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Chott El Jerid – the lake of mirages

Chott el Jerid - mirror lake

On the raod between Tozeur and Douz, the desert turns into the sky. The horizon stretches to infini.

After the oasis of Kebili, landmarks gradually get blurred.

The road follows a straight platform that separates the brackish water of a huge salty lake: the Chott el Jerid.

sunset

In the summer, it becomes a salty stretch of dazzling whitness.

Mirages emerge from the split ground. The ongoing evaporation combined with the sun creates deceptive images.

Fictitious rocks quiver on the horizon, imaginary oasis and caravans appear in front of you. Don’t stare at the same point for too long! You could believe in these mirages!

Crouch down: these Saharian aliens of air and light should instantaneously disappear. And if you don’t manage to get rid of those dreamt images, it means that the magic of the desert starts!

Toilets next to the salty lake

It’s now time to stop in one of the shops made out of straw that appear suddenly from nowhere by the roadside.

Many mineral sand roses are on display. Even the toilets are noteworthy, but only from outside !

Mirage or not ?

The Chott el Jerid is even more mysterious in winter. The road turns into a dyke.

The lake is nearly entirely covered with a thin layer of water. An inland sea which secrets are known by local inhabitants.

Not long ago, crossing the Chott was an adventure. The building of a concrete road made it simplier, but going off-track is still dangerous.

Inexperienced visitors could be trapped in the expands of mud. The salty layer could break under the weight of a jeep.

The "aion", 1 to 5 meter wide and a few meters deep wells, welcome flamingos for a rest where the water is less brackish.

Fabio Benedetti-Valentini © Azurever.com