G. Southern Tunisia: Tozeur - Douz

Southern Tunisia Tozeur - Douz

SUMMARY

From Tunis it takes a day to drive down to Tozeur. As an alternative it is only a one hour flight to Tozeur where you can pick up a rental car. Tozeur is a great location to visit this part of Tunisia.

Only locations highlighted in BOLD are described in detail:

1. Tozeur: Visit the date palm plantations and the old part of town. Good location to visit Star Wars locations, Chott el Jerid,     Tamerza and ride the ‘Red Lizard’ train from Metlaoui.
2. Nefta: Small town at the edge of Chott el Jerid
3. Star Wars Set north of Nefta
4. Star Wars Canyons – Hikes
5. Crossing Chott el Jerid: Worth the drive; eerie scenery.
6. Douz: Located at the edge of the sand seas of the Sahara Douz is the starting point for trips into the desert. The Sahara     Festival takes place every year at the end of December. For more information see http://www.festivaldouz.org.tn
7. Tamerza – Ridge Walk
8. Tamerza – Mides Canyon Walk
9. Chebika: This is a small village on the way to Tamerza. It has some beautiful waterfalls and pools but it is very touristy.
10. Gorges de Selja: The train runs from the town of Metlaoui up this canyon; trick is to find out the schedule of trains and       where to get the tickets. According to the Yellow Pages the train departs every day at 10.30. Better check departure time       and availability of tickets or book it with a travel agent.
      Tour operators seem to get preferred treatment. Individual travellers may have to stand between the cars all the way.       Reviews from friends are mixed ranging from ‘great trip’ to ‘it’s ok’.
11. Gafsa: Modern town. Possible overnight stop.
12. Sened: East of Gafsa; a small scenic Berber village in the hills. You probably need a 4x4 car to make a roundtrip across the       hills back to Gafsa.

PLACES to STAY

Tozeur and Douz have a number of ‘zone touristique’ hotels.
In Tozeur visit the Dar Cherait Hotel for its ‘1001 Arabian Nights’ atmosphere.

Tamerza: Tamerza Palace Hotel, phone 216-76 485 344, fax 216-76 485 345. Web site:
http://www.tamerza-palace.com/ Great location.

Gafsa: Gafsa Palace Hotel on main road just outside town near the airport (stayed here in March 2008)


OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

3. Star Wars Set – north of Nefta

Visiting the Star Wars set north of Nefta is not really off the beaten track but it is not described anywhere else. The gravel road is in places a bit sandy but we managed fine with a regular car.

In Nefta follow the signs for ‘Ong Jmel’. From the end of the tarmac road on the edge of Nefta it is a 15 km drive on a sandy dirt road passable with a regular car to the Star Wars set of Mos Espa.
The movie set is surrounded by high dunes which are very popular among 4x4 tour operators. During our visit at the end of 2008 the set was being painted for the shooting of another movie. Aside from the Star Wars movies this area around Nefta and Tozeur was also used as location for ‘Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘The English Patient’.
From the movie set it is a few more kilometres to Ong Jmel Camel Rock. I don’t know whether or not you need a 4x4 car to get there.

Star Wars Set


4. Star Wars Canyons – east of Tozeur

Aside from the Star Wars location these are great, easy hikes in the two canyons.

The canyons are just half an hour drive east of Tozeur on the way to Kebili and Douz.
Just before the road goes on the Chott el Jerid turn left (near km marker ‘Tozeur 16km / Kebili 78km) for Dghoumes. After about 2 km turn left again towards Sidi Bouhlel. At the end of the paved road is a big parking lot.

For the movie location it is just a short hike up the hill into the canyon below Sidi Bouhlel. Hiking further up this canyon you come to a water well. From the water well we tried the right side of the canyon but did not get very far without starting to scramble.
It looks like it is possible to hike along the bottom of the canyon.
We hiked up along the left rim of the canyon which is pretty easy. The scenery and views are great.

There is a second smaller canyon that starts below the smaller marabout. You see a big, black dot on the canyon wall. After a short distance the canyon widens and we hiked up along the right side. It is an easy, steady climb, basically walking up a bedding plain.
It takes about an hour from the parking lot to reach the top. Views are incredible. There is a big canyon to the north, and southward you have a view across the Chott el Jerid. Enjoy!

Star Wars Canyon Hikes

7. & 8. Tamerza – Ridge and Mides Canyon Walks

The ridge and the canyon are two scenic, easy walks near Tamerza.

Ridge Walk: Drive through Tamerza and past the Palace Hotel; at the next roundabout turn left towards Mides. Turn left on the dirt road towards the radio tower. Park at the first radio tower and then hike along the ridge. Views are great of old Tamerza, the Palace Hotel, and the entire region.

Tamerza Ridge Hike

Mides Canyon: At the parking lot you get a nice view into the canyon. The hike down into the canyon is easy. How far you can hike down the canyon depends on how much water is flowing. We got to the small, but deep ‘pond’ indicated on the map.
There are probably more hiking opportunities in the area. Be aware that Mides is right at the Algerian border.

Mides Canyon

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