Douz: Sahara Trip Day 2
We woke up early, had breakfast and packed. It was a great wrench to leave this beautiful hotel, but we had much more to explore so we had to go. Our first stop was the waterfalls at Tamerza. True to form we failed to find them!! We did have a lovely wander around the palmeraie trying to find them.
We then set off on the road out of Tamerza and realized we had been fairly close to the waterfalls but decided to carry on to Chebika. As we drove up to the old town of Chebika we were greeted by a sea of 4x4 vehicles and guides, this was definitely on the tourist trail!! We decided not to have a guide this time, there were enough people around to follow.
The oasis of Chebika
We walked up through the old village. We then picked up the trail of stalls. The only tricky bit was the wall of rock, did we go round or through the narrow gap? After a bit of debate we went through the narrow gap and picked up the stall trail down into the small gorge.
The narrow gap!!
The gorge was beautiful, a couple of springs fed the small stream which ran down through the gorge. In such a barren landscape this was an beautiful green oasis, lined with palm trees. The only thing that spoilt it was the army of salespeople trying to sell everything and anything.
Anne poses by the stream. The stall holders and other tourists are all hiding behind the big rock!!
After running the final gauntlet of stalls, cafes and tour guides we got back to the car and headed onto Tozeur. During the drive we saw many signs warning us about wild camels crossing the road.
We thought we were unlikely to see any…
…how wrong we were (see day 3 for just how wrong we were)
Tozeur is one of the Oasis towns on the edge of the Sahara that has become a Tourist destination. The town is split into two parts, the town and the Tourist zone. We wanted to go to the Dar Charait Museum which was in the Tourist zone. We navigated skilfully through the town, past the giant sand rose …
and on to the tourist zone. We had a map of the area but we just could not find the museum. After driving up and down the same stretch of road four times we pulled over to check the map once again. As we pulled in we admired the tiles on the wall and then realised it had the name of the museum underneath. We had been driving past it all this time!!! As we got out of the car we heard someone shout ‘Steve’. Clearly this is a sign we have been in Tunisia too long. We turned to see one of the men who used to look after the camels in Yasmine Hammamet. He greeted us warmly and told us that due to the revolution and lack of tourists he had returned to his home town of Tozeur. As tourists are now returning he has opened up a shop selling jewellery and pottery. Of course we had to go and have a look. After a tour of his shop we said our goodbyes and went off into the museum. It was a rather interesting place, there were scenes of life in Tunisia years ago.
One of the scenes in the museum Some strange bloke who may look a bit familiar!
After exploring the museum we carried on our way to Douz. To get to Douz we had to cross the Chott el-Jerid. This is a salt lake which for most of the year is dry. It forms part of a system of salt lakes that stretch from the Tunisian coast well into Algeria. Chott el-Jerid covers an area of almost 5000 sq Km. This was the place that Luke Sky Walker sat contemplating the two moons in one of the Star wars films.
During our drive across the Chott the wind picked up and we had a small sand storm to drive through. It was quite surprising the loss of visibility.
We arrived in Douz early afternoon and went to find a hotel. We had chosen one from the description in the Lonely Planet guide book and on the recommendation of two other people. We found the hotel with amazing ease and got checked in. We were very happy with the price, it was only £14 for the room including breakfast.
Our Douz Hotel room.
The room was basic, clean and had everything we needed for our one night stay. After a short rest we went off to the tourist area. As we turned into the Tourist area we were waved at by a group of men in a 4x4. We ignored them knowing that they were just trying to sell tours. The wind was still blowing quite strongly and the tourist zone is right on the edge of the great dune, so sand was blowing about quite a lot. Stephen decided he wanted to drive on the sand and so turned off. As we turned round to get back on the road the 4x4 came along and one of the men got out, once again we ignored them – they really were trying hard to sell us a tour!!
Back in town we went off for a wander round town. We found a shop selling dates – so we just had to buy some. We also explored the souk and checked out a number of jewellery shops. Anne found a rather nice necklace which we “negotiated” down a sensible price. We also bought a headscarf in preparation for our camel trek we hoped to do the next day. With all the sand flying around we would need some protection for our faces. For dinner we had a lovely meal of couscous and vegetables in one of the local restaurants. Our meal cost £7 for two of us and we had far too much to eat.
As we were quite tired from our day we had another early night.