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7-day Tunesia road trip with hikes at Chenini and Mides

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Helle and Peter made a 7-day Tunesia road trip with hikes at Chenini and Mides in April 2024. We rented a car in Tunis and drove south towards Tataouine and Tozeur to hike and experience ksar’s and troglodyte cave dwellings that provide glimpses into berber culture.

Day 1

We started our Tunesia roadtrip in Tunis and drove straight to Monastir. Monastir is a coastal town with a ribat (fortress) from 800 AD just at the waterfront. The fortress is known as a film setting for Monty Phythons Life of Brian.

Ribat of Monastir

We got our first taste of Tunisian food with a bric (egg and tuna filling in a dough) and delicious fish with couscous. Of course served with the harissa and baguette you get everywhere.

Driving in Tunisia is straightforward with good roads, few cars and skilled drivers.

Day 2

From Monastir we continued to El Djem with the 3rd largest Roman amphitheater in the world. It was built in 230-238 AD with seats for 35,000 spectators. The area was obviously extremely wealthy at the time. It was a very impressive sight and you can only think of the enormous amount of people needed for building it. The closest quarry is 30 km away!

El Jem amphitheatre

We continued south to Matmata known for their troglodyte houses (underground pit-homes) and famous because it was used for filming Star Wars. The Amazigh (Berber) people live in the area and we went to see the museum Ksar Matmata, where we saw a traditional troglodyte home. We were the only visitors and was served Berber tea with bread and olive oil mixed with honey – not bad for an afternoon snack.

Ksar Matmata
Troglodyte houses

We stayed overnight in the nearby town of Tamezret and saw the beautiful flower of a cactus in the hotel garden.

Day 3

From Tamezret we continued south through the dessert. Sand started to appear on the road occasionally and the landscape was absolutely stunning.

First stop was Ksar Hedada, a typical Ksar used for storage of food, but also used as a filmset for Star Wars.

Ksar Hedada

Next stop was some fossilized dinosaur footprints near Ghomrassen. If not for the sign we would never have noticed. But the landscape was worth the climb of the hill.

We continued to another Ksar at Guermessa. It had not been restored, but was beautifully spread out between two mountain tops.

Ksar Guermessa

Our drive ended at Chenini, where we were going to spend the night. But first we went for a hike between Chenini and Douiret – a total of 9 km. We took a local Berber guide, Ayoud, who knew the area as his pocket. He took us over the mountains where there were no trails and he saved a baby goat on the way.

Ayoud rescued a baby goat that had been separated from its herd
Traditional olive press. It had been in use until recently, but after four years of drought, many olive trees had died

We were picked up by Ayoud’s friend in Douiret to drive back to Chenini – it was the oldest, most wrecked car we have ever been in. It was a true wonder that it was able to drive.


We spend the night in a troglodyte home in Chenini – it was surprisingly comfortable.

Dar Kenza in Chenini where we stayed in a troglodyte house

Day 4

After a good night sleep in Chenini we drove to Tataouine to see Ksar Beni Barka – an impressive Ksar located on a hilltop with over 500 ghorfas (storage rooms), olive presses and a mosque.

Ksar Beni Barka

There are Ksours all over the area and heading north we stopped at Ksar El Ferch – a large open area Ksar.

From here we drove straight to Douz, a dessert town on the edge of Sahara. We saw wild roaming camels near the road and sand dunes.

From Douz we continued over Chott el Djerid – an enormous salt lake – to Tozeur. Chott el Djerid was very special with the white salt surface as far as the eye could see. There were mirroring effects of the sky and it seemed like another world.

Chott el Djerid

Finally we ended up in Tozeur, an oasis town with lots of palms everywhere. Tozeur is known for the beautiful patterned brickworks to provide shade on the facades.

We stayed at Dar Tozeur

Day 5

We drove to the little town of Tamerza, to hike from Tamerza to Midès Canyon. It is part of the Atlas mountain range and the area is a geological wonderland. We found petrified wood, petrified seashells, volcanic stones etc.

The Midès canyon is a slot canyon, and had a tiny little water flow. Mides is only a few hundred metres from the border to Algeria.

On the way back to Tozeur we stopped at Chebika Canyon, where there was a little waterfall and a pond. The mountains seemed so dry, so you can only wonder where the water is coming from.

Unfortunately Peter started to feel sick and it was soon clear that he had a food poisoning. He was put to bed and Helle spend the afternoon having a massage and relaxing at the pool.

Day 6

After being sick, Peter was very low on energy.

We took a morning tour at Eden Palmeria, where we learned about the date production and tasted their delicious products. To our surprise it actually started raining (very light) while on the tour.

We had a long drive today as we were heading back towards Tunis/Hammamet. After 4,5 hours we made a stop at Kairouan to see the Great Mosque – a UNESCO site. Unfortunately the mosque was closed for visitors due to Friday prayers. We had a glimpse of it from the top of the carpet shop on the opposite side of the street.

We drove to Hammamet, which was our base for the last two nights.

Day 7

Peter was not getting better. Helle did a morning trip to Hammamet to see the old Medina and Kasbah (fortress). The doors of the medina were colorful and fun to explore.

In the afternoon Helle went to Bou Argoub, a hilltop surrounded by forest, olive trees and a dammed lake. Helle hiked 10 km in the area. The first part was not really a path, but it was possible to cross over the fields and join the trail. A completely different landscape from the southern dessert.

Hare are more posts about hiking.

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