Whenever you plan to visit a new country, there is always a hunt to the unique spots you shouldn’t miss. In Tunisia, Chott Djerid is one of these unmissable places that every traveler flex about. This comes to no one surprise as 4% of the earth's surface is composed of lakes and a part of this share includes salt lakes. From Tuz in Turkey, Dead Sea in Jordan to  Little Manitou in Canada, and Baskunchak in Russia, visitors get the opportunity of fathoming the riddles of salt lakes and comparing them to know more about the country, its climate and natural changes. 

 

 

When visiting Tunisia, Chott Djerid,  a testament to the remarkable forces of nature, can be easily included in your itinerary, especially if you have wrapped your mind around visiting the South of Tunisia and the Sahara. 

 

 

If you’re wondering how to tick this from your bucket list, WildyNess team has compiled a thorough guide about this unique salt lake that includes how to get there and how to seamlessly incorporate it in your itinerary. 

 

 

Quick Information about Chott Djerid

 

chott djerid characteristics

 

Name: 

 

The name "Chott El Jerid" stems from the Arabic term “Chott” for “Lakeside” and “Djerid” for "palm leaf," paying homage to the abundance of date palm trees in the nearby El Jerid region.

 

Location:

 

- Chott Djerid is located in southern Tunisia. It stretches between Nefta in the west and El Hamma in the east, covering practically the width of southern Tunisia.

- It is positioned between the Gulf of Gabès and the Algerian border, approximately 20 kilometers distant from the chott.

 

Governorate:

 

Chott Djerid is situated within the Tozeur Governorate, one of Tunisia's 24 governorates.

 

Size and Type:

 

- It is one of the largest salt pans in the world.

- With an area of approximately 5,000 square kilometers, it is the largest saline plain or sebkha in Tunisia and the Maghreb region.

 

Ecological Importance:

 

- Designated as a Ramsar site on November 7, 2007, recognizing its significance as a wetland habitat.

- The lake serves as a vital habitat for various species of birds, including migratory birds traveling long distances between Europe and Africa.

 

Tourism and Cultural Significance:

 

- Its unique landscape and natural beauty make it a popular tourist destination.

- Chott Djerid is a source of inspiration for artists, filmmakers, and writers, including being featured in the Star Wars film franchise.

 

Challenges and Conservation:

 

- The region faces environmental challenges such as water loss and salt intrusion into surrounding agricultural land.

- Efforts are underway to address these challenges and preserve the lake's ecological and economic significance, including proposals for UNESCO World Heritage List classification.

 

 

About the Largest Lake in Tunisia

 

 

The first thing you need to know is that this lake is the biggest and largest in Tunisia and the Maghreb area, encompassing an area of approximately 5,000 square kilometers (1,900 square miles) formed as a closed drainage basin, meaning with no outlet to the sea, and characterized by its  high concentration of minerals and salts.

 

 

chott djerid salt lake

 

At first glance, this vast salt lake appears as a shimmering mirage, its surface stretching out like an endless sea of white. But beyond its surreal beauty lies a geological marvel that has captivated travelers for centuries.  Despite its harsh desert environment and scarcity of natural resources, the barrenness of Chott El Jerid holds a mysterious appeal that captivates travelers.

 

 

Driving along the main road bordering the lake unveils a mesmerizing sight of rainbow-colored salt deposits and shimmering lakes, defying the scorching desert heat. The salty waters, ranging from pale green to vivid orange, create a surreal landscape that contrasts with the surrounding arid terrain.

 

chott djerid landscape

 

With Douz, known as the "portal to the Sahara," in proximity, the lake has attracted filmmakers and adventurers alike. Interestingly, it's also linked to Greek mythology, with some identifying it as the ancient Lake Tritonis, birthplace of the goddess Athena.

 

How to get there? 

 

When incorporating Chott El Jerid into your travel plans, the first decision to make is your base point. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, you have the option to choose between Tozeur, or Douz. These regions are in close proximity to the salt lake, ensuring that whichever you choose will serve as a suitable starting point for your exploration.

 

chott djerid landscape from the driving road

 

 

By Car 

 

 

Exploring the southern region of Tunisia is best done by car, offering unparalleled freedom and flexibility to navigate the vast desert landscapes at your own pace. Before embarking on your desert adventure, it's crucial to ensure you have an ample supply of water and fuel, as the rugged terrain can present challenges. Stick to established routes such as the P16 between Douz and Tozeur for a smoother journey, or consider hiring a local guide who is well-versed in the area to enhance your exploration experience.

