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North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria & Mauritania)

October 13 to November 08, 2019

Tunisia: Few countries on earth match the historical, cultural, and natural splendor of Tunisia. Begin and end in the capital city of Tunis with its wondrous medina (ancient city) and fascinating souqs (markets). Travel onward to ancient Carthage, one of the most important cities in the ancient Roman Empire. Afterward, head south to the sacred Islamic site of Kairouan,

Algeria: is a vast country of breathtaking scenery, well-preserved Roman ruins, pre-historic cave paintings and a strong Berber culture. Your journey will take you from the sweeping shoreline to the majestic mountains, through the huge wilderness of the Sahara desert into the palm-fringed oases. Some of the highlights include the Roman ruins of Timgad, the former Roman port of Caesarea, the oases town of Bou Saada and the Kasbah of Algiers. This fascinating tour offers the adventurous traveler an alluring blend of art, history, culture and scenery, including the marvelous city of Constantine, the city of gorges and bridges.

Mauritania: Mauritania boasts many wonders of nature as well as ancient cities. In the middle Ages, it was the seat of the Almoravid movement that spread Islam throughout North Africa. Today the seventh holiest city of Islam, Chinguitty, is located in the north of the country. Also in the north is Ouad Esne, an oasis settlement concealed by waves of golden sand dunes. It is home to an ancient mosque that contains 3,000 manuscripts, justifying its UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

So come on join us on this amazing journey spanning 3 countries or select the segments that you may prefer combining few of them.

This trip can be added as a pre-tour to the scheduled Northern Morocco and Spanish Enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla trip (Nov 06 to 16, 2019)


Tour cost (Land ONLY) in double        single suppl.

Tunisia                           $1,995.00       $295.00

Algeria                           $4995.00        $995.00

Mauritania                     $3,495.00        $495.00

 Each Trip segment is based on minimum of 4 participants and maximum of 12 participants

Led by Lecturer/guide/historian Mohamed Halouani


Your tour does not include

  • International airfare or any flights between countries (Currently Tunis/Algiers is $150 & Algiers/Nouakchott is $250 – subject to change)

  • Items of a personal nature (laundry, phone calls, emails, excess luggage, etc.)

  • Visa fees for Algeria (obtainable in USA for approx. $160) and Mauritania (obtainable on arrival for $130).

  • Meals not listed and beverages with all meals

  • Travel protection insurance (Highly recommended)

  • Transfers if not arriving/departing on scheduled tour dates and

  • Dayroom or overnights necessitated by changes in airline schedules

Your tour includes

  • Hotel accommodations in Superior (4* level) hotels (except some 2-3 * hotels in parts of Mauritania)

  • Meals as specified in the itinerary: B-breakfast, L-lunch and D-dinner

  • Daily bottled mineral water on the vehicles during touring

  • Tipping to guide, driver, porters, hotel and restaurant staff throughout Tour

  • All tours as per itinerary including guidance and entrance fees

  • Transfers/transportation by air-conditioned motor-coach and 4 wheel drive vehicles

  • All local taxes and service charges on included items.

Trip Grade: II Active - Some hikes, slightly more demanding walks at or to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some very long rides. A few times you may be delayed by the security personnel at some check points and this necessitates a tolerant and patient attitude.

Lodging Level: ***-**** Superior to Luxury - Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (3 or 4 stars) and some are Luxury: Regular style- usually large- hotels, typical western standard with ample venues, and full amenities. (4 or 5 stars)

Your lecturer/guide Mr.  Mohamed Halouani is a Tunisian native who transformed his profound passion for travel and history into a creative and diversified educational career, designing and carrying out multiple archaeological and cultural trips for institutions, such as The Detroit Institute of Art, the Textile Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, Cross Cultural Adventurers and many more organizations. After having received his degrees in English and Spanish, Mr. Halouani completed his European Master’s in linguistics and Hispanic studies at the Sorbonne University in Paris. He has extensive knowledge on Islamic architecture and Eastern decorative elements as well as Roman archaeology and history. A skilled multilingual interpreter, Mohamed has served as the head tour guide in Tunisia. He now resides in Paris and leads only certain select small groups to the three countries in North Africa that boast the highest concentration of Roman Ruins: Libya, Tunisia and Algeria.

