Douz: where the nomads meet

By | Category: Photorial, Travel destinations

a quiet part of the market in Douz

Although Tunisia has had a bumper summer with 287,541 of us travelling this year including 55,329 in August alone, most of us will have based ourselves in the main resorts. Wahida Jaiet, who is the UK & Ireland Director for the Tunisian National Tourist Office, thinks that 2013 will be the best year to date.

There may be excursions from Hammamet and Sousse, Monastir and Djerba but basing yourself in one of the less “resorty” places will give you a much better view of what traditional Tunisian life is like.

it's not only spices that you can buy...

Douz is in the south of the country some 300 miles from Tunis and will take three-and-a-half hour’s drive from Djerba and a couple of hours on top of that from Sousse. Staying in Douz will put you near the Sahara, near nomadic life, near the date plantations and a different life. about a motor bike?

I pick Douz because, each Thursday, it has one of the largest markets in the south of the country. There are foodstuffs and spices that you be able to get in any market but here you can buy tyres, (if you wanted to) motor bikes, souvenirs, mobile phones, household items and just about anything you could imagine. Geared more to the locals rather than visitors, (although the number is growing) the bustle is astonishing.

...ot least a tyre for it...

To get pictures you virtually had to holds a camera over your head and hope that something useful would come out. Try taking a picture at eye level and someone will walk into your shot. If you’re with people agree on where to meet because there is no way you’ll stay together. Saffron is a good buy if you want a useful souvenir as you will pay a tenth of the price you will have to pay in the UK.

From here there are treks into the Sahara by camel or four-wheel drive although I should say that even if you are seated in a four-wheel, the trip can be taxing on your backside if your guide takes you into the remote parts. On a camel its worse!

...or a donkey from the animal market

If you settle on a holiday in winter you might want to schedule it for December to coincide with the International Festival of the Sahara. Stretching back over 100 years, the origins of this festival were in camel racing and the nomadic nature of the people.

and then you can travel at your own pace

This would be one of the few times when they would gather in one place to trade, to celebrate and enjoy. Now it has become a celebration of an increasingly disappearing culture – or so some would argue. As the southern half of Tunisia receives more tourists will it lead to a more urban life? When the festival occurs, Douz triples in size. In most other places that would put a strain on hotel accommodation but not here, yes, prices might rise but there should be plenty of space for the visitor.

..and out into the desert.

If you have only visited the sea resorts in Tunisia , the interior is where you’ll find the true Tunisians and the true nomads, still largely untouched by Starbucks and Burger King. And Douz is a great place from which to base yourself.

For more information on Tunisia, click here.

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