In this week’s travel feature Shaun Yeo goes on a two week Tunisia on his Yamaha DragStar 650 Motorbike.
By Shaun Yeo
A while back, I toured Morocco on my motorbike, an easy country in North Africa to get to from Gibraltar. But being left short, wanting to experience more of these amazing North African countries, I decided I wanted to visit Tunisia too… on my motorbike!
Due to long standing conflicts between Morocco and Algeria, the borders between these two countries have been closed for many years. Researching on how to reach Tunisia by other means, I found the easiest other way was to get a ferry from Marseille in France to Tunis, in Tunisia.
Some would argue that a ferry from Spain to Algeria would be easier, but the paperwork required for multiple entry VISAS and border formalities would make going from France much easier.
It took me two days to travel from Gibraltar to Marseille on my Yamaha DragStar 650 Motorbike. The ferry then took just under 24 hours to sail to Tunisia.
All border formalities such as customs declarations, temporary importation of a vehicle into the country paperwork and passport stamps, where all done on-board the ferry by Tunisian Officials. When disembarking from the ferry, all paperwork is quickly checked at the Tunisian Port and then you are let on your way.
My two week motorbike tour of Tunisia started from Tunis, through the East part of the country, down the Mediterranean Coast, including the towns and cities of Hammamet, Sousse, Monastir, Sfax and the Islet of Djerba. Following on, I visited the inland towns in the desert; Medinine, Tataouine, Matmata, Tozeur and Kairouan.
Tunisia is well known for the many Roman Ruins that can be found all over the country, some in very good conditions. The culture is very similar to that of Morocco, people are very friendly and welcoming. The food although similar to Morocco, has a big Mediterranean influence, you can also find some of their own local dishes around.
My favourite Tunisian spice is harissa, it is a paste made from local chillies and olive oil, spicy but nice. The bustling medinas of every city and town in Tunisia is a must see. The beautiful colourful handmade artefacts that hang from all the stalls, with the aroma of local spices and food in the streets are amazing to experience.
At the Mediterranean Coast of Tunisia, it is well worth enjoying the local culture as well as visiting a few museums and fortifications. At the Island of Djerba there is a Crocodile Park for tourists to visit. Inland, the scenery changes to a desert terrain, and I end up driving through a few sand storms along the way. Towns are smaller in the desert, and many buildings made of mud.
The local Berber people use adobe mud to build these fortifications and store rooms, a building like out of this world, and actually, Tunisia was used for six Star Wars movies. Some of the sites and sets can still be visited.
Through the desert I cross a salt lake; Chott el Djerid, which means “Lagoon of the Land of Palms. In Tozour there are many oases. Lovely patches of Palm Trees and green plantations in the middle of the desert. Close to Tataouine we find a small Berber town called Matmata. Locals live in an underground structure called a “Troglodyte”.
These homes are created by digging a large pit in the ground.
My two week tour of Tunisia by Motorbike comes to an end, by completing a full circle of the country and ending back in Tunis, were it all started, ready for the long journey back home via France.
To read more about Shaun’s travels and diving expeditions check out his blog: www.shaunyeophotography.com