Djanet: A Hidden Gem in the Sahara Desert
Deep in the Sahara Desert lies the Algerian oasis of Djanet, a destination that feels like another planet. With its Martian-like landscape and stunning rock carvings, Djanet has become a popular spot for both local and foreign tourists looking to recharge and explore.
A Mini Tourism Boom
In 2021, the Algerian government started granting visas on arrival, leading to a mini tourism boom in eastern Algeria. This decision was made in response to the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry. By allowing visas to be granted at the airport, Algiers aimed to promote the Sahara as a desirable destination.
Last year, more than 2,900 foreigners from 35 different nationalities, mostly Westerners, visited Djanet. This was a significant increase from the 1,200 visitors in 2021. Direct flights from Paris to Djanet played a crucial role in marketing this strategy.
A Photographer’s Paradise
One of the main attractions drawing visitors to Djanet is the nearby Tassili n’Ajjer National Park. This park, Africa’s largest, borders Libya, Niger, and Mali. Known for its lunar-like landscape with eroded sandstone orange and black “rock forests,” Tassili has become a favorite spot for photographers, especially during sunset.
Tassili is also home to one of the most important groupings of prehistoric cave art in the world. With over 15,000 examples, these ancient artworks document climatic changes, animal migrations, and the evolution of human life on the edge of the Sahara from 6000 BC to the present era. In recognition of its cultural and natural significance, Tassili became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and a World Natural Heritage Site in 1982. It was later added to the list of biosphere reserves.
A Haven for Algerians
Djanet’s allure extends beyond foreign tourists; Algerians themselves find solace in this national treasure. Last year, 17,000 local visitors explored the oasis. For many, staying in Djanet means finding inner peace, experiencing complete relaxation, disconnecting from the daily grind, seeking calm, learning new things, and rejuvenating.
Samira Ramouni, a psychologist from Algiers, visited Djanet to rest and relax, allowing her to start the struggle anew. Abdelkader Regagda, who runs a travel agency in Tamanrasset, around 700 km west of Djanet, now organizes excursions in the area. He believes that the authorities have opened a great tourism route from Europe to the south of Algeria.
Sebeiba Festival and European Visitors
Djanet is also known for hosting the Sebeiba Festival at the end of July. This yearly celebration showcases the local Tuareg culture and adds to the area’s appeal. European tourists, in particular, have been captivated by the charm of Djanet. Antonine De Saint Pierre, a visitor from Paris, described her trip to the Algerian desert as exactly what she needed and expressed her desire to make it a regular occurrence.
Djanet, with its otherworldly landscape and rich cultural heritage, has become a hidden gem in the Sahara Desert. The mini tourism boom sparked by visa-on-arrival policies has attracted a diverse range of visitors, including Westerners and Algerians seeking solace and rejuvenation. The nearby Tassili n’Ajjer National Park offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into ancient history through its prehistoric cave art. As Djanet continues to gain recognition as a unique destination, it is sure to captivate the hearts of more travelers in the years to come.