After spending the morning camel trekking in the desert and the rest of the day exploring the Chott el-Jerid in very high temperatures, we were very tired by the time we reached Tozeur. So instead of doing anything too tiring, we went swimming in the Oasis hotel. It costs 6Dinars for non residents though you could easily wnader in and they'd never know.
The pools (there were two of them) were in a lovely spot just beneath the tress of the oasis, which began right behind the hotel. The water was very cold and we had it to ourselves. It was exremely refreshing and really cleared the cobwebs. There weren't too many people on the terrace. Just us and a rather incongrous couple - a young Tunisian man and an elder, fifty-something European lady. This would be quite a common sight in tunisia, especially in the more touristy areas. After 30 minutes swimming we had our fill of it, so we sat out and read (me) and rlaxed (Ruth) in the sun. It was by now after 5pm, though the sun was still fairly high. Though this hotel might be more touristy than where we were staying (Warda) it was still very nice!
One of our favourite activities in Tozeur proper was riding bikes in the town's huge palmeraie (palm grove). According to our guide, there are over 200,000 palm trees spread over 10 square kilometres! Needless to say, trying to cover all that area on foot seemed somewhat foolish, so we rented a couple of bikes for half a day and took off.
An interesting sight in the palmeraie (aside from the beautiful palmeraie in itself) is the small village of Abbes, which really seems to come out of nowhere. At the edge of the village is a marabout (tomb) of holy man Sidi Bou Lifa. It is recognizable by the large jujube tree beside it. Another interesing sight, but for wholly different reasons, is the Planet Oasis Tozeur complex. Clearly intended for the wealthy and business travellers, the whole place reeks of, well, FAKE. Its lack of authenticity was in stark contrast to the genuine surprise (and interest!) of locals who were very curious about us two foreigners riding bikes in the palmeraie.
In short, it was great fun!
Equipment: If you don't have your own bike, you can rent one at a bike shop on Abdulkacem Chebbi Street. It cost us 15 dinars each for a 4-hour rental.
Hiking in the desert: an experience not to be missed! more than a hike it felt like going back to childhood and playing with the sand - only this time our playground was huge - and from the place we were it even looked infinite: we could see no road - there were no other people - everything was perfectly still and silent. In 3 words "everything was perfect". It's an experience i'm longing to do soon again.
Equipment: bring a bottle of water or two - don't forget your compass to find your way back if you are going on a lengthy hike - and yes, do take off your contacts: sand in your eyes is a pain. If possible wear hiking boots, just because there might be some snakes and scorpions dozing away in the dunes.