When I signed up for this trip, I did it with an open mind. I knew the travel agency was a young start-up, that it was Amel’s first group tour to Algeria, and that tourism was just being developed in the county. We were told that Algeria has about 1,000 tourists a year, and that about 100 of them are Americans. So, inshallah – some things would go as planed, others wouldn’t, but there would be wonderful surprises, too!
From Algiers, on this rainy day, we left by bus for Bejaia with a plan to stop at Cap Carbon Lighthouse. The trip was to be about 3 hours…well, it became 5. But the landscape, towns, and mountain views through the Kabyle region was part of what I came to see, and you won’t get that from a plane.
As the trip was taking longer than expected, a spontaneous modification was made to our lunch plans. We stopped in a small town and descended on a small restaurant, an Algerian version of fast food –roasted chicken, french-fries, and salad. As we filled the restaurant, our travel guides ordered and worked with the owners to serve us. I believe the staff was in a bit of shell shock to have 16 Americans and their entourage land at their door. Of course they had to have a photo so they could tell all their friends and family!
Just outside of Bejaia, we arrived at Cap Carbon Lighthouse located in Gouraya National Park. The lighthouse is located on a large rock outcrop. We hiked up to the top of the lookout and had an amazing view of the lighthouse and Bejaia. We were lucky the rain had stopped, but it was windy and chilly when the sun hid behind the clouds. Amel taught some of us a song and we entertained other tourists at the lookout. As we returned to the bus, a couple of women spotted Barbary monkeys on the rocks in the distance. We had been told they were in the area.
As it was rainy and blustery, we did a short walking tour of Bejaia’s town center. Amel posed in front of a tile mural of Berber markings and items, including a shopping basket much like the one she used to use to get things at the market for her mother. There were lots of cultural notes and personal remembrances she share with us on this trip.
And our surprise for the day was a impromptu concert in the town square by a local Algerian. Thanks to Zaiira for the video!
Here is map of our tour for the first 7 days: Algiers, Bejaia, Constantine, Timgad, Biskra, El Oued.