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Tunisia 2002

Tunis - Ksar Ghilane


Leg details

March 30 - April 5, 2002
Switzerland - Piemont - Genoa - Tunis - Kairouan - Bou Hajla - Sidi Mheddeb - Gabès - Matmata - Chenini - Tataouine - Close to Bir Fatnassa - Remada - Borj Jenein - Montessseur - Erg El Jenein - Kamour - near Ksar Ghilane


Leg maps see below


March 30, 2002

Switzerland - Piemont - Genoa

Translated from German the sign means:
"I'd rather be in the great outdoors than in the back of beyond"
(translate literally: "Rather at the bosom of nature than at the backside of the world")

Both has its nice sides ..... we like it best back of beyond.

Our trip to Tunisia began with the journey to Genoa via the Piemont.
The was bitterly cold in the Piemont on that day.

Genoa, holding area for the ferry to Tunis. There are many interesting Off-Road vehicles to admire.
A lot is chaotic.
Some of the passenger cars are hopelessly overloaded. The cars are only fully loaded in the waiting area. Sometimes the content of two cars is piled into one, in order to save transport costs.
A adventurous attachments methods of goods can be encountered.

Arrival of our ferry, the "Cartague".
Our group moves into the loading space of the ferry. The "pale-faces" afterwards meet in the bar for a first beer.

March 31, 2002

Genoa - Tunis - Kairouan

First sight of Tunis from the bridge of the ferry.
Everybody is ready for departure. The tension is rising.

Outside of the port we assemble at our first meeting point.
Has really everybody got their money back form the fake official?
100 Euro even for Peter was somewhat too much .....

Our tour guide Martin Krauer seems to look forward enormously to the trip. All right by us.
The first leg will lead us to Kairouan, where we will be staying overnight.

April 1, 2002

Kairouan - Bou Hajla

Our Hotel in Kairouan is called "La Kasbah" and is a former fort.
Everything is renovated with love for the detail, the hotel entrance hall ... the pool area ..... one of the inner courtyards .....

Here another view from our room into a further inner courtyard ...
The former stable becomes the tea and coffee house in the evening.

The Souk of Kairouan.
Individual roads are roofed over and accommodate a single branch of industry e.g. the road of the shoemakers, etc.

There is even a Perfumery. with "genuine" Chanel #5 and other "expensive" liquids! - Wow!

The street traders with their carts are everywhere.
In the material shop the international dress collections can be found.

Vegetables are plentiful, very fresh and in many variations.
This is somewhat unexpected in a desert country.

Telephonie à la Tunisiènne.

Chicken butcher's shop... Cattle, cow, bull... the head says what is sold today.

The lanes look as in Greece: white houses with blue doors and window shutters.

In a carpet shop we could look around in the house and even rise to the roof.
The view from the roof shows clearly the roofed over roads of the Souk. Whatever is not no longer used, is simply thrown on the roof....

And then we depart.
At first only gentle tracks and dry river beds are tried.

In the proximity of Bou Hajla we arrive at our first campsite in plain nature.
The "village square" is quickly set up.

April 2, 2002

Bou Hajla - Sidi Mheddeb - Gabès - Matmata - Chenini

Today's route goes via Matmata to Chenini.

Matmata is famous because of its underground cave houses.
New houses were offered to the inhabitants as replacement. Most declined the offer and stayed put. If more rooms are required, then simply dig a new one.
Even the Pub ("Buvette") is underground.
Also the well-known cave hotel is located somewhere here.

Camel photo models with their manager

A 1-"DP"-transport (DP = Donkey-Power)

Not everything called desert is sand-covered....
Lunch was always held on special lookouts.
Swiss Cervelats and Italian Colomba taste excellent also in Tunisia.

Even in the driest place a flower has a chance .... sometimes even two or three ...

And down it goes ..... sometimes somewhat more steeply ....

The landscape becomes ever lonelier, the more we drive to the south.
Dust ... and surely not the last one ....

Fire wood is rare. A dry fig tree is cut to pieces and the dry wood is finely packed. We will use it later for the campfire or for cooking.

The place would be interesting however it has too many "guides" and children, begging for pencils.
We left the place in a hurry.

The leading car left a marking, to show the latecomers where the junctions are.
Unfortunately the road was not continuous and so we simply drove cross country to the meeting point.
The campground had the best views. Cooking was done for the whole group in a big pot with gas or with the tripod and wood.

The sunset showed much dust in the air.
A thunderstorm is in the coming. We watched lightning striking the other side of the valley.
We thought the thunderstorm had moved on when suddenly it was upon us with winds up to 80 kmh.
Only action left was a "run-into-the-tent", hold the tent sticks and hope, that the cloth holds.
After the thunderstorm our tent looked like freshly coated and completely stuck together with dirt.
Fortunately none of the tents were blown away or otherwise seriously damaged.
Many of us will not forget that night so quickly.

April 3, 2002

Chenini - Tataouine - Remada - Borj Jenein

The morning awakes with a dusty smile. Haze wraps everything mysteriously.
It is substantially hazier than what it looks in the pictures


Peter and Heidi's car is also paved ..... meanwhile the sand has dried and is adamantine again.
The wind blows still strongly and Peter's attempt to clean the fine sand from the car had to be aborted unsuccessfully.

Once again we depart.
For the next four days we will be heading into a restricted area to "play with sand" a little.

Outside of Tataouine for us the "dust eating" begins.
At the beginning we tried to evade the dust flags, today we know that it is hopeless.
The dust wins always ... and wins forever!! A vehicle which has been to the desert is marked for life.
We continue driving south, further and further towards sand desert ....

Wow, the first "genuine" sand! Sand-drive-practice is in demand.