 

Photographs of Mauritania by Kaylee Dall, www.kayleejay.com


View Tour Itinerary

Sunday, Oct 13
USA to Tunis (Tunisia)

Depart the USA on a flight to Tunisia, connecting somewhere in Europe.

Monday, Oct 14
Tunis

On arrival in Tunis, our staff will be at the airport ready to greet you and assist with the transfer to your pre-booked hotel for check-in and dinner. Overnight at the Tunisia Palace hotel or similar and have a welcome dinner. (D)

Tuesday, Oct 15
Tunis – Carthage – Sidi-Bou-Saïd

Your North African adventure begins with a visit to the Bardo National Museum, one of the best archaeological museums in the Mediterranean region, and the second most important museum in Africa, after the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. This museum traces the history of Tunisia and its civilization over many millennia. Housed in an old, 18th century palace that once belonged to the Beys, former Turkish rulers of Tunisia, this museum is particularly known for its beautiful collection of Roman-Byzantine mosaics, the world’s largest. Afterwards drive to Carthage, a major city during the Roman Empire, to explore some of its amazing Roman ruins including the Villas where you will also find some interesting mosaics. The well-preserved Carthage Roman Theater will help you imagine what life was like during ancient Roman times. At the Punic Harbor, there are two basins where the mightiest fleets in the Mediterranean once docked. Also visit the fabulous Carthage Archaeological Museum where you can see some of the items excavated from the nearby ruins as well as some beautiful mosaic pieces. From the museum, there are spectacular views overlooking the coast and city. From here, continue on to the town of Sidi Bou Said, an incredibly picturesque town located at the top of a steep cliff, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Take a stroll through its white and blue painted streets and explore the town's outdoor market place. You'll be amazed by the incredible views here. Return to your hotel in Tunis for your overnight. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Oct 16
Dougga -Kairouan

Today, you head west to Dougga, an ancient Numidian-Roman city, considered the best-preserved archaeological site in Tunisia. This former Berber and Roman settlement has been protected from modern urbanization, making it one of the best destinations for exploring Roman ruins. Discover the Theater, built around 168 A.D. and one of the best-preserved sites in Roman Africa. Next, see the City Forum ruins and the well-preserved second century Capitol Temple, dedicated to Jupiter. Other sites you'll explore are the Baths of Caracalla, which date back to the third century, and the site of the Market Square. After lunch. drive to the ancient city of Kairouan, an important holy place for Muslims around the world. It's also the location where the hit movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, was filmed as a stand in for Cairo. Check-in to the La Kasbah or similar for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Oct 17
Kairouan – El Jem – Sousse

This morning, you'll spend some time exploring the Islamic monuments of Kairouan including the Grand Mosque, established in 670, making it one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world. Also visit the 17th century Mausoleum of the Barber, which is actually a zaouia (Islamic school or monastery) and burial place of Abu Zama El Belaoui, a companion to the Prophet Mohammed. Before stopping for lunch, spend some time wandering the town's Medina. This afternoon, drive to El Jem and marvel at the unique third century Roman Amphitheater, one of the best preserved ancient amphitheater in the world. Also see a fascinating collection of mosaics depicting the life and times of Roman North Africa at the El Jem Museum. Continue on with the drive to Sousse where you'll check-in to the Hotel Iberostar Diar Al Andalous for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Oct 18
Sousse – Monastir - Sousse

After breakfast, you will visit the second most famous archaeological museum in Tunisia - the Sousse Museum, which is housed in the 11th century Kasbah. This impressive museum contains an extensive collection of Roman mosaics and artifacts that date back to the second century B.C. You'll then take a walk through the old town and its medina and lose yourself in its souks. After lunch, continue on to Monastir, once a Punic commercial harbor and one of the earliest Islamic towns in Tunisia. Explore the Ribat, an eighth century fortress built by the Arabs that now houses the National Museum for Islamic art. Also visit the Mausoleum of former President Habib Bourguiba and his family. Return to your hotel in Sousse for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Oct 19
Oudna – Zaghouan

After breakfast, drive north of Sousse to Oudna (Uthina), a recently excavated ancient city with a fine amphitheater and multi-story temple. Continue on to the rosy-hued Roman town of Thuburbo Majus. Once a Punic town, it was later turned into a settlement for military veterans by Augustus around 27 BC. Here you will see the second century forum, the palestra, and peristyle houses with well-preserved mosaics. You'll then continue on to Zaghouan, where you'll see an ancient 60-mile-long aqueduct that once supplied water to Carthage. Zaghouan is also famous for its roses. The drive ends at Tunis where you'll check-in to the Tunisia Palace for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Sunday, Oct 20
Tunis – Al Haouaria – Kerkouane - Tunis

