Riding a camel on the Sahara was the highlight of our trip to tunisia. When we got there we were all given robes to wear. They looked a bit silly but it was fun and it protected us from the sun. The we went out to the sand dunes and got on the camels. The ride lasted about an hour. We had a stop about half way to take some photos. The sand is a lot finer than that on a beach so be careful with your camera. Mine got damaged with powder fine sand. If you visit Tunisia this is the one thing that you have to do.
The Sahara Desert starts just outside the Al Mouradi Hotel. And so the Camel rides begin. The local Bedouin have hundreds of camels for you to ride - or not. The smell is overpowering. For a few dollars you can enjoy a quick journey into the desert before retiring to your hotel.
OK, so it's cliché, and you could probably call it a tourist trap. Still, how could you possibly say no to a camel ride?
Douz is a good base to explore the desert, and a good place to book a ride.
We were part of a group, and they splitted us amongst the guides (because of course you're not expected to be able to control your camel): each guide took care of three of us. Riding on a camel is quite an experience, and you have to hold on when it gets us and when it sits. I loved it! Plus, the sun was setting, and the scenery was amazing!
I don't regret it. Go ahead, be a tourist.
This coming December I will go for a horseridingcircuit in the Tunisian Sahara, all luggage packed on dromedaries.
I am very delighted because most of such trips are guided by jeeps and this one is assured to be more romantic like in the old days when the bedouins where protecting their meharees with their fast horses.
There companions who are riding the dromedaries and there are thos like me riding horses! During the day we will be separated but we have the meals together and share different stories and experiences.
After wandering a couple of hours in the Dous Zouk, and with a weather of 48 degrees (was the hottest day of all our trip), we found a very nice cafe in the second floor of a building surrounding the Main Plaza. We enjoyed a very hot mint tea and some dates, and as we were told hot beverages are good for the hot weather...The café also has this nice view of the city and it´s market.
The best time to visit the city is at the end of the year, during the Annual Festival of the Sahara, A four day celebration that showcases the desert culture with camel and horse racings, poetry reading and traditional dances.
A small but interesting museum located south of Douz market. Is the newest of all Tunisian museums (founded in 1997) and contains good information about the local plants, animals and human customs. Also shows an interesting series of weavings, jewelry, a nomad tent and some examples of the ancient costum of Tattooing. It was also a great place to escape the 45 degrees outside.
Its much more fun to get dressed in in traditional desert clothes too for your dromedary jaunt - these were provided free of charge for the duration of the ride. Photographs will be taken too for you to purchase on your return - but I was not impressed with them - bear in mind its not easy to take your own pics on a bumpy ride though! Trip lasted about an hour and was brilliant - don't miss out on this experience.
Excellent, another excellent life event to add to my list!! Held yearly i attended last year between the dates of 24-27 December. It was attended but very enthusiastic locals and a few white westerners stood out! the grand stands were full - we like many before us arrived two hours before, we at least had a handy place for the car in the car park provided next to the venue - but there were no loos!!! would you believe that - they were closed! so before it started we walked off in the direction of the nearby village but stopped at the first shop we came to and asked in there - the guy who owned the shop and was building his new house next to it very kindly let me use theirs in their house and then invited us to lunch!! so we had a Douz lunch of cous cous and spicey on top along with really delicious fresh dates from his back yard!! what a bonus.
then back to the venue and a policeman, one of many maintaining law and order!!, kindly got me a place at the top of the grandstand for a birds eye view of the afternoons event that were about to start - with more eating of local wares being cooked and sold below us - while we were waiting.
the afternoons line up included lots of saharian performances - camel racing, gun blowing, greyhound after a rabbit race, a camel fight (the animal activists would have been busy!!), libyan music, and different groups drumming and parades of all sorts. an interesting array of entertainment. but the most amazing was the camel race - a long way around the perimeter of the field maybe 2-5 km!! with the poor camels made to endure with saliva frothing and their riders off and pulling desperate to get them over the finish line! the ambulance even arrived to attend to the needy!
The Sahara is the world's largest hot desert, over 9,000,000 km² (3,500,000 mi²), almost as large as the United States. The Sahara is located in northern Africa and is 2.5 million years old.
The climate of the Sahara has undergone enormous variation between wet and dry over the last few hundred thousand years. During the last ice age, the Sahara was bigger than it is today, extending south beyond its current boundaries. The end of the ice age brought wetter times to the Sahara, from about 8000 BCE to 6000 BCE, perhaps due to low pressure areas over the collapsing ice sheets to the north.
Douz is a small town on the edge of the Sahara with some great hotels, grand pools and stunning views of the dunes, palms, and sunsets of the Sahara. Because the hotels are so compelling, many people do not eat outside of their hotel. However, if you are there and do venture out, the best place (as of late 2004) is the Restaurant Chez Magic in the center of town. It is a small and non-descript place where the food is great, with fresh Tunisian salads (topped with the standard olives and tuna) and special cous cous dishes containing a mix of grilled meats and vegetables. The proprietor Magic (that's a French-ified version of his Arabic name) is a great guy who loves American culture and wants to talk about it whenever he can. If you see him, tell him his American friends Dave and Ken from Los Angeles say bon jour / salaam and he may remember. (Not really, but you can say it anyway). Then take a 4 wheel drive with a guide to Qasr Ghilane (also called Qsar / Ksar Ghilane), the last major oasis in the South of Tunisia before you really hit 'no man's land.'
The description of this museum sounded great in our guidebook. We drove up to it after our camel trekking and were all set to find out more about the desert...only to discover it was closed for renovations. Next time perhaps!
Douz is a laid-back, relaxed city where you could easily spend a couple of days taking it easy . Though it's a popular destination with tourists, the Old Town still feels very Tunisian. Many of the tourists stay in the Zone Touristique to the south beyond the oasis but to see the real Douz you should aim to stay in the old town.
Douz's oasis is the largest of all the oases in the country, with over half a million palm trees. And it's very easy to visit. The oasis begins just a couple of streets below the central market in the centre of Douz and stretches all the way past the Zone Touristique to the Great Dune at the southern edge of the city.
Although the dunes on the edge of Douz may not be the biggest - you have to go much deeper in to the desert for that - its still enough of a taste for the scenery that can be enjoyed. Besides even going up or down a slight incline was shall we say interesting and hard enough to stay on straight! Try to take some pics if you can or ask you guide to take one for you - or buy the one the official photographer (not v good IIMHO as he shot straight into the sun so results looked v washed out and not very straight either) - for 4 dinars I did not think it was worthhile getting mine.
More pics of the Sahara in the travelogue.