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Tunis to Matmata and back - how to do it?

Birmingham, United...
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Tunis to Matmata and back - how to do it?

Hi, Hopefully someone can help me out?. I'm going to be staying in Tunis in July 2014 (so plenty of time) and I wanted to visit Matmata and see the Hotel Sidi Driss as i'm a Star Wars fan.

I've spent a good few hours working out how to do it and what I've decided on is I'll take the early train from Tunis to Gabes and then locate the louage stop nearby to get to Matmata arriving around 13:00

It seems advisable to stay at Hotel Marhala which I guess is within walking distance to see the Sidi Driss.

Hopefully the above is the correct way to do it but what about getting back?. I'd stay overnight then head back to Tunis - I was looking at getting the train from Gabes to Tunis at 09:00 or 11:15 but my concern is getting to Gabes from Matmata at set times. Will I be able to get a taxi or louage? or am I really in the stix?. My French isn't that good to email the hotel Marhala in advance and ask about transport in the local area.

Any advice is welcome or has anyone completed this journey? Perhaps there is a better way to do it?.

Thanks in advance,

Andy

San Diego...
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1. Re: Tunis to Matmata and back - how to do it?

Hi Andy

My name is Mohamed. I am originally from Tunisia and I live in San Diego, CA. I am an Arabic Cultural Advisor and I am also teaching at a US university.

First, I hope you`ll have a great trip to Tunisia and you`ll enjoy it as much as you expect. Here is my advice for a better trip:

To travel from Tunis to Matmata, there are different ways to do it:

* You may take the train to Gabes as you mentioned and then catch a "louage" (group taxi) to Matmata. For this option, the train station in Tunis is called "Barcelona Station". When you get to Gabes, you can take a taxi to the “Louage Station”. At the louage station, you mostly hear drivers calling loudly for their destinations. You may ask simply “Matmata?” specifically “Matmata Kadeema” (Old Matmata). Drivers don`t have a formal uniform, they dress casually. Payment accepted is only cash and should be just few Tunisian dinars!

* You may also take the bus to Gabes (it is comfortable bus mostly) instead of the train. To do so, you will need to catch the bus at “Bab Alioua Station”. The bus company called “Alwataniya”, in French; SNTRI. The bus as the train makes stops along the way, but you will not need to change the bus or the train. When you get to Gabes, you will need to take the louage as for the train.

* Another option is to fly to Djerba Island and then catch the louage to Gabes (About 150km), and then another louage to Matmata. Having said that, there is a local airport between Gabes and Matmata actually called Gabes-Matmata Airport. The Only thing is that I am not sure if there is any domestic flight to and from Tunis. Please, visit Tunisair website and check their local flight through their sister company called “Tunisair Express” ; domestic airline

* Driving to Matmata and Back to Tunis may be an option, but I do not recommend it unless you have driven there before or in similar driving conditions such as in Italy or Middle East!!!

* In case your Matmata Hotel cannot pick you up and/or arrange for your transportation from the Louage Station in Matmata to the hotel, you may try to find a taxi. However, Matmata is a small village and taxi may not be available at all times. Ask the louage driver to take you to the hotel and offer him few more dinars. He mostly would accept that.

Your main concern is how to get back from the hotel to Tunis, and specifically to Gabes. As a person who is not familiar with the area and do not speak Arabic or French, I would recommend to have your hotel front desk arrange your trip back, at least to the louage station in Matmata. I am sure they will do that. They may have a shuttle, or get you a taxi, or even have the louage come and pick you up from the hotel. You can ask them even when you get there, or to be more comfortable have your hotel front desk in Tunis call them and arrange everything with your hotel at Matmata. They also can do that.

Please, put in mind:

* There are two villages or better say two districts in Matamata next to each other, one is called New Matmata (Matmata Jadida), and the second is called Old Matmata (Matmata Kadeema), the latter is the one you want to go to.

* You need to get to Gabes at day time. Better to be there at morning time, but before sunset. You may not find any louage to Matmata at night time. Hence, whatever you choose the train or the bus, take the evening trips. Both train and bus take several hours to get to Gabes (approx 6-8 hours). So you will get to Gabes in the morning. If you take the morning trips, you may get to Gabes evening time.

* During the summer, it gets really hot in the south and temperature may reach over 100F. Make sure you carry a bottle of water with you always.

* Louage and taxi only accept cash. Make sure you have enough Tunisian Dinar, but not too much for your safety.

* Whatever hotel you are staying at, ask for assistance from the front desk. They can assist you arranging your travel within the country. They are usually good at providing information and assistance to guests.

* Online and internet services in Tunisia are not as advanced as in the US. You may find outdated websites, portals, WebPages, etc. When looking for information or requesting services online make sure the website is updated and running accurately.

* Credit cards may be accepted at hotels, but they are mostly not accepted in other places such as food marts, transportation, cafes, restaurants, etc.

Hope this will be helpful!

Mohamed

Antwerp, Belgium
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2. Re: Tunis to Matmata and back - how to do it?

Keep in mind it is Ramadan in July and some times of the day the public transport will be very limited.

Birmingham, United...
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3. Re: Tunis to Matmata and back - how to do it?

Thank you so much Mohammed you've been a great help.

Birmingham, United...
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4. Re: Tunis to Matmata and back - how to do it?

Cheers Maenan, I'm guessing people have still got to 'function' as normal though and I should be able to get a train or the light railway to places?. I'll check at the railway station what the daily timetable is - do you think it will differ much from the normal service?

Antwerp, Belgium
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5. Re: Tunis to Matmata and back - how to do it?

Yes. It can differ. We went once to Kairouan by bus. Last bus back to Sousse was cancelled because during Iftar.

Even in a town like Sousse there are nearly no taxi's at eating time. Every one goes home to eat

Edited: 21 February 2014, 22:07
6. Re: Tunis to Matmata and back - how to do it?

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