Timeless Tunisia

From broad sweeps of beach overlooked by a tumble of sugar-cube houses, to grand ancient ruins and the vast, rolling dunes of the Sahara Desert, Tunisia encapsulates everything that's enticing about North Africa. Lose yourself in the maze of medina alleyways in Tunis, explore the Maghreban mosques of Kairouan and stand on the shimmering salt flats of Chott el Jerid or perhaps relive the times of a Roman gladiator at El Jem's impressive amphitheatre where you will discover one of the mostenigmatic destinations in the world that is so favored as a desired film setting for the Star Wars franchise. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Savor traditional cuisines and new age gastronomy 

Visit some of the most stunning historical & "Star Wars" sites of Tunisia

Be immersed into the everyday life and culture of Tunisia

Stay in some of the most charming boutique hotels in Tunisia

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE TUNIS

Arrive Tunis-Carthage Airport where we head into the heart of Tunis - the capital city of Tunisia where we arrive and spend the next 2 nights in the charming Dar el Jeld

Overnight: Dar el Jeld, Tunis

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: TUNIS, SIDI BOU SAID & ANCIENT CARTHAGE

This morning, we begin our exploration of Tunis' historic medina which is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. Our visit begins with the Zaytuna Mosque, founded as a madrassa as early as the beginning of the 8th century, the school developed in the late Middle Ages into a religious university. Along with Cairo's Al-Azhar University, Zaytuna was one of the most important Islamic educational institutions. Built on the site of a former church, it was totally rebuilt in the 9th century and restored many times over the centuries, and its huge prayer hall incorporates more than 200 columns scrounged from Roman Carthage. Its Almohades-style minaret in the northwest corner is a medina landmark. Our visit then continues to the souks where we enjoy an introduction to Tunis' vibrant and atmospheric markets where you find shops selling jewelry and perfume, wedding dresses, spices, carpets, fabric, leather wear and more. Thereafter, we continue to the National Bardo Museum, a true jewel of Tunisian heritage housed in an Beylic palace where you can retrace a big part of Tunisia’s history through its collections, containing some of the largest exhibits of mosaics in the
world including the famous mosaic representing Virgil, the poet. One of the highlights is a Roman ship’s cargo wrecked off the coast of Cape Africa, facing the town of Mahdia, with its Hellenistic Greek art master pieces: bronze pieces, marble sculptures, and furniture. This was the result of underwater excavations undertaken during the first part of the 20th Century with the participation of Commander Cousteau. 

Nearing lunch, we head on over to the beautiful village of Sidi Bou Said, located on the outskirts of Tunis on surrounding hills overlooking the Mediterranean Sea where we will explore its beautifully paved lanes and many spectacular sea views where we spend time for lunch before taking time to wander around the quaint cobbled streets, lined with charming white-washed buildings reminiscent of Greece's Santorini. Thereafter, continue nearby to the UNESCO-listed archaeological site of Carthage, founded by Phoenician Queen Elissa in the 9th Century BC following Alexander the Great's destruction of Tyre (in Lebanon) in the 3rd Century BC. The visit starts at Byrsa Hill with an introduction to the Tunisian history and the story of foundation of
Carthage, followed by a visit of Punic Habitations and Carthage National Museum

Return to Tunis where this evening, we have the option to dine in a spectacular caravanserai. 

Overnight: Dar el Jeld

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 3: TUNIS / DOUGGA / KAIROUAN

We leave Tunis this morning heading west towards the incredible UNESCO-listed ancient site of Dougga. Spreading over 65 hectares, it is considered the best-preserved Roman civilization in North Africa where you can detect Numidian-Berber, Punic, ancient Roman and Byzantine culture. Explore the important religious temples such as the Temple of Saturn, previously the site of the Temple of Baal featuring stunning Corinthian columns. Marvel as well at the Temple of Juno-Caelestis and the Temple of Minerva that bear symbols of the Roman era. The Libyco-Punic Mausoleum dates back to the 3rd Century BC, dedicated to the Numidian Prince Ateban drawing on influences of Greek and Egyptian architecture with its recognizable pyramid roof.
 

