On our first night in Douz we went to the great Dune to try catch the sunset. We had been travelling all day and it was very tempting to go to our hotel and sleep but in the end we decided to make the effort and go to the Dune.
It was well worth it. We were approached by locals offering camel rides, dune buggy rides and so on. But that evening all we wanted to do was walk in the sand and see the sunset. The colours on the sand were beautiful and though we were only on the edge of the desert it still felt very special.
We had little time to prepare for the experience, as, no sooner had I handed over the money we were up on the camels. I expected mounting to be difficult but it was very easy. There is a sudden jerk forward but as long as you hold on tight it's ok. And so we were off. It all happened so quickly I almost didn't take it in. The guide who accompanied us was different from the man who taken our money. He was quieter though we got to speak to him later and he was a really nice guy. We trekked past the place we had watched the sunset the previous night and continued a good distance, perhaps a kilometre into the dune.
After wandering through lots of sand we approached a small oasis, where we disembarked to take some pictures of oursleves and of the camels. Karim started to speak more to us. he had a few English phrases but mostly we spoke in French. He asked our names and told us about his job (basically taking tourists like me and Ruth into the desert on either hourlong or overnight trips). He told us the camel's names - Ruth's was Ibrahim and mine Ali and we chatted about the weather and things like that.
We returned back to the edge of the Dune shortly after along a slightly different route. So that concluded our camel trek. An interesting but brief experience. It's much easier than I expected though my leg muscles on my thighs did ache a bit afterwards. But I'd defintely do a trek again, perhaps ovenight or for a couple of days next time. I had no loose change so I gave Karim 5 D, thus bringing the total cost to 20D. Somehow I think if I gave it to the first guide we meet, Karim's cut would be a lot less. We waved good bye to the guides and to Ibrahim and Ali who looked very happy munching on palm branches!
As dawn broke and I woke up I got a gradual impulse to do a camel ride in Douz. Up until that moment we had not really been sure about this but seeing the desert (or at least the Grad Dne) the previous night had obviously had an effect on me. Ruth was pretty keen to do it too so we got up earlyish (at about 8), packed our clothes and went down for breakfast.
Our first stop was the tourist information near the museum. we asked about camel hire and the guy said 10 D each for an hour and was ready to give us the camels there and then. We avoided an awkward situation by asking could we hire them near the Dune. He said we could though it couldn't be organised through the toruist office. As we were leaving he advised us not to pay more than 5D each. And he was going to charge us 10! Hmmmm
There was no shortage of camels at the Grand Dune. Plenty of guides as well. One in particular was very keen to meet us waiting patiently beside the car as we locked up and got our stuff yet. He greeted us with the by now customery greeting. "Bonjour. Francais? Anglais? Deutsche?...... ."
We said we might be interest in a 1 hour camel ride. No problem, he said, 15 D per person. We told him what the man at tourist information had said (5D each) and the guy said no way, he had a family to feed and camels to feed and so on. He said 10 D each was the best he could do. I offered 15 for 2 of us saying we would only need one guide regardless of whether there was one or two of us, and that there were plaenty of camels to spare. At least I think I said that, sometimes what I mean to say and what I actually say can be different when speaking French. He asked for 10D each again but as we were preparing to walk away he gave in, looked a bit resigned and said he would accept 15. So I think we got good deal. From what we've heard 10 per person is what you usually pay for the experience.
Favorite thing: What you see on this pictures is the outskirts of the town, the area which is situated opposite to my hotel. We came in Douz in the late afternoon, about 16:00 PM, and left it the next day, about 5:00 AM. The town of Douz was a part of the desert itinerary, we stopped here only for camel riding and sleeping.
Favorite thing: I was amazed to find that in most cities of Southern Tunisia, there was a ?Boulevard de l'Environnement? (Boulevard of the Environment). I don?t know of any country where there are any streets dedicated to the Environment. Does that mean that Tunisia is more concerned by the Environment than European (and North American) countries ? Let us hope so ! The desert is a very fragile ecosystem and it must be taken care of it.
Favorite thing: It can be surprising to find a school road sign in the middle of the desert, with a small building, which is the school. Often schools are not built in one small village but at a place at walking distance from several small villages. Anyway, children often have to walk for several kilometers to go to school.
The fennec (Vulpes zerda or Fennecus zerda) is a small fox of the desert, with large ears. It is sometimes called "desert fox". It is the smallest of all canines.
Height: 20 cm
Length: 24 to 40 cm + tail, about 25 cm (ears 15 cm long)
Weight: 0.8 to 1.5 kilograms.
The Fennec is nocturnal and has a strong smell. Sometimes, children sell Fennec on the road side. Don't buy one :
- You will be in trouble at the custom
- If you happen to pass the custom and brings it at home its strong smell will soon be a problem,
- And it will be noisy each night !
You are warned !
Favorite thing: Dung beetles can often be spotted in the desert. They carry with there back legs balls of dung left by sheeps or goats. Here, it was fallen in a cooking pot sold at the Douz market and could not get out alone which made easier to make the photo !
Favorite thing: The desert of Sahara is of exceptional beauty, especially in the first sunset. I felt it like a place where one can rich his own perfect body and mind harmony. There is nothing here I found it disturbing and I was completely relaxed after such a long time.
Tunisia's aborigines were the Berbers, about whom a great deal has been written but little is known. About 10.000 BC a dark-haired, brown-skinned people in and around Tunisia to interbreed with both Negroes from the Sahara and mysterious, blue-eyed, blond-heired immigrants from the north. They called themselves "Imazighen", Noble Ones, but the Romans called them Barbari and this name has unjustly stuck.
Fondest memory: The Berbers are, in my own experience, very proud and nice people, the only one in whole Tunisia who didn't ask to pay them a dinar when taking the picture.
Favorite thing: Despite increasing numbers of visitors to Douz in recent years, many things have not changed in Douz and life continues in the same way as before.