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Formerly the gateway to the Sahara

date of entry 15/11/1990
mileage 49,637

capital Algiers

area 2.381.741 km²

population 32 Mio.

GDP 190,7 Bill. US-Dollar

official language Arabian

The quickest route to the Sahara in 1990 led through Algeria. The Holtorfs drove around the North African country for about a month and encountered all kinds of illustrious travellers, who were also preparing to cross the desert. The most unusual among them was an American leg amputee on his Harley-Davidson. Gunther Holtorf was so surprised that he forgot to take a photo of the man. Today Algeria is a difficult country to travel in because of attacks and warnings of terrorism.
  • The loose sand then blows around the vehicles, enveloping them over hundreds of metres. It is impossible to dig them out. The vehicles are simply abandoned – like this hapless 2CV.
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  • In the 1990s Algeria was the gateway to the Sahara. Anyone intending to tackle the gigantic sand dunes and cross the desert simply needed to take the ferry crossing from France. Now Islamic terrorism and kidnappings make it impossible to travel through. Otto travelled via Morocco at that time.
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  • Only 13 per cent of the Sahara is sandy terrain. The remainder consists of stone plateaus and scree fields as here.
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  • On the journey from Djamet to Tamanrasset in open terrain Otto used the tracks of vehicles that had gone before
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  • Time and again Gunther Holtorf went out into the open terrain with his camera to photograph his small blue vehicle against the powerful backdrop
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  • Oases – like here in central Algeria – were welcome supply points for replenishing water stocks
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  • In Algeria, close to the Moroccon border, there are many oasis towns with traditional clay buildings, ...
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  • ... behind which mountains of sand rise threateningly
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  • The inhabitants used paint only in their inner courtyards, occasionally favouring bright, usually light-blue, colours
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  • Yet the real driving challenge remained the dunes of fine-grained sand with which the relatively heavy and, at 88 HP, hardly overpowered Otto had to contend
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  • However, no serious problems arose in spite of the long periods travelling off road
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  • 290 kilometres to the desert town of Tamanrasset: Otto is carrying an extra 60-litre bag of diesel on the bonnet. There are three 20-litre canisters on the roof. Later on another two 60-litre tanks were fitted underneath.
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  • With a little imagination Otto’s outline is discernible in the rock – just a little larger
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  • The dust from the dirt tracks penetrated the tiniest cracks in the bodywork
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  • The enthusiastic photographer Gunther Holtorf repeatedly climbed onto the roof to take shots of panoramas ...
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  • ... as here with a passing camel caravan
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  • Camels remain an important mode of transport in the Sahara
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  • These undemanding animals cope well with the sand thanks to the soft soles of their feet
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  • Anyone travelling by car, on the other hand, will have to dig or get towed at some point. That’s why it is always good to travel with a companion. Here the Holtorfs met some other German travellers with a G Waggon – and decided to test the climbing ability of their cars.
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  • They even encountered cyclists from time to time: These two, their heads covered against sand and sun, turned out to be French. The Holtorfs gave them some water.
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  • Yet by no means all desert drivers make it through the Sahara. The Holtorfs continually came across abandoned cars that had been surprised by a sandstorm.
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