There aren’t too many places in the world that can offer a holiday like Tunisia. This captivating, diverse and friendly Mediterranean destination is back on the map. With a fraction of the visitors its Arabic and North African neighbors attract, Tunisia is a place to experience seaside bliss, desert landscapes, and a history as fascinating as in Egypt or Iran. It feels like a secret destination; where scents of jasmine float on sea breezes, coriander and cinnamon dance on the taste buds and there is always ample time to discover and explore uncrowded villages and ancient sites. It’s an exotic, mysterious and underrated destination - there has never been a better time to visit Tunisia.
- Stroll the ancient Medina of Tunis and spend an unforgetable sunset amoung the whitewashed walls of Sidi Bou Said, a gorgeous town perched high on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean.
- Visit the UNESCO site of Dougga, an ancient Roman Berber city and arguably the most magnificent Roman site in Africa.
- Spend the night in Le Kef, an authentic village on the edge of the Atlas mountains with an imposing kasbah sitting high on the top of mountain.
- Make like Luke Skywalker and spend the night in a Troglodyte dwelling in Matmata
- Jump on an optional movie set tour in Tozeur and discover Mos Espa, Jedi Duel & the Star Wars Canyon
- Camp in a ‘field of sand’ on the edge of the Grande Erg Oriental and enjoy the hospitality of local Berbers
|Physical||Cultural||Max Group Size||12||Duration||12 days|
|Category||Silver||The classic small group tour, with some included activities and staying at reasonably priced accommodation.|
Day 1 - Tunis
There's an important welcome meeting to attend at 6 pm. Other than that, your day is free.
You will be staying in the capital Tunis just a short distance from the International Airport. if you have pre boooked a transfer, look for the welcome board after clearing customs, otherwise the best way to reach the hotel is by metered taxi.
Tunisia is one of those places that flies under the radar; its particular blend of cultures, landscapes and history make it a dream to explore, but it's quite underrated as a destination. You'll probably notice the relative lack of tourists. Here in Tunis, if you dig a little beneath the modernising exterior you'll find a city that's hardly changed in ages, with souqs and ancient bazaars next to a glorious coastline.
The city has two main parts – the 19th-century ville nouvelle grid created by French colonials, and the 8th-century Arab Medina where all the twisted alleyways lead to the Great Mosque. But first things first: today's a great chance to sample the local food if nothing else - perhaps some lablabi (chickpea soup), tajine (different from the Moroccan version), or, for the sweet tooths, bambalouni (deep fried donughut).
Day 2 - Tunis
Continue to the 9th-century World Heritage site of Carthage. Monuments such as the vast Antonine baths, Roman amphitheatre and the Punic ports evoke a bygone era. But some of the best relics can be found in the archaeological museum of Carthage. In the afternoon you'll head back into Tunis to tackle the Medina.
Later head out for sunset at Sidi Bou Said, a quaint village perched high above the Mediterranean. Its white walls and blue shutters provide a fantastic photo opportunity. The cobbled streets of Sidi Bou Said are lined with cafes and shops and local artisans. Stay for dinner
Day 3 - Le Kef
The archaeological site of Dougga is built on an elevated and isolated site overlooking fertile plains, Dougga was the capital of both the Phoenician and Roman states and boasts many imposing monuments, including the theatre, built around AD 168, the impressive Capitoline Temple, and the 18-metre Nubian Mausoleum of Ateban monument. While the city’s monuments are truly amazing you’ll be struck by how quiet and tourist-free this enchanting place it, with the wind rustling though the olive trees and dry grass often the only sounds you’ll hear.
Tonight is spent in Le Kef, often referred to as El Kef. Whatever you choose to call it; it is undeniably a beautiful little city perched on the edge of the Atlas Mountains. This is also the highest elevated city in Tunisia, making it a good spot to take a panorama or two, especially from the fortified Kasbah.
