Road Trip Through Tunisia
We love Africa! But you surely know that. All the more we are happy about this great report about a road trip through Tunisia. Nicole and her boyfriend traveled for two weeks with their Land Rover and roof tent through the country and visited great places and experienced wonderful moments. The two love road trips and we can understand this love only too well. It’s just a great feeling to travel through a country with a vehicle. We wish you a lot of fun while reading. If you still feel like it at the end, leave some love for Nicole in the comments. And now…off to Tunisia!
Why Tunisia, anyway?
March 2020 – it’s off to Tunisia for my boyfriend and me! When my boyfriend put the thought of going to Tunisia in his head last year, I asked myself a lot of questions at first. Why Tunisia? Is it even safe to travel there by car? What is there to see there at all? I am sure these questions are asked by many people. I would like to answer all these questions and share my personal experiences with you and hope you enjoy reading!
About the country Tunisia
Tunisia really offers a lot: sea, beaches, green areas, mountains and of course the Sahara. In addition, the North African country is not too big and perfect for a road trip, because everything is easy to reach. For the entry you need a passport. For a booked package tour with entry by plane, an identity card is also sufficient.
Tunisia is great for the small purse. Depending on what you value in such a trip, you can manage with little money for a long time and well. In Tunisia you pay with the Tunisian Dinar. 1 Dinar is about 0,30€. We were really surprised how cheap everything is here! Food and fuel cost almost nothing.
But be careful: It is not allowed to import or export the Dinar currency. There are enough banks in Tunisia to get and change money.
If you don’t have a road trip planned, but want to get around locally, the easiest way is by cab. The rides with it are also cheap, as we got to know. We didn’t see any trains or buses in Tunisia.
Travel time & duration
Of course, it depends on what kind of trip you have planned. For our 2-week road trip, the month of March was very pleasant. From April onwards, the temperatures tend to rise to over 30°C. The months of January and February are still quite cool. For a beach vacation the later months like September, October and November are good. For a road trip you should plan enough time. If you want to see and experience a lot, we recommend 2 – 3 weeks.
My friend and I got vaccinated against hepatitis A and rabies. At this point, of course, everyone must decide for themselves. It is best to talk to your family doctor about your planned trip and get advice. In your luggage you should not miss a headlamp for the nights, a Palestinian cloth for the desert, sunscreen, travel medicine (fever, stomach problems, etc.), bug spray, air compressor for the desert and of course camera equipment for great memories.
Our arrival & accommodation
The journey to Tunisia is possible over 2 ways. By plane you can fly to Tunis, Monastir or Djerba. The national airline Tunis Air flies from all major European cities, also Lufthansa, British Airways or Air France. If you want to enter by car, you have to take the ferry to Tunis from Marseille, Genoa, Palermo or even Civitavecchia.
The most pleasant, but also the most expensive, is the departure from Genoa in the northern area in Italy. For us, the ferry started in Civitavecchia near Rome. The crossing to the country’s capital Tunis takes about 19 hours. It is best to book early enough, because ferry tickets are unfortunately not cheap and from experience we recommend you to book a cabin for the crossing.
WANT TO FIND A COOL PLACE TO STAY?
Sign up for Airbnb for free and we’ll give you 25€ credit for your first booking! We have been using Airbnb for many years and have always been very satisfied.
Our accommodation was the roof tent of our Land Rover Discovery 2, with which we could decide every day where we want to wake up tomorrow. We were also on campsites, which are also highly recommended. But Tunisia also offers many inexpensive hotels and rooms on Airbnb*.
Our road trip through Tunisia
The small beautiful town of Jendouba:
So our road trip through Tunisia could finally start. The first nights we spent unplanned in the north of Tunisia due to a car breakdown. Here in Jendouba our travel companion also has family. Jendouba is a beautiful small town about 1.5 hours from Tunis with really very warm people who were very happy about our visit! Here we could get to know the tradition of the country well. We were invited to dinner in the evening and were served very traditional couscous, as well as green tea. The dishes in Tunisia are as usual quite spicy.
In the north of Tunisia in Tabarka:
I can really recommend the place Tabarka to you. Already on the way there you have a great view of the sea. I was really enthusiastic about this view, as well as the city itself. Here you can expect beautiful old buildings and further up a castle with a great view of the
Mediterranean Sea. For the fact that we didn’t really have the north of Tunisia on the plan, we were very grateful for the cultural experience and beautiful memories. We are still in contact with some of the inhabitants.
