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February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

NJ
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57 posts
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February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

Hello,

I was hoping to get some advice from you folks who have some experience with Tunisia travel. I am looking into booking a trip for the second week of February for myself and my girlfriend. We are very excited about possibly visiting, but are hoping to get some thoughts on the proposed itinerary, as well as some input on the current security situation.

We are speaking to a travel agent based in Hammamet, who has proposed the following itinerary:

2/15 - Depart New York City - Arrive Tunis - Tour Carthage, Sidi Bou Said, drive to Hammamet

2/16 - HAMMAMET– El DJEM– GABES– TATAOUINE

2/17 - TATAOUINE– MATMATA- DOUZ

2/18 - DOUZ - CHOTT El DJERID – CHEBIKA -TAMERZA - TOZEUR

2/19 - TOZEUR– KAIROUAN – SOUSSE- HAMMAMET

2/20 - Free day in Hammamet

2/21 - Tunis to Istanbul - overnight Istanbul

2/22 - Morning tour of Istanbul - Afternoon flight home to JFK

The agency is Inventa Tourisme (AKA Tour in Tunisia), who I have seen some good reviews of on here in the forums. So far, the agent has been very responsive and helpful, which is a good sign.

We had hoped to camp overnight in the desert, but he recommended against it due to the cold weather, and the fact that there aren't a lot of people in that area during this time of the year.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to spend the free day in Hammamet?

Also, the more I read, the more I'm beginning to become concerned about the safety of traveling to Tunisia. Some headlines involving Ansar al-Sharia have kind of made me wonder if we should consider another destination, but we were both really looking forward to booking this trip. I'm hoping some of you might be able to set my mind at ease a bit.

I should note that I'm a photographer, so I most likely will have a decent camera strapped to me at all times. I can try to be as discreet as possible with it, but for me to travel, if I can't take photos, it's not worth the trip. Other than the camera, we're both pretty smart about dressing conservatively, not wearing flashy jewelry, etc.

I appreciate any input you can give.

thanks in advance.

Ben

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Hammamet
Hammamet
Nabeul Governorate, Tunisia
Chott El Djerid
Chott El Djerid
10 Reviews
Tunisia
Edinburgh
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1. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

Hi Ben

Most people who visit this forum do not plan anywhere near what you intend doing .

Most go to a resort hotel and don't do adventures you have considered

Your agent of course gave good advice re camping in winter

It can get bitterly cold

AS for the safety

You will need to consider what advice your govt says about travel to some remote parts

Some of this of course are guidelines

Others out of date (per UK advice sometimes )

Insurance may be an issue, if you come unstuck (not that I am saying you will)

Photos

Like a number of Countries

Avoid taking photos of buildings with Country flags above (govt buildings)

Unless authorised

Take snaps of locals in remote areas with permission (small tip will work)

I have been visiting Tunisia for many years and during that time there has been advice from my govt regarding "no can dos"

Didnt stop us

Rash or not ...I don t know !! Maybe

I think with some of the places you intend visiting that warnings have been indicated

If your agent is ok with it .

You should be fine.

Back to what I stated earlier

Most tourists who visit tend to stay in the coastal resorts and would not be going to a number of places you indicate ,if any!

I wish I was younger.... I would love to join you on that itinerary.

Regards and have a great trip ;-)

Mick

PS

Last day in Hammamet ?

Consider this

tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g297943-…

And peruse this link

tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g297943-Activi…

Edited: 07 July 2014, 21:50
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Hammamet
Hammamet
Nabeul Governorate, Tunisia
Wiltshire
Destination Expert
for Sousse, Port El Kantaoui
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2. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

This is the latest advice from the UK FO

www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/tunisia

The more south you go the advice is dont do it. I would not go further down than Gabes. To be honest there are enogh attractions further north that would fill your week. you realy need most of a day in Eljem to see the arena and the wonderfull museum.There is a very good museum in the old town of Sousse as well. your ideas on day 19 are very optimistic in regard to time scale you would need two full days at best

Antwerp, Belgium
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3. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

Hi

we are not the typical tourist I think...

Last year we lived in Tunisia for 3 months and we have been to most of the places you descibe on here but not Gabes (we drove along) and Tatatouine.

My remarks

- it is a lot for such a short holiday - also because driving along Tunisian national roads is not as easy as it looks

(but I understand you will have a car with a driver with you and all your hotels will be booked)

- after flying in from America it seems to me you should start with a day of rest and take time to explore Tunis...

Tunis, Carthage, Sidi Bou Sid and on top a drive to Hammamet seems a horrible event after a atlantic flight

- Day 2

The drive from Hammamet to El Djem is along the highway about 1 h 15. Visiting the arena will take an hour (climb up to the highest floors to enjoy the views !!) and if you don't visit the Bardo in Tunis you have to visit the museum in El Djem, which will take at least another hour.

Driving to Gabes took us last year about 3 hours from Sousse. (tip: where the high way stops near Sfax are fairly clean toilets along the high way)

Never been to Tatatouine.

I think Tataouine to Douz is easy to do in a day. Off course you will sit most of the time in the car. Also next day will be ok, but it will be long day. Try to explore also the town of Tozeur a bit, we were there in april 2013 and it is a lovely town not that much spoiled by tourists yet.

