Last Modified: 09 Dec 2013
Tunisian Family Voyager
Trip code: XSFT
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Table of Contents
A stone's throw from Italy, Tunisia is a North African country with Mediterranean sensibilities. From the sun-drenched beaches of the north to the unforgiving desert of the south, and with desolate, lunar landscapes in between, there is nowhere quite like Tunisia. With multifaceted, modern cities speckled with reminders of an ancient past, villages steeped in mysticism, medieval towns of tangled laneways and archaeological ruins to rival Rome, travelling through Tunisia is like slowly unravelling a tapestry from another time.
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Days 1-2 Sousse
The tour starts at the airport. You will receive full details of exactly where to meet your Group Leader on the Joining Instructions which will be sent to you 2-3 weeks before your trip starts.
Sousse wears many hats as it is a commercial port, tourist beach resort and an old fortified medina. It is this last element that interests us most and we’ll spend the next morning exploring the narrow twisting alleyways of the old town. Stalls selling everything from spices to trinkets spill out onto the streets; the variety is amazing and really gives a flavour for North Africa. After our orientation tour we’ll be free to investigate further on our own. We may choose to visit the Ribat, a 9th century stronghold built to defend the coast against Christians, although many of the elements used in its construction are older and there are antique columns either side of the main door. There is also the Grand Mosque – which also looks much like a fort – and an archaeological museum housed in the 11th century kasbah, the highest point in Sousse. With beaches nearby we could also opt to spend some time relaxing in the sun.
- Monastir village visit (optional) - Free
Hotel Medina (2 nts)
Day 3 Matmata
Today's agenda contains what is arguably Tunisia’s greatest highlight – the Amphitheatre of El Djem (63km/1hr). The tiny town of El Djem - little more than a village really - stands at the centre of an extensive plain covered with olive trees. Somewhat incongruously for such a small place, it’s the site of an enormous amphitheatre – the third largest in the Roman world (after the Colosseum in Rome and Capua near Naples), and the largest Roman monument in North Africa. After Emperor Hadrian fostered the planting of olive trees, the town became such an important centre of olive oil production that its population reached 30,000. Quite who took the decision to construct such a huge building remains unknown, but it was never completed. It was obviously a massive undertaking as the nearest quarries are around 30kms away, and although the stone is relatively soft and so easy to cut, it still had to be transported to the site! The amphitheatre remains incredibly intact and we can climb up several storeys for a great overall view. We can even explore the tunnels under the arena itself where the animals and gladiators would have waited before being released into the bright sun to fight for their lives. It is not difficult to imagine what it was like when the Romans enjoyed the spectacle here or the atmosphere as swords clashed.
We then leave the desert behind as you drive on into the lunar-like hills to Matmata (243km/3hrs). The Roman historian Herodotus first wrote about its underground houses in the 4th century BC, when he described the Berbers who lived here as troglodytes (cave dwellers). Homes have been excavated out of the softish yellow rock of the rounded hillsides – some are still inhabited although the number is dwindling. The main advantage of living in this kind of dwelling is that it provides a relatively constant environment (much like a wine cellar) in an area which suffers wide extremes of temperature and so it feels warm in winter and cool in summer. There’s not much to the village, and little in the way of agriculture - due to the almost complete absence of water - the principal reason why most people emigrate from here to work in the north. Cinema enthusiasts will immediately recognise the location of Luke Skywalker’s home as featured in Star Wars. Tonight it’s easy to imagine how it might have been to live here as you stay in a troglodyte hotel – this means suffering a few privations in exchange for an interesting experience. Waking up in the morning to the sound of the Muezzin calling the faithful to morning prayers and realising that we are in a cave is truly unique.
Hotel Marhala Cave (1 nt)
Day 4 Douz
The journey continues today on to Douz. On the way we visit a troglodyte house. At Douz we spend some time exploring the souks, then after lunch we visit the Sahara Museum. Later on in the afternoon we’ll leave your motorised transport behind, trading it in for camels – the ships of the desert. The area is covered in rolling sand dunes and we’ll head off across them for a camel trek (roughly an hour) to the camp. There’s nothing quite like the rhythmic motion of a camel to make us feel like Beau Geste or a true explorer (anyone who prefers can walk!). At the end of the day the sight of the sun setting makes a splendid conclusion to a fun day. Tonight you dine on traditional fare under the clear, starry skies of the desert and sleep in Bedouin-style tents.
- Troglodyte visit
- Sahara Museum
Douz Desert Camp - (TAC) (1 nt)
Days 5-6 Tozeur (Chott el Djerid salt flats)
This morning we follow the tarmac road across the barren Chott el Djerid, a wide expanse of salt flat. It was in this area that some of the filming for the original Star Wars movie took place and there is certainly the feel that this is another planet. The southern edge of the Chott comes up against the sand dunes of the Sahara Desert.
