Discover the ruins of Zriba Olia, an abandoned Berber village just half an hour from Zaghouan in Tunisia. The ancient village was built in the seventeenth century but deserted in the 1960s leaving behind ruins, which can be explored.
DISCOVERING ZRIBA OLIA VILLAGE
WHERE IS ZRIBA OLIA VILLAGE AND HOW TO GET THERE
The ancient village of Zriba Olia, is found in the Zaghouan region, just over three kilometers south of Hammam Zriba. The town was built between two rocky peaks in the seventeenth century but was deserted in the 1960s. Most of the population relocated to the ‘new’ town of Hammam Zriba.
Most visitors are either coming directly from Tunis or are staying nearby in Zaghouan like I was. To reach Zriba Olia from Zaghouan you can hire a taxi but you should book them to pick you up also as there are definitely no chances to find a random taxi out at Zriba Olia.
The pin on the map below marks Zriba Olia village and is accurate. Once you are there, you can explore the ruins and climb the peaks but there are no further directions required.
MY ZRIBA OLIA DRONE VIDEO
I filmed this drone video during the golden hour at Zriba Olia in some amazing conditions. I hope you enjoy this dramatic scenery as much as I did.
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MY EXPERIENCE AT ZRIBA OLIA VILLAGE
I’d heard about an abandoned Berber village nearby Zaghouan so the day after I hiked Mount Zaghouan, we headed off to explore the ancient ruins of Zriba Olia. From Zaghouan, we hired a taxi driver for the journey there and to pick us up and take us home also. We kept his phone number to arrange the return journey when we were ready. This cost us 60 dinars or $20 USD, which isn’t cheap but there are few options for transport in Zaghouan. The drive from Zaghouan to Zriba Olia village took just under 30-minutes.
When we arrived at Zriba Olia, there were not a single other people there. I think on weekends, a lot of local tourists from Tunis venture down for a day-trip. That means you should visit on a weekday if possible. We visited on a Monday and throughout the three hours, we were there, only one other couple stopped by. It’s the kind of place that is so much more fun to explore when it is empty rather than crowded with other tourists. It truly felt abandoned and like we were discovering an ancient village while we explored.
What are my favorite pieces of hiking gear?
There are four pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a hike. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my hiking essentials.
- Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots: For the best ankle support, waterproofing, and durable exterior I’m a fan of tough but light hiking boots like these Salomons for my adventures.
- Black Diamond Head Torch: I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve arrived back from a hike unexpectedly late. I always keep this lightweight but strong headtorch in my bag for the unexpected.
- Darn Tough Socks: These are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever worn and last for years. They also have a lifetime warranty and you just send them in with a hole and they replace it no questions asked.
The town itself seemed to have been quite well built with pathways, arches, and a tiled mosque. It wasn’t just a makeshift desert village, it was planned out well and would have been magnificent in its prime. We were a bit nervous walking into many of the rooms and buildings as there are lots of collapsed walls and roofs so it’s just a matter of time before more collapse. Definitely be careful if you are beneath any of the structures as they are definitely not solid.
We loved looking through the small windows with views out to Djebel Zaghouan and the mountain range. The valley is incredible during the golden hour and sunset and got better and better as the sun lowered.
There are multiple peaks surrounding the village and we climbed three of them to get a new vantage point. Each peak gives you a slightly different perspective of the abandoned Berber village and it was fun scrambling our way up the rocks to reach the top of each peak.
I highly recommend going during golden hour or sunset because the sun filters through the windows, cracks, and archways in unique ways and moments so that no matter what route you take through the village you will witness great colors, shapes, and shadows.
I really can’t recommend this spot enough and our sunset here was amazing, peaceful and shared with just a couple of other people.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR ZRIBA OLIA VILLAGE
When you start to look at staying in Zaghouan for some adventures or hiking, you will find that there aren’t hundreds of options to book online. A local guide recommended for me to stay at Dar Zaghouan, which costs $100 USD per night for two people including breakfast and dinner.
Dar Zaghouan wasn’t cheap but the meals were quite good and it was always a three-course serving and unlimited food and coffee at breakfast. If you are looking for a comfortable base during your time in Zaghouan, I’d suggest Dar Zaghouan as you have all your meals taken care of and there aren’t too many options for restaurants in Zaghouan.
I’d suggest booking in advance especially on weekends as a lot of local tourists from Tunis make the 1-hour journey down for a countryside escape from the busy Tunis. Dar Zaghouan fills up on the weekend but also has some great live entertainment in the form of traditional music and performances during dinner.
To book a room or to check the availability you can click here: Dar Zaghouan Hotel