Shanini Travel Guide

  • Shanini
    by Enzyme_X
  • Incredible!
    Incredible!
    by Mara_2
  • Chenini
    Chenini
    by croisbeauty

Shanini Things to Do

  • Ksar Ouled Debbab, a non restored part

    Inside the ksar, several parts are separated and have an internal entrance. Like that, even if plunderers could come in, they had to win another deffence to get there. "Ouled Debbab" means "the children" or "the family" of Debbab. That is what is sometimes called a tribe but that ethnologists prefer to call "extended family". : people who are...

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  • Ksar Ouled Debbab, stairs

    This picture shows the stairs that lead to a room. As we were camping, we did not stay there and had only a meal in the restaurant, in another ghorfa. We were alone, though it was in March and there should have been other customers. I guess this is why it is now closed.

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  • Ksar Ouled Debbab, the inside

    When we visited Ksar Ouled Debbab, in one part of the ksar, the ghorfas had been turned to a hotel. In each ghorfa, each of the two levels made a room of the hotel. The strairs were made of stones and the whole was perfectly coated in white. It seems that the hotel did not work properly and is now abandoned. Too bad, that was superb !

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  • Ksar Ouled Debbab, the entrance

    If needed, it will be very easy to secure the ksar as t is the only entrance. The door is made with very thick logs of palm tree. It is not really wood but as it is very fibrous, it is very strong and it is very difficult to brake it.

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  • Ksar Ouled Debbab, the outside

    The outside of Ksar Ouled Debbab is not very friendly, but it is on purpose : no doors, very small windows with iron bars that would not allow any intruder to come in. If you want to come in, you have to look for the door and there is only one.

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  • Ksar Ouled Debbab, general outlook

    As already said, a ksar is a fortified village built for protection from looters and plunderers. In Douirat, the protection came from building high on the hill. Here the protection comes from building houses ("ghorfas") around a square pattern, closed to the outside, open towards the inside.

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  • Ksar Ouled Debbab, the first sight

    Though Ksar Ouled Debbab is only 13 kilometers away from Douirat, it is completely different. The first characteristic feature is that it is not clutched to the mountain but laying in the plain. At first, you will not see it on this picture. You will have to enlarge it to spot Ksar Ouled Debbab in the background, at some distance.

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  • Leaving Douirat

    Leaving Douirat, this is a view from another angle towards the village. On this side of the village, there is a "ksar", a fortified housing of the same kind that will be found on the next tip with Ksar Ouled Debbab, but which is a part of Douirat.

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  • Our guide

    At the end of the visit, the young boy that was our guide posed in front of his village. He asked us to send him the picture. It is very important, when you promise to send the picture of some ones that, once home, you actually send it. Otherwise, they will never trust next visitors and ask for money. Immediately ! Never give money for a photo but...

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  • Half collapsed

    On this picture, the intermediate part has collapsed. The picture is taken from the troglodytic part and shows what remains of the "tunnel house". On this picture, you can see that the intermediate floor was built on strong palm tree logs that can last centuries. The boards that were put on the logs have gone (may be they have been used for...

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  • Remaining troglodytic part

    However, when it is not maintained properly because the inhabitants have left the village, would you bet what will last the most ? The troglodytic part, of course ! Then, in Douirat, you will often see houses where the troglodytic part is kept, with the wooden floor at mi height, while most of the outer part, man built, has collapsed !

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  • Half troglodytic houses

    In some part of the village, the houses are made of two parts. One is subterranean and is another troglodytic dwelling (though very different from Matmata) but outside the troglodytic part, they have build with the local stones "tunnel houses" that extend the inner part.

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  • A part of Douirat

    When we visited Douirat, it was already half deserted. I have been told that now, it is completely deserted. When you look at this picture, you understand how hard was the life in such a surroundings, which was a perfect shelter against enemies but were everything, including water is in the valley and has to be brought up by women.

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  • Entering the oldest part of Douirat

    The oldest part of Douirat is the highest. It is impossible to drive to this part and you have to walk. No need to insist on the fact that you must wear good walking shoes ! From here, the landscape is superb and changes with the course of the sun.

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  • Occasional camels

    Two women are leading camels loaded with baskets. They are going to a spring to do the laundry. If you enlarge the photo, you will see on the right a red dot. That is a place where other women hare are already drying their linen.You can see the trail. It is not very good but a regular 2x4 car with strong tires, can do it, driving slowly and with...

