The Douz desert is quite an experience: cross impressive dunes, showing great courage (rewarded by the discovery of breathtaking landscapes) and experience thousands of adventures. It is like a book because it gives you the chance to step into the shoes of Indiana Jones or desert explorers, in a fabulous setting.
After hundreds of km in 48 º in the scorching sun, in 4x4 tracks amid the barren landscape of Tunisia, after 3 punctures in just six hours, we finally arrived in Douz, the gateway to the desert. The most beautiful desert imaginable, the red desert of Sahara. Peace, vastness, the endless silence, solitude, a beautiful orange hue even more beautiful at sunset ... an indescribable feeling and of course the people. A true wonder and anti-stress remedy.
Given the sweltering heat and the scorching sun that usually characterizes the desert, all excursions / tours such as camel rides, quads, or buggy are usually scheduled early in the morning or late in the afternoon, so with the tour comes the added appeal of watching the sunrise or sunset in the desert. Our group chose the afternoon, we went to the Great Dune at 16h for the camel ride by the "sea of sand", so we had a chance to see the sunset. Itt is reddish, and is seen between the winding sections of the dunes and the changing color is a beautiful show. The only problem was that there was a horrible sandstorm (apparently in spring they are very common), so it was quite uncomfortable because the whole time we were in the dunes were literally eating sand.
The Great Dune of Offra is must-see for every tourist who visits the city of Douz. From here various excursions to the dunes of the Sahara desert begin (buggy rides, camel rides, bikes, quads, ATVs, etc.). Around the dune a tourist area has been created, with hotels and tour agencies, which is 3 km from Douz. The Sahara is the largest desert in the world and has different types of landscape (rocky, sea salt and sand). However, the sand dunes (or "erg") are the landscape that are inevitably associated with the desert, perhaps influenced by major film productions. The Great Dune of Offra is just a small "tail" belonging to the Grand Erg Oriental, extending from here to Morocco. However, the vast sand before us was really impressive, the soft sand dunes are extremely thin, they are shaped by the wind and change color depending on the sunlight. The scenery was wonderful (despite a sandstorm) and the sunset was indescribable.
Visiting the Grand Erg in spring (or Easter) has its pros and cons: Conveniently, the temperature ranges between 14 and 28 degrees (well below the 40 ° C that can reach there in summer), but the drawback is the sandstorms, which at this time are very common because of the incessant wind. The sand is so fine that it gets you everywhere, and throughout the duration of the journey through the dunes, we were literally eating sand, despite going with sunglasses and an outfit typically Bedouin robe and turban that covered head, nose and mouth (and these were not even big storms ... But you can get an idea of how the wind blew the sound of the video). Of course, if you wear contact lenses you can not take them there, and it should also protect forrándola camera with plastic wrap to prevent grit from entering the lens or internal parts of the camera. Getting to Douz wasn't too bad. As we approached it, we saw a sand storm coming on the horizon, but we managed to avoid it. Many things though, are worth the inconvenience of the sandstorms: the allure of the desert, the cool dunes that are sculpted by wind and so keep changing shape and position, and the overall fascination of the such an inhospitable landscape makes it all worthwhile.
Another excursion that can be done in the desert from Douz is the carriage ride through the Sahara. The tour leaves from the [poi = 160532] Great Dune Offra [/ poi], about 3 kilometres from the city centre, and lasts approximately one hour ($10/person DNT). It's fun because they dress you up in a robe and a turban, attire typical of the desert Berber tribes. Usually it moves in a kind of caravan. The [poi = 160822] camels [/ poi] go first, and finally the carriages. Well, the "carriage" is actually a covered wagon, pulled by a small horse, the wheels are tires, and the seats are covered with typical striped blankets. They have two rows of seats, with little space between them. The guide sits in the first seat, and the back is for two passengers (it's quite uncomfortable because there's almost no legroom). It's quite a light walk if you don't want to ride a camel.
The Liberation Square forms the center of the city of Douz, around which concentrate a large number of shops and cafes. From here you enter into the Medina and Souk. Also known as Market Square, because here there is a popular market on Thursdays. It is a large square surrounded by buildings with arcades, under which they have the souvenir shops. The center of the square is occupied by the multiple tables of the café terraces, a very nice place to take a break.
At the entrance of the Bedouin village of Sabria is the cemetery, which tourists are forbidden to approach and access. It doesn't look like a tourist attraction, in fact, it doesn't differ much from other cemeteries in Tunisia unless it is completely surrounded by sand, in full Sahara dunes. All graves are arranged in rows in the same position: Looking to Mecca. The particularity of Muslim cemeteries is that the bodies are buried directly in the ground, wrapped in a sheet just scented (no coffin), so there are no major tombs.
Most shops in Douz shops are around the Place de la Liberation, where the market is too. The craft products that can be purchased in these shops are not too different from those which are usually found in other souks in the country: typical suits; Berber jewellery; ceramics and leather goods, Bedouin blankets, cages. The most typical thing to buy in Douz are natural "deglat Ennour" dates which are grown in an extensive palm grove and also desert roses (some are animpressive size). It is best to visit Douz on Thursdays as there is a colourful and crowded market and a cattle fair where you can buy goats, sheep, donkeys and even camels.