 

Also Read: Driving in Tunisia : Everything You Need to Know Before Hitting the Road

 

By Public Transportation

 

 

For those who won’t be renting a car or preferring backpacking, don’t be discouraged. There are more than one way to reach Chott Djerid. After choosing which region you want to be based on, you can check the website for the line buses and book your ticket at the place. You can opt for the night bus if you know you can sleep while traveling, if not, enjoy the countryside of the country. 

 

Busses from Beb Alioua run 3-5 times a day direct from Tunis to Douz  and Tozeur. The trip takes roughly 8 hours and costs around 35 TND.  Check the website for more information about schedules, book tickets, and find the nearest boarding points.

 

 

Louages, or shared taxis, from are always available in the morning. They are usually available before 2 or 3pm. The journey duration ranges from 6 to 7 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. It's advisable to plan your trip accordingly to catch the available louages.

 

Upon reaching Tozeur or Douz, travelers can opt to hire a taxi to reach Chott El Jerid or book a private tour in the region for a more personalized experience.

 

 

By Plane

 

For travelers prioritizing time efficiency, opting for a flight to Tozeur-Nefta International Airport presents the fastest route to your desert getaway.

 

Tozeur-Nefta International Airport offers direct flights from various cities, although some travelers may need to connect through Tunis. Tunisair, the national carrier of Tunisia, operates daily flights, particularly during the winter season. For a luxurious experience, some travelers choose to pay crypto for a private flight. Upon arrival, taxis and shuttle services are readily accessible at the airport, providing convenient transportation options to your accommodation in Tozeur or Douz. 

 

 

 

Things to Do with Visiting the  Salt Lake 

 

Visit Old Movie Sites

 

Explore the remnants of iconic movie sets amidst the desert landscape. Mos Espa, a deserted spaceport from the Star Wars universe, lies between the vast Chott El Djerid and Chott El Gharsa salt lakes, offering a surreal backdrop for fans and enthusiasts alike. Nearby, Lars Homestead, the original movie set for Luke Skywalker's house, stands as a testament to cinematic history in the Eastern region near Nefta.

 

chott djerid salt lake

 

Also Read: Star Wars Filming Locations that You can See in Real Life in Tunisia

 

Hike in the Sidi Bouhlel Canyon

 

Journey to the Bouhlel canyons in the Deguech governorate for a glimpse into Tunisia's ancient past. Explore deserted alleyways and discover the marabouts of Sidi Bouhlel and Sidi Ben Abess, revered saints who imparted spiritual wisdom to their people. 

 

bouhlel hike tunisia

 

Hike through this cinematic landscape, where scenes from Star Wars and The English Patient were filmed, and marvel at the geological wonders of this hidden gem.

 

Go for a Tunisian Cooking Class in Tozeur

 

Indulge your senses in a culinary journey through the vibrant flavors of Tunisian cuisine with our Cooking Class in Tozeur. Delve into the rich culinary heritage of the region as you explore a local market, selecting fresh ingredients and learning the secrets of Tunisian cooking.

 

tozeur cooking class

 

Under the guidance of our expert chef, unleash your inner chef as you prepare traditional Tunisian dishes using authentic recipes and techniques. After the hands-on cooking session, sit down to savor the fruits of your labor and enjoy a delightful Tunisian feast, surrounded by the warm camaraderie of fellow cooking enthusiasts.

 

Book your cooking class: Tozeur Food Delights: Cooking Class

 

 

Experience Tozeur's Street Food Tour

 

Embark on an extraordinary culinary adventure with our Tozeur Street Food Tour, immersing yourself in the unique flavors and cultural heritage of the city. Explore the vibrant streets of Tozeur, where you'll discover an array of dishes exclusive to this enchanting city.

 

mtabga tozeur

 

Indulge in Tozeur's culinary delights, from mouthwatering stuffed bread known as "Mtabga" to savory pastries, aromatic spices, and mouthwatering sweets. Immerse yourself in the bustling streets, engage with friendly locals, and learn about the history and stories behind each dish you taste.

 

 

Explore Tozeur's Oasis with a Bike Tour

 

Embark on a captivating two to three-hour journey through Tozeur, Tunisia, that will immerse you in the breathtaking oasis landscapes while showcasing the unique blend of science, ancestral knowledge, and cultural heritage that sustains this remarkable region. As you pedal through this extraordinary oasis town, you'll gain a profound appreciation for the intricate relationship between nature, tradition, and innovation.

