Mansour and I just returned from an unforgettable 3 day trip to Sahara (honeymoon 1 of 100).
Day 1: Matmata and Douz
Early in the morning our bus rolled into the town of Matmata – where people build their houses below ground to escape the summer heat and winter cold. From above ground these houses look like craters, but this giant hole in the ground is actually the courtyard which connects the rooms of the house. One woman was kind enough to open her doors to our group so that we could look inside.
Our second stop was Douz, which is the site of an annual Desert Festival. Unfortunately, Mansour and I arrived at the end of the opening ceremony but an overwhelming number of ornately outfitted camels and horses were still hanging around to offer tourists a ride.
We wandered around the festival grounds and had our first taste of emtabga – a flat bread filled with leek, a tomato sauce and sheep fat and cooked over the fire. This would be Mansour’s first of many emtabgas..
Next, we stopped at a cafe next to the festival where we could watch tourists taking off in quads around a desert track. We decided to go for a ride while waiting for our shisha to be prepared. It was a 5 minute ride and Mansour and I took turns driving.
Day 2: Tozeur and Nefta
We woke up early the next morning to pack our bags and eat a quick breakfast before departing Douz for Nefta. Along the way we stopped at Chott el Djerid, an expansive salt lake that sits on the edge of the Grand Erg Oriental desert.
After a relaxing half hour tour we joined back up with our group and drove to Tozeur. You may remember my trip there last year. I revisited the music park, with a Tunisian version of Mount Rushmore, only this time I climbed to the top and enjoyed a beautiful view.
Back on ground, Mansour and I embarked on the true desert experience hitching a ride on a camel with a “licensed guide” – it was a father and son operation. After our small guide took us on a tour in the canyon surrounding music park, his father took over for the remaining trip and seated his son on the camel’s neck. I never thought I’d be one of those tourists turning giddy on the hump of a camel but this trip I just couldn’t help myself… sometimes you just have to let go and be the stereotype.