Day 7 – Douz, Matmata, Sahara Desert
Breakfast is served every day at Hotel 20 Mars in Douz between 6:30am-9:30am. I had scheduled a tour of Matmata in the morning and the driver of the taxi was there at 9am for a 1.5 hour drive from Douz.
There are many tour companies in Douz running tours to Matmata, Sahara Desert (one day or overnight) and Tatouine and they all vary in costs. Most tour companies are not registered and hence it’s best to go with someone who is reliable and has good reviews. Being in Hotel 20 Mars, I booked the tour with Nefzoua Voyages that runs from the hotel.
It costs TND 150 for a private taxi drive to Matmata from Douz and does not include the tour of the town itself. But you can walk around and explore the town with all the sights in 3-5 minute walking distance. You need not hire a tour guide in Matmata.
|Tour guides in Matmata
As soon as I arrived in Matmata, I was approached by a man calling himself a tour guide, and asked me if I wanted a tour, which I refused. The man and my jeep driver insisted I hire him because it’s “not possible to see the town without a guide.” After looking around for a few minutes, I realized that everyone there had a tour guide, so I hired him for TND 20.
And that was a really bad decision. One, you could easily walk around the small town and see all the sights. Two, no one ever asks you if you have a tour guide. Three, the man did not explain anything, anywhere, but I had to figure out everything on my own!
Unless you’re with a tour group, beware of this scam and do not hire any tour guides in Matmata.
About 5 km before the town of Matmata, the driver of my jeep pulled over to a Berber family home where I was greeted by a woman, who lived there with her family of 9 and spoke fluent English. I was told by the driver that this was my opportunity to meet a real Berber family and visit their troglodyte home.
The woman gave a tour of her house including all the rooms and finally I was offered some Berber tea (black tea with sugar and honey in it). They have three bedrooms (one on the ground level and two on first level for the kids), one kitchen and one living room. The toilets are outside the house. I was expected to give TND 2-3 as a tip, but being honored by their hospitality, I offered TND 10 as tip.
Entrance of Berber troglodyte home
Entrance of Berber troglodyte home – The fish represents good luck with the hands of Fatima on either side of the fish. The door on the right is the toilet.
Kitchen of the Berber troglodyte home
Living room of the Berber troglodyte home
Central courtyard of the Berber troglodyte home, with rooms on two different levels.
After reaching Matmata, I stopped by the post office for a stamp in my book and finally we parked right outside the Sidi Driss hotel. This is when I was approached by the ‘tour guide’ and got scammed (see box above)!
The first sight was the hotel itself. Spread over five pit courtyards, all connected by tunnels, it stood for the young Luke Skywalker’s home.
A few meters away from Hotel Sidi Driss is the small Musee Berber, run by local women (TND 3) that gives you an insight of Berber life and troglodyte homes.
After spending about an hour in Matmata, I returned back to Douz, with a quick stop in Tamezret for some coffee.
It was almost 3pm in Douz and I had booked the camel ride in the Sahara Desert for 5pm so I can spend time there and return when the sun sets. Most camel owners will start the ride back from the desert to the base-camp just before sunset.
A pleasant one-hour ride (each way) into the jebel will give you a taste of the magical and serene beauty of the white sand dunes of Sahara Desert.
Back at the hotel (taxi fare from hotel to the starting point and back is included in the price of the ride) after sunset, I headed out for a quick walking tour of Douz town and had dinner at one of the restaurants next to the post office.
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult. The exchange rate at the time of publishing is assumed to be USD 1 = TND 1.6.
|Water & snacks||$2.50||TND 4|
|Postal Stamps||$0.75||TND 1.200 for Tamezret and Matmata|
|Taxi to Matmata||$93.75||TND 150 – Douz – Matmata – Douz. In a 4×4 Jeep.|
|Tip to Berber family||$6.25||TND 10|
|Tour guide in Matmata||$12.50||TND 20|
|Sahara Desert Camel ride||$25||TND 30, for one hour ride + TND 10 tip|
|Coffee in Douz||$0.62||TND 1|
|Dinner||$2.50||TND 4 for Keftagi|
|Total Costs||$145.12||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$1,886.24||Per person|