 

tozeur oasis tour

 

Witness the lush greenery of palm groves juxtaposed against the arid backdrop of the Sahara, and learn about the ingenious irrigation techniques and intricate canal networks that have sustained communities for centuries. Delve into the rich cultural heritage of Tozeur's date palms and discover why oases are of paramount significance in the southern regions of Tunisia.

 

Spend a Night at the Desert

 

Experience the magic of the Sahara Desert with a full night there.  you can climb towering dunes to witness breathtaking sunsets over the crimson sands. When the night arrives, enjoy a sumptuous dinner under the star-filled sky, immersing yourself in the tranquility and majesty of the desert. 

 

night in the desert tunisia

 

 

In the morning, make sure to wake up early to capture the sunrise and embark on thrilling desert adventures, from camel trekking to sandboarding.

 

 

Explore Nefta, Douz, and the Oasis of Chebika

 

Discover the serene allure of Douz, where the delicate white expanse resembles a snowy landscape, adorned with elegant palm trees and rolling dunes. Neighboring towns Tozeur and Nefta captivate visitors with their juxtaposition of desert vistas and towering palm trees.

 

chebika oasis tour from chott djerid

 

Tozeur boasts ancient palaces and museums, while Nefta's domed structures overlook an oasis known as the Basket, nestled within a Saharan basin. Nearby, the Oasis of Chebika offers a tranquil retreat near the Djebel el Negueb mountains, where a crystal blue river winds through lush palm groves, creating a serene landscape of rocky mountains and verdant palms.

 

Embark on a Dahar Hike Adventure

 

If you are one of those travelers who like to embark on 3 to 5 days of hike, don’t skip the immersive journey through southern Tunisia's heart with our Dahar Hike experience. Lace up your boots and set foot on this captivating trail, delving into the detailed itinerary that unveils the highlights of each destination.

 

dahar view from chott djerid

 

Traverse from Tamazret's welcoming embrace to Matmata's agricultural marvels, ascend to Zmerten's realm, journey to Zammour and Ksar Jouamaa, transition to Ksar Hadad and Ghomrassen, and venture to Chenini and Douiret. Each day of the hike promises a new discovery, from cultural immersion to breathtaking landscapes, creating lasting memories etched in time.

 

 

 

Where to Stay after Visiting the  Salt Lake of Chott Jerid?

 

Depending on your itinerary, you have the flexibility to choose from a variety of cities near the Salt Lake of Chott Jerid, each offering its own unique charm and attractions. From the gateway to the Sahara Desert in Douz to the cultural oasis of Nefta, and the enchanting landscapes of Tozeur, there's something for every traveler's preference. Additionally, for those seeking an immersive desert experience, spending a night under the starry sky in the Sahara Desert itself is an unforgettable option.

 

tozeur tour

 

Douz (Approx. 50 km from Chott Jerid)

 

Indulge in the desert's allure at The Residence Douz, where luxury meets wilderness in a sanctuary of elegance amidst the vast dunes of the Sahara.

 

Nefta (Approx. 20 km from Chott Jerid)

 

Immerse yourself in the heart of the Nefta oasis at Dar Hi, a sustainable boutique hotel dedicated to preserving the region's cultural and ecological heritage, offering a serene retreat amidst lush palm groves.

 

 

Tozeur (Approx. 25 km from Chott Jerid)

 

Experience the serenity of palm groves at Diar Abou Habibi, where eco-friendly treehouse-inspired lodges provide an unforgettable connection to nature. Alternatively, indulge in local culture at Dar Enaifer, a charming family-run guesthouse offering authentic Tozeur hospitality. For those seeking luxury, Dar Yomma awaits with air-conditioned comfort, a seasonal pool, and exquisite dining amidst the desert landscape.

 

Sahara Desert

 

For a truly immersive experience, consider spending a night under the starlit sky of the Sahara Desert, where the resounding silence and vast expanse of sand create an unforgettable backdrop for your journey. Enhance your desert adventure with a Bedouin night experience, complete with traditional dinner and storytelling around a campfire, before retiring to your cozy tent for a night under the stars.

 

 

 

Chott Djerid, an unmissable highlight in your itinerary in Tunisia

 

Today, Chott Djerid continues to inspire awe and wonder in all who visit, offering a glimpse into the raw beauty and resilience of nature in one of the world's most unforgiving environments. Whether you're drawn to its ethereal landscapes, intrigued by its geological mysteries, or simply seeking solace in its serene solitude, a journey to Chott Djerid is sure to leave a lasting impression on your soul.