Pronounced ‘Ta-rit’, this small oasis vil- lage 90km south of Béchar has some of the most spectacular scenery in the Grand Erg Occidental. The dunes tower over the east- ern edge of the town, and the view as you come over the hill from the west, of the old ksar (fortified stronghold), tiny against this great theatrical backdrop, is magnificent.
The old mud-brick part of the village is dominated by the ksar, which is currently being restored – this section of the village is a real maze of winding lanes, and the red mud architecture is typical of this part of the Sahara.
Orientation & Information
There is only one entrance to the town and as you arrive you’ll see the town spread out before you on the hill against the dunes. On entering the town, continue straight ahead to reach the main square, the place des Mar- tyrs. If arriving by bus you’ll be deposited here. Around the square you’ll find the post office and the Hôtel Taghit. The road to the left leads to the camp site and youth hostel as well as a few general stores and cheap cafés. There’s a Naftal service station at the entrance to the town but Taghit has no bank.
Sights & Activities
The 30-minute climb up the dunes to expe- rience the jaw-dropping view is a must. The sand sea stretches out to the east, while the oasis, its river and palm groves are spread out before you to the west. Take a lead from the local kids and have a slide down a dune on a piece of tin or cardboard. A walk among the winding streets, cov- ered alleyways and cool houses of the old ksar is another highlight. Built around a central mosque, this ancient town was constructued in around the 9th century from mud, stone and palm trunks.
If you’ve got a car, there are some rock engravings nearby, a 15-minute drive out of town. Take the road south out past the camp site and youth hostel and keep follow- ing the road past the palmeraie. The paved road ends abruptly in front of a rock face where you’ll find some good examples of rock carvings – mostly antelope and cattle – in front of you. On the drive there, look to your right and you’ll see the crumbling remains of 15th-century towns built into the hillside. For visits to the local rock carvings, nights bivouacking on the dunes, camel treks and even skiing (yes, with proper skis!) on the dunes contact Abdelkader Sahli (Tel : 040 853711/090504352), self-titled ‘director general’ of the desert. Guides can also be arranged at the Hôtel Taghit.
Sleeping & Eating
Camping Taghit (DA150) Close to the centre of town, on the road heading south, right up against the sand dunes. There are basic toi- lets and showers, a kitchen, and plans to construct some zeribas (palm huts).
Youth hostel (Tel 049 863131; dm DA100) Next to the camp site, the town’s auberge de jeu- nesse is a simple place with four-bed dorms and a nice central courtyard, and all rooms have balconies with view of the dunes.
Hôtel Taghit (Tel 049 863183; email@example.com; s/d DA1500/2000) You can’t miss the Hôtel Taghit, as it’s the only big building in the village. The outside looks like a palatial villa and the communal spaces, including a garden and a bright mosaic-tiled lobby, are lovely, but the rooms are a different story – with malfunctioning TVs, lumpy mattresses and run-down bathrooms. Un- fortunately, it’s the only hotel in town.
Association du Vieux Ksar (Tel 040 853683; firstname.lastname@example.org; from DA1900) For a differ- ent and very atmospheric experience you could rent a room in a house, or indeed a whole house in the old ksar – these are beautiful and simple traditional houses dat- ing back as far as the 9th century. Facili- ties are basic, but sitting out on an ancient roof terrace watching the sunset over the dunes and communing with the ghosts of the past is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.