Berber calvary at a wedding ceremony outside Ghardaïa
|| WARNING: While Algeria has come a long way since the civil war in the 1990s, there are still occasional attacks against government institutions (buildings, police forces, etc). Such attacks include suicide bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes , particularly in rural areas.
Additionally, there is the threat of bandits and an al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group (AQIM or al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb) in this region. Much of their activity has been in neighbouring Mali & Niger. The situation in southern Algeria has grown worse with Islamist rebels in northern Mali resulting in a surge of Islamist and radically-minded persons flocking to the region who are easily capable of crossing the porous Saharan border into Southern Algeria. This fact became all too real when al Qaeda-backed terrorists launched an attack on an oil field in January 2013, taking dozens of Westerners hostage. Some routes in the Sahara may require vehicles to travel only in military/police-escorted convoys for safety. Absolutely no attempt should be made to travel overland to Mali or Niger! Southern Algeria should also be considered too dangerous for tourism as the conflict in Mali rages and radical Islamists flock to the region.(Updated Aug 2013)