Santa Cruz is the place to visit in Oran and the Wikipedia article gives plenty of background information.
It’s possible to walk up the hill, but be prepared for steep paths and exposure to sun and wind. Alternatively, take a taxi. The price for going up, the driver waiting and getting you down again depends on the goodwill of the taxi driver and your negotiating skills. We paid the meter price (about 800 Dinar), but people have also paid much more than that.
Unless you’re heavily interested in Spanish military architecture, the fort itself is not that exciting because it’s mostly empty halls and yards these days.
One goes up there for the views (and possibly the picnic area). You can see all of Oran, the Lion Mountains and Canastel to the east, the big salt lake to the south and more hills and the military port to the west (not photos of the latter though – the military doesn’t take kindly to that).
When we were there the church was still under reconstruction, as is the cable car which might hopefully be running again … soon. Things take time in Algeria, but they get done eventually. So, here’s to our next visit, including l’église and le téléphérique!
Chloris chloris is an amazing singer, and this C. c. voousi in a woodland near Oran, Algeria, was no exception. This is also the reason why some nitwits put them into cages.
Corvus corax is an amazing bird. I saw this one in the Lion Mountains near Oran, but the species is fairly widespread in the Northern Hemisphere. Major threats are habitat loss and stupid people who think culling these intelligent corvids would actually be good for the planet.
Ptyonoprogne rupestris is a fantastic flyer, so grant me some artistic licence with the photo. I saw this one sailing by the fortress of Santa Cruz in Oran. Usually the species lives higher up, but I guess the steep cliffs provide good habitat.
This Upupa epops is our neighbour in Oran. ‘The species is declining throughout its range as a result of habitat destruction and over-hunting‘ (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22682655/0) but I’m glad that there seem to be a few others to keep our friend company.
Having a swift around is a sure sign summer is coming, and I was amazed last week to wake up and to find the skies above our quarter of Oran filled with both Common Swift and Apus pallidus. They are tricky to tell apart, and tricky to take photos of – so my thanks to the people on birdforum.net who helped me out with identifying my terrible shots.
Oran’s coastline is mostly cliffs with some tiny sandy parts in between. But if you drive about an hour west (depending on traffic it can be faster or take a lot longer), you’ll eventually reach a zone of beaches reaching from Ain Turk via Cape Falcon to Les Andalouses.
All those beaches are extremely popular during summer. When we went there a handful of days ago however, the one we had picked was almost empty. The stroll we took was very pleasant, the food we had afterwards mostly too. It’s just so annoying that when you order vegetarian food (no fish, no meat) you still find chicken sprinkled over your salad – it’s not considered meat!
And a tip regarding transport: there are buses during summer to and from Oran. If you come by taxi, arrange with your driver beforehand to take you back. If you’ve got your own transport, parking is likely to be a problem during summer.