Our Essential Backpacker's Guide to Africa takes us to North Africa for part two. Certain northern regions of the continent are very popular for tourists, so you should not have problems finding affordable accommodations and transportation options. In this post, we will talk about Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. We do recommend you use caution if you are planning to visit other North African countries like Sudan, Libya, and Chad.
Because of the African political environment, it is always a good idea to check on any possible travel restrictions or warnings before you leave home. Things in Africa can turn ugly very quickly; any potential signs of unrest deserve to be considered. With that said, let us talk about some of the great destinations you can see on your backpacking trip.
Egypt is easily one of the most popular countries in North Africa. The historical significance of her cities and ancient sites is undeniable. We obviously recommend you take some time at the pyramids of Giza just outside of Cairo. The city of Luxor is another good option. It is known as the largest open-air museum in the world because it is built on and around the ancient ruins of Thebes. If you are into diving, there are a number of great opportunities along the shores of the Red Sea.
Morocco has a lot to do, including the historical city of Marrakesh. Be warned however; Marrakesh is at the centre of everything it means to be Moroccan. It is a large and constantly busy city that can overwhelm the senses. To escape the busyness, a trek to the nearby Atlas Mountains is wonderfully refreshing. Be sure to take the three-day trek up and down the highest peak known as Jebel Toubkal. The views from this peak are well worth the effort.
We do not hear a lot about Algeria, but it is a wonderful place to visit. However, heed word of caution: political unrest has made backpacking risky since the early part of the century. If you are going to Algeria, make sure you travel with a group and arrange for vehicle transportation before you get there. A good place to start your visit is Algiers, the capital city on the Mediterranean coast. If you head south from the capital, you will eventually run into Ghardaiah, a wonderful oasis town where you will find local craftsmen making rugs and other textile products.
Despite its often-foreboding nature, the Tunisian part of the Sahara Desert is one of the most exciting places in the country. Star Wars fans will recognise the area around Matama as Tatooine, the fictional planet that was home to Luke Skywalker. The capital of Tunis should not be missed if you are interested in ancient, historical treasures. You will find a rich collection at the Bardo Museum.
So that is northern Africa in a nutshell. Be sure to check in for part three of this series, in which we will address central Africa and all it has to offer.