Oasis to Roman Ruins across the Sahara
• Visit the National Bardo Museum
• Travel to Carthage
• See ancient medinas and mosques
• Discover underground Berber homes
• Journey by jeep through the desert to the visit the landscape that inspired George Lucas to film Star Wars here
• Visit the Island of Jerba
• Explore the Roman amphitheater at El Jem
• 16 land days
• Maximum 16 travelers
• Start and finish in Tunis
• All meals included
• Activity Level: 1
FROM: $4,895 USD
Comfortable hotels with private bathrooms.
Some long drives.
Despite its small size, Tunisia is a country that has played a significant role in world history. Less than 100 miles from Italy, Tunisia's strategic location on the southern shore of the Mediterranean has inspired the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Ottomans and French to locate here.
The underground dwellings and sun-baked landscapes led movie director George Lucas to film his science fiction epic Star Wars here, and the well-preserved Roman ruins at El Jem are sure to inspire the hidden archaeologist in you.
Tunisia is home to the ancient Phoenician trading city of Carthage and the best collection of Roman ruins on the continent. Gazing at the desert sands beneath the Mediterranean sun, it is hard to believe that anyone could live here, yet humans have been inhabiting the Tozeur oasis for over 10,000 years. Nowhere else can one fully grasp a sense of the country's lengthy history than at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, home to some of the most significant artifacts from the Carthaginian, Roman, Christian and Arabic-Islamic eras.
With its wind-swept landscapes, coastal beaches, immense Roman ruins and desert oases nestled amongst the vast dunes of the Sahara, Tunisia is a land of adventure that offers something magical for every traveler.
Click the PDF icon to download the Tunisia detailed itinerary
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN TUNIS
You are met upon arrival at the Tunis airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free to rest or to explore Tunis. We meet our guide for dinner to discuss our upcoming adventure.
Overnight in Tunis.
DAY 2: CARTHAGE, SIDI BOU SAID
After breakfast, we drive to Carthage to view the Punico-Roman ruins, visit the amphitheater at Byrsa, see the Roman baths on the coast and tour the National Museum.
After lunch in Carthage we move on to the quaint coastal village of Sidi Bou Said and explore its cobbled streets. We also stop to visit the moving US war cemetery, a profound experience.
Overnight in Tunis.
DAY 3: DOUGGA, BULLA REGIA, TO TABARKA
Today we explore the ruins of Dougga and Bulla Regia. After breakfast we drive to Dougga to view what are widely held to be the best ruins in all of Tunisia. In addition to Roman and Byzantine structures, Dougga also has a pre-Carthaginian mausoleum. The town was actually inhabited until the 1950's when the locals were relocated down the road to Nouvelle Dougga in an effort to preserve the ruins.
After lunch in Dougga, we continue on to the ruins at Bulla Regia. The ruins here are unusual as they reveal the Romans adopting the local custom of building their homes underground to avoid the heat. In addition to the subterranean mansions, the site also contains a theater, baths and a temple to Isis, an Egyptian goddess who the Romans thought it fashionable to worship at the time. After exploring Bulla Regia we drive to Tabarka.
Overnight in Tabarka.
DAY 4: TO AIN DRAHAM, HIKE IN THE KROUMIRIE MOUNTAINS OR RELAX IN TABARKA
Today we travel to the town of Ain Draham and spend the day hiking the wooded slopes of the Kroumirie Mountains. The buildings in Ain Draham are unique in Tunisia. They have sloped roofs, designed to cope with the winter snows that are common in the mountains. Those who don't wish to participate, can spend the day exploring Tabarka.
Overnight in Tabarka.
DAY 5: TO KAIROUAN, THE GREAT MOSQUE
After breakfast we drive to Kairouan and spend the day exploring Tunisia's holy city. According to legend, the city was founded when general Uqba bin Nafi al-Fihri found a golden goblet on the ground which had disappeared from Mecca years before. The city's fortunes have fluctuated greatly over the centuries, but it has always remained Tunisia's religious center.
In the afternoon we visit the Great Mosque. The mosque was built by Aghlabites in the 9th century on the ruins of the original mosque built when the city was first founded. The mosque's courtyard slopes slightly toward the center, allowing rainwater to collect in the ancient cisterns below.
After lunch we visit the Aghlabite basins and the mausoleum of Sidi Sahab. Fed by an aqueduct from the hills to the west, the basins, built at the same time as the Great Mosque, held the city's water supply and were a popular place for the ancient rulers to relax. The mausoleum is part of a larger complex containing an inn for pilgrims, a small mosque and other tombs. Sahab was a companion of the Prophet Mohammed and his tomb is an important holy site for Muslims.
Overnight in Kairouan.
