March 4, 2020
I arrived at the Algiers airport and was greeted by our tour company Riwaya Travel and several fellow tourists who had arrived shortly before me. We were the first women’s group to come to Algeria, so were greeted like royalty with cameras flashing! In a way, we were making history.
Algeria’s economy isn’t dependent on tourism. Currently about 1,000 tourists that visit in a year, and of those, only 100 are Americans. Group tourism is new, and our tour company is just a two-year-old start-up run by two young men Sofiane (25) and Merwan (26). They developed our tour with Amel Tafsout, and Algerian dancer, musician, and teacher who I have studied with. The tour was taking her, and us, back to her roots. We would get to visit places from her past and learn about Algerian culture, music, and dance.
Our group included; 16 women tourists (1 Canadian, 2 Austrian, and 13 Americans), our bus driver Mohamed, our guide and archeologist Abdelkader, filmmaker Karim Sekkar, and two photographers, and two videographers, Sofaine, Merwan, a car driver, and - for just the first few days – dancers Hind and Ziira. We had police escorts from city to city, and even on the larger city walking tours. With our size, the escorts, and the cameramen, we would make quite a scene most everywhere we went!
On this, our first evening, we went to a local restaurant for dinner on. There we enjoyed Algerian cuisine, live music, and dancing with local patrons and staff!
What a warm welcome we received from Algerians - and what a fabulous way to start our journey!!
Here is map of our tour for the first 7 days: Algiers, Bejaia, Constantine, Timgad, Biskra, El Oued.