30 October - 9th November 2013
It will be our first ride in Tunisia since it's January revolution and the deposition of their long standing dictator Ben Ali. We have friends in Tunisia which have assured me that everything is back to normal and have impressed to us the need not to abandon Tunisia as travelling resort. Tourism is Tunisia's main income and resource. They have only some gas, but no oil. In July there will be elections and the situation will become clearer. If you had intentions of doing this trip, please contact us and we shall be happy to talk things over. We shall only go if it is safe to do so.
Why Tunisia? Well, why not? Tunisia is just 80km from the furthest southern point of Italy and has had over the millennia always very close relations with Italy. Some relations better than others, but nevertheless Tunisia has been and always will be linked to Italy. Many of the historical sites in Tunisia are of Roman origin. Many of the modern agricultural settlements and civil engineering was brought to Tunisia by Italian entrepreneurs.
Tunisia offers a multitude
of interesting sites, incredible scenery, ancient history that goes back
to prehistoric times and reaches into the future having hosted the film
sets of Star Wars.
The emphasis of this trip
will be on exploring new roads and experiencing Tunisia through its
landscape, culture and history as seen when traveling by motorcycle.
13th-14th February: gather in CIMT Milan in the morning, finalize the paperwork and pack. We then ride to reach Genova harbor by 3pm to catch the 6pm ferry to Tunis. Depending on weather conditions and time of departure from Milan we shall opt for highway or not. An early start would allow us a nice meal on the Italian Ligurian Riviera. Once the ferry sets sail it will have no intermediate stops and will reach Tunis harbor on the 14th at 6pm. Once we clear customs, we will reach a nearby hotel in Sidi Bou Said.
15th February: we start our ride south and after a quick stint on the Tunisian highway, we reach El Jem. This was a very important Roman settlement. Witness of this is the 2nd largest still standing Roman amphitheater in the world after the Colosseum in Rome, holding 35,000 seated spectators. A masterpiece of ancient architecture and UNESCO heritage since 1979. We continue our descent to the south of Tunisia with a short stop in Sfax, to view the medina, used in Anthony Minghella's English Patient for the setting of the streets of Cairo, we reach Matmata in the evening.
16th February: After a visit to the troglodytes dwellings and to the Hotel Sidi Driss, interior set for Star Wars, we head further south along Jebel (mountain) Dahar and visit a few Ksurs (plural for ksar), old fortified granaries built by the nomad Berber populations as a means of defense and storage of their crops. We reach Tatatouine in the evening. Tataouine inspired George Lucas when finding a name for Luke Skywalker's home Tatooine.
17th February: After an amazing ride through some canyons our first port of call will be Chenini where we visit the tombs of the four dormients. The setting is amazing. Sadly, the piste which connects directly to Ksar Ghilan is too hard for our bikes. It is completely covered in Tolè Ondulè, which in no time at all would unscrew all the bolts on our bikes and fry our suspension. So we head back north to Matmata and follow the "pipeline" down to Ksar Ghilane. Once we reach this oasis which is the gate to the vastness of the Sahara, we can relax in our 5 star encampment and take a swim in the hot spring.
18th February: We spend the morning in Ksar Ghilane. You can enjoy sleeping in and a stroll on the dunes, or rent quad bikes to reach the abandoned foreign legion fort just outside of the oasis. You will be able to experience riding on sand without having the pain of getting bogged down in it. A fantastically thrilling experience. Once the quad experience is over, we return to our motorcycles and head for Douz. We stop at the Caravan gathering point of Zaafrane and then cross the massive and flat Salt Lake of Chott El Jerid to reach Tozeur, our new base for the next two nights. Whilst crossing the 80km long straight the colors, from white to pink of the salt formations, to the crystal clear blue sky, and the sheer vastness only capped by the northern mountains, make it an awesome straight line ride (never thought I'd say this).
February: rest day in
Tozeur. You can shop in the souk and take a trip to Nefta. Nefta is a few
km south of Tozeur and is the second most holy place in Tunisia after
Kairouan. It has 24 ancient mosques and is set in a palm grove of 100000
20th February: we say "arrivederci" to the Sahara and head back north. Immediately after Gafsa we do a detour by Sakket and then head for the town of Sbeitla. here we shall visit the remarkable Roman archaeological site of this town before continuing north to reach Kairouan.
21st February: Our last riding day. After the visit to the souk and to Great Mosque, we take a side road back to Tunis and Sidi Bou Said to complete our tour of Tunisia. We have a late ferry, so we reach the port after our farewell dinner in Tunisia.
22nd February: we land in Genova late on the 22nd and will take a hotel in Genova
23rd February: we return to Milan and drop off the bikes at around midday.