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Frequently Asked Questions (faq's)

Am I mad when I feel the desire to go to the Sahara?
Not at all - All nature lovers and 4x4 enthusiasts feel that desire and once you have been infected with the "Sahara-Virus" you wish to return as often as possible to this unique landscape on earth.
Are there any dangerous creatures in the Sahara?
No. Neither animals nor humans. Although the scorpion could be described as dangerous, it does not pose any threat to us. As we travel in winter, scorpions are hibernating. Our nomadic guides grew up in the desert and are well familiar with the scorpions favourite hiding-places.
But it is risky to travel the Sahara, isnīt it?
No, not on a tour with Saharatravel.co.uk. On your own it is ! We have the competence and expertise to bring you safely across the desert. With emergency backup, modern equipment and the ancient wisdom of the Saharaoui, the "men of the desert" which are always with us on the desert leg. We put an emphasis on cooperation with the locals - in combination with European planning the best way to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.
Could I go without any OffRoad experience and drive myself ?
Yes, but we would recommend a basic course in 4x4 driving if you have never been behind the wheel of a four wheel drive off the road. You need to be familiar with the operation and controls of a 4x4 and its abilities and limitations. Across the sanddunes a unique driving technique will have to be applied anyway - you will learn about that during our first two orientation days in the Sahara, where our experienced desert drivers are available to provide assistance and tuition.
Can I bring the kids on a tour with Saharatravel?
Certainly, if they travel well and are used to off roading / camping, your kids will love it - the Sahara is the greatest sandbox on earth after all. Just bring a few appropriate toys, an extra shovel and a decent sleeping bag for your children
Currencies - which ones do I need?
Tunisia - both Euro and Sterling are fine for Tunisia and can be exchanged at all banks, many bureau de change and all our hotels. In many shops and filling stations you can also pay with Euro but not with Sterling.

Algeria - again, Euro and Sterling are widely accepted in banks and bureaux de change but generally you are better off with Euro as the exchange rate on Sterling might not always be up to date.

Libya - The Libyans like US dollars but again Euro and Sterling can be exchanged almost everywhere.

The local currency in all three countries is called Dinar, Dinars are not freely convertible and cannot be legally purchased in Europe

When you are taking your own vehicle across France, you will need at least a small amount of Euro for sundries if you are paying for road tolls by credit card. On board the med ferry you will have to pay for your drinks in Euro, Sterling is not accepted and there are not always bureau de change facilities.
Credit Cards - which ones are suited?
Tunisia - VISA and MasterCard are widely accepted. Bring your PIN as ATM's are more convenient then bank counters. Extras in our hotels can be paid for by credit card but not fuel.

Algeria - theoretically you can withdraw cash with your VISA card in some larger towns in Algeria. Practically though you better forget about credit cards for Algeria.

Libya - credit cards are only accepted in the larger hotels in Tripoli, if even.
Desert Camp - what does that include?
4x4 safari's - our vehicles and tents will form our desert camp every night whilst in the Sahara. The camp is erected in sheltered dune valleys in the afternoon by ourselves and the helping hands of our guides. A campfire will be lit every afternoon and every morning where our nomad guides are preparing the dinner. The embers of the campfire provide an oven for baking fresh bread in the sand after sunrise for breakfast. An ancient technique still applied by the Saharaoui.

Camel Treks - on our camel treks the camp will also be erected in sheltered spots. Tents and all equipment is being carried along and there will also be a fire in the evenings and mornings.

