F. Southern Tunisia: Jerba - Matmata - Tataouine - Ksar Ghilane

Southern Tunisia Jerba - Tataouine

SUMMARY

From Tunis it takes a day to drive down to Jerba or Tataouine. As an alternative it is only a one hour flight to Jerba where you can rent a car at the airport. Jerba is famous for its beaches and is one of the main tourist destinations in Tunisia. South of Jerba many interesting sites can be visited like the Troglodyte underground homes in Matmata or the hilltop Berber villages and ksars near Tataouine.

Only locations highlighted in BOLD are described in detail:

1. Jerba: One of the main tourist centers of Tunisia; a visit of the souk in Houmt Souk is worthwhile
2. Zarzis: Another ‘zone touristique’ with some nice beaches
3. Metameur: A ksar on the way to the Dahar Mountains
4. Toujane: Great mountain scenery and scenic Berber village
5. Matmata: Famous for its Troglodyte underground homes and filming of Star Wars movie scenes
6. Dahar Mountains (4x4)
7. Ksar Hallouf: Nice scenery of this hilltop ksar
8. Ksar Hadada: Famous for filming of Star Wars movie scenes
9. Tataouine: Starting point for visiting Berber hilltop villages and ksars.
Hilltop Berber Villages:
     10. Guermessa
     11. Chenini
     12. Douiret
Ksar Roundtrip
     13. Ksar Ouled Debbab
     14. Ksar Ouled Soltane
     15. Ksar Ezzarah
     16. Ksar Jelidat
17. Chenini to Ksar Ghilane (4x4)
18. Ksar Ghilane: Desert oasis

PLACES to STAY

On Jerba Island and at Zarzis there are many ‘zone touristique’ hotels.

Zarzis: Hotel Odyssee Resort, phone 216-75 705 705, fax 216-75 705 634,
web www.odysseeresort.com (stayed here in April 2008, big tourist hotel; funky style; rooms are big; food very good)

Matmata: Hotel Diar El Barbar phone 216-75 240 074, fax 216-75 240 144,
web www.diarelbarbar.com (stayed here in April 2008, built in ‘ksar style’ a few km outside Matmata; rooms are fine; food ok; probably best hotel in Matmata; for atmosphere:Stay at hotels in town in converted troglodyte homes)

Tataouine: Sangho Hotel, phone 216 75 860 124, fax 216 75 862 177 (stayed here several times; bungalow style; simple, good rooms; great pool; buffet dinner at pool good, breakfast so-so)

Douiret: Very scenic hilltop village; worthwhile to climb to top for sunrise or sunset. One part has been renovated into a small hotel. ‘Chez Raouf’, phone 216 97 497 242, fax 216 75 878 061, web http://www.gitedouiret.com ; email: raouf@gitedouiret.com

Ksar Ghilane: Pansea Ksar Ghilane, phone 216 75 759 330, fax 216 75 759 333, email tunisia@pansea.com , web http://www.pansea.com/eng/ksar_infor.html (camping de luxe) - Please note: Pansea may be closed; check website www.pansea.com

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

6. Dahar Mountains (4x4) – from Matmata to Ksar Hallouf

To do this drive you need a 4x4 car. It’s scenic road but it takes time to drive on the gravel roads.

Take the road from Matmata to Techine where the paved road ends. A GPS may come handy as well but in general it is not too difficult to find the way. The gravel roads winds
through the Dahar Mountains and eventually you reach the paved road that leads to Beni Keddache
A detour to Ksar Hallouf is worthwhile. The ksar sits on top of a hill with nice views of the surrounding area.

Dahar Mountains - Techine to Hallouf

9. Tataouine

Tataouine is the base for taking trips to the hilltop Berber villages and the ksars.

For views (in particular in the late afternoon) of the town of Tataouine take the road up the hill near the turn-off for Ksar Ouled Soltane. At the top the views of Tataouine are very nice and you can visit a small ksar.

Tataouine

Hilltop Berber Villages: 10. Guermessa – 11. Chenini – 12. Douiret

A scenic roundtrip from Tataouine to visit the three hilltop Berber villages

Douiret is an abandoned village except for a few families. To really enjoy the atmosphere you can stay at the small, basic hotel ‘Chez Raouf’, phone 216 97 497 242, fax 216 75 878 061, web http://www.gitedouiret.com ; email: raouf@gitedouiret.com

Chenini is the most touristy village of the three but worth a visit. The short trip to the 7 sleeper mosque is worthwhile too.

Guermassa is abandoned and stretches over two hilltops. From the front side you can hike up to the village in less than half an hour. Or drive all the way around the back side to the village.
There is an old olive press in one of the caves about 50m downhill from the mosque on the backside.

Tataouine & Berber Villages

13. – 16. Tataouine & the Ksars

Probably the most famous ksar is Ksar Hadada. Visits to Ksar Hallouf or Ksar Ouled Debbab are also worthwhile. From Tataouine you can do a nice roundtrip to visit several ksars.

The ksars in the area around Tataouine are worthwhile to visit but they are all very similar. If pressed for time just stop at a few (I would pick Ksar Hadada and Ksar Ouled Debbab).

Ksar Hadada is most likely the most famous ksar because scenes from Star Wars were filmed here. The ksar is partly restored.

There is the 50km ‘ksar loop’ to the southeast of Tataouine where you can visit several ksars in half a day: Ksar Ouled Soltane, Ksar Ezzara and the ksars near Jelidat.

Ksar Ouled Debbab, just a few km south of Tataouine, is a very large ksar. Part is being restored into hotel. The coffee shop and restaurant are already open.

Tataouine & The Ksars

17. Chenini to Ksar Ghilane (4x4)

Roads to Ksar Ghilane

Ksar Ghilane is a small oasis at the edge of the desert and worth the trip. The Pansea tent hotel with its lookout tower is a great place to stay overnight. Camping in the desert is also an option. If you are pressed for time Douz will also give you the ‘desert experience’.

There are many ways to get to Ksar Ghilane:
- The road from Matmata or Douz is paved all the way to Ksar Ghilane and you don’t need a 4x4 car.
- For all the other roads to Ksar Ghilane you need a 4x4 car. A GPS is helpful to have too. There are signs for the Ksar   Ghilane gravel road off the Chenini to Douiret road.
- Another possibility is to drive from Guernmessa to Ksar Ghilane.
- The most adventurous trip to Ksar Ghilane is from Douz through the desert.

Chenini / Douiret - Ksar Ghilane

Chenini / Douiret - Ksar Ghilane

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