In the middle of the Sahara lie the Hoggar Mountains, a brutal landscape of basalt buttes erupting from the barren landscape. In the heart of the Hoggar is a dramatic cluster of eroded volcanic cores overlooked by the 9,000-foot high Assekrem Pass.
Part of the Ahaggar National Park, Assekrem is one of the many wonders of southern Algeria. It is located some 50 miles from the city of Tamanrasset.
In 1911 Charles de Foucauld, a French soldier turned missionary, built a crude hermitage at Assekrem. De Foucauld spent most of his time in Tamanrasset, living closely with the Tuareg people and studying their language and culture. In 1916, he was assassinated as a suspected spy. He was beatified in 2005 and the hermitage is still tended today by aging monks from the order of Les Petites Frères de Jésus (the Little Brothers of Jesus), who were inspired by de Foucauld’s life and works.
There is a lodge at Assekrem where visitors can spend the night to take in the stunning views of sunrise and sunset across the brooding monoliths from the plateau just above the pass.
Know Before You Go
These days access to southern Algeria is restricted, particularly in the province of Tamanrasset. You can fly there from Algiers in about 3 hours but will need the help of a local tour agency to get a visa and to organize the drive to the col, or lay on a camel trek which takes about a week.