Visitors to Tunisia will not want to miss one of the countries rising historical parks called Medinat Alzahra. This 12 acre park is dedicated to presenting a theatrical performance spanning 3,000 years of Tunisia’s history. Visitors are taken back in time through a spectacular music and light show setting the stage for actors dramatizing the rise of Tunisia’s history complete with costumes, dancing, horse-riding performances, and majestic music. A visit to this park may be the perfect thing to add to your private Tunisian tour.
Upon arrival to the park, visitors pass through the gates of a large majestic wall, representing the old medinas, or old walled cities of the country. Inside there are “souks”, which are the traditional open markets displaying the riches of ancient skilled craftsmen. Continuing on, visitors walk through a centenary olive orchard towards an animated and vivid Bedouin encampment.
Deep in the gorges of the rock canyons of southern Tunisia runs the Red Lizard Train. This old fashioned train takes passengers on an adventurous journey that follows the natural path carved out by the Seldja Gorge at the foot of the Atlas Mountains. The train route gives passengers spectacular views of central Tunisia’s beautiful rocky desert canyons and landscapes, as well as passing through mountain tunnels, over steel bridges, near natural water springs, and then finally into a green oasis. You may enjoy adding this train excursion on your tour to Tunisia.
The original train was built in France in the 19th century. For many years it was used in the capital city Tunis for transport around the bay. After being abandoned for quite some time after Tunisia’s independence in 1956, in 1984 it was restored by the national railway company and reinstated for service as the “Red Lizard”.
Cap Bon is Tunisia’s grand peninsula that juts out into the Mediterranean in the extreme north of the country. It is often referred to as the “Garden of Tunisia” on account of its flourishing palms, eucalyptus trees, and its fertile abundant land renowned for beautiful orchards, gardens as well as sun-blessed beaches.
1. Korbous is a beautiful small village area on the west coast of Cap Bon in the Gulf of Tunis. It is known for its quiet scenic hills and thermal-rich hot water springs. Visitors from around Tunisia and abroad make their way to Korbous seeking the natural curative remedies from the natural waters that gush from the rocks, as well as sea-side respite from busy city life.
2. El Haouaria is a pretty town located on the very tip of Cap Bon and is popular for its incredible scenic hikes over rocky hills along the coastline up to its lighthouse overlooking the Sea.
Every December, The International Festival of the Sahara, or the Douz Festival, takes place in the southern desert region of Tunisia. The rich and original cultural festival is a four-day celebration of the traditional desert culture, focusing on Bedouin life. The event started as an annual Bedouin Bridal fair where nomadic families would meet, trade and check out the eligible talent for their sons and daughters’ future weddings. What was already a huge event on the Bedouin calendar, has become a gigantic celebration of desert culture, attracting over 50,000 people from the region and abroad. Founders stress the importance of preserving the traditional desert culture and the festival is a vital way of appreciating its unique flare and authenticity.
The festivities include different kinds of races, namely a camel marathon, dog races, and exhilarating horse races by daring young Bedouin riders.
Tunisia is Africa’s northernmost country, making it a rare location close to the equator for quality wine production. Along the northern coast and the Gulf of Tunis the climate is significantly influenced by the Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers creating a successful viticulture environment. For those who are interested, you should ask to include a visit to the vineyards on your Tunisia tour.
Vine husbandry and winemaking were first introduced to Tunisia by the Phoenicians during the Punic era, when the city of Carthage was established. Wine production continued after the Romans occupied Carthage in 146 BC. Then after Tunisia’s conquest by Arabs in the 8th century AD, wine production was reduced but not eliminated. The French conquest of Tunisia in 1881, brought many knowledgeable and experienced engineers and large-scale wine production began in the country. After Tunisia’s independence in 1956, wine production continued but lack of expertise became a factor and production slowly decreased.
The wine industry did not flourish in modern-day Tunisia until the late 1980s, early 1990s.
Our seven day tour from Experience it! Tours was packed full of amazing and wonderful sights to see in Tunisia. Our tour guide was amazing from the day of our arrival, to our departure, taking us on a well planned tour experience. There was never a dull moment, and it was all over way too soon. We will certainly be back to explore the rest of Tunisia!