DAY 6: TO TOZEUR VIA SBEITLA ROMAN RUINS AND GAFSA
Today, we make the trip to Tozeur, stopping in Sbeitla enroute to view its remnants of the Roman Empire. The small town of Sbeitla is the site of the ancient city of Sufetula and possesses some of the best preserved Roman temples anywhere. In addition to temples dedicated to the Roman gods Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, the site also has 2 early Christian basilicas and an extensive bath complex with a remarkably sophisticated system for heating the floors.
We lunch in Sbeitla. We arrive in Tozeur in time for dinner.
Overnight in Tozeur.
DAY 7: JEEP TRIP TO ONG JMAL (STAR WARS SET)
A fun and lighthearted day today as we drive by jeep northwest of Tozeur, across the desert to Ong Jmal, where we can see parts of the movie set from the Star Wars film.
Later we visit the Dar Charait Museum. The museum houses an extensive collection of pottery, antiques and art, but what really makes it fascinating are the exhibits which recreate Tunisian life throughout history.
Overnight in Tozeur.
DAY 8: TO DOUZ VIA CHOTT EL JERID SALT LAKE
This morning, we visit the oasis of Degache by caleche (horse carriage) to see a functioning oasis with a variety of crops. We then continue on to Douz, by way of the Chott El Jerid. This region has an immense salt lake which is part of a system of lakes that stretch from the Gulf of Gabes all the way into Algeria. A long causeway spans the lake and as we drive across, we are sure to see some strange optical illusions as the heat shimmers off the salt flats and the chemical rich water reflects unusual colors. After lunch in Douz, we head off on camel back to the Sahara to enjoy a desert sunset.
Overnight in Douz.
DAY 9: KSOURS OF TATAOUINE, TO JERBA
Today we make our way to Tataouine. We use Tataouine as our central base to explore the surrounding ksour at Chenini, and Ksar Ouled Soltane. After lunch, we head to the island of Jerba, by way of the town of Mednine. We stop in Mednine to view the historic Ghorfas.
Overnight in Jerba.
DAY 10: JERBA, MATMATA
In the morning we tour the sights of Jerba. Jerba has a long and bloody history dating back to the 8th century BC. It has been settled and conquered by a number of political and religious powers including the Romans, Arabs, Spanish, Ottoman Turks, Kharijites and Normans.
We begin our tour and walk the markets and streets of Houmt Souq, stopping to see the obelisk where Dragut built a pyramid of skulls of the sailors of the Spanish Armada. We head south to see the synagogue at El Ghirba, the oldest synagogue in North Africa. From there, we visit the Ethnographic Museum of Patrimony in Guellala, as well as the pottery workshops for which Guellala is famed.
After lunch we leave the island for the town of Matmata on the mainland. We view the subterranean homes of the local Berbers. These buildings were used as locations for the film Star Wars.
Overnight in Matmata.
DAY 11: SFAX, GABES, MAHDIA
This morning after breakfast we make our way to Sfax, stopping en route to tour the oasis at Gabes. In Sfax, we tour the old medina. The medina is very well preserved and still serves as the marketplace for the residents of Sfax.
It was also used as a location for the film The English Patient. We end the day by driving to Mahdia.
Overnight in Mahdia.
DAY 12: EL JEM AMPHITHEATER, MAHDIA
After breakfast we drive to El Jem and explore the magnificent amphitheater. The ruins at El Jem are almost as big as the Coliseum in Rome. The three-tiered seating could hold 30,000 people in its day. In addition to being able to climb to the top of the bleachers, we can also explore the underground tunnels used to house the gladiators, animals and slaves that were sent into the arena to entertain the masses.
After lunch we visit the El Jem Museum, which house an extensive collection of Roman mosaics. Later return to Mahdia and tour the old medina.
Overnight in Mahdia.
DAY 13: MONASTIR FORT, SOUSSE MEDINA AND FORT
This morning we drive to Monastir for a tour of the ribat (fortress) and the mausoleum of the Bourguiba family. The ribat was built at the end of the 8th century AD. The central watchtower provides excellent views of the coastline and local landscape. The fortress was used for the filming of Zeffirelli's religious epic Life of Christ, and Monty Python's religious satire The Life of Brian.
After lunch we journey up the coast to Sousse to tour the city's medina and ribat. Founded in the 9th century BC, Sousse has long stood (under various names and rulers) as a center of industry and trade. The city first became a walled fortress during the Byzantine rule in the 6th century AD, but the current walls were built by the Aghlabites in the middle 9th century AD.
The medina contains the Great Mosque. Fortress-like in appearance, the Great Mosque actually pre-dates the outer walls of the medina by several years. The oldest monument in Sousse is the ribat, built in the late 8th century AD.
Overnight in Sousse.