Today, you will follow the path of the earliest Phoenician seafarers who established the first trading center in Tunisia around the eighth century B.C. Drive along the Cape Bon area, through the mountains and valleys, until you reach Al Haouaria. Early Carthaginians in this authentic small town quarried the sandstone that built their houses. Much of the sandstone, which was quarried underground, was their main trade and you will have the chance to visit some of the largest quarries that date back to Carthaginian times. Continue on to Kerkouane, considered the only historical city with Punic and Carthaginian architectural heritage left in the world. The ruins here include houses, baths, temples and streets. Stop for lunch enroute then return to your hotel in Tunis for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D).

Monday, Oct 21
Medina of Tunis

Spend the morning exploring the different neighborhoods of the medina and its Islamic monuments, mosques, madrassas, and hammams (baths). You will also have a chance to meet an architect and a journalist who will both enlighten you about the development of Tunisian society and arts. Return to your hotel in Tunis for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Oct 22
Tunis - Algiers (Algeria) Or USA

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to the USA or continue on to Algiers “arriving the same day”, OR, for those who are coming from the USA, upon arrival, you'll be met and assisted with the transfer to your hotel for check in, dinner and overnight. (B)

Wednesday, Oct 23
Algiers

Algiers is the capital and largest city in Algeria, located on the Mediterranean Sea. It's white-washed buildings can be seen rising up from the sea. Your full day tour of Algiers begins with a stop to see Place des Martyrs, a large monument commemorating the Algerian War for Independence. Next, visit the 17th century Djamaa El Djedid Mosque and the Emir Abdelkader Place, a panoramic square with a statue of the founder of the Algerian nation. See the neo-Moorish Grande Poste and the Bardo Museum, which is housed in a Moorish-style villa. The museum contains some fine mosaics that were found at various archaeological sites throughout Algeria. In the afternoon, take a stroll through the old walled city of the Casbah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an excellent architectural masterpiece. This Casbah remains one of the world's most mythical labyrinths while its huddled houses appear to tumble down the hill-side and spill out into the sea. Enjoy a traditional lunch in a private home in the city. Time permitting, stop at the 19th century Cathedral of Notre Dame d'Afrique, which overlooks the Bay of Algiers. Dinner and overnight will be in Algiers (B,L,D)

Thursday, Oct 24
Algiers - Annaba – Tiddis - Constantine

In the morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Annaba. On arrival, immediately head out to the site of Hippo Regius, an ancient city that was home of philosopher, Augustine of Hippo. Up the hill above the Hippo Regius site is a museum displaying many of the relics found at the site including a sculpture of Emperor Vespasian. Next, visit the 19th century Roman Catholic Basilica of St. Augustine. Stop for lunch, then drive on towards Tiddis, an old Roman, outpost to admire its arches, Temple of Mithras, baths, forum, and cisterns. Arrive in Constantine at the end of the day and check-in to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Oct 25
Constantine City

Spend the day exploring Constantine (formerly known as Cirta), the "City of Bridges". It is a dramatic city of precipitous cliffs and deep gorges and a lofty setting for one of Algeria's most labyrinthine Casbahs. Visit its most excellent Cirta Museum, known in particular for its Roman mosaics and Punic artifacts as well as fine paintings and sculptures. Next, visit the impressive Ahmad Bey Palace and Gardens, former home of the Ottoman ruler. Other sites throughout the city include the Monument of Sidi M'Cid, commemorating the victims of WWI; the Mosque of Emir Abdelkader; the beautiful Opera House; and the Mausoleum of the Khroub, believed to be the tomb of Massinissa, one of the most famous Berber kings during the Roman-Carthaginian era. Return to your hotel in Constantine for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Oct 26
Constantine - Timgad Lambaesis-Constantine

