Cultural Explorations - vacations and travel

Libya And Tunisia

Libya, Tunisia, Africa

from $3,595* per person 15 Days Year-round
Boutique accommodations Exertion level: 4
Operator: Cultural Explorations 24 people max
  • Tripoli international airport, tarabulus, libya
  • Culture & Nature trips
When Lewie Gonsalves led our first trip to Libya in 2008, there were skeptics. We admit that while Tunisia benefits from an established tradition of exploration, Libya is a little "out there." In Libya we discovered one of the hidden gems of the Mediterranean world, a country of great history and breathtaking beauty. Its Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine ports, ancient Islamic cities, palaces, fortresses, cave engravings and archaeological treasures are all testimony to the great civilizations of old and offer glimpses of what life was like in ancient times. Arriving in Tripoli, you'll travel out to the second and third century Roman sites of Sabratha and Leptis Magna which remained largely undiscovered until the beginning of the 20th century.

Similarly Tunisia, the northernmost country of Africa, has witnessed the passage of those who came as fugitives or adventurers, to conquer or to claim, warriors and missionaries, traders and farmers, each leaving a part of their story in stone or mosaics, on the hills of Carthage and the threshold of the Sahara.
From Tripoli to Tunis, our journey takes you to many important Roman ruins, to the sands of the Sahara and its desert oases, and to the tranquility of the island of Djerba, referred to by Ulysses as the Land of the Lotus Eaters.

You will travel with a private car and driver and all along your route, you will meet the natural hospitality of desert people and be introduced to ancient cultures that will now seem less strange and more beautiful.

Locations visited/nearby

Libya, Tunisia, Africa

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Special information

  • This is a custom departure, meaning this trip is offered on dates that you arrange privately with the provider. Additionally, you need to form your own private group for this trip. The itinerary and price here is just a sample. Contact the provider for detailed pricing, minimum group size, and scheduling information. For most providers, the larger the group you are traveling with, the lower the per-person cost will be.
  • May accommodate certain types of disabilities. Contact the operator for more information.

Itinerary

Day 1:     Arrive in Tripoli
Upon arrival at the airport in Tripoli, you will be met by our local representative and taken to your hotel.
Overnight: Tripoli

Day 2:     Ancient Roman Sabratha
This morning is at leisure to rest up from your flight. This afternoon you will travel to the World Heritage site of Sabratha, on the coast. This ancient city was founded by the Canaanites in the sixth century BCE, and ruled successively by Carthage, Phoenicia, Numedia and Rome. The site offers a majestic collection of public buildings, arenas, temples of Liber Peter, Srapis, Isis, and Hercules.
Overnight: Tripoli
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3:     Along the Mediterranean coast to Leptis Magna
A highlight of your trip will be the renowned World Heritage site of Leptis Magna, located east of Tripoli. From its origins as a Berber settlement it became an important community when it was established as a city by the Canaanites, and reached its climax under the rule of Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. You will visit the vast site, including the triumphal arch, huge basilica, forum, public baths, hippodrome, and amphitheater. You will also visit the second century Villa Silin, a Roman villa with magnificent panels, untouched mosaics and frescos depicting different aspects of life of that era.
Overnight: Tripoli
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4:     Drive to Nalut and Ghadames
Although the drive is long, it is an exciting day as you head south to the Saharan oasis of Ghadames. En route, you will stop at the "ghost town" of Nalut, located high in the Nafusa Mountains. Nalut offers an insight into the traditional cave living styles of the locals - the prevalent style of life until the Libyans discovered oil, which spurred the grown of the modern concrete structures. Lunch is at a local restaurant before heading further south towards the arid Saharan Desert.
Overnight: Ghadames
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5:     The oasis town of Ghadames
This oasis was settled in prehistoric times and was a major port of call for traders and pilgrims en route to Mecca. Ghadames is a sleepy desert town that has preserved its original culture, most visibly in the architecture of the old town with its labyrinthine passages, mud bricked structures and gaily decorated streets. This evening, conditions permitting, witness the spectacular sunset in the desert.
Overnight: Ghadames
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6:     Overland through the desert to Djerba
Today you leave Libya and proceed overland to Tunisia and the island of Djerba.
Overnight: Djerba
Meals: Breakfast

