Introduction to Tunisia (6n/7d)

Carthage was once the seat of an Empire that reached across the Mediterranean

Carthage was once the seat of an Empire that reached across the Mediterranean

Transfer to hotel Carlton in the centre of Tunis (avenue Habib bourguiba) for 2 nights

Depart to the ancient city of Carthage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded by a Phoenician princess in 814 BC, it became the capital of the great Carthaginian Empire. Its strategic location as a gateway to the Western Mediterranean, as well as its position as one of the area’s few large metropolises, meant that Carthage’s rule determined the destiny of the world. There will be visits to the Byrsa Hill with its vestiges of Carthaginian and Roman buildings and the Carthage Museum. Next we continue to the Punic ports including the Salammbo Tophet, where urns containing the ashes and milk teeth of 8th century BC children have been unearthed. Then on to the Antonine Baths, a huge Roman bath complex on the edge of the Mediterranean. Following on we’ll visit the picturesque Andalusian village Sidi Bou Said, where the winding cobbled street provide the perfect setting for a leisurely stroll. Its trademark white walls, contrasting sky blue doors and ornate window grids make for wonderful photography. Once in the medina, Tunis’s historic heart and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will stroll through the winding streets. The souk there (door-to-door shops selling all types of local curiosities) is one of the world’s great marketplaces where you can retrace its remarkably wealthy past. There will also be time to visit the Zitouna mosk. Continue to visit the Bardo Museum, Tunisia’s National Museum and the repository of the country’s rich archaeological collections. It is here that the world’s largest collection of Roman polychrome mosaics can be found. The museum is housed in an 18th century Beylical palace, it was the first museum to be founded in Africa and contains stunning mosaics and relics from the sites we have visited. At the end of the day you will be transfered back to your hotel.

We depart in the morning from your hotel for our first stop in the City of Kairouan – declared a World Cultural site by UNESCO in 1988. The Visit will include the Great Mosque, the Mosque of the Three Doors in the Medina and Kairouan’s souks. We will continue on to the town of Tozeur, the most beautiful of all the oases and one of the largest southern settlements. Little has changed since the 14th century when the town was built and this area is especially famous for the unique decorative architecture. The buildings are covered by exuberant towering facades forming bas-relief zigzag patterns. Savour free time to wander around the medina, then enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in the 4 star hotel Mouradi Tozeur .

A 4X4 vehicle will take you on a discovery tour to the mountain oases, where many of the scenes of “The English Patient” were filmed. You’ll drive west into some of the country’s most spectacular mountain scenery, visit the mountain oasis of Tamerza, along with Chebika. In ancient days the village of Heike was called Ad speculum after the Roman troops who communicated by mirror. The original villages are now ‘ghost towns’. These villages continue with the old tiered oasis-style of cultivation of crops – vegetables are grown under pomegranate and orange trees which in turn are grown under date palms. Continue to ONC JMAL the filming place of Star wars, English patient and the recent Black Gold of Jean Jacque ANNAUD. Then return to Tozeur for Lunch and depart to Douz. There will be an optional camel ride at sunset and then a night under the stars in a tented camp.

After breakfast travel to Matmata a Berber village of Star Wars notoriety, but more importantly the area with the most extensive number of traditional troglodyte pit homes. The landscape is barren and marked with fissures, crags and small tabletop mountains. Here you will visit a Troglodyte dwelling and continue along the coast north to the town of EL Djem in order to visit the Coliseum: (ancient Thysdrus) the largest and most spectacular Roman amphitheatre in North Africa and the best preserved in the world. This colossal edifice (classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) seems to rise out of nowhere and was designed with seating for 30,000 people. You will be forgiven for confusing the site with Rome’s Coliseum, they are very similar. In the small archaeological museum, see the gorgeous collection of mosaics. Visit the remains of Roman villas behind the museum. Dinner and overnight in hotel Mouradi Monastir 4*or similar.

The morning will start in Monastir to visit the mausoleum of Bourguiba the first president and liberator of women in Tunsia. Followed by a Visit to the nearby town of Sousse and its great mosque, and then continuing on to Hammamet. In the afternoon you will be able to enjoy some free time and dinner/accommodation at the 5 star hotel Laico or another of similar standard.

Transfer to TUNIS Airport

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