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Tozeur (transfer time from Tozeur Airport 15 minutes)

Fed by hundreds of gushing underground streams, oases are magical spots endowed with refreshing orchards and dashed with the green of palm trees laiden with large golden dates. Here you will feel a million miles away from life as you know it, in a paradised setting, where through man's patience, life was born in the heart of the desert. And yet no two oases are ever the same!

In Tozeur and Nefta, vast palm groves strech majestically along the barren plateaux, whilst in the Atlas mountains, fragile oases grow at the foot of the imposing mountain-sides. Situated on the edge of the Sahara, Tunisia's hospitable oases provide a thoroughly fulfilling experience.

What to see: Tozeur and Nefta are the two main towns in the region of the Jerid (a name which means "palm tree country"). The towns have a rich history marked by the wealth brought about by caravanner commerce, wool and silk weaving, and date production. In the old quarters of these towns, the narrow alleyways, the high walls and the arched passageways make up an enchanting maze of light and darkness, whilst the town's architecture, some of which is original, uses bricks made of clay and sand to produce 3-D designs typical of the area.

In the shade of the vast forests of palm trees which make up the town's oases, fruit trees and flowers have been planted in paradisiacal fashion, making Tozeur's palm grove, in particular, a slice of paradise. Here and there, gleaming-white mausoleums can be seen protruding from the tree tops, especially in the great marabout town of Nefta, which has about 100 of them. In the souks the unique handicraft will evoke the region's reliance on palm trees: the trunk is used to build doors and frameworks, the leaves are woven into baskets and mats and branches are carved into most varied items.

In the main town of Tozeur, which is served by an international airport, the Dar Cherait museum is an absolute must. It is home to an extraordinary collection of costumes and traditional objects and also has a park that will whisk you away to the fairytale world of The Thousand and One Nights. In the desert Zoo, you can admire fennecs, gazelles and numerous other Saharan species. Just opened, a new 18-hole golf course right on the edge of the desert.

  Where to go: Oases and mountains seem an unlikely combination, but in Tunisia three villages have grown up in the shade of date palms perched on arid, ochre-coloured mountainside. The resilience of the palm trees and the resourcefulness of the Saharan people in making the most of a simple spring is borne out in three villages in particular. Chebika, the refreshing water rushes over an imposing waterfall to form a 'wadi' surrounded by palm trees at the bottom of a gorge, Tamerza looks barricaded by its mountain range, as if suspended on the side of a vast canyon with commanding views over the vast plains as far as the Chott and the sand hills. The old village now abandoned, stretches the length of the palm grove and is surrounded by stunning waterfalls. Finally, there is Mides - the western-most and arguably the most impressive of these oases, which overlooks a breathtakingly high canyon. Desert oasis
Souk in Tozeur
Marabout
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