Le Paradise is a small garden full of a great variety of species of fruit trees and flowers. It is a must for anyone who likes plants. The garden is private but the municipality has also created a zoo beside. In the zoo there are animal species typical of the desert.
Dar Cherait Museum
This museum was withing walking distance of our hotel in Tozeur and opened late, so we decided to have a look.
Because it was so late, the museum was empty except for the employees. It was nice because nobody was in our way, but the problem was, an employee decided to give us a private tour.
Still, it was interesting. The museum is mainly about history and customs (hammams and whatnot).
- Museum Visits
Chott El Gharsa. Yardangs.
This beautiful rock formations are located in Chott El Gharsa lake. A Yardang (found only in deserts) is a unique sandstone feature, the form of it depends upon the winds, and sometimes they form very unusual shapes. There are different types of Yardangs depending on the size. The Mega Yardangs as these ones we saw can be several kilometres long and hundred of metres high.
Mos Espa. Star Wars Set.
The landscape and the Berber architecture inspired George Lucas to film their Star Wars films here. Even if you are not a fan of the saga, you will be impressed by the city constructed in this part of the desert near Nefta.
Chott El Gharsa.
This Chott (the french word Chott comes from the arab word Shat) is one of the Tunisian salt lakes lying south of the Atlas mountains at the northern edge of the Sahara, near the Algerian border. A Chott means a lake or estuary, now there are no water on these lakes, they are depressed areas of dried mud covered with an incrustation of salt.
Chott El Djerid the dried up salt lake
Chott El Djerid is a an impressive dried up Salt Lake on the way down to the South of Tunisia towards Sahara Desert. When you get out of the car (or coach if you go that way to see the lake) You will see small formations in the salt from where small streams and water flow has dried out and the salt has remained. The Lake was in our 3 day trip, and I would recommend it to anyone because it's well worth seeing.
At the actual lake you will see people trying to sell you some of the dired up salt from the lake. We was told by people we was with that its best not to buy salt from by the actual lake, but the markets round by where you are staying because they will sell it a lot cheaper.
Mosques of Tozeur
Noen of the many mosques we saw in Tozeur were open to us but they were all worth seeing from outside. I lost count of the number of different mosques we saw, actually some times I was probably counting the same ones twice as we walked round in circles. Many of the mosques are built in the traditional Tozeur style, with intricate brickwork.
Sidi Ben Galleb Mosque
As we explored the old town we ended up outside a large mosque, where a local man stopped and told us all about the mosque and the surrounding area. He accommpanied us for a bit, then asked did we want to do a bigger tour. We said no as Ruth couldn't speak French and it was getting late though really I was worried we'd end up having to pay for it. He seemed nice enough though and didn't mind at all when we said we wanted to explore alone. Unfortunately I can't remember what he said about the mosque as he spoke French with a strong Arabic accent and I could only make out some of what he was telling us. But he spoke for a long time about the mosque and the nearby medersa so I guess it has an important history.
The Old Town
The old quarter of Tozeur is one of the highlights of the town. Houses in this area are built in the traditional brick style unique to Tozeur and Nefta. Rue Kairouan, in particular is fascinating. The whole area is like a mini medina, and it's easy to get lost in the narrow streets.
We passed quite a few people taking tours with locals, some lovely arches, doorways and wall and a small museum run by local people. As we were only out for a stroll we didn't stop at many of these places, vowing instead to return at a different point. As we went deeper into the old town, tourists became more scarce and we saw more locals. Most of them were sitting in doorways or playing football in the street squares.
Tozeur is surrounded by a huge oasis which has an area of 10 square kilometres. The oasis has over 200,000 palms and is fed by 200 springs. There are a couple of villages within the oasis. The best place to start exploring is just beyond Residence Karim on Avenue Abou el Kacem Chabbi.
One of Tozeur's bizzarest sites is the Belvedere Rocks, near the Zone Touristique on the western outskirts of town. The rocks have been decorated with faces, clearly inspired by Mount Rushmore. I'm not sure whom the faces represent. You can climb on to the top of the rocks from where there is a nice view over the oasis back to Tozeur.
Avenue Bourguiba is the main street in Tozeur and you'll find plenty of shops and cafes here as well as the tourist office, a mosque and one or two restaurants. It's difficult to go shopping here as the traders have a keen eye for tourists and even if you are walking past they will call out "My friend, please have a look...".
The best place to view the sunset in Tozeur is undoubtedly the Belvedere Rocks. Located at the southwestern end of town, it is the only place in Tozeur that feels over-developed, but since it is mainly artwork (there is a huge statue of an eagle, among other things), I guess it is OK. There is also a huge sculpture of the likeness of Abdulkacem Chebbi, a local poet after whom the Tozeur's main street is named. (Check out the photo: doesn't he look like John F. Kennedy?)
Unfortunately, some of the site's charm may be lost in the near future, since we learned during our visit that a golf course will be built nearby.
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Known as Ouled el-Hadef, Tozeur's old part of town would be a typical, maze-like medina, like any other in the country, if not for one notable difference: the amazing protruding brick patterns on its houses.
In exchange for checking out his store, a local carpet salesman took us on a tour of Ouled el-Hadef. (We were glad to follow, since we had just spent a half-hour hitting dead ends or exiting the old quarter.) He showed us around the most beautiful streets and later let us go to the second floor of his store to get an overhead view of the area.
The architectural heritage of Tozeur is unique: the only other place to have a similar style is the nearby town of Nefta.
- Budget Travel
Ong Jemel gets its name from its particular shape: it litterally means "Camel's Neck" in Arabic. Due to its remoteness in the desert, Ong Jemel is only accessible by a four-wheel drive vehicle as part of an organized tour from Tozeur. Check out the many travel agencies on Abdulkacem Chebbi Street for prices and availability: often, tours of Ong Jemel will also include a visit of the nearby town of Nefta.
While we visited Ong Jemel in the morning, as part of a multi-day tour on our way east to Gabès, it is said that the best time to visit the site is early in the evening because of the sunset, which is supposed to be stunning here.
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