DAY 14: TAKROUNA - BERBER VILLAGE, RUINS OF THE AQUEDUCTS, TO TUNIS
After breakfast, we drive to Takrouna, a wonderful Berber hilltop village, and then continue on to Hammamet for a brief stop to explore the old city. After lunch, we make our way back to Tunis, stopping enroute at Oudna. We also visit the remnants of an incredible Roman aqueduct that used to stretch over 30 miles from Zaghouan to Carthage.
Overnight in Tunis.
DAY 15: NATIONAL BARDO MUSEUM, CITY TOUR
In the morning we visit the National Bardo Museum, which houses a unique collection of mosaics, pottery and other finds from around Tunisia. We also tour the city's old medina and the Arab souks. After lunch together, our afternoon is free to spend exploring Tunis.
Overnight in Tunis.
DAY 16: DEPART TUNIS
Today, you transfer to the airport to connect with your international flights homeward.
HOW BIG ARE THE GROUPS?
Each group is limited to 16 participants. Small groups are an important ingredient in adventure travel. They allow for more interaction and more personalized service throughout the itinerary.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE TOUR PRICE?
All accommodations throughout; all meals, starting with dinner on day 1 and finishing with breakfast on departure day (i.e. the last day of the ElderTreks tour); bottled drinking water throughout the trip; all internal transportation; airport transfers on day 1 and departure day (i.e. the last day of the ElderTreks tour); all day trips and entrance fees as outlined in the itinerary; tips for hotels (porterage), bus driver, restaurants, national guides, and spot guides; services of a trip leader.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR PRICE?
International flights, tips to ElderTreks tour leader, alcoholic drinks, visa’s and travel insurance.
ARE THESE “EDUCATIONAL” TOURS?
Yes, in the broadest sense of the word, "educational". We visit museums, National Parks and Reserves and have talks and discussions on many aspects of history, culture and nature. But this is only a portion of the educational experience. We believe that it is equally educational to meet local people on a non-commercial basis, visit their homes and even try to learn a few words in the native language. Sometimes the most "educational" moments are spent sipping a cold drink in a street market.
HOW DO WE TRAVEL DURING THE TOUR?
All local transport is included in the land price of the trip. We travel by mini-van, safari vehicles, ferries, boat and on foot.
WHAT ARE OUR ACCOMMODATIONS LIKE?
We always stay in good accommodations - hotels, lodges and safari camps have a private bath or shower. Single supplement not guaranteed for all nights. De Wildt Cheetah Centre has 8 rooms, singles may have to share for one night.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?
We are visiting all three countries during their spring and fall seasons. This adventure covers a great deal of ground, therefore the weather varies greatly. In general, expect sunny days and cool nights in South Africa and The Kingdom of Lesotho and a warmer tropical climate in The Kingdom of Swaziland. Temperature highs range from 69 to 95°F (20 - 35°C) during the day during Feb/March with lows from 59°F to 80°F (15 - 27°C). During October the highs range from 69 to 78 °F (20 - 26°C) and the lows range from 50°F to 74°F (10 - 23°C).
WHEN IS PAYMENT DUE?
A non-refundable deposit of $500 USD (plus insurance if you require it) is due at time of booking and will reserve your place on the tour. Payment of the full land cost is due 120 days before departure. Cancellation charges are applicable and are outlined in the “Terms and Conditions” section of our brochure.
IS MEDICAL INSURANCE REQUIRED?
Insurance coverage is not included in the cost of your trip. Please note that medical insurance is not required for this adventure but is recommended. ElderTreks offers comprehensive travel insurance with Manulife for Canadian guests, and John Hancock for American guests. Please CLICK HERE to view and purchase your insurance policy today. If you are purchasing insurance elsewhere, please ensure you provide the details to ElderTreks as soon as possible.
WHAT SHOULD I TAKE ON THE TOUR?
There is a detailed “What to Take” list in our Trip Kit, which we will send to you after you have booked the trip.
WHAT MEALS ARE INCLUDED?
All meals during the itinerary are included, starting with dinner on day 1 and finishing with breakfast on departure day. We eat a variety of local and international foods prepared in a wide range of settings. In many cases, we simply order a number of dishes and share, allowing you to sample new foods and decide what you enjoy best.
CAN YOU ARRANGE MY FLIGHTS?
We would be happy to take care of your air arrangements. ElderTreks offers personalized flight itineraries — not group flights. Stop over en route, come in a few days early, or extend your stay. Call us for a customized itinerary.
WHAT IF I WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION?
If you have any further questions about the adventure, please call our office for more details. A Trip Specialist will be happy to answer your questions. A Trip Kit containing further details on the destination will be sent to you once you have booked the trip.
Dates & Prices
All prices are currently listed in USD
*Single Supplement is the additional amount applied to the cost of the trip to those who are travelling solo and do not wish to share.