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Pearl of Sahara

El-Oued is the centre of a number of oases, called Souf, but it is El-Oued, being the biggest town, and by far the most picturesque, that attracts the visitors coming down here. The architecture is very distinct, and seen with my own eyes, one of the most fascinating examples of desert architecture in the Sahara. Desert architecture is a human solution on how to use air and bild breezes to the maximum so that the temperatures inside the dwellings are reduced as much as possible from the outdoor temperatures.

El-Oued, Algeria

El-Oued, Algeria

Often the structures of covered alleyways, and curved streets are little to watch from the exterior, but El-Oued is a good exception, and the solution here is called "City of the 1000 domes". White houses, smooth and soft corners in between date palms and veiled and conservative women, has turned El-Oued into some of a tourist trap.
El-Oued has a reputation of being a good place to shop, many of the products sold here, are not available in shops in other parts of Algeria. Carpets is one of the best buys, the famous Souf Cross, a brown cross on a light background. These are sold other places in Algeria as well, but beware, the rule that the place of origin is the cheapest will only be true if you bargain seriously. Shoes, the affanes, is another distinct souvenir to bring home,- makes good slippers back home.
In the lack of clear tourist sights, the market and the mosque of Sidi Salem, are part of the walk through town. The market is at its active all through the week, and at the most on Fridays. It is centred around vegetables and fruits, as well as everyday items.
With time to kill, drop in at the museum. Small, but it is adequate for getting to know more about the region, the insects, sand roses etc.
Excursions around El-Oued, to other villages of the Souf, is a good idea, there are many charming places nearby. Rubbah, 12 km from El-Oued to the south, has many bours, in between large sand dunes. The same applies to Nakhla, also 12 km south of El-Oued, and 12 km from Rubbah (you have to drive back to the village of Amiche, and then head off south again along the eastern road). Guemar, 20 km north of El-Oued, is a beautiful little village, and has an interesting zawiyya.

Eat and Sleep
Surprisingly good on hotels, as well as a camping ground and a youth hostel. Restaurants will irritate you with their elevated prices.

Air flights to Algiers and Annaba. Buses will bring you to all larger cities, and taxis to some towns, as well as to the Tunisian border and inside the Souf area.

By Tore Kjeilen