Ksar Ghilane: Sahara Trip Day 3

Stephen & Anne
Wed 13 Apr 2011 07:14

33.01.1N 09.63.4E


We were woken at 5am by a cacophony of bird song. We think every bird in the neighbourhood had landed in the tree in the courtyard of the hotel to wake us up - we have never heard such a loud dawn chorus!!  Breakfast didn’t even start until 6am and as we had a short day planned we had no intention of an early start – still the dawn chorus was pleasant just a little too early. Eventually we decided to get up and go for breakfast at 7am however everything appeared shut. We went back to our room and got ourselves totally ready for the day by which time there was someone serving breakfast.


Today our objective was to go to Ksar Ghilane an oasis camp in the Sahara dessert. Normally tourists go there as part of a 4x4 trip but as we had been told the road was tarmacked almost all the way we decided to drive ourselves in our Renault Megane.


We set off on the Douz to Matmata road. Once again it was strewn with signs warning us about camels …


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… and they were correct there were camels…


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…and more camels including baby ones…


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…and even some herds of sheep and goats


We approached the turning to Ksar Ghilane about 10 am and decided it was far too early to go straight there so we continued on the main road to Matmata.


Matmata is famous for its underground dwellings and is most definitely on the tourist trail. We pulled up outside a tourist information office and were immediately accosted by a young man saying he was a guide and he would show us around. We carried on into the tourist information office. We found out where the places we wanted to visit were and where the nearest petrol station was. We went off to find the museum. As we drew up the lad who wanted to show us round also appeared on his scooter. We headed off into the Hotel Sidi Driss. The hotel is one of the troglodyte dwellings that was used in the filming of Star wars, the bar area certainly looked familiar as the bar in the film. When we exited the Hotel, the lad was still there, he very kindly directed us to the Museum, The museum gave us a good insight to living in these dwellings.


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The rooms actually look quite cosy!!


On our way back to the car we saw a cat in a bit of a predicament


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One of the downsides of two storey troglodyte dwellings – for cats anyway.


After a short detour to fill up with petrol (which costs approx. 50p per litre J) we headed back to the Ksar Ghilane turning.  The road down to Ksar Ghilane was fine, a little bumpy and the odd camel to contend with but no major problems.


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Camels in the road . . .


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. . . as we drove past the camel


We soon arrived at the end of the road and Ksar Ghilane. We stopped first at the 4 star tents complete with air conditioning and full en-suite. Although there were two staff around the place looked pretty closed. They did say we could stay but for the price they were wanting we wanted all the facilities open, such as the pool, and more staff around!! We decided to try one of the cheap camps instead and checked into Camp Ghilane. We were shown to our tent and organised a camel trek for 4.30pm later that afternoon.


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Our tent at Camp Ghilane


After a refreshing drink by the oasis we got ready for our Camel trek. Unfortunately the wind was blowing a bit so there was lots of sand flying about. As the sand is very fine it can cause damage to cameras so we only used our camera when we were sheltered from the sand.


With the sand flying about we were very glad of our headgear, even so we were still crunching sand in our mouths for days afterwards. The scarves the men wear around here really are functional and not decorative. From the oasis of Ksar Ghilane we set off over the dunes to the roman fort. Anne’s camel pooed most of the way to the fort and Stephen’s camel kept biting Anne’s camel until his mouth was tied shut. The camel quickly wriggled loose but learnt his lesson and didn’t bite any more. After about ¾ hour we arrived at the fort. Wow … were we glad to get off the camels, and get the circulation going in our legs again!!



Stephen …                                                                                                                          … and Anne of Arabia!!


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Our trusty, albeit uncomfortable, steads.


After a short explore we headed back to camp.


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Our trip back to the oasis.


Once back at camp we cleaned off the sand and went to the bar for a pre dinner drink. The young man who had been receptionist, was also the barman, cook, waiter and probably washer upper! We were the only people staying in the camp which was a bit of a strange feeling!! Another early night as we had an early start the next morning.