I was the only member of our party who was not a professional historian or archaeologist. I have a keen, but amateur, interest in matters historical, and I am just as interested in the world as it is today. When James H-J invited me to join the group going to Algeria, I grabbed the opportunity, both for the history, and to see a country that might otherwise have remained “closed” to me. I’m glad I did.
The tour, I think, met the needs of historians and archaeologists. In the process, we covered a substantial part of northeastern Algeria: I got to see a lot of the country, which I found rugged, attractive, and interesting, and we also came in contact with many friendly and welcoming people. I enjoyed the opportunities to see some of the modern cities of Algiers and Annaba. Your scheduling, so that we had around a day and a half in Algiers, and then flew to Annaba in the evening, cutting out a long drive, worked well. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Constantine and Setif, but appreciate the constraints imposed by a tour designed to meet particular needs.
The travel arrangements in Algeria were excellent. Ahcicene was at the airport, waiting with our coach when our flight arrived. Everything went well from Day 1. Ahcicene kept us on track, but was flexible and accommodating of particular interests within the group. Kader was an ideal guide, both technically competent and able to “open doors” for members of our party… As an Australian used to driving long distances, I also very much appreciated the efforts of our driver who put in some long days on busy roads without compromising safety. I found the police escorts at first somewhat strange, but quickly got used to their presence. They were quite unobtrusive. The Arabic speakers in our group were able to converse with them, and generally found they were just ordinary people doing a job. At no time in Algeria did I have any concern about my personal safety.
The hotels we stayed at varied considerably, but all provided a hot shower, a comfortable bed, and – necessary today – wifi access. They may not have been “5-star”, but the hotels worked for the group in terms of facilities and cost. We ate at a wide variety of establishments – from road-side cafes to restaurants recommended in guidebooks (Annaba). The food was generally simple and sufficient. As advised, we stuck to bottled water, and I was not aware of any of us having the “stomach problems” which Australians so often encounter outside the major cities in Southeast Asia.
One reason why I thought things worked for us was that the tour was well organized right from the start. I found your preliminary advice on what needed to be done, and when, helpful and to the point. When we “hit the ground”, I had what was needed and knew what to expect. For me, Mosaic North Africa and its Algerian partner did a great job in planning and bringing about a marvelous tour of Algeria. I shall be happy to recommend them to others.