Those familiar with it call it Tam. One syllable that reflects coolness of life in this town buried in the infinite blondness of the Algerian Sahara. And those who left it are surprised: Tamanrasset is no longer the small village of those days, "animated by 20 fires" as described by Brother Charles de Foucauld at the beginning of the century. The town and its 70 000 souls went further to the arid Hoggar to extend the well-being of its inhabitants through irrigation, very far from the original oasis. The first Algerian urban crossroads when you get to the Nigerian border is the administrative capital of the region. Also a military reserve, it is populated by civil servants and its central neighbourhoods are filled with garrisons.
For many who travel to Tamanrasset, it is firstly and foremostly the entry point to the Tassili of Hoggar and departure point for trips to Assekrem. The town deserves a two-day visit. Taste this old-world charm and nonchalant atmosphere which fills the streets at every hour. Tam is the bearing of Hitzit, " those who hold the walls ", impish expression designating idle people.
In half a day, curious travellers will finish visiting the hermitage of Brother Charles de Foucauld and the "frigate" monastery of the Petits frères de Jésus (Little Brothers of Jesus) with its sober and impeccable lines. Take another half a day to stroll in the Malian market and the main street leading to the craft market. Do not miss the natural history museum.Smiling guides and stuffed mammals are there waiting. For lodging, Tam offers the barest minimum. Despite its three stars, the only and unique hotel in town , the Tahat (3-star), is no better than the concrete camps found all over town. Common showers and mattresses on the floor. Perfect conditioner before a bivouac in the desert beautifully renamed by Tuareg guides "the hotel of a thousand and one stars".