Later, we continue our journey to the important UNESCO-listed Islamic city of Kairouan, considered to be one of the holiest cities in the Islamic world after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Our visit begins with the Great Mosque of Kairouan, also known as Okba Ibn Nafaa Mosque, the oldest and most important Islamic building in North Africa built by Uqba ibn Nafi, the Arab commander who founded Kairouan in 672 AD. Worth a visit as well is the Mosque of the Barber, built between 1629 and 1692 over the tomb of one of Muhammad's (the prophet of Islam) companions. We enjoy some time to take a stroll through Kairouan's medina, probably the best-preserved in Tunisia surrounded by charming buildings and colorful houses that leads to the souq quarters that has been occupied by traditional craftsmen since the 17th Century, renowned especially for its carpets with its signature knotted ends. We then end the day arriving at the Dar Alouini where you have the opportunity to stay in a guesthouse incorporating Arab- Muslim architecture. 

Overnight: Dar Alouini, Kairouan

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 4: KAIROUAN / SBEITLA / TOZEUR / NEFTA

Continuing the Roman legacy, we leave Kairouan today to the ancient Roman site of Sbeitla, containing some of the best-preserved Roman Forum temples in the world established since the 1st Century AD. Explore the impressive archaeological site discovering its baths, Diocletian's Arch, temples, basilicas, baptisteries, theater and the forum which forms the lasting image of Sbeitla with its 3 Capitoline temples dedicated to the Roman gods. 

Our journey then continues south to Tozeur, on the border frontiers with Algeria - gateway to some of the most incredible desert landscapes in Tunisia. Get introduced to Tozeur's old medina - one of the best-preserved in Tunisia built in the 14th Century to house the Hadef clan, enriched by the caravan trade and remarkably different from the rest of the medinas in the country with its distinctive ocher-colored bricks, assembled to create amazing geometric patterns on buildings and houses. Not far away, we will arrive in the oasis town of Nefta, surrounded by endless strips of palm trees where we arrive in the stunning Dar HI Life Design Hotel - a fabulously designed eco lodge where we spend the next 2 nights. 

Overnight: Dar HI Life Design Hotel, Nefta

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 5: NEFTA (INTO THE MOUNTAIN OASES)

Awake to a beautiful morning as we begin our exploration of the beautiful mountainside oasis village of Chebika, once a Roman outpost, but later became a mountain refuge for the Berber people. You can hike through the Chebika canyon to the source of the mountain oasis. From Chebika, travel to Tamerza which is the largest mountain oasis in Tunisia adorned with spectacular canyons and one of the oldest village settlements that blends in perfectly with the surroundings. We will also travel to Mides where you will enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the canyon below used for the filming of "Indiana Jones & the Raiders of the Lost Ark" as well as the "English Patient". In the afternoon, we visit the Star Wars film set of Mos Espa, used in "The Phantom Menace". 

Overnight: Dar HI Life Design Hotel, Nefta

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6: NEFTA / CHOTT EL JERID / DOUZ / KSAR GHILANE

We leave Dar HI today as we travel across the Chott el Jerid, the largest salt flat in Tunisia where you will marvel at its incredible colors and shades spanning over 7,000 square kilometres. Here, it is also home to the Lars Homestead, used as the film setting for Luke Skywalker's childhood home in the Star Wars franchise. We then continue over to the town of Douz - gateway to the Sahara Desert where we visit the Sahara Museum to learn about life and traditions in the harsh environment.

 

From here, we continue our expedition to the oasis town of Ksar Ghilane, on the edge of the Jebil National Park where we will spend an unforgettable night in Camp Mars, aptly-named for its Mars-like landscape and surroundings with incredible dunes
and starry night skies.

Overnight: Camp Mars, Ksar Ghilane

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7: KSAR GHILANE / MATMATA / KSAR OULED SOLTANE / DJERBA

After an incredible night under the stars, we leave Camp Mars early this morning for a drive to Matmata and visit some amazing Troglodyte museum and homes - identified with underground homes burrowed deep into the rocks. For Star Wars fans, this was the film location of Luke Skywalker’s interior home. Afterwards, you will wind through the mountains past the picturesque village of Toujane where we then eventually continue to the mountainside Berber village of Chenini enjoying spectacular vistas before culminating in a visit to the surreal scenes of the Ksar Ouled Soltane, an ancient fortified granary and slave quarter so otherworldly-looking that it was used as a film setting for Star Wars. Finally, our day ends as we arrive in the island of Djerba where we check in at the Hasdrubal Prestige Thalassa & Spa Djerba where we spend the night.

Overnight: Hasdrubal Prestige Thalassa & Spa, Djerba

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 8: DJERBA / EL JEM / MONASTIR / SOUSSE / HAMMAMET

We leave Djerba today on a beautiful and scenic drive to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Roman Amphitheatre of El Jem, the second-largest in the world after Rome's Colosseum, constructed between 230 and 238 AD by the command of the Imperial official Gordian believed to accommodate as much as more than 35,000 spectators so much so it was the setting for the 1996 Nike advertisement featuring then global football players including Eric Cantona, Ronaldo (Brazilian), Paolo Maldini among many others.
 

