From Tozeur to Tataouine via the vast sandy desert, the Tunisian South is a true world of its own whose diversity will amaze you. Explore mountains, the oases or the Berber villages, go hiking, bivouac under the stars… and even play golf.
Walk among the immensity of the desert dunes, bivouac under a starry sky, taste the nomads’ traditional bread, stop for a rest under a stand of palm trees in the middle of nowhere...the Sahara is a magical experience. What a reward to suddenly discover a giant dune, a hot water lake or a field of desert roses!
By 4x4, by motorbike or by bike, follow the small roads or tracks around Matmata and Tataouine: a rugged world known as the “desert of stone”.
Another place, another experience: now you’re sat aboard a carriage in a giant oasis. You stop to visit a cultivated garden where fruits and vegetables grow in the shade of the tall palms; before your eyes, a man climbs one of them with incredible speed to harvest bunches of dates.
Holidays in Tozeur
An adventure course with zipline in a palm grove : Sahara Lounge in Tozeur.
If you are visiting the Dahar region, download the free application Destination Dahar (on App Store and Google Play).
> CHOOSE YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN THE TUNISIAN SOUTH
The Tunisian Sahara is not limited solely to the sand desert; it’s a fairytale universe of infinite variety. Desert of sand, desert of stone, oases… the list of unusual spots is long.
Two large medinas can be found in the oasis region, Tozeur and Nefta, veritable labyrinths of narrow streets.
These oasis towns are large medinas rising out of the desert, backed by giant palm groves.
Their narrow streets run between high brick walls, making strange labyrinths protected from the glare of the summer sun. Lift your eyes to appreciate the extraordinary decorative elements of chevrons and lozenges, simply formed by bricks arranged in relief.
You can visit the museum Dar Cheraïet (ancient objects collection), the Eden Palm park at the heart of the palm grove, or the Sahara Lounge “accro-palm” park.
The date picking
Another one not to miss are the mountain oases in the South-West: waterfalls and palm groves springing miraculously from a landscape of sand-coloured mountains.
The foothills of the Saharan Atlas, in the extreme west, form unique landscapes. In this mineral universe oases appear deep into the mountains: Chebika and its oued (river) tumbling down the mountain, Tamerza and its waterfall, Mides suspended above an imposing canyon.
Still to cross is the “desert of salt”, the Chott el-Jerid: a vast white and glittering expanse left by the evaporation of a saltwater lake.
This vast 5000 km2 depression is covered with a crust of glittering salt, the remains of an former saltwater lake – however, certain sections are still flooded in winter and draw gatherings of pink flamingos.
Tembaine, the magic of the Sahara
Discover the desert (© ONTT)
These former collective granaries are typical of the Dahar region in the Tunisian South East: nomads would store their harvests here to shelter them from looters.
Some occupy the summit of steep peaks; the largest resemble enormous stone-coloured beehives rising up in the middle of desert plateaus. Each family would have a chamber to store their harvest.
Explore one: climb a ladder to enter one of the superimposed chambers (“ghorfas”) where harvests were once stored.
Deep into these majestic Dahar mountains, you will spot Berber villages perched in the heights.
Guermessa, citadel village
In the Ksour region, Chenini and Douiret are two Berber villages perched upon rocky hilltops. The ancient houses are partly dug into the mountainside.
Giant tombs can be found at the foot of Chenini’s mosque; a legend resembling the one of the Seven Sleepers (or People of the Cave) is told about them. In Douiret, you can visit an ancient subterranean or troglodyte mosque.
From Chenini to Douiret
One of the most stunning sites in Tunisia: craters dug into the arid hills hide veritable subterranean houses.
Visit other nearby Berber villages such as Tamezret.
Discover the fictional village of “Mos Espa” in the heart of the sand dunes: it’s the real film set of one of the Star Wars episodes, still intact at a place called Ong Jmel close to Nefta.
One of the subterranean houses of Matmata also makes an appearance in the saga: the Lars family home.
Not far from the Chott el-Jerid, in Debebcha, strange mounds rise up: dunes of petrified sand.
The moonscape of Aïn Charchara
And if you’re in the mood for freshness and luxury after having explored these arid regions, nothing better than a stay in one of Djerba’s beautiful hotels to finish your trip.