El Kala is a seaport of Northeast Algeria, in El Tarf Province, 90 km (56 miles) by rail east of Annaba and 16 km (10 miles) west of the Tunisian frontier. It is the centre of the Algerian and Tunisian coral fisheries and has an extensive industry in the curing of sardines. The harbor is small and exposed to the northeast and west winds.
Thinisa in Numidia was an ancient city in the Roman province of Numidia. It was important enough to become a bishopric. The old fortified town was built on a rocky peninsula about 400 metres long, connected with the mainland by a sand bank.
French and Italian coral fishing companies were interested in the area from as early as 1553. A trade bastion called "Bastion de France" by its Corsican founders was established during that period principally for the exploitation of red coral and also to facilitate trade between southern France and that part of northern Algeria. The bastion was shut down and returned to the rule of the Bey of Constantine in 1816.
After the occupation of La Calle by the French in 1836, a new town was built up along the coast.
The closest airport to El Kala is Annaba Airport(Rabah Bitat International Airport). The airport has regular services to Paris (Both Charles de Gaulle and Orly), Marseille, Lyon and Istanbul. However, these flights aren't frequent and one should check an Air Algerie timetable when planning a trip.
There should be a ferry service from Marseille to El Kala operated by Algérie Ferries, but it is not running as of March 2022, presumably due to COVID-19.
One can also reach El Kala by road quite easily from most major Algerian cities. There are also taxis that can take you to other cities like Annaba, Algiers, Or even Tunisia. However, due to the road construction and traffic jams this is the least desirable option.
There are no ride-hailing apps like Uber.
From the Annaba airport there is a regular bus shuttle service that runs to El Kala.
The best way to get around the town is with taxis. They are the easiest, and most efficient way to get around, and they're readily available. There is also a network of bus routes that connect El kala with the rest of the cities and surrounding suburbs.
El Kala attracts tourists from within and outside the country, especially during the summer. It is home to an exceptional ecosystem and was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1990. Most visited places in the city are:
- the decommissioned Saint Cyprien Church: An ancient church next to the harbor
- El Kala national park: a big national park with lakes and wildlife.
- Lac Tonga: A big lake with green mountains in the surroundings.
A visit to the city isn’t complete without swimming in the blue lakes and beaches like lake Boutribicha, lake Tonga, Cap Rosa beach, Laouinette beach, and la grande beach.
El Kala is also known for its delicious sea food. There are all types of fish and edible sea creatures. They can be served with rice, bread, as a soup, as a snack, or normal. Grills and vegan food are also available in the city.
Like any Algerian city, El Kala has a lot of traditional drinks and bars. Alcoholic drink are pretty common and Algerian tea “Atay” is usually served in cafeterias.
Hotels and motels are everywhere in the city. But it can be hard finding one online. Big hotel brands like Hilton, Milton, Sheraton, le meridien, or Marriott can be found easily. For other hotels however, it’s better to use a map or ask people about any nearby hotels or motels.
There are a number of places to visit that are around or close to El Kala.
- Seraidi: Seraidi is a small village up high in the mountains that surround Annaba. It's about 13 km from El kala. It's a great place to enjoy a day away from the hustle and bustle of the city and escape enjoying the tranquility and clean, crisp air. There is a famous hotel there known to the locals as "Hotel Al-Hawa", literally "hotel of the wind". It is called that because it's so high up that it breaks the clouds and offers a great place to stay and has amazing views. On a clear day one can see the amazing views of the coastline and natural beaches below. On a cloudy day there is noting but clouds. It's a great place to see the sunrise or sunset.
- Annaba: A major city next to El Kala. It’s the main city and Offer tons of business, entertainments, and transportations. You can find literally anything there.
- Tunisia: El Kala is in the east of Algeria, next to the Tunisian border. A drive to the Tunisian capital, Tunis, takes about four hours. The roads leading to Tunisia from El Kala are very well serviced and have numerous service oriented places on the way, such as restaurants, hotels and gas stations.