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North Africa (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria & Mauritania)

March 24 to April 24, 2020

Libya: is a country of stark contrasts, offering visitors an opportunity to view, not only some of the greatest Roman and Greek cities in the world, but also the magnificent views of the Sahara desert. On Libya’s western Mediterranean coast, stand the breathtaking Roman city of Leptis Magna. You will explore those great classical cities and stroll their streets, as well as, view the fines pieces displayed in many of their small but interesting museums. In recent months, the part of Libya in the province of Tripolitania has been safer than before and we are allowed to start sending visitors once again there.

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 4 countries or select the segments that you may prefer combining few of them.


Tour cost (Land ONLY) in double        single suppl.

Libya                           $2,995.00       $300.00

Tunisia                           $2,395.00       $295.00

Algeria                           $4995.00        $995.00

Mauritania                     $3,995.00        $495.00

 Each Trip segment is based on minimum of 6 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

  • Air Tunis/Libya/Tunis

  • 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

Tuesday, Mar 24
USA to Tunis (Tunisia)

Depart USA on board your flight to Europe connecting to Tunis.

Wednesday, Mar 25
Tunis

Upon arrival at Tunis airport, you will be met and transferred to Tunisia Palace hotel, or similar for check in, dinner and overnight (D)

Thursday, Mar 26
Tunis to Tripoli (Libya)

Morning flight to Tripoli and transfer to Victoria hotel in the center of town. Later you will enjoy a walking tour of the center of Tripoli with our guide – get an impression of this fascinating city with its long and changing history. Dinner in a local restaurant and overnight at your hotel. (D)

Friday, Mar 27
Leptis Magna & Villa Sileen

Today you visit the outstanding site at Leptis Magna, one of the greatest ancient sites in the world. It was originally a Phoenician trading port and prospered for nearly 1000 years before Vandal invasions and sand storms brought its downfall. In its heyday during the reign of Libyan Emperor Septimius Severus, it was second only to Rome and housed over 100,000 people. This vast city remained buried for some 1300 years, and it wasn’t until the 1920s that a major excavation by Italian and Libyan archaeologists revealed the limestone and marble wonders that we explore today. Lunch nearby the site. Continue on to Villa Sileen. This destination is just what the name indicates; a villa. But being of 20 rooms, adorned like no other building from ancient times in North Africa, this is a must-see for a Libya tour. The villa belongs to Byzantine times and was as a leisure home for one of Leptis Magna's wealthiest families. Every floor has its own unique mosaics. Many show human figures, which are bordered by intricate patterns. Most walls have frescoes of humans and pastoral scenes. Walls of the baths are in marble. The experience continues out into the garden, which faces the sea. Even here, there are beautiful mosaics. The villa is still undergoing restoration, but we can arrange a permit for you to visit from Leptis Magna. We return early evening to Tripoli. Dinner in local restaurant. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Mar 28
Modern Tripoli

After breakfast we head to Janzour is a small town, 13km west of Tripoli with a museum housed in one of 18 underground tombs found in the area in 1958. The museum contains some good frescoes including one that takes the form of a river from earthly life to the afterlife. After the visit to Janzour we drive back to Tripoli to visit the 2 WW Cemeteries. During the North African campaign, Tripoli was an important Axis base until taken by Montgomery's forces on 23 January 1943. It then became a hospital center, and the burials in the war cemetery were almost entirely from the hospitals. Tripoli War Cemetery contains 1,369 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 133 of them unidentified. The tour continues to Tripoli´s old town. Tripoli medina is an ancient walled city, dating from Roman times. Its high walls were originally built on the landward side to repel attacks from the interior, and these survived many invasions throughout the centuries. We also explore the old whitewashed medina (old city), which is full of mosques and is the historic heart of Tripoli. Compared to the bazaars in Istanbul, Marrakech and Cairo, the old souk here is quiet and peaceful. No one seems to be in a hurry and we have time to explore at our leisure. We make a stop at the Gurgi Mosque and the Arch of Marcus Aurelius, which is the last structure remaining from 163 AD, when Tripoli was an ancient Roman city known as Oea. The old British Consulate dates from 1744 and was first built as a home for the founder of the Karamanli Dynasty. We also enjoy a great view over the medina from the rooftop of the House of Yusuf Karamanli, where you can also see how Libyan rulers lived in the early 19th Century. The afternoon is free for you to do your own exploration of the Libyan capital. (Lunch in a typical medina restaurant). Later we explore early 20th-century Tripoli. Basically, your exploration of Tripoli’s 20th-century architecture heritage will take you through three neighborhoods. Immediately south of Martyrs´ Square which is the heart of the early 20th-century Tripoli. (B,L,D)

