A Mountain Get-Away in Ain Draham
One of the truly amazing things about Tunisia is that in a country of such a small size you can experience a full range of climate and topography. From the Sahara Desert to the rolling hills covered with olive groves, then to the edge of the Atlas Mountains where you get the occasional snow storm and cork forests as far as the eye can see. One of the unique towns in the north western part of the country near the Algerian border is the mountain town of Ain Draham.
A Brief Overview
Many of the buildings look like they were plucked out of Swiss mountains with their red tile roofs built to shed the snow that falls up to several feet deep. Houses are spread throughout the cork forests; the fresh air and natural beauty is what drew people to the area to build this town. Cork oak tree is a relative of the north American oak tree with the main useful difference being that its bark grows into a thick layer all its life. This cork can be harvested and peeled completely off the tree every 12 years or so over its life span, which could be hundreds of years. This is one of the most sustainable uses of trees I have seen making the tree more valuable alive than cut down for furniture or firewood. Cork is used in an ever-increasing number of ways, not only as stoppers for bottles, but also handles for fishing rods, bicycles and hiking sticks, and more recently it is used as a great covering for walls or as insulation. It is waterproof, fire resistant and sound dampening, an overall great material and grown all over North Africa, Spain and Portugal. Take time to slow down and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings in the mountainous region of this beautiful country.
Things to Do in Ain Draham
- Hiking in the forest a local guide could be arranged to show the paths and educate in the local flora and fauna.
- Visit a traditional family run pottery factory like Poterie Khemir where you can receive pottery lessons and make or buy natural clay made with methods little changed in hundreds of years.
- Explore the waterfalls and natural beauty on the road to Bni Mtir.
- Spend the night in the newly constructed eco lodge like Green Hill resort (opening soon). Where the resort offers independent Chalet style housing as well as more traditional hotel housing and full restaurant services. They go to great lengths to be environmentally friendly heating from natural hot springs, low impact wood construction, etc.
- Relax in the famous Hammam Bourguiba, tucked away in the mountains near the Algerian border, surrounded on every side by majestic, serene landscapes. This 4-star hotel / spa is built around a natural hot spring; a traditional Hammam and spa is available with all the pampering you could want. Clients can indulge in a swim in their pool, heated from the natural hot springs, equipped with a Jacuzzi to warm up during the cooler winter days. Soak up the panoramic views on the balcony, while sipping a cup of green tea with pine nuts.