DAY 1 ARRIVAL D
Upon arrival in Carthage International Airport, you will be met by your private driver / guide and taken to your hotel for check-in. Depending on your time of arrival, you will begin with a tour of the picturesque Village of Sidi Bou Said. Dinner will be served in the hotel.
DAY 2 CARTHAGE B,D
After Breakfast, our tour will depart for the ancient archaeological site of Carthage. Under the Roman Empire this city was the largest in North Africa and an early center of the Christian faith. Some of the specific areas we will see at the site are the Carthage Church Ruins, Byrsa Hill, Perpetua & Felicitas Martyrdom Place, the Carthage National Museum, La Malga Cisterns, Antonine bath, Sanctuary of Tophet and the Punic Port. Tunisia produced two fathers of the church: Tertullian and Saint Augustine, as well as Martyred Saints: Perpetua, Felicitas, and Cyprian.
DAY 3 DOUGGA/SAINT JOSEPH DE THIBAR B,D
After breakfast, our tour will take us about an hour from Tunis to the Roman Archaeological site of Dougga, which is one of the best preserved Roman ruins in Tunisia, and recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The Victoria Church, which stands in the northeast of the site, is the only Christian building that has been excavated at Dougga so far. At the end of the 4th century or beginning 5th century, the Christian community erected this unusually designed little church in the midst of a pagan cemetery.
From here our tour will take us to Saint Joseph’s Thibar, a 19th century monastery devoted to agricultural and industrial utilisation, as well as apostolic work among villagers through practicing charity, justice and mercy.
DAY 4 LE KEF/HAIDRA B,D
After breakfast, our tour will depart for Le Kef. The city’s architecture bears witness to its Jewish and Christian heritage. The Dar Kouss church was built in the fifth century. At 30 meters in length and 14 meters in width, it is one of the biggest churches built in the early-Christian era. The synagogue of El-Kef is known as the Ghriba “the mysterious”. The current design of the building dates back to the seventeenth century. From here our tour will take us to Haidra. This Roman archeological site holds many impressive structures that have survived the ages in good condition. From the Byzantine Fortress to the the Church of Melleus, and the Arch of Septimius Severus, many imposing columns and interesting inscriptions and decorative markings are still intact and well preserved. However, one of the best places to actually see is the Underground Bath Complex with its series of reasonably intact bath chanbers and corridors open for exploration.
DAY 5 SBEITLA / MAHDIA B,D
After breakfast, our tour will depart for Sbeitla, once a flourishing ancient city of which the spectacular remains are among the best Roman ruins in the world. This startling site, also at times known as Sufetula, thrived as a Roman settlement from the 1st century AD before becoming a Christian centre, Then a Byzantine city and then after a brief period under Prefect Gregory, was taken over by the Muslims.
From here our tour will take us to the coastal city of Mahdia. Here we will see the Borj El Kebir (The Great Fortress), the Sailor’s cemetery, the Mahdia Medina, and the Fatimid Port.
DAY 6 EL DJEM/SOUSSE B,D
After breakfast our tour will depart for El Jem, the largest roman colosseum built in Africa. This arena held up to 35,000 spectators that watched gladiators fight for entertainment and Christians be martyred for their faith. From here our tour will take us to Sousse, where we will visit the Sousse Archaeological Museum and enjoy the maze of spectacular shopping inside the old walled city, the medina. Also in Sousse, we will visit the underground “Bon Pasteur” catacombs. When Christians were persecuted under the Roman Empire, they hid in these underground caves and also buried their dead there. The Bon Pasteur catacombs consist of 240 galleries stretching over 5 kilometres with an estimated 15,000 burial chambers. The catacombs existance, little known to the average Tunisian, is proof of Tunisia’s past as a Christian country.
