Tunisia - The mountain oasis of Midès and the country's "Grand Canyon".

Tunisia - The mountain oasis of Midès and the country's "Grand Canyon".

Midès is another mountain oasis near the border with Algeria. It is located in the mountains of Djebel En Negueb and is part of the Atlas Mountains. 

We rumble along the only road to Midès, a dead end, it seems to us. High on the mountain we see the checkpoints of the Tunisian-Algerian border.

We drive into the old oasis, are stopped by an "official" and naturally think of border police. It turns out to be a guide who would like to show us the "Grand Canyon". He claims very confidently that the canyon is bigger than the one in the USA and that we would only learn all the secrets with him.

We ask again, really?, bigger than in the States? "Yes, yes, absolutely!" We laugh and conceal from him that we would have the real comparison. Although memory can always make beautiful things seem bigger, we doubt the comparison.

We take our time looking for a parking space and first drink a "cafe turk" in Mohamed's café, high above the gorge, and get some delicious dates to nibble on. As we are the only guests, he sits down with us and chats. He could show us the gorge, we could learn a lot from him. And somehow he is really likeable, the price is okay and we agree. 

So we walk in peace first through the old village, which was completely destroyed by a flood in 1996 (we somehow can't imagine how a flood can be up here, but other sources also confirm this), stroll along the "North-Rim" (as we did in Northern Arizona years ago) and look deep into the mountain cut.

Mohamed's hiking pace is strict, we say goodbye to him after the tour and send him back to his café. And we? We trudge down and follow the course of the impetuous wadi. We are lucky, the light is great, the fantastically beautiful landscape in shades of ochre and pink seems to partially burst into flames, adding to the contrast between the bare rock and the rare plants, palms and acacias.

The striking feature is the stratification of their rock, which very clearly shows the successive geological ages. Of which we - of course - have no idea. Old, older, oldest are our categories. 

And now it happens: We actually meet other travellers. A Spanish-speaking group of geologists is standing in front of us, marvelling at stone layer after stone layer and all nodding knowingly at the guide. I would like to understand what he is saying. But since our Spanish is, so to speak, non-existent, we hike on in peace and will never learn what there is to know about the rock layers.

After a good hour (or was it two?) we sit back upstairs with Mohamed, buy a few more dates from him, drink another mint tea and don't want to leave. 

What a beautiful place, so secluded, so quiet, so impressive and full of energy.

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Best regards - Heike & Gerd

 

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