Looking back through the gorge to the Tamerza
Climbing out of the gorge
We are sitting at the louage (long-distance taxi) station at
Tozeur waiting to get a ride to Tamerza, a mountain oasis about
60 kilometres away.
Not many people go to Tamerza, so we sit and watch the sands
shift until we have our regulation 5 passengers for the louage to
make the journey.
An old turbaned Berber shuffles up to our small
group, mutters something in Arabic, shakes everyone's hand
including mine, and perches on the wall behind us.
Well, that's another passenger, good.
Then suddenly we are joined by another two, and then some more
passengers arrive, and the louage starts up and we are on our
We head out of Tozeur towards Gafsa, then turn off the main road
towards the Algerian border. The landscape is flat, stony desert,
so void of anything much in the way of a landmark that you can
see the curvature of the earth's surface.
In the distance we pick up the purple haze of the mountains and
we reach the climb soon enough, and at the first escarpment the
road alters its straight course and starts to zigzag up into the
western mountain area.
Tamerza is an ancient Berber town. The old part of the town was
abandoned in 1969 after 22 days of non-stop rain destroyed the
mud brick dwellings and the inhabitants moved to a hastily
constructed new town. There is now just a small population well
outnumbered by the date palms of the oasis.
The entrance to the abandoned town.
The old town crumbles away
Our louage stops in the main street of
the new town. We wander down to the cool of the palmery and
through to the big gorge that runs up into the hills. Ancient
waters have carved out a huge, now dry, watercourse. Halfway up
we climb out of the crevice and up over the hill to the deserted
No one walks these streets anymore (except for the tourists) and
today it is quiet. The mud walls continue to crumble, and perhaps
eventually all that will remain will be the upmarket Tamerza
Palace Hotel that overlooks this site.
We sit and chat to the local boy who joined us for no reason at
all on our walk. A group of date palms hug one edge of the
ancient walls where they fall to the spring fed stream that
passes the town.
The sun beats down and we decide to climb further to the Palace
above. We say goodbye to our new friend and we trek across an old
dry streambed, and up the opposite face to an enjoyable,
well-earned beer (the French champagne was $300 a bottle) at the
Tamerza Palace Hotel.
Refreshed, we wander back down the road to Tamerza to take our
chances on a returning louage or a bus. A louage is there but
there are not enough passengers, so we wait - the bus will be
here in an hour anyway.
Enjoy the luxury of the Tamerza Palace Hotel