Sunday, Mar 29
Tripoli – Gharyan

After breakfast we drive to Gharyan, which lies at the foot of the plateau Nafusa mountains, 50 miles (80 km) south of Tripoli, Gharyan was on the trade routes both south to Fezzan and over the Nafusa Mountains. By 1884, the Ottomans had established a mayor and town council in Gharyan. It was considered the center of Libyan resistance against the Italian invasion in the early 20th century. Gharyan has now a population of 85,219 making it the biggest city in the Nafusa mountains. Olive-oil processing, flour milling, carpet weaving, and pottery making are the main occupations. Its famous troglodyte caves are a major attraction for tourists. The root "Ghar", in the name Gharyan, means "cave". The caves were dug vertically down into the rocky ground. Lunch in a troglodyte cave in Gharyan and dinner in Tripoli. (B,L,D)

Monday, Mar 30
Sabratha – Tunis (Tunisia)

Like Leptis Magna, Sabratha was a Phoenician trading post that served as an outlet for the products of the African hinterland. It was part of the short-lived Numidian Kingdom of Massinissa before being Romanized and rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. It is beautifully situated, overlooking the shores of the Mediterranean, and we spend the morning exploring its splendid theatre, baths, fountains and mosaics. We will have lunch in a local restaurant in Sabratha. After lunch, return at leisure until transfer to airport for flight to Tunis, upon arrival at Tunis airport, you will be met and transferred to Tunisia Palace hotel, or similar for check in, dinner and overnight (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Mar 31
Bardo Museum – Carthage – Sidi-Bou-Saïd

Today, you will visit the Bardo National Museum, one of the best archaeological museums of the Mediterranean, located in an old 18th century palace that once belonged to the Beys, former Turkish rulers of Tunisia. The Bardo Museum is particularly known for its beautiful collection of Roman-Byzantine mosaics, the world’s largest. Afterwards drive to Carthage with the famous roman and Carthaginian ruins, the Punic harbors, the roman villas and the fabulous archaeological museum, also visit the picturesque village of Sidi-Bou-Saïd and stroll in the white and blue streets. Back to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Apr 01
Dougga -Kairouan

Today, you head towards Dougga, the ancient Numidian-roman city, considered as the best preserved archaeological site in Tunisia, you will discover the theater, then the Forum and the capitoline temple dedicated to Jupiter, the baths of Caracalla and the market place. After Lunch you will drive to Kairouan. Arrive in Kairouan, check-in your hotel La Kasbah or similar. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Apr 02
Kairouan – El Jem – Sousse

This morning, you start with Kairouan, visit the Islamic monuments, the Grand Mosque, the mausoleum of the Barber and the Medina. After lunch, drive towards El Jem and marvel the unique roman amphitheater and the fascinating collection of mosaics at the museum. Afterwards drive to Sousse and check-in your hotel Iberostar Diar Al Andalous for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Apr 03
Sousse – Monastir - Sousse

After breakfast, you will visit the famous archaeological museum of Sousse, #2 in Tunisia with his extensive collection of Roman mosaics, then take a walk through the old town and its souks to marvel the Souks. After lunch, continue to Monastir, one a punic commercial harbor and one of the earliest Islamic towns in Tunisia, explore then the Ribat, a 8th century fortress built by the Arabs sheltering the National Museum for Islamic art. Visit then the mausoleum of former President Habib Bourguiba and his family. Return to your hotel in Sousse. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Apr 04
Oudna – Zaghouan

After breakfast, drive North of Sousse to Oudna/Uthina, recently excavated with a fine amphitheater and multi-story temple. Continue to the rosy-hued Roman town of Thuburbo Majus. Here you will see the forum, palestra, and peristyle houses with well-preserved mosaics. Afterwards head to Zaghouan, with its monumental nymphaeum at the source of the 90-km aqueduct that supplied Carthage with water from its terminus at the La Malga cisterns. At the end of the day, driv to Tunis and check-in your hotel Tunisia Palace for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Sunday, Apr 05
Tunis – Al Haouaria – Kerkouane - Tunis

Today, you will travel following the steps of the earliest Phoenician seafarers who established the first trading center in Tunisia around the 8th century B.C. Drive through the Cap Bon area through the mountains and valleys till you reach Al Haouaria where the early Carthaginians quarried the sandstone to build their houses, you will visit the largest quarries in the Carthaginian times then you will visit Kerkouane, considered the only historical city that has left only punic and Carthaginian architectural heritage, such as houses and bathtubs, temples and streets. Lunch in route and return to your hotel. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D).