Today you'll drive out to the late third century Royal Tomb of Medracen, which housed the remains of Numidian royalty. This massive structure was built from stone blocks with a circular base and cone-shaped roof. Continue on to the well-preserved Roman town of Timgad (ancient Thamugadi) considered the “Pompeii of Africa”. This city, founded by Emperor Trajan around 100 A.D., was the largest Roman settlement ever built in North Africa. It was later abandoned and taken over by the sand, which preserved many of its ruins. You'll spend the day exploring the colonnaded streets, temples, public buildings, villas and museum. See the Trajan's Arch, one of the city's most impressive structure and the second century A.D. and the Theater, which was cut into the hillside. Next, visit the nearby city of Lambaesis, a Roman garrison town with impressive ruins consisting of the Temple of Aesculapius, an amphitheater, a Capitolium, a set of baths, Arch of Severus, and the praetorium (Roman camp) of the Third Augustan Legion. Return to Constantine for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Sunday, Oct 27
Constantine - Djemila – Bou Saada

After breakfast, you'll drive out to Djemila, one of North Africa's most monumental sites. The wheel-rutted streets of ancient Cuicul, founded by Emperor Nerva Trajan in the first century to house his veterans, are lined with colonnades and a clutch of elaborate houses, Byzantine churches, and ancient temples. Equally impressive is Djemila's stunning museum, where every square inch of its immense walls are plastered with mosaics. Continue on to Bou Saada, “place of happiness and the happy city”. It is also the first Saharan oasis occupied for a long time by the Ouled Nail nomadic tribe, known for raising cattle. The city is an important market place and trading post for nomads selling items such as jewelry, metalwork, carpets, and bousaidi knives. Explore the old medina or "ksar" within the city walls. Return to your hotel in Constantine for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Monday, Oct 28
Bou Saada

Your day begins with a visit to the famous Dinet’s Museum, a French artist (1861-1929) who established himself in Bou Saada and is even buried here. You will marvel over his original collection of 19th century paintings and then visit his tomb. Next, head downtown to visit the handicraft center of Bou Saada, a very interesting shopping experience. After lunch, make the drive to El Hamel, a city built in the 11th century on two hills at the foot of Mt. Omrane. Explore the enormous religious Complex of El Hamel, founded in the 19th century by Sidi Mohammed Ben Belgacem. Within the complex is the majestic Mausoleum of Si Abulkacem, the mosque, and madrassa. Return to your hotel in Bou Saada for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Oct 29
Bou Saada – Laghouat - Ghardaïa

Today's journey takes you across the M'zab region via the historical city of Laghouat (half-way between Boussaada and Ghardaia). Here you'll visit the fabulous Ethnographical Museum to learn more about the local culture, followed by lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon continue on to Ghardaia, founded around 1,000 years ago by the Mozabites, a Muslim Ibadi sect that includes the Berbers. This fortified town was built around a cave, said to be inhabited by the female Saint, Daia. Ghardaia is divided into three walled sections: In the center is the historical M'zabite area where white, pink, and red houses made of sand, clay, and gypsum are built up around a pyramid-shaped mosque; the traditional Jewish Quarter with its many wells and craft shops; and the Medabian Quarter. Check-in at the Les 2 Tours Hotel followed by dinner. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Oct 30
Ghardaïa

You'll spend some time observing the art and architecture of the Mozabites, who are the Berbers of the South of Algeria. They live in a very unique valley amid the desert and along the River M'zab. Explore Ghardaia and its old town including the market place and mosques. Next, visit El-Ateuf, the oldest town in the region to see the simple white-washed Mosque and Sheikh Sidi Brahim's Tomb. After lunch, continue on to Beni Izguen, where the women cover themselves with white veils, and take a stroll through the town. You'll admire the unique architecture known as "vernacular" in this medieval city and World Heritage Site. Return to your hotel in Ghardaia late in the day for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Oct 31
Ghardaia – Algiers - Tizi Ouzou – Beni Yenni - Algiers

After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for the morning flight to Algiers, where you'll be met and driven out to the Kabyle region, east of Algiers. The drive through the Berber mountains and the scattered towns and villages via the city of Tizi Ouzou is spectacular. Tizi Ouzou is located in the Assif N Sebaou valley surrounded by mountains. Arrive at the small city of Beni Yenni, made world famous for its surviving traditions of silver jewelry making, for a close-up look into the Berber culture and lives. In the afternoon, return to Algiers and check-in at your hotel, followed by dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Nov 01
Algiers – Cherchell – Tipaza – Algiers

