When we pull into the small town of El Ouate, I tell the driver of the bus to Béchar that I am on my way to Taghit. He indicates I should get off, and guides me to another minibus. There are only few passengers outside, but I am lucky again: within half an hour, the bus is full and we leave. After driving a couple of hours along the base of the sand dunes, making frequent stops, we finally reach a higher point, from which a great panorama opens up before our eyes. Below us, the town of Taghit, and directly behind, the sand dunes that frame it. After we arrive at the small square, and some walking around, I find a traditional hut to stay in, and directly walk towards the old town. Unlike Timimoun, there are very few people left in the old town: most have moved to modern houses outside the ramparts of the old town.
The streets of the old town are inevitably covered in sand; Taghit is right on the edge of the sand dunes of the Grand Erg Occidental. The narrow streets twist and turn, there are parts that are covered, turning them into tunnels. There are picturesque wooden doors in the adobe houses, there are ruins. It feels like the town is slowly falling apart, especially when you enter some of the old houses, or walk on their roofs, which often have holes in them, so you need to be very careful. The old town is a maze of alleys, and at the northern side, you can walk down stairs and look up the ksar. Wherever you are, the sand dunes seem to call you, and when the sun hangs lower in the sky, I can no longer resist. There are quite a few people on the dunes, and I climb up a dune a little more to the north. From the top, a landscape of endless sand dunes opens up before my eyes. I walk the rim of the dunes, up and down, to reach the highest one. Looking west, I can see the sun slowly sink towards the horizon. Below me, Taghit, and a long green line of palm trees meanders through the canyon, limited by a rocky escarpment on the west side. I watch the border between day and night slowly creep up the sand dunes, until the sun has finally disappeared behind the horizon. Finally, a great sunset!
It is dark when I get up the next morning, and walk up the highest dune again. The sand is cold now, and the wind completely gone. Once up on the top, I chose a good spot, and sit down in the soft sand. Small creatures crawl through the immense Sahara landscape. One by one, the stars in the sky are extinguished, until the first rays of sunlight finally warm me. Now, the light comes to the dunes top-down, and when even the lowest parts are bathing in the sun, I walk to another high dune, before going back to town. Once more, I explore the old town, and in the afternoon, I hire a car with a driver in a car whose door I have to keep closed by hand, to visit the petroglyphs at the far end of the canyon. More abandoned ksars and villages on the way. Back in Taghit, I climb the mountain opposite town, and sit there for yet another fantastic sunset. From this vantage point, you can see the green valley, the rocky cliffs, the old town, and of course, the quintessential sand dunes while the sun sets behind your back. After a night in a room in the ksar, I try sand-skiing the next morning. Turns out you need a really steep dune to get some speed, and that working your way up the dune with the equipment on your back is a very good training. When my bus finally pulls out of Taghit that afternoon, my eyes are glued to the window, and I try to keep the sand dunes and the town below it in sight as long as I can.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Taghit (Algeria). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Taghit.
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