Trip Review: Peregrine’s Highlight of Tunisia

by DIWYY · 2 comments

Tunisia Paris 09-10 110 As told by DIWYY co-founder, Kristina, who traveled to Tunisia in December 2009.

Tour Operator: Peregrine Adventures

Trip Name: Highlights of Tunisia

Starting/Ending Point: This trip started and ended in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. A complimentary arrival transfer from the airport was included.

Number of Days: 10 days

When I went: I left on a late December 2009 departure of this tour. Even though it was winter, it was beautiful. The days were mild, sunny and full of blue skies but the nights did get a little chilly. I would much rather have these conditions then the 45 degree celcius summer days the locals were telling me about!

Highlights of trip: Tunis is a modern capital city rich in both French and Middle Eastern influences. You can spend a few days exploring The Medina, the historical site of Carthage and the beautiful ocean-front city of Sidi Bou Said, known for its blue and white color scheme. While in Tunis, we also explored the Bardo Museum, housing numerous mosaics and other relics. During my free time, I would walk around the main strip, Avenue Bourguiba, and also ventured to the local parks.

The trip continued to the holy city of Kairouan but not before a day excursion to the city of Dougga. It is beautiful and, if you didn’t tell me, I would have sworn I was in Tuscany. The landscape is lush and green, full of immaculate rows of olive trees. The site of Dougga is also impressive and the tour allots a few hours here to explore the ruins and take photographs.

Throughout the next few days, as your head south, you will see the landscape transform for greenery to the desert terrain. Most of the towns you encounter along the way, either for rest breaks, lunch or overnights, will be an oasis of the Sahara Desert. You will overnight in Tozeur, a small oasis primarily centered around tourism, and Ksar Ghilane, a beautiful spot where you will overnight camp in luxury tents.

Venturing north again, you will visit Matmata, a popular stop for any Star Wars fans, as that is where they have shot many of the scenes for the movies. On the way back to Tunis, a brief stint in Mahdia, a seaside town, will complete your journey. My favorite things here were a day trip to El Jem, home of the famous coliseum, and walking alongside the ocean on the nice, paved pathway.

Tips for future travelers:

-Be prepared to bargain when shopping in the markets. Never accept a first offer! Same thing goes for cab fares. Ask your guide or someone at the hotel if you need a realistic idea about prices.

-Speaking of shopping, most items will be available throughout the country so you can get things at the end of the trip in most cases. Only some items are region-specific and your guide will point those out. Also, the Monoprix grocery store in Tunis is a great shopping zone. While you can’t bargain, you can get Tunisian-made goodies like sea salt and olive oil which make great gifts (just remember to put the olive oil in your checked bag since it is a liquid over 3 ounces).

-98% of Tunisian residents are Muslim so conservative dress is a must, especially if you’ll be visiting a mosque. Choose lightweight fabrics that are breathable and try to layer with scarves and a jacket for the varying temperatures. In Tunis, I opted for jeans and a hoodie but, in the desert, I lived in my Lululemon pants, long-sleeve shirts with built in SPF, and a tighter fitting hoodie with a wind-breaker style jacket over. Sunglasses and hats are essential as well.

-Most dishes contain meat in this country so, if you are vegetarian, bring extra snacks in your bag and plan on meals of couscous and pasta. Fruit is readily available here so you’ll always be able to grab a banana, oranges or some dates for a quick bite. If you have a food allergy or want to ensure you truly get a vegetarian dish, use Google Translate to make a card in Arabic and French that says no fish/no meat or the specific items you cannot have.

-Smoking is very common in Tunisia. In most tourist restaurants, there will be a non-smoking section so be sure to ask for that. As much as you try to avoid it, you will still find yourself smelling like it. Bring Febreeze to refresh your clothing at the end of the day and perfume or essential oils to mask the odor.

-Surprisingly, hair dryers were not available at all hotels (and if they were, there was sometimes a fee). If you use one daily, you may consider bringing a small travel-size one with.

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Been on Peregrine’s Highlights of Tunisia? Add your tips and suggestions in the comments field.

Shane 1

Highlights of Tunisia. Same trip as Kristina

Not having read the travel guide for Tunisia even though I bought it, I was greatly surprised with the French influence and totally unprepared for the extensive use of the French language both verbal and written…….

The Tunisian people I found to be generally very warm and friendly. I was approached many times just to chat, they wanted to know where I was from, how long I was staying and they all made suggestions on places to visit in the direction I was walking. A geniue friendliness.

Tunis was a great place, food great, wine good and even the ice cream tasted excellent. The Bardo Museum extremely interesting. The quality and the excellient condition of the many mosaics is amazing.

Day 3 The Carthage ruins were pleasant (my way of saying not as interesting as other places)however the Museum there was well worth the time.

Day 4 saw us visiting Dougga. See the photo of Kristina at the top of the her article. Billed as the best preserved Roman City in Africa, it did not disappoint. A definite highlight of the trip.

Day 8 was the visit to El-Jem’s amphitheatre which is the second largest of its kind in the world after the Colosseum in Rome. This was the surprise of the tour, firstly I was not aware that there existed any other Colossoum’s other than the one in Rome, secondly the condition it’s in and it’s size is surprising. This site has the WOW factor, it leaves you with the mouth open going WOOOW…. Truly amazing.

Overall the trip was excellent. the people in the group were great, the accomodiation more than acceptable, the tour guide was lovely and the experience rewarding.


Alyssa 2

Sounds like a great tour. I went to Tunisia in 2005. My husband is from Bizerte so we spent most of our time there. Bizerte is right on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a beautfiul and interesting city. The people were very friendly. I was able to speak French with most people. We also visited Tunis, Tabarka, and Hammamet. Tunis had great shopping. Tabarka and Hammamet seemed like they were very touristic areas. They had interesting activities to do there. Both cities reminded me a lot of Florida. The food was pretty good for the most part most places, but it is different than what most Americans are used to in my opinion. There are no fast food restaurants whatsoever in Tunisia, but they did have pizza. I went in August and it was very hot there, so bring light clothing. At the time, there was a good exchange rate on the money. Overall, it was a nice trip.

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