are among the finest monuments of the ancient world, perhaps even more impressive - and certainly less visited - than Libya's Leptis Magna.
Tipasa, nestling undisturbed amongst palm trees on the shores of the Mediterranean, once served as an inspiration to Albert Camus. Phoenician, Roman, palaeo-Christian and Byzantine ruins vie for attention alongside the nearby Mauritanian mausoleum.
The Roman remains in eastern Algeria, unheralded and unvisited, delight even the most worldly traveller: south of Constantine, on the northern slopes of the Aurès, lies Timgad, the "Pompeii of Africa": constructed under Trajan as a bulwark against the unruly Berbers, Timgad represents the embodiment of Roman urban planning.
is one of the most magnificent legionary camps in the whole of North Africa, whilst the wheel-rutted streets of Djemila - ancient Cuicul - are lined with two forums and a clutch of elaborate houses, churches and temples whilst Tiddis
, clinging to the summit of an ochre-red hill, lies just outside Constantine, "City of Bridges".
region of the Algerian Sahara, where we will camp under the Saharan stars, lies in the deep south-east of this immense country. This is an extraordinary landscape of desert mountains, canyons, rock arches, huge sand of dunes and cave and rock paintings (circa
12,000 BC to 100 AD) depicting cattle, giraffes and human beings.
and transfer to hotel overlooking port in central Algiers for two nights. Afternoon: Place des Martyrs (17th century El Djedid Mosque), Place Emir Abdelkader (panoramic square with statue of founder of Algerian nation), neo-Moorish Grande Poste, esplanade (visits dependent on time of arrival of flight).
Whole-day excursion along Mediterranean west of Algiers: Tombeau de la Chrétienne (Mausoleum of Mauritania), Cherchell (archaeology museums) UNESCO World Heritage site of Tipasa
: amphitheatre, 4th century basilica, forum, museum.
Bardo Museum (housed in neo-Moorish villa), Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Arts, UNESCO World Heritage casbah (lunch in private home) with visit to mosque, Arts and Crafts Museum, Notre Dame d'Afrique.
Depart Algiers by air for Batna followed by visits to Medracen (Numidian royal tomb) and Roman garrison town of Lambaesis
(amphitheatre, praetorian guard) with overnight in Batna.
UNESCO World Heritage site of Timgad
(huge library, colonnaded streets, temples, amphitheatre, arch of Trajan, basilica) before continuing to delightful Roman site of Tiddis (monumental gate, baptistery) and Constantine
UNESCO World Heritage site of Djemila
(ancient garrison of Cuicul): forum, temples, basilicas, triumphal arches, superb mosaic museum followed by Béni Fouda (on ancient border of Nuimidia and Mauritania). Continue to Setif for flight to Algiers for dinner at airport and connecting flight to Djanet
(oasis town at foot of Tassili mountains on edge of vast sand dunes of Erg Admer), arriving in early hours of morning for overnight in private (basic) villa.
Depart in 4x4 into Tadrart
(extraordinary Saharan landscape of desert mountains, canyons, rock arches, huge sand of dunes) for visits to cave and rock paintings (circa
12,000 BC to 100 AD) depicting inter alia
cattle, giraffes and human beings. Dinner and camping in canyon of D'In-Djarena surrounded by dunes for first night under Saharan stars.
Continue through Tadrart along El Biredj (wide desert canyon and valley) to Moul el Naga (particularly beautiful dunes of orange sand) for overnight in desert.
Continue by 4x4 for In Zouatane (dunes and rock art, spectacular landscape) for overnight in desert.
Head for red dunes (up to 1,800 ft high) of Tin Merzouga with circuit of some of the region's most stunning rock arches (including the "Hedgehog"). Overnight in desert.
Continue through desert to Tilfazou, Oued Amais with visit to famous "Crying Cow" rock painting for last night in desert.
Return to Djanet for lunch and visits in town (including colourful market known for its dates and Touareg cheche turban. Farwell dinner and rest in private villa.
(Very) early morning departure by air from Djanet to Algiers, arriving approximately 0500. Transfer to hotel overlooking port with rest of day at leisure or independent visits (guided tours can be arranged). Farewell dinner in centre of Algiers.
Depart hotel for airport for return flight.