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  • School

    Children have often to walk several kilometers to go to school. Here, in the background, the school and in the foreground four children waiting the time to go to school. When there are not enough schools, half of the children go to school in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Tunisia is trying to improve this, but in the poorest part...

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  • Top of the minaret

    The minaret of the mosque is topped by a coupola built on a four way arched terrace. It is from this terrace that the "muezzin" calls for the prier, five times every day, saying verses from the Koran. Now, there is usually a loud speaker.

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  • A cemetery

    This is the cemetery around the marabout. Grave are completely unsophisticated, as required by Islam. The grave of a man is signaled by one standing stone, the grave of a woman by two standing stones. This part of the cemetery shows only men graves. In the foreground, a freshly dug grave, covered with stones. Along the time, plants grow on the...

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Shanini Restaurants

  • Hide and seek

    You will not be surprised if you do not find any restaurant in these places. When we visited these places, there was none. I have been said that there was now a restaurant just outside the old town of Chenini. I do not know it, then I have no advice to give. When we were there, we bought a living chicken and made our dinner with it. It was very...

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  • the choice of one restaurant

    The restaurant is built inside the rock at the foot of the old berber village. it doesn't look too clean, to be fair, but it's the only one there. Cats roam around the restaurant, and if this was not bad enough, it's where big buses stop for lunch. And yet the food is so wonderfully good. Cous-cous. it really was the best i've eaten in Tunisia....

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  • Shanini Hotels

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Shanini Transportation

  • Our lovely local guide

    Not too many people speaks english in Djerba, in fact, I've noticed they hate it which surprised me alot because the locals are very tollerant people.Anyway, our agent provided us this young girl who is speaking pretty good english. Exploring internal parts of Tunisia, without local guide, is almost mission impossible, unless you speak French.

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  • Exploring Tunisia

    During this second visit to Tunisia, I was much more satisfied with my travel agent. The stuff in Tunisia have provided to our group sufficient number of quality vehicles and skilled drivers. Our exploring adventure of the country was above all my expectations.

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  • Jeep is the best

    When exploring Tunisia, especially the desert and mountain regions, jeep is the best possible transportation. However, it is not easy tusk to get one in the August because demand is much higher then the offer and the rental prices start becoming wild.One thing you have to know, renting car in Tunisia cost you much more then renting it in Europe!

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Shanini Local Customs

  • Donkey and woman (!) carrying wood

    You must enlarge this picture to read it completely. An elderly man, but may be he is not that elderly, is leading two donkeys and a woman (wife, daughter ?) carrying wood. Note that it seems that a woman cannot carry as much load than a donkey ! All of them walk bare foot, though it is stony. This wood (actually, is it really wood, it looks more...

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  • An inhabited marabout

    This picture shows a "marabout". You will find many of them in Tunisia (much more than in any other country of the Maghreb), especially in the south. A marabout is built to honor a saint. In the largest one, such as this one, a family lives and takes care of the marabout. With the donations given by visitors, they both make their living and take...

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  • Donkey carrying water and two children

    On this picture, taken close to Douirat, a donkey is carrying both a large metal can of water and two children. In these areas, donkeys are perhaps more useful than camels; They might be weaker than camels (this is why they are less expensive) but they are more versatile.

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Shanini Warnings and Dangers

  • JLBG's Profile Photo

    by JLBG Written Mar 24, 2005

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    When we took this picture, Douirat was half abandoned with many houses that were collapsing. It would have been dangerous to walk inside as stones could fallat any moment on you head. I undrstand tht it is now even in worst condition, so take care. If you really want to visit the inside of such houses, wear a builder's helmet !

    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Desert

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Shanini Off The Beaten Path

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo

    by call_me_rhia Written Sep 8, 2002

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    it's in new Chenini and it's a tiny white mosque surrounded by 4-m-long tombs. One of the legends connected with it is that the Romans imprisoned 7 Christians underground for more than 300 years, but they went to sleep, the did not die, and when they were finally let out, they had grown to over 4m tall. From the minaret is possible to get an aerial view of the tombs. We asked to climb it but were refused entry.

    the mosque of the seven sleepers

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Shanini Favorites

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo

    by call_me_rhia Written Sep 8, 2002

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    Favorite thing: A Ksar is a Berber fortress, its plural is ksour. The Ksours were originally designed as grain stores with many rooms. These rooms were called ghorfas and were built in an arched style,. They could be as high as four storeys high with narrow and steep stairs outside the building. .

    Fondest memory: Chenini is built on the highest point in the area. It's now abandoned but during the Arab invasion people used to inhabit the grain stores as protection.

    chenini from below

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