The original Berber villages in the area around Tataouine were hill top settlements built around a stone fort called a kala’a. Chenini is on all the tourist itineraries and most people visit in the morning.
We visited this mid afternoon just as the last coach was loading up tourists after a leisurely lunch. (We sometimes think day trippers spend most of their time driving or eating with a scamper round the site they have paid to see).
The old town of Chenini is built on an impressive site high above arid plain with the new town. The houses are built into the side of the hill with a small walled courtyard in front of them. A few houses are still lived in and have donkeys and chickens running around.
A series of well made paved paths leads up through the town to the Mosque in the col between two hills and kala’a above it.
There are many small ghorfas (storage cells) carved out of the cliff higher up the hill. Some have lost their palm wood doors and we could look inside to the remains of the storage area often with large pottery jars. Some of the doors are tiny and seem hardly big enough for a person to climb through or reach in.
There is a good view from the paved walkway running round the kala’a at the top of the hill across the plain. You also have good views down onto the houses below Many are now ruined and we could see the remains of palm tree rafters.
This is an interesting place to visit and makes a good trip tied in with Douiret and the Ksours around Tataouine. Plan to visit here last to avoid the worst of the tourists.