Sun, sand and water – yes, beaches – no.

Welcome to the oasis town of Tozeur in Tunisia. The town is located in an archetypal terrain of copper-colored steppes cut across by canyons. An oasis of date palms, this former Roman outpost and caravan hub is awash in Saharan culture, from traditional souks to a zoo of desert animals.

Tozeur’s oasis is fed by 200 or so natural springs that have been around for 10,000 years. However, the intricate system of irrigation channels that snake through the oasis dates back to the 13th century. The sluices and locks, cut into stone and narrow enough to step across, still sustain more than 200,000 palm trees in an area of 4 square miles.

Spend time in the old quarter of Ouled el Hadef, bordering the oasis’s northern edge. It is a medieval maze of domed, double-arched passageways, six-foot-wide with sky-blue wooden doors and open courtyards. Its sand-coloured buildings are covered with intricate brickwork style is found only in Tozeur and nearby Nefta.

View a panorama of the surrounding desert landscape from the top of Belvedere Rocks, a group of 40-feet-high mesas carved with stairs on the outskirts of Tozeur. Also worth a visit is the Shott el Jerid, North Africa’s largest and oldest salt lake. The shott is dry for most of the year with parts of it appearing in various shades of white, green and purple. The shott has been a filming location for some time and seen in the Star Wars saga.

Often compared to an arid ocean, the Sahara’s oases can be viewed as ports, centres of culture and commerce for its farming inhabitants and tent-dwelling semi nomads. Tozeur offers a unique window onto these steadily vanishing cultures.

If you want to experience an oasis holiday in Tozeur and buy some lovely Berber carpets, just call Lighthouse on (0) 9818905024 or email theworld@golighthouse.in.

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