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M'zab, Algeria

M'zab, Algeria

Out of 300,000 green date palms, in a 10 km long valley, peaks 5 small cities. And each of these cities house people belonging to the Mozabites, a group known for puritanism, for homes without chairs and tables, and for high skills in trading. The puritanism still holds on, and you will discover this from the dresses of the people here as well as the surroundings. This is due to more than traditions. The French left the Mozabites more or less to their own, because they didn't participate in the struggle against the colonialists.
Inside the cities, or in the fertile valley, just let your self loose. But if you enter Beni Isguen, you have to be accompanied by a guide, since this is a place for Muslims only. Just as in Moulay Idriss in Morocco, you will not be allowed to stay the night. This you would do in Ghardaïa, where many restaurants and hotels can be found. As well as souvenir stalls, but beware, the Mozabites are excellent salesmen, so you could end up with a local rug, when you simply intend to look around.
The architecture is special here, and you feel that you're between the mosques of the southern Sahara, and the Islamic heartland. The minarets of the sparse but effective mosque style, narrows close to the top, and have the normal air holes made to cool the interior.

M'zab, Algeria

Eat and Sleep
There are good chances for eating and lodging for all price classes, as long as you stay in Ghardaia. Both are difficult in the smaller towns of Melika and Beni Isguen in southern direction. Your staying the night in Beni Isguen is not welcomed by locals.

Very good air connections to the rest of Algeria, as well as a weekly flight to Paris. Good bus and taxi connections, but book ahead on the buses.

Going Next

500 km north: Algiers
300 km south: El-Golea

By Tore Kjeilen