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El Feidja NP, Bou-Hedma NP, Jbil NP & Sidi Toui NP, Tunisia

Tantalising Tunisia

£2,750 pp sharing

At a Glance

Dates: October 8th - October 17th, 2023

Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.

Prices: £2,750 pp sharing (with no single supplement)​, excluding flights.

In a sentence: Native wildlife, including barbary sheep and fennec fox, combined with the re-introduced addax and scimitar-horned oryx make this itinerary a real treat for the experienced naturalist.

Overview

For many travellers from Continental Europe, Tunisia is most commonly associated either with sunshine getaways or Star Wars. And whilst this charming country certainly does boast several film sets from that famous franchise, and the beaches are hard to pass up in the depths of a European winter, there is an awful lot more to Tunisia than meets the eye. This narrow coastal belt of land is actually full of variety, from steep cliffs to open savanna to rolling sand dunes. The only commonalities throughout the country are the warm greetings and open arms that meet you wherever you go, making Tunisia our very favourite destination in North Africa.

For birders, the rich Mediterranean coastline is the place to start any exploration of Tunisia, with seabirds recorded in good numbers even close to the capital of Tunis. This rocky habitat is also a good area for keen mammal-watchers, with rodents and bats found in surprising densities in undisturbed areas. Further inland, savanna surprisingly appears before desert, with some areas more reminiscent of East Africa than North Africa., and it is here that we find fascinating species including Africa's only deer species, the Barbary stag (a subspecies of red deer) as well as wild boar and red fox. As the savanna becomes punctuated by steep scree slopes, Barbary sheep will become a key target, but the highlights are arguably even deeper inland. Towering dunes protect enigmatic fennec foxes and sand cats, but are also where addax and scimitar-horned oryx, extinct in the wild, have been carefully re-introduced.

Itinerary

Day One

El Feidja NP

On arrival into Tunis, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and local guide.  From Tunis, we will first head a short distance north-east to the scenic Cap Bon. This lovely peninsula is a wonderful and surprising introduction to what many think to be solely a desert country. With the Mediterranean sprawling out before us, the birding here is consistently excellent but, if time permits, the chance to visit several bat caves is a great opportunity to spot our first mammals of the trip.

By early afternoon, we will begin our drive west, almost all the way to the Algerian border, to our accommodation. We will overnight in a basic guesthouse in El Feidja NP.

Day Two

El Feidja NP

Today allows us a full day to explore the little-visited El Feidja National Park. Dominated by thick woodland, the park could scarcely be further from the common conception of what Tunisia should look like. The star attraction here is the booming population of Barbary deer, Africa's only deer and a subspecies of the red deer more usually seen in Europe and Asia. The best way to explore the park is on a series of hiking trails, which meander between clearings, and the deer should be found easily enough. Wild boar and African wolf can be glimpsed here with a bit of luck and, provided the mist doesn't close in, the birding can be rewarding. We will likely spend the full day in the forest before returning to our basic guesthouse for the night. 

Day Three

Bou-Hedma NP

We leave El Feidja early this morning, driving deep into Tunisia's interior to Bou-Hedma National Park. We aim to arrive by mid-afternoon, giving us a chance to settle in to our basic campsite before an evening drive. As the heat of the day dissipates, we will head out to explore this spectacular park, staying out into the hours of darkness with spotlights. We would certainly categorise this as a savanna park rather than a true desert ecosystem, and we hope to pick up Dorcas gazelle and Rueppell's fox this evening. The real draw here though are the small re-introduced populations of addax and scimitar-horned oryx - these are arguably two of the rarest and most charismatic species on the entire continent, and spending time with them is a real privilege.

Day Four

Bou-Hedma NP

We spend a final morning with the rare wildlife in Bou-Hedma today, before continuing to the town of Gafsa where we spend the night.

Day Five

Jbil NP

After breakfast in Gafsa, we make a beeline this morning for Tunisia's most famous national park - Jbil. Reaching the park in time for a late lunch, an afternoon drive is a great way to introduce ourselves to this, the gateway to the Sahara. The dunes here come alive at night, though, so we suggest a night drive of several hours. With the diligent use of spotlights and a thermal monocular, we hope to reveal species including lesser Egyptian jerboa, fennec fox and Rhim gazelle. The most hallowed sighting here is the ultra-rare sand cat, which persist in tiny numbers in this corner of Tunisia.

Day Six

Jbil NP

Today is broken into morning, afternoon and night drives, with our key targets being the supremely adorable fennec fox and the elusive sand cat.

Day Seven

Oued Dekouk & Tataouine

Our day is spent mostly at the small natural reserve of Oued Dekouk. Our quarry here is the Barbary sheep, of which a few dozen are regularly spotted high up on the scree slopes here. After staking out this productive area for several hours, we continue on to the town of Tataouine for some rest.

Day Eight

Sidi Toui NP

The final national park we visit on this itinerary is certainly the wildest. Not too far from the border with Libya, the towering dunes of Sidi Toui make it hard to get around but protect some of the rarest and most stunning wildlife in North Africa. We have three key targets here - sand cat, fennec fox and wild cat. All three are skittish here due to poaching, but we will put serious effort in today and tomorrow to find these iconic species.

Day Nine

Sidi Toui NP

We have a full day to explore Sidi Toui, heading out well before sunrise, and again after sunset, to maximise our chances of spotting nocturnal wildlife.

Day Ten

Tour End

We head to Djerba today to meet your outbound flights.

Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.

Dates and Prices

This tour will run in October 2023, aiming to avoid the blistering heat of the summer and the snow of the winter. The tour will run from October 8th to October 17th.

The cost of this trip is £2,750 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. There is no single supplement for this tour. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,100 plus any single supplement must be paid.

Flights and Visas

Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Djerba at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.

British nationals do not require a visa to enter Tunisia. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Please ensure your passport is valid for at least six months after your departure from Tunisia and has at least two blank pages. You may also need to provide documentation confirming you have received a Yellow Fever vaccination.

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in the Tunisia in August is warm with some rain showers, with maximum temperatures of around 26 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 16 degrees Celsius, although it will feel much colder than this during night drives - be sure to pack warm clothes.

A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat. 

Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing Euros.

Safety and Security

There are currently no security concerns in the areas visited by this trip.

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