Douz is the gateway to the Sahara
Duz is a large (by the standards of southern Tunisia) city in the south of the country. Located in one of the largest oases of Tunisia, and historically Douz was the intersection of caravan routes. Now the city is famous as the largest supplier of Tunisian dates and a popular tourist destination.
On tourism in Douz, let's talk first, because it is here that the border of the Great East Erg passes! Knowingly the city of Duz is called the "Gateway to the Sahara."
Great Eastern Erg
The word "erg" is Arabic, so are called large parts of the desert, covered only with sand. "Erg" is translated as "sandy sea", this is the real Sahara. In ergs there is no vegetation, only barkhans.
The Great Eastern Erg is the largest erg in the Sahara Desert. The area is about 100,000 square kilometers, and the dunes here can reach a height of 300 meters. Probably, just so in his imagination Frank Herbert represented the fantastic planet Dune (Arrakis).
It is the Great Eastern Erg that annually attracts thousands of tourists. It is with him associated all the local entertainment. Naturally, the city lives not only in tourism and tourism.
General Information about Douz
The population is about 40,000 people (the last census of 2014). Douz is famous as a date supplier, there are more than 500,000 date palms growing here.
Here dates are cultivated with "diglet noir". The conditions of the oasis are considered optimal for dates - the presence of water in the roots, dry air and plenty of sun. The dates from oases are considered the most delicious and sweet. However, the grade diglet nur is considered cheap, it is not mijul, not kalas, not fard.
When you get to Douz, you do not have to run "headlong" and buy dates, as dates from Douz are sold all over Tunisia, and you can find them at the nearest store. When buying, you need to be careful, because the fact of buying dates in Duse does not guarantee high quality. On the contrary, tourists are often trying to "vparit" defective or overdue fruit.
Since ancient times, Duz was a large city, where caravans from the Sahara came to the north of Tunisia. Douz was the most important oasis of Tunisia. Until the 13th century Berbers lived here.
In the 13th century, the Arab tribe of Banu Sulaim migrated here, the city became Arab. Now the tribe of Banu Sulaim has about 50,000 people, almost all of them live in Douz and the surrounding area. This people is also called "Mrazig".
Things to do here for tourists
All tourist attractions of Douza are somehow connected with the desert.
The simplest thing is a trip for 1-2 hours to sands on camels, buggies, quad bikes or jeeps. It is such a small trip is provided as part of most programs "Excursion to the Sahara."
If you come to Duz on your own, then you can participate in a journey to the desert with a caravan for 2 days. Tourists with a guide travel to the sands of the Great Eastern Erg on camels, arrange an overnight stay under the open sky and watch an unforgettable dawn in the desert. Dunes are painted in yellow and pink colors, it is impossible to describe, it is necessary to see it.
For the most persistent tourists there is a program of hiking a caravan for 14 days. During this trip on camels feel all the "delights" of caravan life. This is a dangerous trip, anything can happen in the desert, but there is nowhere to wait for emergency help.
In the center of the city there are many sightseeing agencies that organize a program of any complexity.
The second attraction is a demonstration of the traditions of the peoples of the desert. Such entertainments rarely enter into excursion programs. The traditions of the inhabitants of the desert in Douz and Matmata are slightly different, because in Matmata the Berbers live, in Duse the Arabs.
Show crafts, bake flat Bedouin bread, feed themed dinner. It is worth trying Marfussu - a traditionally southern Tunisian dish, which is made from bread, butter and dates. The second interesting local dish is barley soup. They are washed down with very sweet and strong red tea.
Also in Duse there are some interesting sights, which we'll talk about at the end of this article.
Visiting the city of Duz is included in almost all the programs "Excursion to the Sahara." Often tourists spend the night in one of the local hotels, there are relatively many of them here. Here they organize a dinner, there are many restaurants in the city.
The entertainment program for tourists includes 2 hours of camel riding on the bays of the Big East Erg. As part of the excursion program, this skating is included in the price, in part for an additional fee of 20-30 dinars per person. The current exchange rate for Tunisia is available on our page " Tunisian Dinar ".
For guests of the island of Djerba and the resort of Zarzis, they arrange a one-day excursion "Matmata-Duz". It is more convenient than a big two-day tour. The price is 80-100 USD per person.
How to get there by yourself
In Douz there are buses, here you can come by taxi, book a transfer or come on a rented car.
