Algeria – Oran’s beach at Les Andalouses

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.


Dinosaur of the week: Bateleur

BateleurThese beautiful Terathopius ecaudatus were doing their morning preening in Kruger Park when I spotted them.

This near-threatened eagle species is in danger because of habitat loss, poisoning, pesticides and trapping for international trade.

Algeria – Around Tlemcen

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my first trip to Tlemcen. Of course, my friends and I not only spent time in town, but explored some of its surroundings. So here’s a map to put things into context. We went along road N7 up to Ain Fezza and back and to the lake south of the city. The National Park in the southwest is at the top of my wish Tlemcen Area

Scenic stop number one was at the apex of the hairpin on road N7. There’s a spring which is considered powerful for healing body and spirit. The place is nestled in what in ancient times seems to have been a waterfall. The cliffs are towering over a tiny hamlet which only seems to exist to regulate access to said spring. The exciting bit of architecture is formed by an enormous bridge constructed by Gustave Eiffel.

From there, we headed towards Ain Fezza, and then pretty much up the mountains whose cliffs we had just admired. It was freezing cold, but oh joy, there were raptors circling high up in the air!

So, after a picnic with sparrowhawk, Bonelli’s eagle and some local cats we descended down into the caves of Beni Aad. The whole cave system reaches as far as Morocco, but the part accessible for visitors is small. Nevertheless, you can walk around just on your own, take photos, shake your head about the morons who try to leave their signature in the dripstone, and best of all, spot the bats.caves of Beni Aad

Ascending from the fairly warm caves, we ventured into town, did some sightseeing there and then went up the southern hills again to the view-point of Lalla Setti. The views towards north and in the direction of the Med were impressive. Apparently, on a clear day it’s possible to see Spain.Tlemcen northwards

Our last port of call was the reservoir just south of Tlemcen. We stopped at some farmer’s stall to get some free-range eggs, butter and other locally produced food. Yummy! The lake itself was wonderfully quiet and home to some gulls and waders. The perfect place to finish off our tour.