DAY 7 ENFIDHA/ZAGHOUAN B,D
After breakfast our tour will depart for Enfidha where we will visit a Byzantine church turned into a small museum with several mosaics and artifacts from the Christian era. From here our tour takes us to the Berber village of Takrouna with its beautiful landscape views. From here, on our way to Zaghouan, we will stop in Uppenna and see where archeological excavations have begun to uncover mosaics with epitaphs to Christian martyrs who’d lived locally. Zaghouan is a city with the site of two particularly interesting mosques. One is a Christian church that was converted into a mosque after Tunisia gained its independence from France; its erstwhile clock tower is now a minaret. The other mosque is a fine example of Ottoman octagonal architecture. In Zaghouan we will also visit the Temple of Waters (Nymphaeum) and the Hadrian Aqueduct.
DAY 8 DEPARTURE B
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for departure.
My wife and I completed a 14-day tour of Tunisia in early October, 2013. Our tour was similar to the one described on Experience It! Tours website under the rubric “Authentic Tunisia Tour, 14 days/13 nights.” However, we worked with Jack Wilson (who is in charge of the tour company’s Tunisia Tours office) and his staff in planning the trip, and we made a few changes to accommodate our needs and wishes. Jack was extremely helpful to us in the planning process, suggesting various possibilities and providing candid advice to assist us. Jack helped us arrange a tour that met our every wish, and the experience was absolutely outstanding.
I should mention that three years ago we took a tour of Morocco and used the services of Experience It! Tours for that trip. That trip was also superb, and when we decided to visit Tunisia we turned immediately to this company for assistance. As mentioned on the website of Experience It! Tours, this is a family-run company and, as such, it provides personalized services to all its clients. Jeff Wilson (Jack’s brother) is the Director of the North Africa office and he lives in Morocco. He assisted us in planning the Morocco tour and we could not have asked for more personalized attention in the planning and implementation of the tour. For example, the airline lost our luggage while we were going to Morocco and Jeff and his staff went out of their way to help us locate and retrieve it. Even though we were on the opposite side of Morocco from the airport at which the luggage was eventually delivered, Jeff arranged for a driver to go to the airport and bring it to us. One of his assistants even let me borrow a pair of his jeans until our luggage was located. This kind of attention, alone, convinced us of the individual care that Experience It! Tours devotes to its clients. We found this same level of service to be replicated in Tunisia (although, fortunately, the airline did not lose our luggage this time!).
Capturing the experience of a tour through Tunisia would not be complete without a few gifts and souvenirs to take home. Tunisia offers some of the best of North African culture in it’s historical souks and open markets.
A “souk” is a marketplace, or a maze of shops. A souk can be indoors or covered, or in an outdoor open area. Most larger cities will have a souk area where you can buy souvenirs and handcrafts. They are usually located in the medinas, or the “old walled city” of the larger city you are visiting. These are fun to wonder through, taking time to not only gaze at all the handcrafts available, but also the architecture and wonderful cultural sights that can be seen in these markets.
The adventurous will want to try their hand at bargaining with locals for goods they are selling. This involves the seller giving an initial price, the buyer lowering that price, and then an exchange of amounts are given till both agree on a final price both are happy with. This is a common practice and can be a fun experience as long as respect for the local Tunisian is remembered. Many locals work hard for their income and are proud to present handmade items that reflect their talent and cultural heritage. If bargaining is not quite your style, or time is an issue, there are many fixed price shops that clearly display the price of items so there is no question involved.
Tunisia has many fun and interesting activities for visiting families. For families with small children, older children, few or many, there are sure to be several of the below activities that will engage your family in the Tunisian culture as well as help you enjoy the fun this country has to offer.
1. Desert Camel Rides
Take an hour long trek into the Sahara, or even spend an overnight on the dunes under the stars. Children of all ages are sure to enjoy everything from interacting with their camel to climbing and descending sand dunes, all the while discovering the beauty of the desert terrain.
2. Beach & Water Activities
The gorgeous Mediterranean coast of Tunisia displays many beautiful beaches. Besides building sand castles, playing in the clear blue water, and sunbathing, the adventurous will want to fly high over the coast para-sailing. Both parent and child can enjoy this adventure together. There are also jet skis for rent, as well as banana boat and tubing options for adding to your water fun.