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Algeria: Diversity and History
For anyone craving adventure, along with some fantastic food and sights could do much worse than choosing a vacation in the fascinating North African country of Algeria. Rent a car and drive through the varied landscape of this fascinating cultural melting pot.
Algeria is an important country in global economy, and a major competitor in the natural energy market via its involvement in the market for petroleum. As a consequence, the capital of Algiers, a major port, is a thriving metropolitan hub. Visitors to Algeria will enter at the major airport located 13 miles southeast of the city.
Algiers is home to the magic Algiers Bay, which offers a stunning view of the ocean from the hills. While exploring the old Casbah, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and visiting the centuries old mosques, you can treat your palate to an array of tasty delights. This city and country offers visitors a wide spectrum of cuisine from French and Berber, to Mediterranean and Arab. However, visitors who hire a car can go on a unique African road-trip, down to the urban oasis of M’zab Valley.
M’zab Valley showcases its own unique style of architecture, named after the valley, and is set amidst the great expanse that is the Sahara Desert. To reach this destination you must pass through the city of Laghouat. It is thought that this city is the best point of entry for first timers to experience the grand silence of the Sahara Desert.
Laghouat is some 250 miles south of the capital and is an oasis at the northernmost tip of the Sahara, the edge of which allows the traveler to gaze upon the greatness of the desert. Spend at most 2 nights here enjoying the quiet of a much smaller city than that of Algiers, with famous gardens, an old city of its own, and still more local cuisine. Do not fret over the distance, as there are many of towns and cities to stop and enjoy while driving down.
The last two empires Algeria has known were those of the Ottoman and the French. Arabic and Berber are the official languages of Algeria, Berber being of the indigenous culture. French is also widely spoken and is the language of business and commerce. Many of the younger generation will also speak English.
The currency is the Algerian dinar, with $1 US being worth just over 100 dinar. This currency is the only currency used throughout the country. Airports will offer a number of options to exchange visitor’s domestic currency.
Appeal of Weather
Algeria does not count tourism as a major economic factor. There is no need for considering ‘peak season’ prices into your budget. Rather, visitors may be more interested in avoiding the blistering hot and dry temperatures of the Algerian Sahara’s summer climate.
Temperatures reach an average of 45o C in the desert, though only during the summer months. Plan your trip into to the desert between October and April if you are not used to high temperatures. It is worth noting that destinations along the coast will remain pleasant throughout the year.
Rentals and Pricing
Rental prices are not affected by the time of the year. In fact, there is no identifiable factor that affects prices. Drop-off and pick-up location can differ, and periods of less than 7-days, though typically a factor to consider, do not much affect the price. Auto prices start at $45 per day, with this offered by S. Saidi Location de Voitures. Local companies will probably be the best places to hire from. Here are some current offers:
- Dacia Logan or similar (compact class) – $42/day
- Dacia Sandero or similar (mini class) – $52/day
- Peugeot 308 or similar (intermediate class) – $76/day
Rules of the Road and Noteworthy Travel Advice
- Driving is on the right side of the road.
- All persons in the car must wear a seatbelt while the car is moving.
- A domestic license is not sufficient. Drivers must hold an International Driver’s License. Also, drivers must have purchased auto insurance and third-party insurance in the country of Algeria.
- There is a minimum age of 21 to rent a car.
- Speed limits are like those in France, unless specified otherwise; 30 mph in urban areas, 50 mph in rural areas, and 68 mph on highways.
- There is a zero-tolerance policy on drinking and driving.
- It is illegal to talk and text, even when hands free. Look to pay a ‘fine’ if you are caught.
- Corruption and bribery is very common in Algeria, so expect to pay whatever reasonable ‘fine’ the officer asks for if you are stopped. It is not considered safe to walk and drive in areas which are not lively and thriving at night. Furthermore, the further south one travels into the Sahara the less reliable cell-phone reception. Plan and prepare carefully.