In part 1 of Camping in the Sahara, I described the experience of an overnight camel trek and how much fun it can be. If you’re planning your own trip to Tunisia, though, getting to the Sahara and trying to arrange such an activity might sound a little difficult. To help with this, I’ll talk about some practical aspects of traveling to the Sahara and doing some form of camping. With a little knowledge, you can plan a great experience.
Traveling to the Sahara
All of Tunisia’s south is technically desert, however not all of it is considered the Sahara. The southwestern part of the country is really where the Sahara lies. Douz is a great base for any Sahara activities, including camping. Most of the town’s inhabitants are Bedouin families who used to live in the desert but had to move to a more permanent location for economical reasons. Needless to say, the residents of Douz know and love the desert, and for years have been helping travelers experience it.
Many tours to the south, such as the one we organize, include at least 1 night in Douz (see days 5-6 of our Engage Tunisia tour). You can also get there easily with a rental car because the roads are in good condition. If you’re using public transportation, the major cities on the coast will have louages (Tunisia’s mini-bus system) either directly to Douz or via Kebili. Kebili is a larger city near Douz, and louages leave Kebili regularly for Douz.
Finding a travel guide
When you get to Douz, the possibilities for doing an overnight in the desert seem endless. You may be approached by people offering to help you arrange a camping trip in the desert. My advice is to seek out a reputable agency rather than go with a private guide because most private guides are unregistered and therefore unaccountable should you have a complaint or problem.
If you’re not in the mood for a trek into the desert, another option for camping is in the Douz palm oasis with Camping Desert Club. You can bring your own camping equipment or they can provide it for you.
Practical considerations for camping in the Sahara
Finally, some other practical considerations for camping in the Sahara:
- Pack what you’ll need in a daypack such as a backpack. You’ll definitely want sun block, sunglasses, insect repellent (there are a surprising number of flies), a hat, camera (with a protective case!), and warm clothes for sleeping.
- You’ll want to think about leaving your other luggage at the agency’s headquarters, or locked in the trunk of your car.
- If you have a long drive back to the coast the next day, you may want to ask the agency about the possibility of showering after your time in the Sahara. If you can freshen up before you start traveling again, it’ll make your journey much more comfortable!
- If you appreciate your guide’s work, tipping goes a long way to help them out. 10 dinars ($6 USD) would be a good tip.
As I wrote in my last post, you should definitely include time around the Sahara during your visit to Tunisia. With a little planning and preparation, you’ll have an unforgettable experience!