As we moved on further more water appeared though this was not so spectacular as the reddish colours we had seen earlier. It was slightly clearer and the colours were blue and white predominately. There were a couple of cafes at the spots where the amounts of water were relatively larger. We didn't stop at any though we did pull over later on to...more
As we went further into the Chott, the mirages got better and the amount of plantlife and greenery we could see decreased.We had the road to ourselves for long stretches and it felt like we were in another world almost. Then suddenly we saw a few cars parked on the side of the road and five people out on the Chott. We had finally reached water. And...more
The Chott was supposed to begin after Fatnassa but it took a little longer before we got to the heart of it and saw the really impressive sites. One thing we did see was a couple of cute camel crossing signs and even a school of camels beside the road. There they were, roaming in the wild with not a care in the road. They were very tame and I had...more
We stopped, somwhere in the middle of the lake nearby an road cafe-bar. I desperately needed my first morning caffee, but it was the worst caffee I ever had in my life.The first thing, you notice around, are the small white coloured salt hills which are in strong contarst with the enviroment.more
We have left Douz early in the dark morning going in the direction of Tozeur. The road leads across the huge dry salt lake called Chott el Jerid. It was my first experience ever with an dry salt lake and I didn't know what can be expected. After the sunrising I could see something like desert but the "sand" appeared to me like ornamented.more
... or dry salt lake. CHOTT is a special Tunisian word for lakes that are dry in the hot season and have some water in the winter.The largest of all salt lakes in tunisia is the Chott el Jerid, which used to be a part of the Mediterranean Sea. It lies in the middle of Tunisia, close to the Algerian border.more
Of course in the central part of the chott El Djerid, nothing grows. However, it has not a rim with on one side the salted chott and on the other side the land. Progressively the salt is more and more sandy and though with a high content in salt, plants and bushes can grow and flourish.more
I have written "salts" and not "salt. Actually, the mean composition of the water input in the chott (surface water + groundwater), thus of the salt crust is the following :NaCl (sodium chloride, "salt") : 38SO4, 2H2O (calcium sulfate, gypsum or plaster-stone) : 40gSO4 (magnesium sulfate) : 14CO3 (calcium carbonate) : 4%KCl (potassium chloride) :...more
Then you have to make your choice. Either you avoid Summer to visit Southern Tunisia and the weather will be more pleasant to visit Tozeur, Nefta, Tamerza, Douz, etc…(unless you get some sand wind, which we had in 2003) but you are sure that the chott El Djérid will be a vast stretch of mud. Or you visit in Summer, you will either have a hot...more
These phenomenon explain why it is only in summer that you will be able to see the Chott in all its beauty. However, it will not always be pure white. Depending of the nature of the salts, of the suspended matter content of the water (sand) and of the quality of the light, it can look of various colors though red shades are the most often.more
Rain is always scarce, only in winter and early spring, sometimes in autumn and the average height is 90 mm while the average evaporation height is over 2,500 mm. This huge difference help to understand why even if the salt content of water is low, there, in the long run accumulates high amounts of salts. The accumulation of salt is 2 cm per year.more
From where does the salt of the chotts comes ? It comes both from surface water from the rain that washes the surface of soils. When they are drained into the chott, their salt contents are not very high. But as heat and winds are high, water evaporates fast, leaving it's salts. Moreover, the subterranean groundwater layer has a high content in...more
As it is completely flat, when there is no wind, you very often can see mirages. They are, if I can remind it, reflections on layers of air of different density/temperature. This is why they occur only when it is hot and that there is no wind. The most common ones will turn a turf of dry grass into a forest. As much as you approach, as much it...more
Due to the neighborhood of the Great Eastern erg, the climate in the chott is very continental. The difference between the colder month and the hotter month reaches 20°C. For the same reason, there are often strong winds. As the soil is mostly flat, that allows cart surfing. Actually, I did not see any but I know that it is a well-known spot for...more
When you stop at one of the famous shops next to the road between Kebili and Tozeur in the Chott El Jerid, you'll notice that they are proud to announce the presence of normal bathrooms.
Even a dromedary would not be willing to go on these toilets :-)
A hat is no luxuary. Make sure to get light clothes, but make sure they cover the body well. Sunglasses are no option.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Sun-protective
Photo Equipment: Take a fast film or make sure that shutter times of your digital camera are short. The sun on the salt gives a very light area.
Nearing the end of the Chott we turned off at a signpost for Dghoumes and about 2km in we followed a rough track to Sidi BouHlel. Here there are two marabouts pperched dramatically into the side of a mountain. These were the mountians we had seen in the distance crossing the Chott and they had looked pretty spectacular then. They were even better up close. Our car struggled on some parts of the road but we finally made it and parked at the foot of the mountain.
The initial reason we had come here was that the canyon here was used in fiilming Star Wars. It has been unofficially christened Star Wars Canyon by the film crew who shot the scenes where Luke was kidnapped by sand people and where R2D2 was ambushed at this spot. Even if you're not a Star Wars fan it is well worth coming here for the marabouts, the views of the mountains and the views from the top all the way across the oasis and as far as the Chott. I don't think there is any public transport so you'll have to make your own way here or hire transport.
We climbed to the marabout on the left - some of the rocks and paths looked just like what I remembered from the first Star Wars. A local family was visiting the marabout (I've no idea how they got here, perhaps they walked) while a group of farm workers came down the hill on a tractor and climbed back up the opposite hill at the other marabout, a climb that looked rather dangerous to me. We continued on up past the marabout until we were looking down int the canyon. It was spectacular. The views back to the Chott were great and the higher we went they got even better.
I would have loved the opportunity to keep climbing to the top and also to descend into the canyon but we left it at that and walked abck down to the car. Fair play to our Rough Guide for recommending this. we'd never have known about it otherwise and I've not seen it mentioned on any sights about Tunisia or any other guidebook.