"Old Kebili" Kebili by maykal

Kebili Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 42 photos

Kebili was a definite highlight of my trip...it was a relief to find an oasis town as yet fairly untouched by tourism. Modern Kebili isn't much to look at, but 3km down a winding road through the oasis brings you to Old Kebili, a ruined city only vacated in 1980> Most of the houses are now little more than rubble, but four zaouias (tombs of saints) and a mosque are still active, and the local "Save Old Kebili" organisation is trying its best to rebuild the rest of the town.

It is a fascinating place to explore, and it won't be long before the local guide tracks you down and tells you about the place in depth. My visit coincided with Mawlid an-Nabi, the Prophet Mohamed's birthday, which was being celebrated by the local Tariqa of Aissawiya Sufis in one of the zaouias. Non-Muslims are rarely allowed to enter mosques or participate in religious gatherings in Tunisia, so it was a great honour to be invited to this...old men in red chechia hats played drums and chanted, while others swayed and danced themselves into a trance. One even stuck a sharp skewer through his cheek, blood dripping down his chin...I'm not entirely sure what purpose that served, but he seemed to be very happy about it.

Had this been in Tozeur, I'm sure coach parties would have intruded and the celebrations would have been sanitized to suit the masses. The old men wouldn't be wearing odd socks and black wellington boots; they'd be dressed in "authentic" clobber à la Aladdin. But thankfully, Kebili is not Tozeur...it was genuine, real, and very refreshing after the other oases.

If anyone is interested in Kebili, please go in a small group and give your support to the enthusiastic guardiens who want to preserve Old Kebili without making it into a cultural zoo for tourists.

>>>Lots more to say...but for now, just a few pictures to whet your appetites<<<

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Quiet, eerie yet beautiful old town, enthusiastic guardiens
  • Cons:Government's potential plans for future
  • In a nutshell:As the guardien said, "Old Kebili is a piece of history dying. I want it to live again"
  • Last visit to Kebili: Apr 2007
  • Intro Updated Apr 11, 2009
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