Essendilene & Ihrir

Essendilene & Ihrir, 7 days

Far away in the central Sahara, near the oasis town of Djanet, lies a piece of the most beautiful Sahara: Essendilene, Ihrir and many other picturesque places. In the region, the traveller will see fantastic rock formations, towering mountain peaks and one of the most spectacular canyons in the world. Like in the Tadrart Rouge, you can't escape the prehistoric rock art here either.

This remote corner of the Sahara is now more accessible thanks to easier visa process, but you or your group will still have the Sahara almost entirely to yourselves. Desert tourism in Algeria is not mass tourism at least not yet. With expert Tuareg guides, you'll see Essendilene, Ihrir and everything in between, while experiencing the friendliness and hospitality of Saharan people. If you travel in summer, you'll also experience what the heat is like!

It is possible to tailor the trip to the length of your holiday (27 days), but in this proposal we will visit Essendilene, Ihrir and everywhere in between for 7 days. There may be changes to the daily schedule due to your or your group's arrival time in Djanet.

Day 1

Arrival by air in the desert tourism hub of Algeria, Djanet, in the south-eastern corner of the country. The Libyan border is close by, but it is nonetheless very peaceful in here. Many flights land late in the evening/night, so if you wish, we can take you to your first night in a hotel at the 3-star La Grotte des Ambassadeurs or similar. If, on the other hand, you want to continue directly from the flight to the desert, that's also possible.

Four-wheel-drive off-road vehicles are packed for our trip. Tents, food, drinks and other necessities are included. A satellite phone is also included for emergencies, as there will be no phone coverage in Essendilene, Ihrir, or virtually anywhere else, due to the fact that only occasional herders pass through the area. There are no permanent villages.

From Djanet we head west by visiting Timghas, Imourouden and Tilalene before arriving for the night in Tikobaouen, where we sleep in tents. Tikobaouen is one of the most beautiful spots in the Algerian Sahara, as it is like a labyrinth of different shaped stone pillars. You are free to wander around the area, climb the dunes and peer into the caves. On a windless evening, you'll hear nothing but your own thoughts.

Day 2

The area we are visiting is part of the wider Tassili n'Ajjer Mountains and the National Park that encompasses it. The national park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The national park is particularly known for its picturesque rock formations, such as canyons. A whole day is dedicated to the Essendilene canyon, which is kilometres long and, after driving almost to its end, we walk for another 3060-minute trip to the end of the canyon, where those who wish can take a dip in the refreshing guelta, a deep pool of water with year-round water. If you visit in spring, the bottom of the canyon is full of flowering shrubs. Essendilene is uninhabited, but you may still come across the occasional shepherd grazing his cattle here. We camp at Essendilene.

Day 3

Today we visit the small village of Bordj Elhaouas and its museum. We then drive to Ihrir, an oasis at the bottom of the valley. We will see several gueltas, pools of water that hold water all year round. There are many date palms growing in the oasis. We camp in Ihrir.

Day 4

Today we travel to Idaran, where we camp.

Day 5

Today we will visit Dider, where we will explore the rock carvings of Tin-Taghert. In the evening we arrive at Erg Admer, a dune area or erg, 20 km wide and about 100 km long. We camp at Erg Admer.

Day 6

We follow the dunes of Erg Admer on our way eastwards to Tifartassen. We finally arrive at Tegharghart, south of Djanet, through picturesque scenery. We see the cows carved into the rock 70008000 years ago. What makes the place special is that these long-horned cows have been interpreted as crying! The images date back to a time when the Sahara was a lush and bustling oasis of life and there may have been an animal watering hole in here. We camp at Tegharghart.

Day 7

We return to Djanet, where we take you either to your hotel or to the airport.

General information about the tour

Price: inquire with us

The price of the trip includes:

  • Tent, mattress, blankets and pillow
  • All transfers (including airport transfers)
  • Flights AlgiersDjanetAlgiers
  • All entrance fees
  • English-speaking local guide
  • Own cook and all meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • Bottle water
  • Visa invitation letter
  • Hotel nights if you wish, or at least a shower before your return flight

Not included in the price:

  • Own sleeping bag
  • International flights
  • Visa (Visa on arrival for Sahara is free at Algiers airport)
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccinations
  • Personal expenses, such as souvenirs and tips

NOTE: The final price depends on whether there are one or 13 participants.The trip is done by car, so there are no fitness requirements. However, not everything is accessible by car and, for example, hiking to the end of the Essendilene canyon is a demanding task on a hot day, to say the least. We recommend packing light and choosing a soft suitcase. You should bring good shoes, such as sneakers or hiking boots, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, wet wipes, a torch and a powerbank, or preferably several if you like to take lots of photos. Warm clothing is also necessary in the evenings and at night in winter and well into spring.