Day 7:     Ulysses' "Land of the Lotus Eaters"
You'll explore the island of Djerba this morning, visiting the synagogue, Hara Sghira, Guellala and Houmt Souk. The afternoon at leisure. This evening, weather permitting, enjoy a sunset cruise.
Overnight: Djerba
Meals: Breakfast

Day 8:     Through the Star Wars landscape to Douz
After breakfast, you depart for Matmata, known for its excellent examples of troglodyte dwellings. These structures are created by digging a large pit in the ground. Artificial caves are then dug into the walls of the pit, and are used as rooms. You will have lunch in a cave hotel at Marhala and afterwards visit a traditional Berber cave dwelling. You'll will continue your drive to Douz, the largest of the oases of western Tunisia and the gateway to the desert. Later in the afternoon, experience the desert on camel-back!
Overnight: Douz
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9:     Across the Chott el Jerid salt lake
Scenes of The English Patient will keep coming to you today as you drive across the Chott el Jerid, the great salt lake. A thousand years ago, it was part of the Mediterranean Sea. The surface of the chott is made of a layer of salt crystals, which causes mirages to dance across it when the weather is very hot and creates a magical journey.
Overnight: Tozeur
Meals: Breakfast

Day 10:     The palmery of Tozeur
Tozeur was once a Roman outpost and a stopping point for the camel caravans that made their way from the sub-Sahara to trade with the coastal cities. Tozeur owes its modern affluence to the 200,000 date palms that are watered by numerous underground springs. These produce the world-renowned dates, deglet noor ("fingers of light"). This morning is at leisure and this afternoon you will visit the oasis of Tozeur, the Palmery and the Dar Cherait traditional art museum.
Overnight: Tozeur
Meals: Breakfast

Day 11:     The oasis towns of Tamerza, Mides, and Chebika
This morning you'll drive to Metlaoui and start the Red Lizard train ride to explore the gorges and canyons of Selja. After your exciting rail excursion, you continue by jeep into the hills of Djebel en Negueb, an offshoot of the Atlas Mountains. You will take in the Berber villages of Tamerza, Mides and Chebika. These three upland oases depend on the numerous small mountain streams that seep into the ground and provide irrigation for palms, fruit trees and vegetables.
Overnight: Tozeur
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12:     The great mosque at Kairouan
This morning you begin our drive to Kairouan, enjoying lunch en route at Rif House, close to Gafsa. Kairouan is defined as Tunisia's holiest city. Legend has it that in 670 AD, a general of the invading Arab forces found in the sands here a golden cup that he had lost a few years earlier in Zamzam well in Mecca. When he picked up the cup, a well sprang forth, proving the existence of an underground river between Kairouan and Mecca and making the water of Bi'r Barouta holy. The mosque in Kairouan is the oldest in North Africa, and its minaret is the oldest in the world.
Overnight: Kairouan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 13:     The magnificent Colosseum at El Jem
This morning you will visit the Great Mosque of Kairouan and the Barbar Mausoleum and then drive to El Jem to see the magnificent amphitheatre and Roman villa. Built around 200 AD, the amphitheatre at El Jem is second in size only to the Colosseum of Rome. Its magnificence attests to the importance and wealth of El Jem around that time. Afterward you will continue on Tunis.
Overnight: Tunis
Meals: Breakfast

Day 14:     Cosmopolitan Tunis
In the morning you will visit Sidi Bou Said and Carthage. The lovely blue and white village of Sidi Bou Said is perched on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Tunis and offers a pleasant stroll through its cobbled streets. From there you will take in the ruins at Carthage and then travel to the medina and souks of Tunis, where you will have lunch. The medina of Tunis is the largest in Tunisia and it is easy to lose yourself in its labyrinthine alleyways. Originally built in the 7th century, in its present form it dates mostly from the Hafsid (13th C) and Turkish (17th-18th C) periods. On display are almost all types of wares imaginable, including carpets, jewellery, brassware, copper, pottery and spices. This afternoon you will visit the splendid Bardo Museum, with its fine collection of Roman mosaics.
Overnight: Tunis
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15:     Tour concludes in Tunis
You will be taken to the airport in time for your international flight home.
Overnight: Breakfast

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