Tunisia Expedition


Discover the living history, vast desert landscape and seaside bliss of Tunisia on this 12-day adventure to a seldom-explored gem. Wander through waterfront medinas where the scent of jasmine floats on the sea breeze, explore World Heritage-listed Roman ruins without the crowds, hike over sand dunes and under craggy mountains and feast on spicy Tunisian cuisine, which blends the staples favoured by the nomadic peoples of North Africa with Italian and Spanish flavours. Trek the Sahara with local Amazigh guides and camp under North African stars, meet local female artisans keeping traditions alive and spend a couple of nights in an underground cave dwelling. From vast stretches of pink-hued salt lakes to turquoise coasts and palm-fringed oases – this trip reveals the diverse sides of a Mediterranean jewel.

12 days, from

$3,565

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

3
Trip code: XLSE
Style: Original
Theme: Expedition

Details

Countries Visited:  Tunisia
Accommodation: Hotel (10 nights) Desert Camp (1 night)
Transportation: 4WD vehicle , Camel , Private Minibus
Included Meals:

  • 11 breakfasts
  • 1 lunches
  • 7 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Explore some of the local underground dwellings of Matmata, before enjoying lunch in a troglodyte restaurant where mythical scenes from Star Wars Episodes I, II, III and VI were filmed.

  • Wander the largest medina in North Africa in Tunis, navigating the twisting alleyways to discover tiny stores overflowing with goods, ancient mosques and bustling squares.

  • Marvel at the spectacular Roman amphitheatre of El Jem. This 3rd-century structure resembles Rome’s Colosseum and rises above the surrounding city in a pretty impressive fashion.

  • Meet local female artisans in their workshops and homes and learn how they’re keeping their crafts and art practices alive. Sample local sweets, share home-cooked meals and join in on local cooking demonstrations.

  • Trek through the Sahara with local Amazigh guides, then settle in at a desert camp to watch the sunset over the epic sea of dunes.

  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, Education for All. Donations help them support girls in the High Atlas Mountains through secondary school, bringing a generation of women out of the cycle of illiteracy, poverty and early marriage.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Tunis

Salam! Welcome to Tunisia. Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, has two main sections – the 19th-century ville nouvelle grid (created by French colonialists) and the 8th-century medina, where all alleyways lead to the Great Mosque. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight. If you arrive early, maybe head out to sample some specialties like lablabi (chickpea soup), tajine (different from the Moroccan version), or if you have a sweet tooth, bambalouni (deep-fried doughnut).

Day 2: Tunis

Stroll the streets of the Tunis Medina (Old Quarter), the largest in North Africa. Walk through the twisting alleyways, passing shops overflowing with goods, where the smells of spice and essential oils fill the air. Explore the specialty souqs that make up the Medina markets, like the perfume makers' souq or the grand souq des chechias where the iconic blood-red felt hats are made. Enjoy lunch in the medina, then head to Sidi Bou Said – this quaint village high above the Mediterranean makes for incredible photo opportunities, with its white walls and blue shutters. Then, visit the Baron d'Erlanger Palace and wander the cobbled streets lined with cafes and artisanal shops. Later, head back to Tunis for a free evening.

Day 3: Kairouan

This morning, make your way to the 9th-century World Heritage-listed Carthage to see monuments like the vast Antonine baths, the Roman Amphitheatre and the Punic Ports, which hark back to the glories of a bygone era. Travel on to Gammarth, where you’ll sit down with a local family for a special cooking demonstration of two traditional Tunisian dishes – brick a l’oeuf and Tunisian salad. Enjoy the dishes for lunch and get to know the locals, before your afternoon glass-blowing workshop. This boutique was opened by a local woman who studied to be a master glassmaker in Murano, near Venice. When she returned from Italy, she dedicated her life to bringing back blown glass in Tunisia, an activity that had been abandoned since the 14th century. Later, you’ll have free time to explore the streets of La Marsa. Perhaps try an Arabic coffee with a kaak warka (traditional ring-shaped pastry) or shop in the many local Tunisian boutiques. Later, travel to Kairouan – the fourth holiest site in Islam.

Day 4: Tozeur

After breakfast, head out to explore Kairouan. Visit the 9th-century Great Mosque of Oqba Ibn Nafi – an important example of Islamic architecture. Many of the columns throughout the complex were taken from the ruins of cities like Carthage. Walk through the serpentine streets of the local medina and get a tasty sample of makroudh (a traditional local pastry stuffed with dates). Then, visit the workshop of Ms. Essid Faouzia – usually only known by locals, her workshop is in her home and is open only by appointment. She has been preparing local sweets and pastries for decades. After your visit, you’ll also learn about the traditional trade of rug-making from a local women’s cooperative. Tunisia has a rich tradition of weaving rugs – in the 19th century, the daughter of the Ottoman governor was the first person in Kairouan to weave a carpet using wool. The tradition continued, making Kairouan the capital of carpets. You’ll then have free time for lunch – ask your leader for the best spots for local street food! You’ll spend the night in Tozeur.

