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Chaabet Chemlali

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The best troglodytes
Chaabet Chemlali, Tunisia

Chaabet Chemlali, Tunisia

Chaabet Chemlali, Tunisia

Only about 25 km from Matmata lies the troglodyte village of Chaabet Chemlali. No tourists seem to find their way out here. It feels weird to begin they with struggling with the crowds at Matmata, where there is less and less to see for every year, just to find yourself all alone at Chaabet. And realizing that this is the place tourist traffic should head now.
Chaabet Chemlali is often referred to as Beni Aissa, which can be quite deceptive. Beni Aissa is the name of the region, and the tribe inhabiting it, and there are several roads and junctions here. You easily get lost. Should you have time and your own vehicle, note that Beni Aissa has more troglodyte villages than Chaabet Chamlali. My brief search in 2007 concluded with Chaabet Chemlali being the very best among these.
In this village, most people have moved out to "modern" houses, which as usual are dull, boring and ugly shoe boxes. Fortunately, many of the troglodyte houses are still in use, although some as little but storage quarters. Several of the houses have TV antennas.
It is quite fascinating to watch modern-dressed youngsters of this village, move in and out of the troglodytes. Knowing about the fame their traditional homes have caused, Chaabet Chemlali may well be the place where troglodytes could have place in the modern age.

There is a simple food store in two of the villages here. Nothing else. Should you move around without a vehicle, hitch hiking may be possible, but on my visit, the few cars I saw were filled to the last seat.
Driving out here, you take the road heading north right west of Matmata Nouvelle centre. Simply continue this, passing through a small village, until you end up in Chaabet Chemlali. The village is well signposted before you pass the last ridge.

Chaabet Chemlali, Tunisia

By Tore Kjeilen