For hygienical reasons we do not supply sleeping bags but we do carry some extra blankets. A toilet tent is available on request on own4x4 and FlyDrive itineraries only.
Doctors in the Sahara?
Yes, but they are optional -we are pleased to make any arrangements. We do not bring a doctor along on each tour but all Saharatravel personnel is well educated in first aid. We provide an emergency backup by helicopter on our Tunisian safaris where you would be flown straight to the next hospital in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Drugs in the Sahara?
For legal reasons, Saharatravel's personnel is not allowed to supply you with any medication, even simple painkillers ! Should you require any medication or prescription drugs, you are best advised to bring them from home in the required quantities. Please note, that the law in Tunisia, Algeria and Libya is very strict on "soft-drugs", tolerated in some parts of Europe. The use of tobacco and alcohol are widespread in Tunisia and Algeria, the latter not openly though. Alcohol is illegal in Libya and if you wish to have the occasional drink, you might want to think about a concealed or camouflaged storage space.
Early mornings are cold in the Sahara, arenīt they?
In January and early February it might get as cold as freezing point in the early hours. After sunrise temperatures quickly reach pleasant levels. A very good sleeping bag (rated to -5° or -10°) is the most essential item on your equipment list, as it will keep you warm under all conditions.
FlyDrive or own 4x4?
The FlyDrive option is for travellers without their own equipment or with time-constraints. A full fourteen day tour Sunday-Sunday or a seven day crossing of the Grand Erg only. We provide a 4x4 and the necessary equipment. All you need to bring is some clothes and your own sleeping bag. The seven day tours are bookable last minute with 30 days advance only.
Food and drink on the tours - what is provided?
Own4x4 and FlyDrive itineraries - All tours are on a full board basis. We provide a cooked breakfast every other day except on the ferry-crossing to and from Tunis, a light snack for lunch and carefully (with the European taste in mind) chosen local specialties for dinner. Morning, lunchtime and after dinner we serve coffee and tea. Dinner in the hotels is usually a buffet with local and European specialities.

You will have to carry your own supply of cold drinks including water. We stop en route for the purchase of beer and wine, where we would advise to stock up on provisions. Spirits are not widely available and should be brought from home or purchased duty free.

4x4 safaris and camel treks - breakfast on those itineraries is somewhat simpler, freshly baked bread, jam, cheese, coffee and tea. For lunch there will be a light snack and dinner is being cooked on the open fire whilst out camping and comes in forma=of a buffet or set menu whilst staying at a hotel.

Water will be carried along for you, if you have any preferences for particular soft drinks, let your guides know and they will try to accommodate you. The same goes for beer and wine.

Saharatravelīs meals are usually diverse and plentiful and there is no need for substitutional preparation of food. You should bring any foodstuffs you canīt live without from home though, and you probably want to have your own tea/coffee making facilities when you travel with your own vehicle (provided woth FlyDrive equipment)
FirstAid & Medication?
First Aid Is provided by Saharatravel. It is always a good idea though, to carry a first aid kit on board of your vehicle.and bring special mediciation or prescription drugs from home of course.
GSM - does it work?
Yes and no. In many civilised parts of Tunisia, Algeria and Libya your mobile GSM phone will just work fine. Roaming agreements are in place with most operators. During the desert crossings, there will be no GSM coverage for five to eight days (depending on itinerary). Emergency connection is ensured by satellite phone via the Thuraya network on our Tunisian safaris.
GPS or compass or none of that?
It depends on what you are interested in. You need neither GPS nor a compass, but you might wish to have one for your own reference. Although our support vehicle is equipped, the Nomad guides do not rely on modern technology: GPS data for the sanddunes is of limited use in regard of backtracking and finding the best possible route. Many dunes are moving and the weather conditions of the last weeks determine the way.
Hot or Cold - what are the temperatures?
In the North youīll find a mediterranean climate, further south it is normally dry and the days are pleasantly warm between October and April (about 20 - 35 degrees centigrade). The nights can get quite cold though, in January or early February there might be a touch of ground frost in the early hours. You should bring a good sleeping bag, rated to minus 5 or even minus 10 degrees if you generally feel cold, and some warm clothes for the evenings including a longish jacket. Before we set off to the desert crossing, you might want to get yourself one of the traditional long and versatile coats locally, the type, the people of the desert wear. They provide for a warm and cosy feeling after sunset when the sand cools out fairly quick.
How often will I have to shovel my way through the dunes when I drive myself ?
Rarely, if ever. You will probably need the shovel more often for the camp then for freeing the vehicle. Once stuck, your vehicle is most likely being pulled or pushed free by a helping hand. When you bring your kids along, you might want to bring an extra shovel as well - kids love to dig free the familyīs 4x4.
Health risks in Northern Africa ?
Hardly more than in Europe, except for the sun! You will not need to take any special precautions or vaccinations. The civilized parts of the countries we visit do not pose any health risks and the Sahara is the most sterile environment on earth anyway. Some travellers not used to olive oil might experience some digestional problems. You can protect yourself with coaltablets and by drinking plenty of water. The medical system in Tunisia, Algeria and Libya is of a high standard, in the unlikely case of an emergency, professional treatment by doctors educated to a European standard is at hand.
Is it necessary to upgrade my own vehicle to expedition spec.?
No. Any 4x4 with a low ratio gear box will do. You should have a set of good tires, 7,5 x 16 or taller is a good size. We recommend Michelin or BFG for the sturdiness of their sidewalls. Remoulds are unsuitable for the desert ! Your vehicle must be in a good mechanical condition and should have been serviced recently. Saharatravel provides a full checklist for your vehicle and is pleased to assist in any way.
Is it not tiresome to drive across the dunes?
No, quite the opposite. Once youīve got the grasp of it, you will enjoy every minute. The occasional recovery operation is part of the fun and nothing to worry about.

