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The Travel Well Guide
Grand Erg Occidental
City: N/A State: N/A Country: Algeria
The Grand Erg Occidental is the second largest erg in northern Algeria, behind the Grand Erg Oriental. This true desert region receives less than 25 cm of rainfall per year. It contains no human villages and there are no roads through it. Algeria, on Africa's Mediterranean coast, possesses some of the starkest but most beautiful landscapes on earth. Dominated in the north and south by mountain ranges and plateaux, and crossed by the Sahara Desert, it also has several of the largest inland sand-dune systems in the world, including the Grand Erg Occidental and Grand Erg Oriental: the Great Western and Eastern sand seas. In lowland basins, they are thought to be the remnants of ancient shallow seas or lakes. Unlike most of the Sahara, whose ground is a mixture of stones and pebbles, the ergs are the epitome of everyone's romantic image of deserts, with seemingly endless ranks of golden, knife-edged dunes marching into the distance.There are no oases, so no-one can settle here and there are raj roads or villages. A road skirts around the southern side of the erg, affording magnificent, if distant, views of the dunes and it is possible to travel a short way into the area from the beautiful oasis towns around its edge, like El Golea, Beni Abbes and Tarhit. Even a brief walk into this surreal landscape leaves visitors in awe of the scale of these giant natural sculptures and with a readjusted sense of their own importance.
Climate | When to Visit
Visit during: April to November
Directions | How to Reach
By Rail: You can reach Algeria by train from Tunisia, although you will have to change the train at the border post.By Road: The realistic and most secure way to reach here Algeria by car is across the Tunisian border. The Mauritanian and Malian borders present some security problems, and the Moroccan border is closed.