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Report 1993: Tunisia - the South and the Desert

By Eleanor from UK, Spring 2012

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Page 4 of 17: Chebika

photo by MAW

Waterfall in the canyon

Chebika is a few miles from Tamerza along the Tozeur road. It is a popular tourist spot and can get hundreds of visitors during the day. We were taken to visit late in the afternoon as the last of the tourists were leaving.

Chebika is set back from the main road and we enjoyed the drive through the palmeraie, which is well maintained with concrete irrigation channels and past the remains of the old town destroyed in the 1969 storms.

The new town is a collection of stone and clay buildings clinging to the side of the mountain. It is a beautiful location overlooking the arid plain to the west and Chott el Gharsa to the south. It is possibly the most dramatic of the oases towns with rugged rocks and a steep sided ravine.

We parked by the tourist shops and cafes and were immediately accosted by people trying to sell us minerals. I was offered an ‘amethyst’ for one dinar which was a badly dyed piece of desert rose and I could see where the dye had been applied. The shops were closing as the last of the day tourists had gone.

It is a lovely walk on a well made path through the palmeraie into the canyon. A sophisticated irrigation system distributes water to all plots along concrete channels.

The path is lined with stalls selling rocks and crystals, fortunately mostly shut by now, leaving their wooden chests used to store goods beside the path. There were several very persistent children around trying to sell us some not very good rock samples for one dinar.

Bare eroded rocks rise out of the canyon complete with a carved ibex at the top. A water channel runs along the path and we could hear the frogs croaking. The canyon gradually narrows to reach a small waterfall. Steps up beside the waterfall lead into a narrow path along the upper canyon taking us to the spring where water appears through a crack in the rock. There are a few scattered palm trees, some with tufts of yellow flowers. It is a delightful place which we had to ourselves.

If you have the choice do this either very early in the morning before the tourists arrive or late afternoon once they have gone. The path is narrow and wouldn’t be much fun if busy. The tourist stalls will also be shut, so no hassle from stall holders.

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