Day 5: Tozeur

Explore the palm-lined oasis town of Tozeur this morning. Sitting in the middle of the desert, this used to be an important stop on the Bedouin caravan route. Check out the Eden Palm Museum with your group, strolling the lush gardens and learning about the local products made from the museum’s date palms. Stroll through the 14th-century medina, admiring the architecture and restored brickwork of the city, then maybe keep exploring with a visit to the Dar Charait Museum – an ethnographic museum depicting scenes of traditional Tunisian life. The rest of the day is free for you to explore however you like. Maybe hit the mountains on a 4WD tour of the surrounding oases, which film buffs may recognise from 'The English Patient'. See the mountain oasis of Tamerza, along with Mides and Chebika, and maybe even see some set pieces left over from the filming of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

Day 6: Douz Sahara

This morning you’ll head to Douz, travelling across Chott El Jerid – the largest Salt Lake in the Sahara – and taking in the green and pink hues. When you arrive, have some lunch in the centre of Douz at a restaurant close to the central market. Taste some of the local specialties out on the open terrace and bask in the sun. After, you’ll meet your camel drivers, get a brief lesson in desert etiquette, then start your trek into the Sahara. While the journey to the camp is on foot, the camels will carry your luggage and assist anyone who needs extra support. Arrive at the camp just before sunset, where you’ll be treated to a cooking demonstration of couscous and desert bread, before settling in for a peaceful night under the stars.

Day 7: Douz

Enjoy breakfast among the undulating dunes of the Sahara and spend the morning in this incredible landscape, before the trek back to Douz. Local Amazigh guides will accompany you during the trek to teach you some secrets of life in the desert. When you arrive back in Douz, you’re free to spend your evening how you wish. Maybe head to the Sahara Desert Museum and learn some more history about this incredible part of the world.

Day 8: Douiret

Continue to Matmata this morning, stopping in Toujane along the way to visit the ruins of an old Kasbah and a centuries-old olive press. Matmata is named after the tribe who live in the region, but now is best known for the houses built underground, that protect the locals from the intense summer heat. Explore some of the local dwellings – these underground houses might look familiar, as these were used as Luke Skywalker’s home in Star Wars. Staying on the Star Wars train, you’ll head to a local troglodyte restaurant for lunch, where scenes from Star Wars Episodes I, II, III and VI were filmed. After, embark on a hike through the rocky, mountainous desert and snap some incredible photos of the unique landscape. This afternoon you’ll drive to the Dhaher area, where you’ll will spend the next two nights in a troglodyte gite (a cave dwelling). The property is in a very old Amazigh village and the rooms are carved into the mountain rock, offering some stunning panoramic views.

Day 9: Douiret

After a leisurely morning, head out to visit a traditional olive oil press in Toujane. The olive tree has been affluent in southern Tunisia since ancient times. These traditional production oil mills were found in the caves of the Matmata and Tataouine regions, marking a long, fascinating history. The rest of the day is free to choose your own adventure. Maybe relax at your gite or trek through the countryside from Douiret to Chenini on an optional hike through the Dhaher mountains. Tonight, you’ll be treated to a home-cooked meal in a local Chenini family home.

Day 10: Mahdia

Head to Mahdia, stopping on the way to see the spectacular Roman amphitheatre of El Jem. From the 3rd century, this is the second largest Roman arena ever built and resembles Rome’s Colosseum as it rises above the city. Arrive in the seaside Mahdia, a relaxed port town, in the afternoon. Among Tunisia's most picturesque cities, Mahdia lies between Sousse and Sfax and has many historic attractions, including the ruins of an ancient Punic city. Maybe spend your free time exploring the picturesque medina in the Old Town, full of whitewashed houses, narrow lanes and bursting with local life. Soak up the seaside character of the town, do some people-watching and enjoy the tourist-free charm of a traditional district. Later, maybe relax on the sandy beach and enjoy the colours of the Mediterranean.

Day 11: Tunis

Enjoy a gentle walking tour around the peninsula (Cap Mahdia) this morning after breakfast, past the sea cemetery, some local ruins, the old port and the medina. When you’ve had your fill of sea air, sit down for a group lunch at a traditional restaurant. This afternoon, return to Tunis and maybe head out for a farewell dinner with your fellow travellers after freshening up.

Day 12: Tunis

With no further activities planned after breakfast, your trip comes to an end in Tunis this morning. If you’d like to extend your stay, just speak to your booking agent.