Tucked away in southeastern Algeria is the desert oasis town of Djanet. With a population of only 15,000 people, it’s only recognized on a map because there’s not a larger town for some 500 miles! The photo below shows the entrance into Djanet if you enter from the highway.
This was one of my first views of Djanet, and it was certainly a bigger town than I had expected. It’s not much of a tourist destination, and for most people it’s an accessible place to fly into before stocking up and entering the Sahara.
Although Djanet is small by population, its center always seemed to be bustling with people. The photo above shows a street by the main market where you could also find a few restaurants, and other businesses. Below was a butcher shop located in the same area. I had dinner here at a traditional restaurant where the owners were really encouraging me to take photos of their place, but for whatever reason didn’t want to be in them!
Here are two people shots from town, where you can see the Tuareg men and women in traditional clothing. The Tuareg people along with Berbers are the main ethnic groups that live in the Sahara.
Luckily I visited Djanet with some local Tuaregs who took me to places I would have never discovered on my own. The small Berber homes that camouflaged themselves into the beautiful mountains made my visit to Djanet alone worth it.
In this area of town are some old Berber homes built in the 16th century. These are said to be the original settlement of Djanet, and considering some 500 years have passed most have done remarkably well over time. The previous year Djanet received some heavy rainstorms which did significant damage to the remains. Most of the homes that looked to be original were hardly standing, so I think these two photos are probably less than a 100 years old. I’m unsure why someone choose to seal up the door below, but it looks fairly new.
Perhaps the only touristy thing to do in Djanet is to visit their museum. It’s a small one but reasonably priced and worth a quick visit. Mostly it covers tribal life in the region along with artifacts and a section on geology and wildlife.
For some reason you weren’t allowed to take any photographs in the museum except for this more modern shelter above. I snuck in this photo below, and I have no idea why one would be allowed but not the other. With that said I didn’t feel so bad about it, but the museum staff followed me around the entire time and were strict on trying to enforce it. Both photos living conditions in the desert with some of the tools needed for survival. The main downside to the museum was the information was in either Arabic or French.
If you visit Djanet and you’ll likely notice they have a dried out river with nothing built along one side of it. At first I thought maybe they had some cultural or spiritual reasons for this. As it turns out I was way off. The locals were simply avoiding building along the flood plains. Closest to the flood plains you find palm farms for their dates. I took a picture of one of the wooden entrances below. Do you see the man 10 feet away staring at me? I didn’t either until he yelled at me!