Passengers sometimes prefer to walk across the dunes instead of being stuck to the passenger seat - distances covered in the dunes are not great and walking is always an option.
Insurance - what is included?
Saharatravel is a licensed and bonded tour operator. You are covered by our travel bond which protects your money and provides backup in case we fail to deliver. Breakdown assistance in Northern Africa and repatriation service to the ferry in Tunis is also included in our Tunisian packages.
Insurance - what do I need to take out?
Own4x4 itineraries - Third party for your vehicle with a green card, ideally including Tunisia - otherwise we will insure you locally on entry at the port at a cost of about GBP 15,-- . You will not get a green card for Algeria or Libya and local insurance will have to be purchased (GBP 25,- - 85,-) You might want to cover your vehicle fully comprehensive or against fire and theft. You should also hold cover for European Roadside Assistance. Comprehensive and competitive cover is available with Greenflag and can be found www.worldwideinsure.com

FlyDrive itineraries - Your rental is insured fully comp with an excess of Ģ300

All itineraries - A personal travel insurance including repatriation should be standard on every journey. You can save by purchasing high quality on-line cover www.worldwideinsure.com where you are covered for Tunisia by taking out European instead of Worldwide cover. A saving of over Ģ40 for a couple on an annual policy.
Internet access whilst on tour?
Yes, most larger towns in Tunisia have Publinet, the local version of an Internet-cafe. For a minimal fee you can stay in touch, if you wish. We would recommend to forget the www while travelling with us - you are on a very special holiday, there is plenty of time for surfing when you are back home.
Jerrycans for fuel and water?
Yes, the military-type jerrycans are solid and durable. Check the rubber seal and make sure it is in perfect order. For water you might prefer a plastic can or a rubber sack with a tap - take a look at the Gear and Equipment pages.
Knitwear, Fleece or anything else?
Personal preference matters. Both materials are suitable to keep you warm in the evenings or early mornings. You should have a longish windbreaker-type jacket in any case and a pair of comfortable trousers.
Kilometres or Miles?
In France and North Africa all official distances are quoted in kilometers. Saharatravel reverts to the imperial system in its documentations and is happy to provide any advise on individual distances on our tours.
Long or short days driving while on tour?
Own4x4 - Your longest single drive is at your own pace: across France from Calais/Dunkerque to Orange/Marseille (approx. 600 mls). While in Africa, we do not normally drive for more then 2 hours in the mornings and two hours in the afternoons. While crossing the Sahara, there is plenty of room for additional driving in the afternoons after reaching the campsite if you are enthusiastic and want more driving in this uniquely challenging environment. On our return North we have to cover approx. 200 mls, in one day, 70 of which are on a slow track. This journey will take about five hours in a day.

FlyDrive - as above with the exception of the journey across France

4x4 safaris - again, you will spend about four to five hours a day in the vehicle when we are driving. Frequent stops are being made and there is always plenty of time for your own, individual activities.

Camel Treks - The transfer from Tunis to Douz and from Ksar Ghilane to Kairouan takes about five hours each.
Language - will English only do?
Most certainly! Each tour is accompanied by at least one English speaking guide. Should you wish to explore on your own you will find many younger people speaking at least a basic English. French is of course widely spoken by the educated people in Tunisia and Algeria as is Italian in Libya.

Some of our desert guides, on board while crossing the Sahara, are of the Saharoui-Tribe and speak only their particular dialect. Your tour director as an interface is familiar with the dialect of the Saharaoui.
Many vehicles on each tour?
Own4x4 and FlyDrive - You travel in small groups of six to nine vehicles with a maximum of twenty fellow travellers. This way you get places a larger group couldnīt and you will experience the traditional life of Berbers and Nomads in the Sahara and North Africa.

4x4 safaris and Camel Treks - the maximum group size is fifteen guests with two, three or four guides accompanying. On a 4x4 safari and the transfers on your Camel Trek you will share the bench seat of your vehicle with just one fellow traveller.
Money - what do I need?
Little while in Africa! Our tours are on all inclusive basis.