A full day excursion takes you out of the city and to the Roman town of Cherchell, stopping along the way to see the Tombeau de la Chrétienne (Mausoleum of Mauritania), one of North Africa's most enigmatic archaeological wonders. The tomb was built in the third century B.C. by King of Mauretania, Juba II and his wife, Cleopatra Selene II. In Cherchell, you will visit the Archaeology Museum, which houses many statues and coffins from the Roman era as well as ornate mosaics. After lunch, continue on to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tipasa, located on the Mediterranean coast. Take a stroll among its amphitheater, fourth century basilica, forum, and museum before returning to Algiers where you will have your final dinner and overnight in the fascinating country. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Nov 02
Algiers to Nouakchott (Mauritania) or US

You will have the morning free to spend at your leisure - either to visit more of the city’s museums, do some shopping, or spend some time wandering the Kasbah. After lunch, transfer to the airport for your flight back to the USA or on to Mauritania “arriving the same day”, OR, for those who are coming from the USA, on arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Nouakchott for check-in and overnight. Nouakchott is the capital and largest city in Mauritania as well as the administrative and economic center. You will have a light dinner on the flight from Algiers to Nouakchott. (B,L)

Sunday, Nov 03
Nouakchott – Atar

After breakfast, depart for Atar, capital of the Adrar region, discovering the nomadic camps along the way. There isn't much to do in Atar, but you will be warmly welcomed by the friendly faces of the locals and find the markets are worth exploring. There is a historic mosque here as well. Check-in to your Atar hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Monday, Nov 04
Atar – Chinguetti

Today you'll drive to Chinguetti, the seventh holy city of Islam and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in the 13th century, this medieval Berber town was the center of several trans-Saharan trade routes. The city is threatened by encroaching desert and even some of the homes have been abandoned to the sands. Here you'll see the Minaret, which is topped by the symbolic ostrich egg, the Friday Mosque, and the water tower. Overnight and dinner will be at the Auberge Hotel or similar. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Nov 05
Chinguetti - Guelb Errichat – Ouadane – Chinguetti

In the morning, depart for the ancient city of Ouadane, once a stop along the trans-Saharan trade route. This small town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, contains many well-preserved ruins. After lunch, continue on to Guelb Errichat "Africa’s Eye" - an impressive crater that looks like a blue eye from the sky. There are many theories about how this amazing geological wonder was formed. It was originally thought it was created by an asteroid, but later argued that it was created by a volcanic eruption, but now it is being said it may have been caused by uplifted rock sculpted by years of erosion. Return to your hotel in Chinguetti for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Nov 06
Chinguetti – Atar

After breakfast, head out towards the high plateau over the Amogjar Pass from where there are spectacular views of the canyon and mountain range. This is also the location where the famous French movie "Fort Saganne", starring Gerard Depardieum was filmed. After lunch, explore the caves containing ancient Neolithc rock paintings discovered by French naturalist, Theodore Monod, depicting a lush grassland with giraffes and antelope. Drive back to Atar and check-in at the Al Waha Hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Nov 07
Atar – Terjit - White Valley – Azoughi –Atar

This morning, drive across the White Valley area to Terjit, the most beautiful oasis in Mauritania, where thermal springs and marvelous pools awaits you for a relaxing soak. This green oasis is nestled in a valley gorge, very much appreciated by visitors for its beauty and fresh air and the opportunity to "swim in the desert". Afterwards, explore the remains of Azougui, the ancient capital of the Almoravids. The Almoravids were Muslim warriors who conquered Morocco, Spain and sub-Saharan Africa during the eleventh century. A fortress was built here amid 20,000 palm trees. The city-wall still stands today, and through the maze of rocks, you can find the rest of the ruins. including the necropolis of Imam Hadrami, an 11th century warrior. Also see the seventh century rock carvings. Afterwards return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Nov 08
Atar – Nouakchott – USA

Today you'll return to Nouakchott in time for lunch. Afterwards, visit the National Museum and its notable archaeological and ethnographical collections including arrowheads, ancient pottery fragments, and traditional costumes of Mauritania. Also take stroll through the traditional market of gold and handcraft market. You'll have the use of your hotel throughout the day to rest and freshen up before heading out for a light dinner followed by a to the airport for your flight back to USA (arriving Sat. Nov. 9th). (B,L,D)

“We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed also program may shift in case any changes that might happen with the inter-countries flights.”