We explore Tunis renowned Medina, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will then visit the Bardo museum, which is housed in a former royal palace. The building itself is beautiful and surrounded by gardens. The museum contains a huge collection of Roman mosaics, Greek bronze statuary and Islamic artefacts. After lunch we will move to the Phoenician trading port of Carthage, once the second most important city of the Roman Empire. A little further north of Carthage is the charming village of Sidi Bou Said, originated around the tomb of a 13th century holy man. We wander through quiet back streets past traditional white houses. From here we return to Tunis, where we spend the night.
Today we drive to Kairouan. The whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Islam's fourth most holy centre. The Great Mosque is one of the most important in Tunisia. This is followed by a visit to the extraordinary amphitheatre of El Djem, considered by many to be finer than Rome's Colosseum and we finish our day in Mahrès, where we spend the night.
We continue our journey across the rocky desert to Matmata home to the troglodytes, people who live underground. Matmata has become famous in more recent years for featuring in the series of the Star Wars films. We visit what remains of the original film set and nearby troglodyte homes. Continuing onto Douz, the gateway town to the Sahara we visit the town centre and Sahara Desert museum before meeting with the camel drivers for a trek into the Sahara. You will see the cooks and camel drivers cook the traditional food, and bake bread in the sand. We are then entertained after dinner by the camel drivers playing traditional music around the campfire. We have dinner and overnight in a Bedouin camp.
Leaving our camels, we drive across the 2,000 square miles of the Chott El Djerid (salt lake), which appears mirage-like against the sand, before reaching Tozeur. This town has earned a reputation for the lush beauty of its oasis in which 200,000 date palms thrive and is now a popular tourist destination.
We depart to Metlaoui for the Red Lizard train excursion (tickets included) through spectacular scenery. It is an old wooden train given by the French protectorate to the Bey of Tunis (former king of Tunisia). The Red Lizard train runs through the spectacular Selja river canyons. We then visit the palm filled oases surrounding the town, plus the oases at Nefta - an old town and oasis in a valley filled with thousands of palms. We then transfer back to Tozeur to overnight. Should the Red Lizard Train not be operational, it will be replaced by an exciting 4x4 excursion through the same spectacular scenery, as we drive past canyons, oasis and waterfalls.
This morning we visit Sbeitla, home to one of the best preserved archaeological sites in Tunisia. After lunch we visit the Roman site of Makthar and continue to the charming mountain town of Le Kef, which clings to the side of the cliff.
We drive to the Roman site at Dougga, which was given UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997. It is the largest in Tunis and considered the most magnificent. We continue to the Andalucian city of Testour, founded by Andalucian Muslims evicted from Spain in the 1600s. The square is very Spanish in style and the Great Mosque dominates the old town. Overnight in Tunis.