In Douz there are buses from the city of Gabes. Accordingly, tourists need to get to Gabes first. From the northern resorts of Tunisia you need to travel by train, from Djerba and from Zarzis by bus. Read about this on our pages " Buses in Tunisia " and " Trains in Tunisia ".
From Gabes to Douz, the bus runs 2 times a day - at 7:00 and 14:30, this is the schedule in 2017. Just in case, check on the website http://www.itacapes.com/Gabes-Tunisie/Gabes-transports/Gabes-bus.html.
Buses depart from the station of Gare Roti ("Gare Routiere"). If you came to Gabes by train, then take a taxi from the railway station.
Taxi or transfer
Between Gabes and Douz 140 kilometers. Naturally, no taxi driver will go by the counter, will have to bargain. A minimum of 120 dinars, a maximum of 250 dinars.
First, get to Gabes. Then to the south along the S107 to Matmata, turn west and straight on C104 to Douza.
Sahara Douz 4 * - the most famous hotel in the city, although nothing very remarkable in it. It is located in the south of the city, almost on the border of the Great Eastern Erg. There is a swimming pool, next to a huge grove of date palms.
Hotel Sun Palm 4 * - the second most popular hotel in the city, stylized for a fortress in the desert (see photo next, click on the photo to enlarge). Located in the city center, there is a swimming pool.
Camp Mars - a hotel in the desert, is a few dozen awnings. Here tourists stop during a two-day trek on camels in the desert. An interesting point is that this is the most expensive hotel in Dusa - from 200 USD per night.
Also in Duse there are several "treshkas" and inexpensive guest houses. There are plenty to choose from, look for the right option on the hotel search sites.
Festival of the Sahara
Every year in November or December in Duse International Sahara Festival is held. In the last year of 2017, the 50th anniversary festival was held.
At the local level, the festival has been held since 1910, but in 1967 President Habib Bourguiba visited the event and declared it "The Symbol of Tourism Promotion in the Sahara." Since then the festival has become international and received state support.
The festival attracts representatives of nomadic peoples from Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Algeria and other countries. Even comes a team of equestrians on camels from France. A lot of sporting events are held, most importantly this action is a camel race at 42 kilometers, it is also called the "camel marathon" (in the photo below, click to enlarge). Russians are looking with affection at the Bedouin version of hockey in the sand.
There are exhibitions that show the way of life, culture and traditions of Bedouins from different regions of the Sahara. Prepare dishes of national cuisines, show costumes, arrange a wedding ceremony and competition of poets.
It is very interesting to look at the tradition of drawing tattoos. Islam prohibits tattoos, but the Berbers of North Africa are still doing them.
Most often, women are tattooed. The Berbers believe that we are surrounded by evil spirits, the "jinn", which can be inhabited by people. To protect themselves from the introduction of the genie, tattooed wards cover the skin around the mouth, eyes, nose and ears - wherever the genie could enter the human body. Also, they cover their feet to protect themselves from the genies crawling out of the ground.
It is highly recommended to come to Duz for the festival, especially since now (the article was published in 2018) there are tours and charter flights to Tunisia even in winter. Most often, the festival is held from 29 to 31 December.
The Museum of the Sahara
It was founded in 1997. The museum shows the flora and fauna of the Sahara, many photos reveal the beauty of the desert. A large collection of household items and clothes of nomads immerses visitors in the life and traditions of the people of the desert.
Here you can see the aforementioned tattoo-amulet and the colorful Berber alphabet. A very interesting exposition is devoted to camels, the harness and ornaments are shown.
In the winter (from 16.09 to 31.03) - from 9-30 to 16-30.
In the summer (from 01.04 to 15.09) - 8-00 to 12-00 and from 16-00 to 19-00.
The museum is closed on Mondays.
Entrance - 5 Tunisian dinars.
In the city there are several, each interesting in its own way. The monument in the form of a large key symbolizes the status of the city of Duz as a "gateway to the Sahara." The monument in the form of a camel's driver indicates the importance of the city as a place of intersection of caravan routes. A large monument in the form of a pot shows that Douz has always been an important trading city.
These monuments do not make sense to watch specially, they still look either from the windows of a taxi, or while walking around the city.
Many directors chose a picturesque desert near Duse for filming. It starred as George Lucas's Star Wars, Anthony Minghella's The English Patient, Burlem Gerdzhu's Living in Paradise and others.
Tourists are primarily attracted to the scenery of the films "Star Wars."
Successful visit to the city of Douz, and read our interesting articles about Tunisia ( links below ).
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