JUANITA: (founder) SAHHA SAHARA (Douz, Tunisia)

My name is Juanita, and I had a profound life altering experience my first time in the Sahara Desert on an unforgettable ten-day trek. It has called to me like no other place.

Before moving to Tunisia, I spent most of my life in the city of Vancouver, Canada. Leaving Canada was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life; sold my house, left my family, friends, job. 
But the call of the soul is deep and cannot be ignored. I have made Tunisia my primary home since 2007.

I started Sahha Sahara for three reasons; first of course, my love of the endless and vast Sahara and south Tunisia. Secondly is to provide some much needed work for dear Bedouin and Berber friends who so graciously share their experience and hearts. And finally, it brings me joy to share with others the opportunity to see what I have discovered here.

Many agencies pay Bedouin guides very little money. Yet, without the Bedouins, there would be no treks. My goal is to share my love of south Tunisia and the Sahara with others, and to help people in my community make enough to live.
The Bedouin guides below, mostly from the Adhara tribe, are dear friends, who offer their lifelong knowledge and experience of the Sahara desert. Bedouins learned how to live in the Sahara thousands of years ago, and are most at home in the desert. These are men whom I trust completely, and who find joy in sharing their love of the Sahara with others. They are warm and welcoming and have worked with many tourists from all over the world.
Douz, Tunisia, often called the gateway to the Sahara... and where most camel treks begin. A town built around a large oasis, Douz was once an integral part of the ancient caravan routes of the 'silk trade'. Douz is also home to the biggest international Sahara festival; Douz International Festival of the Sahara. Beginning in 1910 it is the oldest festival in Tunisia.

Tunisian people are very peaceful, warm and open. After having lived here for 12 years, I have found Tunisia to be a peaceful, stable and safe country for travelers; contrary to the media's hype largely exaggerated claims. Tunisian Arabic and French are spoken, and many people speak a bit of English as well. If visiting Europe, Tunisia is only a couple of hours away, and flights are frequent and inexpensive!
Where else can you walk to the market, basket in hand, hearing the clip clop of horses and donkeys with carts as they pass on the street? Where else can you go into a shop and buy fresh eggs that sit on the shelves instead of labeled in a refrigerated section. Eggs from chickens that may live right beside you, as you hear them clucking as you hang out your laundry on the line on the rooftop, overlooking the town of white cement houses, mosques and minarets? Where else can you walk to the weekly market, where sheep, chickens, goats and camels are for sale in the same market as olives, laundry soap and assorted clothing? Where else does everyone disappear in the summer months for the afternoon, the town becoming a ghost town, paper wrappers, plastic bags and onion skins blowing around in the hot sandy breeze after the crazy frenzied morning market?

The oldest camel festival in the Sahara, the Douz festival has been occurring since 1910.
Generally the last week of December, the International Festival of the Sahara, near Douz, attracts more than 300,000 people each year from around the world. 

December is a wonderful time to travel around the South of Tunisia. Spend a few days on a road trip, touring some of the amazing places the south of Tunisia has to offer. And after enjoying the festival, spend New Years Eve in the Sahara desert, sleeping under the beautiful desert sky (see New Years in the Sahara).
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