Chott El Jerid

The Chott El Jerid is an immense salt lake covering an area of almost 5000 sq km, the bulk of which is south of the Kebili–Tozeur road and part of a system of salt lakes that stretches deep into Algeria from the Gulf of Gabès. It is a scene of desolation – dry for the greater part of the year, when the flat, flat surface stretching to the horizon becomes blistered and shimmers in the heat. It was here that Luke Skywalker contemplated the two moons in the first Star Wars movie. The Kebili–Tozeur road crosses the northern reaches of the chott on a 2m-high causeway – it’s a trip not to be missed. At times, the wind-driven salt piles up into great drifts by the roadside, creating the impression that you’re driving through a snowfield. Just one litre of water can yield as much as 1kg of salt. Mirages are common, and if you’ve picked a sunny day to cross you may see some deceptive optical effects.