Cutting much further inland, we head to the fringes of the desert and arrive at the green oasis of Tozeur. The sleepy capital of the Djerid (which means ‘palm’ in Arabic) region has a traditional feel that is further enhanced by the sight of women dressed in all-enveloping black wraps. We’ll be able to visit the old town where the facades of its mud houses are decorated with geometric brickwork - the bricks are all made locally by hand. Due to its remoteness, Tozeur is an introspective sort of place - all life revolves around its palmeraie, a broad swathe of date palms in whose shade market gardens produce citrus fruits, pomegranates and vegetables. Everything depends on an intricate system of irrigation - first established in the 13th century - that ensures an equal distribution of this precious resource. Improved modern techniques mean that water can now be brought from deeper inside the earth’s crust, so the area under cultivation has expanded in recent years.
- Tozeur film set visit (optional) - TND75
Hotel Residence (2 nts)
Days 7-8 Sousse
Today contains the longest journey, as we travel back to Sousse. Heading first to Monastir, we drive via Kairouan (292km/3hrs) where we stop for lunch and to briefly explore. Established in the 7th century when the Arabs first arrived, Kairouan is now one of Islam's most holy cities. It became so important that seven visits to this tiny place equal one visit to Mecca. Once we have finished wandering through the souks and the hauntingly beautiful but crumbling houses, we get back in the bus and continue on to Sousse where we will have time to spend the remainder of our holiday relaxing on the beach, or doing some last minute shopping in the souks before our flight tomorrow.
Hotel Medina (1 nt)
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.
- FTN - Tunisian Voyager - Single supplement (FTN)
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: www.intrepidtravel.com
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.
You're really out there! You'll need to pay specific attention to health and hygiene. A large proportion of locals’ living conditions are a world away from standards you are used to at home. You may have difficulty finding an English speaker and there's little or no access to services. Paying heed to local customs is essential.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
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.
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.
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.
The best way to manage your money in Africa is a mixture of cash and an ATM card (best to have both Visa and MasterCard).
Cash is easily changed at exchange bureaus and they generally offer the best rates.
***PLEASE NOTE: MANY BUSINESSES AND BANKS IN EAST AFRICA DO NOT ACCEPT US DOLLAR NOTES OLDER THAN 2006. IF YOU ARE BRINGING USD, WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND LARGE BILLS IN GOOD CONDITION, 2006 SERIES ONWARDS ONLY. ANY OLD OR DAMAGED NOTES MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED. IF YOUR KITTY PAYMENT IS REQUIRED TO BE PAID IN USD, IT MUST BE PAID WITH BILLS NO OLDER THAN 2006 SERIES***
EUR or GBP are also widely accepted. The South African Rand can also be used widely in countries of Southern Africa. When changing money, only use reputable authorised money exchange vendors and never anyone on the street. There are many instances of travellers being given counterfeit notes or being tricked when money is being counted out.
Some people like to carry traveller’s cheques for back up emergency cash. While traveller’s cheques are undoubtedly the safest way to carry money, they are becoming harder to cash around the world and can often result in unfavourable exchange rates and commission charges. They are no longer accepted in many locations in Kenya & Tanzania. It can also be tricky to reach banks during banking business hours which are often short in many African countries. Note: Receipts for traveller’s cheques are required by banks and money changers.
VISA AND MASTERCARD:
With ATMs being increasingly available in the many major towns and cities and even some campsites, credit or debit cards are a convenient way to access money. Throughout Africa, cards with the Visa logo are most readily recognised, although MasterCard is also accepted in most places. A charge is made for each international transaction - please check with your bank how much this fee will be. Check with your bank before leaving home that your card can be used as a debit card in Africa. You may also want to notify your bank that you are visiting Africa as it's not unknown for banks to freeze cards which show sudden transactions in other countries. If you're on a multi-country tour, your tour leader will be able to give you an approximate idea of how much money you may need for your stay in each country.
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.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
RAMADAN & THE EID UL-FITR FESTIVAL (BAYRAM) 2013:
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.
Age restrictions apply to this trip - minimum age 5.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partner, The Adventure Company.
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:
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.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.
Hotel Medina (3 nts), Hotel Residence (2 nts), Hotel Marhala Cave (1 nt), Douz Desert Camp - (TAC) (1 nt)
Accommodation is clean and simple. You'll mainly stay in small, locally-run, 2-3 star hotels and guesthouses, which reflect the character of the area,generally these will be a twin room with private facilities. Sometimes you'll stay in larger, more comfortable hotels or occasionally rustic accommodation with basic facilities. We use a variety of accommodation on most trips; chosen for their value for money, location and atmosphere. We also try and incorporate unique accommodation experiences, such as a night with a local tribe, or sleeping under the stars in the desert.
GENERAL ROOMING CONFIGURATIONS:
Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.
Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.
Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
7 Breakfasts, 2 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
15 Rue Othman Osman
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
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.
15 Rue Othman Osman
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.
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
ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT & CLOTHING:
- 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
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:
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
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 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:
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:
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 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.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.