Day 4 - Kairouan
After lunch, travel the short distance to the Jugurtha Tableland. At 1271 metres above sea level this mountain has rock-hewn steps which make for a quick ascent. The pinnacle is marked by a shrine dedicated to Sidi Abdel Jaoued and offers exceptional panoramic views. A stronghold was built by the Numidian King Jugurtha in his struggle against the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Later the Byzantines occupied the summit.
Lastly we continue to Kairouan (approximately 3 hours). Dinner is included in Kairouan this evening.
Day 5 - Tozeur
Then it's off to the oasis town of Tozeur, which is lined by extensive palm groves and was historically an important stop on the Bedoiun caravan route from the desert to the Mediterranean coast. Here you can live our your 'One Thousand and One Nights' fantasies, checking out family heirlooms and relics of the Beys (rulers) of Tunisia. The town is home to some of the world's most alluring palm groves and you'll check out the Eden Palm, a museum set in a beautiful authentic building which tracks the history of dates (there are 150 different varieties) and of the palm tree's by-products.
This evening in Kairouan is free for you to spend as you please.
Day 6 - Tozeur
You could explore the beautiful Oasis of Tozeur for a unique perspective on the Tunisian desert. The oasis is home to over 400,000 date palms, hundreds of fruit trees, and a running river. Or you can take a very different form of transport and ride the enchanting Lezard rouge. With tracks originally built for mining companies, the 'Red Lizard' train was constructed in 1910 and used by the bey of Tunis to travel from Tunis to his summer palace at Hammam Lif. The fantastical rock formations of Seldja Gorge make for superb scenery along the way. Today it's possible to take full- or half-day trips on the line.
Another great option is a 4WD tour of surrounding mountain oases, where many of the scenes of 'The English Patient' were filmed. You'll drive south into some of the country's most spectacular mountain scenery, visiting the mountain oasis of Tamerza, along with Mides and Chebika. For Luke Skywalker fans it will be hard to pass up the chance to visit the movie set where Anakin Skywalker lived and raced in Star Wars Episode I: the Phantom Menace. The area is largely abandoned now, but the dome-shaped houses and other film set pieces are well worth a look.
Day 7 - Douz Sahara
Douz is a gateway village to the Sahara and rewards a little digging and exploration. Spend some time in the cafes around the bustling souq mixing with the local, and you might find it's not the sleepy town you first encountered. It's one of the friendliest in Tunisia.
Early afternoon it's time to meet your camel drivers, learn the etiquette of desert life, and begin the trek into the Sahara. The journey to our camp is by foot, but there are a few camels on hand for those who'd either like a rest or are up for a new experience. Arriving at camp just before sunset, relax and enjoy a camp meal, settling into a peaceful night under the stars.
Day 8 - Douz Sahara
Day 9 - Matmata
Before arriving in Matmata, check out the outstanding scenery and Berber village of nearby Toujane. The hillside is surrounded by stone houses and is home to the ruins of an old Kasbah, plus a gorge that leads down to the coastal plain. A guided visit will bring you to some troglodyte dwellings and artifacts including a very old oil press, used for centuries to press olives.
Your accommodation for the night is set in the beautiful remote desert in a partial cave building.
Day 10 - Mahdia
Make your way along the Mediterranean coast to Sousse, then stop in Mahdia for the night. This quaint fishing village has a great atmosphere, fantastic beaches and a rich history.
If you're up for a stroll, check out the 16th-century El Kebir fortress and the local clifftop cemetery. If you'd rather hit the beach, head north of town to discover some fine sandy stretches of coastline. Otherwise, this is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a bit of R&R.
Day 11 - Tunis
Continue to the small fishing town of Kelibia, where the streets are busy with the sights and sounds of workshops. The striking castle fort that dominates the town dates from the Punic and Roman time, and it's there to explore for whoever's interested. Also check out the ruins of Kerkouane, a unique window into a true Punic town (and a World Heritage site besides).
Just after Kerkouane, you’ll come to the mountain of Haouaria, which sits in a beautiful landscape overlooking the Cape Bon. Haouaria is famous for its falconry festival and bat caves. Finally we return to Tunis for our final evening, perhaps celebrating with an optional group dinner out on the town.