Own 4x4 and FlyDrive - You will only need to calculate for drinks, fuel and emergencies - in theory. In practise you might wish to purchase some souvenirs or other items to bring back home. Petrol/ Diesel prices are as follows (as of 08/04) Tunisia 35p/20p, Algeria 20p/12p, Libya 7p/4p.

4x4 Safaris and Camel Treks - again, you'll only need to budget for drinks, souvenirs and emergencies.
Do most people return to the Sahara?
Yes, once enticed by this fabulous place you will want to return as often as possible.
Nothing to declare? What are the custom
procedures ?

Own 4x4 itineraries - all countries are accessed via Tunisia and the port of La Goulette. Entry is straightforward - as long as you know what has to be done. Although you cross customs individually in your vehicle, our tour director will have pointed out the way and is always at hand to assist if need be. All your personal equipment can be brought freely, as long as you take it back home with you again. In theory, expensive items such as laptop computers or professional video equipment will have to be declared. Your vehicle and your entry visa will be stamped into your passport and stamped out again on departure.

There are no strict limits for importation of alcohol and tobacco into Tunisia. Whatever could be regarded as for personal consumption is fine. Anyhow, checks are hardly ever carried out on European registered vehicles.

The border crossings into Algeria and Libya can be quite time consuming but again, checks are usually superficial and nothing to worry about. Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Libya - be incentive if you cannot live without it.

If you are flying in to Tunisia, Algeria or Libya, procedures are somewhat simpler and again nothing to worry about.

The information pack we provide when you are traveling with us contains all relevant information as well as samples of the documents that have to be filled in.
Other means of transport are not available, just 4x4's and camels ?
Yes, only camels are suited apart from 4x4īs for a Sahara crossing.
Police Checkpoints in Tunisia, Algeria and
Libya ?

All three countries are very safe places to travel. Checkpoints are plentiful but mostly only interested in local traffic in Tunisia. Should our little convoi be stopped at any time, the most probable cause is the curiouseness of the officer as there are not too many right hand drive vehicles on the road in Northern Africa. You will not be needing the service of one of the many friendly officers now - let Saharatravel take contact with the officials and just enjoy your holiday.
 
Roofracks Yes or No?
Apart from providing a possible mounting for a rooftent, you may carry bulky items on the roof. You should avoid a heavy roofload though, the centre of gravity of your vehicle will be affected. When you are purchasing a roofrack make sure to go for a heavy duty version, ideally supported over the full length of the gutter.
Relaxing or Racing with Saharatravel?
Definetly relaxing ! Our tours do not have any race character whatsoever, the daily distances are easy enough and we are not pressed for time. All itineraries are designed with you as an individual traveller in mind and there is room and time for your preferences.
>Sanddunes and what else?
On our way south we cross various landscapes and vegetational zones. We cover interests such as history througout the ages, culture and nature to name but a few on our different itineraries. See our tour descriptions for details. Once in the Real Sahara you will be overwhelmed by the sheer purity of nature - tablemountains, rough plains, oasis and hot springs. The desert crossing is one of the highlights of every tour with Saharatravel. On your return you will take the magical spirit of the Sahara home - a spirit unique on earth which cannot be described in words but has to be experienced.
Telephones in North Africa - what is the best connection?
The telephone systems are well developed and you can make direct calls from any civilized part of the countries. Either from a hotel or from one of many Taxiphones, public callboutiques with an attendant to change money and assist. You may receive calls or faxes on your tour with Saharatravel whilst staying at a hotel. We are happy to provide you with the relevant numbers. You may also use your GSM Phone, once your phone is set for roaming.
Utilities - what do I need?
You receive a complete full information pack, containing checklists for your personal items and the necessary equipment for your vehicle on own4x4 itineraries.
Vehicles - which ones are suited?
Any 4x4 with a low ratio gearbox in good mechanical order will cross the dunes. Most important is the quality of your tires - the tread pattern is secondary but remoulds definitely do not belong to the desert because of their lack to run safely at very low pressures. You do not need to undertake any special upgrading, a full check and service is sufficient. On FlyDrive itineraries we provide you with a Mercedes G Wagen, specially adapted to the desert and taking a maximum of four adult passengers in comfort.

Most modern SUVīs are not suited to the desert, lacking low gears and the sturdiness of a traditional 4x4 - an exception being the Suzuki Vitara.

















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