OUR CAR RENTAL TIP
The first signs, where we were warned of crossing dromedaris, finally came and it did not take long, we have already sighted the first! There are a lot of dromedaries running around in Tunisia, mostly in herds. You should not go too far, because most of the time there are young ones.
Nefta & Tozeur in the south of Tunisia:
Our first stop in the south of the country was in Nefta / Tozeur directly at the huge salt lake Chott el Djerid. There we spent our first night in the middle of the sand. It was really great to pitch our tent in the sand and watch the sunset while the music was playing in the background. When the moon rose on the horizon, the moment couldn’t have been more beautiful.
Nefta is also known for its Star Wars scenery, which we also visited. You don’t have to pay an entrance fee for these sets, they are free to enter. It is of course a small tourist area where locals want to earn money for dromedary photos or the like. want to earn money, such situations can be a little unpleasant.
Douz – The gateway to the Sahara:
We continued on to Douz, an oasis town also known as the “Gateway to the Sahara”. In Douz we spent the night at the campsite “Camping Desert Club”. This place is quasi the most popular, as well as most well-known camping site, for those, which would like to like in the sand. The place is located in the middle of palm trees with clean sanitary facilities, as well as a washing facility for your clothes. The campsite owner Sophie was really warm and was very happy about our visit. Shopping facilities were within a 5-10 min walk from the campsite.
Off to the Sahara Desert:
Normally you should not just go into the Sahara Desert without a guide. After we took the adventure into our own hands and didn’t want to spend money for a guide and were on the road with 2 vehicles, we went alone. It is highly recommended to go into the desert with a second vehicle, because it can happen quickly that you get stuck deep in the sand and need help.
ACCIDENT ON VACATION?
On vacation and while traveling something can always happen. We advise you to have a (foreign) health insurance. This is already available from 8€ per year and saves you from nasty surprises and horrendous costs.
Our destination for the day was the Tembaine in the middle of the Sahara, a large mountain with a beautiful view. As newcomers to the desert, the tour to the Tembaine was super to drive in the sand. The Tembaine was my absolute highlight of our round trip through Tunisia. In the evening we were joined by a local nomad who baked fresh bread for us over a cozy campfire. All the people we had met so far in Tunisia had met were quite hospitable and helpful.
Hot springs in Ksar Ghilane:
The next morning we headed towards Ksar Ghilane. After we could orientate ourselves only with GPS we just started from the Tembaine. That was quite an adventure! After a very long and exhausting day in the dunes and one or the other action to shovel the car out of the sand, we found a place to sleep somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Not even the reception we had and that was good. Just the two of us all alone in the desert. Were we somehow afraid of getting lost? No, we were not.
Finally we had reached the campsite Ksar Ghilane. Ksar Ghilane is known for its wonderful hot spring. After all the sand it was very nice to relax there for 2 days. This place is very touristic and among other things quad tours*, as well as dromedary riding. Near the hot springs there is a restaurant, a café and a souvenir store.
Due to the current situation there is still a lack of tourists, we were almost the only ones there. In addition, all the places we explored mostly cost us very little money. The costs for the camping site were really within limits. Converted we paid less than 10€ the night per person. It was after the hot springs so slowly back to Douz, where our trip began.
Conclusion of our road trip
During our round trip there were few unpleasant situations. In tourist areas it can happen that the locals want to sell you something for money. To get rid of these locals can be quite unpleasant. Since we avoided cities as good as possible, this happened fortunately only very rarely. With the car you pass several check-points, where the military will stop you and ask you where you want to go, if you have a place to sleep, etc. It is not very welcome. They don’t like to see you driving alone through the desert.
I classify Tunisia as a safe country to travel. You should have a healthy caution but also a great trust in people. Most of the time you can trust your gut feeling if a situation seems strange. Too much fear is unfounded, because we got to know Tunisia as a warm country with extremely friendly people!
Whether Tunisia is a destination for everyone depends on how you like to travel. For a backpacker vacationer, the country is probably less what, as for someone who likes to explore everything with his car. For us, the country was definitely worth seeing and we are already looking forward to coming back sometime. For one thing we are pretty sure: There is so much more to see and discover!