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A Unique Week in Tunisia, Africa

Author: ang3l185
Date of Trip: July 2004

One of the most exciting trips was my trip in Tunisia. It was a last minute, unexpected trip a friend of mine suggested. It includes a variety of things like adventure, retail therapy, history, culture, and food. So I hope you will all enjoy reading my journal!

One of the most exciting things we did was a 4-day, 4×4 safari trip around Tunisia. The trip costs around $120, including accommodation, food, and a tour guide. We left Hammamet, moving on to el Jem where there is one of the world’s most well-preserved Roman arenas. You can have a 360 degree view of the place and the individual cells of the animals, gladiators, and soldiers. After El Jem we went through Gabes to visit an oasis. We also ate fresh dates whilst passing through the oasis and saw an animal that looked like an overweight lizard.

We moved on to the mountain town of Matmata where we visited the Berber village, down the rocky trails of the hot region. We were also invited to a local’s home where they dressed me up in a traditional dressing gown–it was absolutely hilarious!! They also offered us a hot tea that was really refreshing in the heat since it cools down your body temperature.

We then moved on to Douz, where a village market is held every Thursday. The nomads arrive for the customary trading and barter of several things like camels, horses, crafts, and jewelry. In Douz we dressed up with their traditional wear and colourful head scarf as we rode the camels around the desert. When leaving Douz we went offroading on the sand dunes that were great fun.

It was then time to visit our next town, Nefta, and between these two villages we passed through Chott, a large mass of salty mass of water that has several healing properties. Mirages can be seen since the temperature reaches very high degrees.

Then we visited the famous waterfalls of Tamerza and the mountain oasis at Chebika. Here we saw barren mountains with stunning view of greenery. Chebika and its cascades offer the most extreme colour contrasts. In Nefta we saw where they filmed The English Patient and Star Wars. That was quite interesting if you are a fan! Then we went for a hike around the rocky path, then were off to Tozeur, a very quiet town.

Here we visited another oasis where we had some tea after which a kales took us round the village. Here on Friday it is the only day when women can come out for all the necessary needs for the week. Women then stay at home for the other six days until the next market will be held. It is quite a shocking scene as women and children are savaging through clothes and foods. It was similar to a swarm of bees, although here you may find spices for very cheap conventional prices, which are good and ideal to give flavour to your foods. We also visited a small garden and zoo full of wonderful and funny animals that are truly pleasurable to see. There are from small insects to large camels so it’s worth a try. Here we also tasted a fancy drink made of grenadine lemonade and kiwi that was very refreshing!

Our last place to visit before heading back to Hamammet was Kairouan, which is very famous for its handmade beautiful carpets. Here we visited a carpet factory and we were also shown by a woman how they are made. The prices are good and the carpets are of good quality, so if you are interested in buying carpets this is definitely the place to go. Then we drove our way up to Hammamet and that was the end of our exciting safari trip!

~The food is mainly made of egg, so vegans and people who do not fancy eggs must be aware. They use eggs because it’s cheap and found in abundance.
~Harissa is a very hot red sauce used a lot in food. For people who like hot spciy foods, it’s ideal, although I would not suggest it to people with high vascular complexions or people who can’t tolerate hot food. Spices are widely used in foods to give falvour.

~Tea is often a good option to refresh and cool your body. Several flavours are available, so you are spoilt for choice.~Dates are produced in large masses–make sure to buy the best quality around. You may ask the owner of the stall to taste the product before you buy them.
~You may be limited in choice of food, although if one does not want to opt for a typical cuisine, hotels and modern restaurants offer Mediterranean foods, though naturally at a slightly higher cost.
~Several confectioneries can be found that produce some lovely local sweets and desserts; for anyone with a sweet tooth, he or she certainly must try them!
~Health and hygiene is not their number one priority, so be careful about what you eat and where you get it from.

Best Way to Get Around:
~Taxis are probably the best way around. They are not that expensive and are quite efficient. They usually work with a metre and be clear about where you want to go, because you will finish stranded otherwise.
~I heard the train is pretty good, although we never caught it so I don’t really know.
~We also walked it by the bay from Hammamet to Nabeul. We walked by the coast on the sand–it was fun and good exercise… and gives you a nice tan too.

Quick Tips/Suggestions:
~Bargaining may be tough at the beginning but you will get the hang of it and it’s well worth it as the price will go considerably down and get several good offers.
~When you do not want to buy anything make sure not to look interested as the shop keepers will get really mad.
~Food is of medium quality, so if you are a fussy eater make sure to take some packed food yourself.
~Temperature reaches high levels in summer, so make sure to take a good source of water to prevent dehydration.

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