Thereafter, continue our journey north to the coastal city of Monastir with incredibly beautiful beaches, blue sea and a charming marina. The name of Monastir originates from a monastery in the Byzantine era. The spiritual purpose of the site continued, as in the following centuries, a community of Muslim aesthetics settled there. The city developed around the Ribat de Monastir, a small fort constructed in the 8th century to protect this community. The building was later expanded by the sultans of Tunis then again by the Ottomans. We also visit the Habib Bourguiba Mausoleum, with its impeccable golden domes dedicated to Habib Bourguiba, the father of Tunisian independence. A short drive away arrives us into the UNESCO-listed Sousse Medina, layered along the hillside, facing the shimmering sea seducing travelers with its charming alleyways. Dominated by the tall silhouette of the Khalef Tower, the old town has kept its medieval stone walls and numerous monuments that bear witness to its past as a stronghold: the Ribat, small fort and religious retreat, the fortress-like Great Mosque, the imposing Kasbah. Finally, we continue north to arrive at the stunning La Badira in Hammamet where we spend the next 2 nights.

Overnight: La Badira, Hammamet

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 9: HAMMAMET (EXCURSION OF THE CAP BON)

Enjoy a half day excursion of the Cap Bon Peninsula today where our first stop of the day is the Roman caves "Les Grottoes" at the tip of the peninsula, formed by the quarrying by the Romans which is said to have lasted for more than 1,000 years. Later, we continue to Korbous where you will visit the hot-spring ‘Ain El Atrous’ which has been popular as a health resort since Roman times, enjoy washing your feet at the hot sea water. Head on to Nabeul, famous for its colorful pottery, considered as the richest city in pottery and see the local ceramics manufacturers. 

Return to Hammamet where you enjoy the rest of the day enjoying the historic and well-preserved medina surrounded by 15th Century walls, maze of narrow and winding lanes with plenty of shops, restaurants.

Overnight: La Badira, Hammamet

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 10: HAMMAMET / DEPARTURE TUNIS

Today, be transferred to Tunis-Carthage Intl Airport for your flight departure. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

The The Dar el Jeld Hotel & Spa is a 5 stars Boutique Hotel, ideally located next to the main government square in the heart of the Tunis medina a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Dar El Jeld Hôtel & SPA offers sixteen newly-constructed suites each furnished with luxury amenities which makes the Dar el Jeld Hotel & Spa the right place to relax or to enjoy a romantic experience when in Tunis.

Dar el Jeld, Tunis

The The Dar Alouini is a charming guesthouse located in the heart of Kairouan, close to “the holy Mosque of Uqba “was renovated with traditional materials and products drawing its inspiration from the Arab- Islamic architecture and the fire Andalusia. Each
of the 9 guest suites are different offering different characters and charm that is synonymous with the city.

Dar Alouini, Kairouan

Sitting at the edge of the desert, Dar Hi is located in the Tunisian town of Nefta, with its salt lake, palm groves and natural hot springs. Built with traditional local materials, this design hotel offers original and charming decor,including circular rooms, fireplaces and palm wood roofs. All of Dar Hi's air-conditioned rooms are soundproofed and feature private bathrooms and, in most cases, patios or terraces. 

Dar HI Life Design Hotel, Nefta

Camp Mars, Ksar Ghilane

In the Sahara, in the heart of the Great Eastern Erg, stands Timbaine where the Camp Mars is located. In the hollow of the dunes, Camp Mars goes beyond accommodation that combines ecology with comfort and friendliness, it is like a planet that offers and experience to live, out of time and space, in communion with the immensity of the desert and its stars.

Hasdrubal Prestige Thalassa & Spa, Djerba

The Hasdrubal Prestige, a hotel which combines the mainstays of luxury hospitality with the utmost refinement and discretion. Located on the seafront, with its own private beach, it is right next to Djerba Casino, 10 minutes by car from Djerba’s 27 hole golf course.

Situated on a small peninsula within the seaside resort of Hammamet, La Badira is contemporary in concept, but evokes traditional Islamic architectural elements - arched terraces, domed ceilings, columned walkways and reflective pools, complemented by well-tended grounds planted with olive trees and date palms. 

La Badira, Hammamet

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