The palmeria on itself was a bit a desillutian for me, it was lovely when I visited it long time ago but when you go in February not a lot will happen there yet (to early for flowers and fruit)

From Tozeur to Kairouan is another long drive along national roads - it is a nice experience to see the real Tunisia.

You can only visit the mosque in Kairouan when you are there before 12 o'clock prayers and not on a friday. For the rest the town is nice but not so special, if you pass along a shop that sells maqroudh (local biscuits) buy a few hundred gramm, they are lovely (cost average 5 dinar for a kilo)

In Sousse you can easy spend a whole day, so it would be sad to rush the visit. There is a lovely museum, a beautifull medina, the Ribat,....

So in combination with also driving to Hammamet the same day I would not do this.

Considering the safety: I personally think that your plan is ok, just the area of Tatatouine has been a bit unsettled last year/months. But I have heard of other people who were there without problems.

Casual clothes will do, jeans, t-shirts, warm jumpers as it can be cold in february.

Edited: 08 July 2014, 22:35
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Hammamet
Hammamet
Nabeul Governorate, Tunisia
Antwerp, Belgium
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4. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

Makes me always bit sad if people ask questions and then I do an effort to write a long answer (in a foreign language) and the they don't even reply any more... :-(

Edinburgh
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5. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

Don't worry, Maenan ;-(

Some of us here think you do real good ;-)

In fact you are one of the few on these forums who have a very good knowledge of Tunisia, outside of the popular resorts

Edited: 11 July 2014, 19:00
Antwerp, Belgium
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6. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

As long as they don't ask me where the best bar is (I think we Belgians are spoiled and will never find a bar that is better then here)

Thanks a lot for cheering me up a bit :-) :-) :-) :-)

We are thinking about going back for 3 months next year in the spring, lot of places we have not seen yet

NJ
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57 posts
36 reviews
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7. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

Maenan! You're absolutely right. I apologize for the delay in my replies. This week turned into a monster at work, and I've been running around a lot on my free time, in between trying to make plans. I wanted to wait until I had the chance to post a proper response (and not from my phone).

I really appreciate the time you, Alfred, and Mick took to respond to this inquiry. You've been very helpful!

I agree with the thoughts that this might be too much running around. My biggest thing was the "free day" - who needs that?! There's too much to see!

We tend to not mind getting off the plane, and getting right into a tour. But a little rest is nice too.

Big thank you for the tip about the clean toilets in Sfax. That's always good to know about!

I do understand some of the concerns about the south not being as safe. I think having a local guide and driver will make us feel a little bit safer. It's funny, since I was concerned, I checked some sites about travel warnings to other countries. India has many more warnings than Tunisia. We were in India last year for 17 days, and never once felt unsafe. And of course, there are a few warnings out there about the US, specifically New York City, which is right where we live. It's so difficult to determine these things.

I'm definitely keeping everyone's ideas and suggestions in mind. I think I'm going to see if they can change the itinerary around a little bit. I'm wondering if it would make more sense to set up base in Tunis instead of Hammamet. I'm sure Hammamet is nice, but I feel like I don't NEED to see Hammamet so much.

Oh and Mick, thanks for confirming my thoughts on the camping. I had a feeling it would be a bit chilly. I can handle some cold, but we're vacation - we want to be comfortable! Also, with the photography, you're right to point out to be careful of shooting military buidlings, etc. That's pretty typical of a lot of countries, so I'll watch out for it. Again, having a local guide is always helpful. They know the areas, and they know tourists. I like to think we're pretty easy for guides to work with.

Again, thanks for the assistance, and sorry for the delay in my response. It's through the kindness, respect, and courtesy of our fellow travelers that allows us to count on sites like this, so I'm sorry for falling short this time!

Thanks,

Ben

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Hammamet
Hammamet
Nabeul Governorate, Tunisia
NJ
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57 posts
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8. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

Oh, and I looked up maqroudh. Those look really good!!

Edinburgh
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9. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

Ben, your timing was superb !

Where you hiding behind the sofa -)

Some of what I stated may seem obvious, of course.

I may be wrong on this However going by the contributions on here from Maenan in the past

She is very knowledgeable regarding areas off the beaten track ,so to speak.

Those places most package holiday visitors don't do

Just a thought

But a have another look at your itinerary

A quick scan would suggest most of your intended "places to see" are in the South

So consider a base other than Tunis

NJ
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10. Re: February Itinerary & Safety Advice, Please

Haha, it seemed that way, didn't it?

I think with destinations like Tunisia, very little can be taken for granted, so no worries on pointing out the obvious. After spending time in India, you realize that in some places, there are more variables than others. That can add to the fun though, as long as you're adaptable.

It is good to hear from another traveler such as Maenen who tends to go off the beaten path, though.

I agree on the idea of a more southern base, on paper, but I think we'll be moving around so much when we're in the south. Tunis seems to make more sense since it's closer to the airport, and some of the northern locations. Hammamet can work as well. I'm just not sure if it makes as much sense as Tunis. Or maybe it makes more sense?

Either way, I'm sure we'll have an awesome time. I just have a tendency to do a lot of research in advance.

Thank you again!

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Hammamet
Hammamet
Nabeul Governorate, Tunisia
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