Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Chott el Jerid, Tunisia - Dry Salt Lake the closest thing to Mars on Earth?


In the days of our grandfathers, sunrise was the tranquility that begins the cycle of daily routines.  As light filters through darkness, the sun rises every morning tempting the birth of a new day.  Today it is as much a spectacle as the Eiffel Tower or a football match, with no less commotion.  

True enough, while we were in Tunisia, we hired a tour guide who could bring us to the salt lake of Chott el Jerid where we could watch the sunrise, a sight that is bestowed upon us for millions of years.  Chott el Jerid is a dried up salt lake at the border with Algeria in southwest Tunisia.  With only about
100mm of rainfall coming down on the lake (London averaging 600mm, Bordeaux 900mm, Naples 1000mm), it is immediately dried up by the 50C/122F heat during much of the day.  Only during winter does a bit of water gather in the lake.

Arriving at the salt lake at around 5:30am, the sky was tainted with smudge of orange glow.  The salt crystal gave off an orange glint, but turns to sparkling white when picked up from the ground.  The lake extends endlessly to the horizon, punctuated only by a distant hill where the sun was hiding, waiting to show itself to the eager watchers.  

For a few minutes our naive awe was transfixed upon the orange fireball.  Within minutes the sky turned white and the last hint of cold night air brushed across our face.  The day has begun.  For an added bonus, the guide took us on an adventure ride in the desert, climbing and dropping us over sand dunes with much drama and excitement.

A visit to the Chott el Jerid is highly recommended during your stay in Tunisia.  It is a popular item on most of the tours, and can be easily reached by car, near the town of Tozeur.  

Scientist remarked that Chott el Jerid might be the closest thing to Mars on Earth, it is also currently being reviewed to pass as an UNESCO Heritage Site.  


從前,大概仍然是「日出而作,日入而息」的時代,太陽升起根本就是十分平常、人們每天都會看到的事情。每天的第一線曙光照亮了黑暗的夜空,太陽慢慢地從地平線上升起來,為大地帶來了新的一天﹔在現代的社會,看到日出卻好像是做了本世紀最驚天動地的一件事……

這一點其實我絶不反對,因為我就在突尼西亞看到了最動人心弦的日出。這天在突尼西亞,我們的導遊說可以帶我們去看 Chott el Jerid 鹽湖。Chott el Jerid 是一個已經乾涸了的鹽湖,位於突尼西亞西南部與阿爾及利亞接壤的邊境。那裏每年大概隻有100毫米的降雨量(倫敦有600毫米,波爾多有900毫米,拿波裡有1000毫米),雨通常一降下來就馬上乾了,因為那裏的夏天氣溫高達攝氏50度,隻有在冬天的時間湖才可以儲到一點點的水。

我們那天大約早上五點三十分到達鹽湖,那時候天空已呈少許的橙黃,地上鹽的晶體亦沾上了漂亮的橙黃色,可是當我把鹽拿到手上的時候,它就馬上變回閃爍的晶體。這個鹽湖大得無邊際,它從四方八面一直申展到遠處地平線的小山丘那兒。就在地平線的那座小山丘,我們就等待著日出的來臨。

就在我們呆呆的不知道焦點應放在哪兒的時候,一點亮亮的橙紅火球就在小山丘後爬出來。這個紅火球不停上升的時候亦不停的變大,在短短的幾分鐘內已把整個天空照亮。新的一天開始了!

之後導遊更額外地帶我們坐很刺激的沙漠四驅車,我們沙漠上大大小小的沙丘上奔馳,大家都玩得樂而忘返。

如果你到突尼西亞旅遊,我極力推薦你到 Chott el Jerid 鹽湖,差不多所有當地的導賞圑都包括了這個景點。


有科學家曾說 Chott el Jerid 鹽湖可能擁有地球上最類似火星的地貌,這裏最近亦被列入聯合國教科文組織遺産。






























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