In the restricted area there are checkpoints, where one must register.
But in Borj Jenein nobody showed any interest in us. So we just drove through.
Camels!!!! Or are they Dromedaries? Or perhaps Camedars or Dromels!!
Even though they are called camels everywhere, in the whole of Africa only dromedaries exist
Camels have two humps. Are they also twice as thirsty?

Due to the strong winds the camp was set up in a small valley. The tents were pitched between the cars.
During yesterdays storm the doorstop of Andrea's car had been torn off. His car was plastered with sand inside.
It was now time for the men, to open the repair shop to fix Andrea's Defender while Susan and Heidi in the "kitchen tent" prepared dinner. The on three sides closed tent was the was the only wind-protected place in the camp, where something could be cooked without having sand mixed in. The annex was useful on several more occasions on this journey.

April 4, 2002

Borj Jenein - Montessseur - Erg El Jenein

Nobody will ever find out why this tyre was flat in the morning.
The tyre was never flat again ..... and we never found anything in it either.
Our air pump is used for the first time.

The sand cover is still thin here. But the desert penetrates the north more and more.
Behind grass the first small dunes form. The sloping sides of the dunes are always steeper and at the same time softer.
We will get to experience this in the "eye of a needle".

We travel most of the time in remote areas apart from all marked roads. One always looks for the simplest path .....and then it turns out not to be the simplest ......

The Opel Frontera is stuck (first time of many...).

Even Rüedel in his Jeep gets caught.
A stuck vehicle was always a small experience.

In Saber.
At the oasis there is a run down military barrack. 9:10 - 8:50 ???
There is no water available here, but in the reed one would not have to dig very deep to find some.

After 3 days the first shower! We have truly earned it.
The water was quite warm, the wind however somewhat cold.
One was covered with sand again prior to being able to dry oneself.
Noah enjoys his bath in one of our Rako boxes. His own bathtub had been blown away in the storm.

Even the official tracks sometimes were hidden beneath the sand .... ... so everybody searches for their own way through the dunes.

Bruno scratches the floor of his new Nissan and needs assistance. Without sandstorms it would be substantially more pleasant. Push ... and he was once again mobile.

Sand is very expensive..... the saying goes.

Even Martin Krauer is not spared from a flat tire...... but Rüedel was never asked to imitate Martin!

The "Soft-Roader" driving into the night camp.
Sometimes space becomes somewhat scarce.

We the "Hard-Off-Roader" have fewer problems with this.
It does not matter if sometimes there is a scratch or two. Problem-free affair.

The Camp was locate in a wind-protected location.
And once again our tent was in use. It was the only place, where Martin and Susan could cook sand-free.

The night camp should also be level.
Our bridge elements were used. The sheet metals designed by engineer Hanhart support at least 2 tons.

April 5, 2002

Erg El Jenein - Kamour - Near Ksar Ghilane

The waste is collected and neatly disposed of in the next town, to then officially be dumped in nature.

When Martin had been here with the first group two weeks ago the drifts on this track had been much smaller.
At a building site we had to drive through very fine, almost flour-like sand. It was only a few hundred meters long but it felt like soap to drive on.

Often the track runs next to the oil pipeline (seen here to the right).

Stone-empty drained "low-cost camels" ....

We try to encircle a herd of camels ....

I wonder what the purpose is!?!?
Cars everywhere .... shit !!!! I better disappear real fast !!

Our praying Euroduin ...

Must be interesting ... such a defective tyre (No. 1 for Heidi and Peter).

After the corpus delicty has bee removed, the hole can sometimes hardly be found.
Branches and sticks were always the reason.
The hole is cleaned and enlarged to the necessary size.

Then the mushroom is soaked in the vulcanising liquid, inserted into the hole and whatever sticks out is cut off.

Trip of the "diesels" to a beautiful lookout point. The "petrols" were forced to follow the pipeline track, in order to save fuel.
We had somewhat underestimated our fuel consumption for an autonomy of 600 km and did not yet know how much fuel we would need in the "eye of a needle".

Martin and Oliver from the Opel Frontera, as well as Gilles of the other 130er Defender enjoy the sights in direction west and southeast.
The vastness and remoteness is quite overwhelming.

We will take this way to the north (once we've reached the bottom!).

Wow, rock crystals.
The whole crest of the hill was covered with them.

Departure from the lookout.
Well then:
Insert the low gears and keep the feet away from all pedals.
It was so steep that one was well advised not to touch the break pedal, in order to prevent the "backside" overtaking the front.
The "Boss" at the bottom takes it easy, it cannot be that bad.

Nice to see, how the Frontera is pressed into the front suspension on the steep slopes.
And that was it ..... actually nothing special (from today's view).

We did not get bogged down-hill but all it takes is a driving error or a small inadvertence ... it happens so quick.

This now is "the way to the north" we saw from the lookout.

Unbelievably where flowers can develop.
No, they are not melons, but we also do not know what they are.

We also were not spared.
Beast!! Since the hole is outside the bearing surface, this tyre is neither repairable and nor can it be driven at home. But it will be good enough for here.
It is hard work ;-))

Up to there - does not look spectacular. But already the next car is stuck firmly ........ should we dig out or disassemble the car straight away?

The next one does not get far .... (Frontera, the second) ..... and it needs some energy to free him up again. However the exhaust had less luck. Its suspension broke.
The rest of the group looked for a better way.

The day was rewarded with one of the most beautiful campsites of the trip.

Susi's und Ruedi's tent.

Wonderful clear skies, without wind or sand in the air, and bestowed us with the first marvelous sunset.

Visualized elementary particle physics.

The bread baked here had baker's "A" quality and was of the finest sort.
Not burned, regularly brown .... unfortunately there was not enough

Ruedi, our "Trubadix", provided for a romantic campfire feeling.



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Last updated: Friday, 08.02.2019 8:28 PM

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