Best time to travel to Tunisia

Chott el Djerid Lake in Tunisia

Set amidst the largest salt pan in Sahara Desert, the lake dries up in summer, but repenished with new rain waters it amazes with its whites, greens and purples

Best time: March–May | September–October

Chott el Djerid Lake
Chott El Djerid, Tunisia, 2007
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When translated from Arabic the name of the lake means "Lagoon of the Land of Palms", even though the lake is found in the Sahara desert that has hardly anything in common with the palm forest. The very word "chott" denotes a lake that remains dry throughout the hot season, and wells up during rains.

Chott el Djerid is drained in hot summer to such an extent that one can cross it on foot, and even by car. However, the latter option is not really safe, as the salt crust left after evaporation is actually quite thin. One can still observe the colours from the car seat while driving the main road. Purple- and green-coloured waters gather in the channels dug out on the both sides off the road. That experience is available during the hot season from March to August.

During cold season that stretches from September well into February you'll have a nice opportunity to explore the huge and strangely-shaped lake by boat. The depth of the lagoon at some places reaches 25 m below the sea level. It's irregularly shaped, and its width varies from 20 to 250 km.

When it dries up, the largest salt pan in Sahara covers the surface of 7,000 square kilometres. Crocodiles inhabited these waters until the early 20th century. Nowadays, its temporary visitors besides human travellers are pink flamingoes that choose to nest along the shores in springtime. Finally, this area once became one of the shooting locations for the world's famous epic movie series—the Star Wars, you must have already recognised the Lars Homestead setting.

The best time to visit this location is either moderate spring or autumn months, the most favourable for hiking. Spring lasts from March to June, and autumn is September and October.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Chott el Djerid Lake in Tunisia?

Chott el Djerid Lake in Tunisia is best visited during the spring or autumn months for hiking. Spring typically lasts from March to June, while autumn is in September and October. Both seasons have moderate temperatures and are thus favorable for outdoor activities. Show more

What is the meaning of the name Chott el Djerid, and why is it called a lagoon of the land of palms?

The name Chott el Djerid translates to 'Lagoon of the Land of Palms' in Arabic. The word 'chott' refers to a lake that dries up during the hot season and fills only with rainwater. Despite being in the Sahara Desert, the lake gets its name due to its historical connection to the palm forest, which was once prevalent in the area. Show more

What is the depth of Chott el Djerid Lake and what are the dimensions of its width?

Chott el Djerid Lake is not a uniform shape and can have a width ranging from 20 to 250 km. The lagoon's depth can reach up to 25 meters below sea level, making it an ideal location for boat trips during the cold season from September to February. Show more

Are there any permanent residents in the lake, and why are there pink flamingoes in springtime?

There are no permanent residents in Chott el Djerid Lake, but pink flamingoes can be seen there in springtime. These flamingoes stop by on their migration from West Africa as they look for better nesting locations and a warmer climate. The lake therefore becomes a favored resting spot for these flamingos in the area. Show more

When was this area made famous by Star Wars, and why is it considered a popular shooting location?

The use of Chott el Djerid and its surroundings, by Star Wars as a filming location for the Lars Homestead scene made this area famous. The area of Chott el Djerid has a unique landscape, and its barren desert makes it a popular destination for filmmakers looking for out-of-this-world locations. This location has also been used for several other films, including The English Patient. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin