Sahara Desert Trek Trip Notes

Set forth into Tunisia's Sahara Desert on a trek into the sands of time. Head from Djerba to the oasis of Douz, trek over rolling sand dunes and past ancient forts to Ksar Ghilane and back.

    • 8
    • XZXT
    • Total price tool tip
    • Walking
    • Basix
Print Version
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2014
Sahara Desert Trek
Trip code: XZXT
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2014
Walk off into a Sahara Desert sunset, camel in tow, to trek over red sands dunes to ancient forts, life-giving wells and mesmerising oases. Set off from Djerba to spend time in the oasis towns of Douz and Ksar Ghilane, see towering sand dunes and walk through the passage of time on this trek through part of the endless and enigmatic Sahara Desert.
The operator for this trip is our experienced sister company Exodus. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
ItineraryGroup sizeIssues on your trip
Also available to purchaseYour fellow travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersHealth
Culture shock rating AccommodationSafety
Physical ratingMealsTravel insurance
Included activitiesTransportResponsible Travel
Optional activitiesGroup leaderA couple of rules
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingEmergency contact
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Day 1 Djerba
Salaam Aleikum! Welcome to Tunisia.
Arrive at any time and make your own way to the hotel in Djerba. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the final joining instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure. These instructions will also include information about where and what time to meet the group. Please note that accommodation will be booked for you for tonight, but the group and leader may not actually arrive until the next morning.
Known as the 'land of the lotus eaters', Jerba lives in legend as the port where Ulysses and his men were detained on their return from Troy. Jerba's island location has always provided its people a simple and peaceful lifestyle, which continues today. Jerba is very flat, and heavily reliant on agriculture. The economy is based upon the production of dates, figs, olives and olive oil, the fishing of sponges, oysters and octopuses. Small industries produce pottery, jewellery and clothes.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Douz
Mid morning we set out from the hotel and drive to Douz, the gateway town to the Sahara. We visit the town centre and the Sahara Desert Musuem, where we receive an interesting introduction to the traditions of the region's nomadic people. We then meet with the camel divers for the start of our trek into the Sahara. On arrival in camp our team will set up camp and start preparing dinner on an open fire. It is also possible that our team of support staff will provide entertainment in the evening, perhaps playing traditional music around the camp fire.
Included Activities
  • Sahara Desert Museum
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 3 Sahara Trek
We spend the next four full days trekking through the vast Saharan Desert. We will pass a number of landmarks such as an ancient fort, a small well, and a koubba, which is the burial place of a 'sidi' or saint. As we head southeast across this corner of the desert we will notice a distinct change in the colour of the sand dunes surrounding us - gradually changing from white to orange.
Our intended camps will be at Dhirat Lemezil, surrounded by large yellow dunes, on day 3, Hguif El Boom on day 4, the valley of Eddakhia on day 5, and near the ancient ruins of the Ksar Ghilane fort on day 6.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 4 Itinerary
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 5 Itinerary
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 6 Itinerary
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 7 Djerba
On our final day of trekking we head out of the desert early in the morning to the oasis village of Ksar Ghilane, one of Tunisia's most famous, with its natural pools, red sand dunes and numerous palm trees. After enjoying a welcome dip in the warm spring water we rejoin our vehicles and begin our return to Djerba. We plan to stop for lunch at the town of Matmata, famous for its troglodyte buildings such as the one features in Star Wars. We then continue our journey and, depending on ferry times, may arrive in Djerba just in time for a quick look around the souk before enjoying a shower and a celebratory evening meal together.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 8 Itinerary
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • Sahara Desert Trek Single Supplement (TMU)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website:
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    For this trip you will need to be in good health and reasonably fit. It is recommended that you should be taking regular exercise prior to departure. You will also visit remote areas with basic facilities so please take this in to consideration in assessing whether this trip is right for you.
    We aim to keep to areas of harder sand throughout, making walking easier, although this may change due to the prevailing weather conditions blowing sand over our route. Throughout there are no footpaths and we rely on the expertise of our guide and camel drivers to guide us through this barren landscape. During the 6 days trekking we will cover approximately 100km, walking for an average of 4-6 hours per day. You should be able to walk at 4-5 km per hour pace.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency in Tunisia is the Tunisian Dinar (TND).
    ATMs are by far the easiest way to access cash and can be found in all major towns.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    If you are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
    The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
    At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
    Local guides/Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides/porters.
    Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Exodus.
    The minimum age of clients on this trip is 16 years. Please note that teenagers aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
    In 2013 the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from the 9th July through till the 7th August, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it is a period of National holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be impacted.
    Group size
    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    Bush camp (no facilities) (5 nts), Hotel (2 nts)
    In Djerba we use a small, tourist class hotel situated in the centre of Houmt Souk. Rooms are on twin share basis with private facilities.
    On trek we encourage clients, in true Bedouin tradition, to sleep in one large communal mixed-sex tent. Bedouin tents are made of camel wool and are open-fronted with no sewn in flysheet (therefore, you should expect that a certain amount of sand will be blown into the tent during the night). Having said this, we recognise that some clients may require a little more privacy, so we shall also provide several 2-3 man Western-style tents. You don't need to stick to one tent or another for the whole trek, and of course, you may even end up choosing to sleep under the stars! Blankets and mattresses are provided. A dining tent is provided, but will only be used if conditions dictate. It will be our intention to sit out under the stars in the evening and eat around the campfire. Please note that our Bedouin camp sites are wild camps, therefore there are no toilet facilities.
    No meals included
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    During the trek we endeavour to provide authentic local food. We use fresh vegetables and fruits each day, while the cook and camel drivers will prepare Tunisian specialities on an open wood fire. Dishes may include: couscous, margas (thick soup) to eat with the Sahara bread, chorba (soup), koucha (meat with vegetables and spices) and fruits of the season. Tasty Bedouin Sahara bread will be cooked in the sand, and is served with every meal.
    Breakfast will consist of tea/coffee/milk, warm desert bread, butter, cheese and jam. Biscuits will be provided during the morning break.
    Bottled mineral water is provided free on trek.
    Bus, Ferry
    Depending on group size we will either use 4x4 vehicles or local mini/midi buses on this trip. Roads are generally good, however the road from Ksar Ghilane, on our transfer back to Djerba is in a poor condition with a number of potholes and sections covered by the desert sands.
    Group leader
    There will be a local leader, a minibus driver and camel drivers.
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
    No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
    Finish point
    Emergency contact
    In the case of genuine crisis or emergency please call our partner EXODUS on their 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1582 644 100.
    For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    Australia: Yes - before travel
    Belgium: No - not required
    Canada: No - not required
    Germany: No - not required
    Ireland: No - not required
    Netherlands: No - not required
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - on arrival
    Switzerland: No - not required
    United Kingdom: No - not required
    USA: No - not required
    At the time of writing, many nationalities can get a 3 month tourist visa on arrival. New Zealanders and nationalities where this is no Tunisian embassy in their home country will be issued with a visa on arrival for the exact duration of stay (either at the airport or land border at Ras Jedir). The fee is 10 Tunisian Dinars. To speed up process upon arrival, these nationalities must provide a scanned copy of passport to Intrepid or their travel agent at least 30 days prior to travel.
    Australians are required to apply for visa before travel and will need to provide the Tunisian embassy in Canberra with a copy of flight tickets and Intrepid itinerary (trip notes)
    Please note that it won't be possible to enter Tunisia with Israeli stamps in your passport.
    All passengers must also provide Intrepid or their travel agent arrival flight date, flight number and flight time into Tunisia at least 30 days prior to travel.
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    - 3-4 season sleeping bag
    - Waterproof jacket & trousers
    - Comfortable day pack
    - Worn-in lightweight walking boots
    - Walking sandals or trainers for evening
    - Lightweight, easy-dry clothing
    - Warm clothes for evenings/night-time (eg several fleece layers to wear under your waterproof jacket, 1 thermal long johns, 1 pair of thermal loose socks and long-sleeved top for sleeping in and for wearing under your other clothes during the evening, warm hat and gloves)
    - Sun hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
    - Head torch
    - Spare batteries
    - Antibacterial gel/wipes
    - Toilet paper
    - Bathing costume
    - Lightweight towel
    - Plastic bags to protect your equipment from the sand
    - Band-aids
    Your luggage will be carried by camels so please take this into consideration when packing. Hard-sided suitcases are NOT suitable for this trip.
    Internal flights in Tunisia generally have a luggage weight limit of 20 kg.
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate.
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
    Once you’ve left your feedback with us you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.