I had lovely reactions when I told people that I was going on holidays to Algeria. From ‘let me check google maps in which part of the world that is’ to ‘did you search the country that scores the worst on the list of your Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ and ‘why do you only travel the weird countries?’. I have to admit that I always choose countries that hardly anyone goes to. Just because I don’t find much adventure in going to a holiday destination where I can speak Dutch and find half of the Netherlands.
But I’m not ignorant either. We knew it was a risk to go to Algeria. It was a week before their elections, there were violent protests and a few high terrorist leaders had been caught a few days before we arrived. Information you don’t tell your parents before your trip, huh. I wouldn’t recommend taking your security information from blogs like this. Make sure you inform yourself well before you go!
For Algeria, we found it quite hard to be informed. Not much is published on these matters in Algeria. Not on official news sites (for example, there were only 10 foreign journalists allowed in the country to report the elections). There’s a little bit of information on Facebook, but you’ll have to speak French or Arabic to understand it. And even that was limited. At the time we were there, the south was definitely a no-go area. The mountainous part between the eastern border (with Tunisia) wasn’t great either, but we took that risk (though never wandered around or hiked, which is too bad, because it looks amazing).
So yes, it was a risk. But to be honest; I never felt unsafe during our trip. We used public transportation all the time (you’re not allowed to take a car across the border that’s not yours). I received a lot of looks from people because of my blonde hair. But no one that approached me or treated me badly (though my friend was always next to me. I’m pretty sure that makes a big difference). And you need to be sensitive. Don’t go out late on the streets.
Would I recommend going to Algeria? Yes, definitely! I would love to go back and discover the Western part. But be informed and alert about what you do and where you go.
It took 3 hours in the bus from the border to Annaba. During those hours, I kept hoping women would be less conservatively dressed when we would approach a major town. But that wasn’t really the case. The most important question for every woman who’s packing her bag; what to wear?!
Well, I was kind of prepared with somewhat conservative outfits, but I hoped I could wear a t-shirt. I think you can, but you’ll be the only one and therefore you won’t show much respect. Just cover your arms. You don’t want to be that disrespectful. I didn’t cover my head, but the majority of the Algerian women does. Though I never had the feeling that that was expected from me.
Also, when you have a choice; I wouldn’t recommend going here mid-summer, unless you love melting. But don’t let this put you off, because you’re be missing out if you’re not visiting Algeria for a reason like this.
Hmm, accommodation is quite a thing in Algeria. There are hotels, but rather expensive and difficult to find on internet. There are also places on Airbnb of course and a few couchsurfers, but since we weren’t sure on the security situation, we stayed in hotels. Please note that if you’re not married and travelling together, you need a marriage certificate. Not in every hotel, but you better have something.
The hotels that we stayed at though, were definitely worth the money!
Read my other blogs on Annaba and Constantine and on how to cross the border with Tunisia.