Sunday 10th October/Day 6 – Ferry/Tunis to Hammamet: Odometer – 72621 km
Arrived in Tunis approx 4pm Sunday eve, got through customs in about an hour and a half which was all pretty good, headed for Hammamet and a hotel. One tip when arriving by ferry is to get your immigration documents from reception, as no one on the ferry will give you any clues. Also if travelling on the Italian ferry, you’ll have to wait for the Tunisian one to dock first, regardless of which ferry arrives first.
Mad rush to get off the ferry!
Into first hanger where you will be asked for the forms you have completed, plus V5 and passports. The immigration people will ask your reason for travel and where you are going. If you don’t have a hotel booked, it is worth having a name of a hotel ready.
You then move onto a second hanger, where there is lots of activity and running from one booth to another! There are fixers here to help you. Rob paid approx 20cent so min cost but he does put you in the right queue!
This all takes about an hour or so. One last check by the police and you are through the port!
We had hidden our GPS and satellite phone, luckily we didn’t get asked about this at any point but there were heads poked through windows nosing about, so was probably worth it.
With darkness arriving quickly in this part of the world and no local currency we skipped the péage and headed for Hammamet in what turned out to be quite a journey. Rain by the dumper load, no lighting and not-so-crazy-as-Italian driving was the order of the evening. Luckily for us we didn’t get as far as hotel strip and dived into the first thing we saw. As it happens this proved fortuitous as the place is all inclusive package holiday hotel-a-rama. Not our scene. Sarah scored a bargain for the night after somewhat baffling the staff by just rocking up looking for somewhere to stay as opposed to the more usual method of arriving on a coach.
We booked into Hotel Nesrine, Avenue de la paix – 8050 Hammamet. 110 TD for Dbb, about £55. Ate and went to bed.
Distance travelled – 80 kms – mostly in the dark and rain.
Monday 11th October/day 7 – Hammamet to Gabes: Odometer – 72701 km
The following morning Sarah went to get some money out of the ATM only for the machine to be empty, but the ATM had already eaten a Dutch couple’s card, therefore we gave them a lift into the town to sort out the cock-up. Fortunately, it was all ok for me, but we don’t think the Dutch couple will see their card again before the end of the week.
Next stop Gabes and the delights of the invisible campsite. If you can find it it’s a great place to get pounded by dates tumbling from the trees and hear the delights of the dozen or so local minarets. Luckily for us we arrived in darkness just before a massive thunder storm so we opted for an early night so the 4:30 intro to the 5am main event wasn’t a problem. Needless to say we would be on the road at daybreak.
Distance travelled – 397 kms
Tuesday 12th October/day 8 – Gabes to Douz: Odometer – 73098 km.
Having had such a good start to the day, we headed for Nefta to locate the Star Wars set. Having got no-where with the local tourist information guy, we were pointed in the right direction by a helpful bank manager. A few u-turns later and comments from Sarah that we surely still can’t be on the correct road…… there it was. Not exactly glistening in the desert heat, but there it was. Just us and the thing Rob had wanted to see for decades. For those that want to find Tatouine, it’s not at Tataouine, it’s at Ang Jmel, about 8km along a dusty track the other side of Nefta.
Following this high, we headed back to Nefta and onto the Douz. Passing some excellent salt pans, palm groves and miles of dessert. Arrived in Douz – Camping Desert Club. Good campsite in the centre of Douz, beer, hot showers, good food. If you find the tourist office, the man will organise a boy to show you the way on his bike. Fantastic medina with loads on offer on market days. Well worth a look.
14TD per night but if you need electric, this is 2TD more.
Distance travelled – 454 kms.
Wednesday 13th October/day 9 – Douz: Odometer – 73552 km.
Camp day for Alfie. A chance for Sarah to wash clothes and for Rob to check Alfie. A short wander into Douz to buy veg and fruit from the market. There was a huge amount of choice, and all very cheap.
If you are in a group or arriving late, I would book the campsite as it’s not huge and people use it as a base to explore Tunisia so it gets very busy from about 4pm onwards.
Distance travelled – 0 kms.
Thursday 14th October/day 10 – Douz – Matmata -Tatouine – Ben Guadarmes: Odometer – 73552 km
Left Douz, headed for Matmata, Tatouine and border town as we wanted to be crossing into Libya early Friday morning.
Matmata was so overrun by touts we just drove on. Found a lovely mountain village selling hand made rugs so made our first purchase of the trip and haggled quite a bit for real Berber rug for the hall-way, deep reds, oranges and a great pattern of fish, sheep, mountains and butterflies.
Sarah starting to get a bit of a tooth ache, infact complete jaw ache. Not good.
Distance travelled = ??
Friday 15th October/day 11 Ben Guerdane – Zuwarah in Libya:
Next stop Ben Guerdane which is the last town before the border. Here you change any left over Tunisian money with the black market guys who are just lined up along the streets. We got better at it as we drove along!! But soon after we needed to find somewhere to sleep…low and behold we thought we had found a great spot just out of sight of the main road, but were soon to discover it was the main route to a salt processing plant and trucks trundled by for most of the night! Bum. The manager did drive past and tell us about a beach on the other side of the road but it was too by then as we had the tent up, cooker on and wine out. (Actually there wasn’t much wine left by this point and the thought of driving in the dark, over the desert, towards the sea, whilst blotto to be not the best idea of the night. We stayed put put and continued depleting our alcohol stocks before Libya).
Next morning we had hoped to be at the border for 9am but our fixer in Libya didn’t want us to cross before 5pm so we spent a full day on the recommended beach finishing offthe beers.
The border took about 2 hours to get through but this was helped great deal by our guide. The best bit being when gates were opened and we were ushered through ahead of some 50 cars in front of us!
Met Farhart, our fixer, on the beach, more tea, handed over the money, but at the last minute he decided that he wouldn’t accept euro notes of less than E50, so had to use US $ (again $50 or over).
Camped on beach, cooked and pasta for tea. Mahmoud bought a pizza as well, as his Toureg tradtion dictates that if you cook food for someone in Libya they should give you something in return. As we had a plentiful pasta meal, we saved the pizza and ate it for breakfast.
An early night was in order after the crazy drive in the dark.
Tunisia was fantastic, far more interesting than we could have anticipated and well worth further investigation.