Monday, Apr 06
Medina of Tunis

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

Tuesday, Apr 07
Tunis - Algiers (Algeria)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to the USA or to Algiers “arriving the same day”, OR for those who are coming from the US, upon arrival meet and transfer to your hotel for check in, dinner and overnight. (B)

Wednesday, Apr 08
Algiers

After breakfast, start your full day tour in the capital city of Algiers, visit Place des Martyrs, the 17th century El Djedid Mosque, the Place of Emir Abdelkader (panoramic square with statue of the founder of the Algerian nation); the neo-Moorish Grande Poste, and the Bardo Museum (housed in Moorish-style villa) containing some of the masterpiece mosaics found in various archaeological sites of Algeria, then in the afternoon, stroll the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Casbah, which is the old walled city, a masterpiece of architecture, the Casbah remains one of the world's most mythical labyrinths. It’s huddled houses tumbling down the hill-side before seemingly spilling over into the sea. You will have lunch in one of its private homes. If time allows, we’ll make a stop at the Cathedral of Notre Dame d'Afrique. Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Apr 09
Algiers - Annaba – Tiddis - Constantine

Fly this morning to Annaba. Upon arrival, visit the site of the ancient Hippo Regius with the museum, then you will visit the Basilica of St-Augustine. Lunch en route. In the afternoon, dive towards Tiddis, an old Roman outpost and marvel its arches, houses, the baths and cisterns. At the end of the day, arrive to Constantine. Check-in your hotel. Dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Apr 10
Constantine

Today, you explore Constantine, the "City of bridges". Take a walk in the city; it is a dramatic city of precipitous cliffs and deep gorges and the lofty setting for one of Algeria's most labyrinthine Casbahs. Visit the city’s excellent museum (noted in particular for its Roman mosaics and punic artefacts), the delightful Palace and gardens of Ahmed Bey, the Ottoman ruler, then the Monument of Sidi M'Cid (WW I Memorial), the Mosque of Emir Abdelkader, as well as the Opera House. You will also visit the mausoleum of the Khroub, believed to be the tomb of Massinissa, one of the most famous Berber kings during the Roman-Carthaginian era. Back to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Apr 11
Constantine - Timgad Lambaesis-Constantine

Drive to the late 3rd century royal tomb of Medracen, which housed the remains of the Numidian royalties, then continue to the well-preserved Roman town of Timgad (ancient Thamugadi) and deserving to be called “Pompei of Africa”; planned by Emperor Trajan around 100 AD. Spend the day exploring the colonnaded streets, temples, public buildings, villas and fine museum. Continue to the nearby city of Lambaesis, A Roman garrison town boasting a Temple of Aesculapius, a fine Capitolium, a set of baths, an Arch of Severus and, the highlight, the praetorium of the Third Augustan Legion. Return to Constantine for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Sunday, Apr 12
Constantine - Djemila – Bou Saada

Head to Djemila, one of North Africa's most monumental sites. The wheel-rutted streets of ancient Cuicul, founded by Emperor Nerva Trajan in the 1st 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 the immense walls is plastered with mosaics. Continue to Bou Saada, “place of happiness and the happy city”, is also the first Saharan oasis, a region occupied for a long time by the nomadic population of the Ouled Nails, which raises many herds and is known for its handicrafts. The French painter "orientalist" Etienne Dinet (1884), seduced by the landscapes and the types of the south lived there and buried in this city. (B,L,D)

Monday, Apr 13
Bou Saada

Start this morning with the visit of the famous Dinet’s museum, once a French artist who established himself in Bou Saada and is even buried there, you will marvel his original collection of 19th century paintings, then visit his tomb. Continue towards the handicraft center of Bou Saada downtown, a very interesting shopping experience. In the afternoon and after lunch, you will drive toward the huge and famous religious complex of El Hamel, near Bou Saada, still a big center for Sufis, where you can visit the majestic mausoleum of the patriarch Si Abulkacem, then visit the mosque and the madrassa. Back to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Apr 14
Bou Saada – Laghouat - Ghardaïa

Today, we start our route to the Mzab region via the vhistorical city of Laghouat (half-way between Boussaada and Ghardaia). Stop in Laghouat to visit the fabulous ethnographical museum then have lunch and in the afternoon continue to Ghardaia. Upon arrival, check-in your guest-house (Les 2 Tours). Dinner and overnight. (B, L, D)

Wednesday, Apr 15
Ghardaïa

Today, you will explore the art and architecture of the Mozabits who are the Berbers of the South of Algeria, living in a very unique valley amid the desert, this huge valley gathers 5 towns along the River Mzab. You will start visiting the main town of Ghardaia and its old town with the market place and the mosques. Then continue to El-Ateuf, where the Mozabits built the earliest underground mosque. Lunch in town. In the afternoon, take a stroll in the town of Beni Izguen, another tribe among the Mozabits which has very specific traditions and where all the women in the streets are covered with white veils. You will marvel the unique architecture called “vernacular”. Late in the day, return to your guest-house do dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Apr 16
Ghardaia – Algiers - Tizi Ouzou – Beni Yenni - Algiers

After early breakfast, take your morning flight to Algiers. Upon arrival, drive to the Kabyle region east of Algiers. The drive there is spectacular through the Berber mountains and the scattered towns and villages. Reach the famous small city of Beni Yenni made world famous for the surviving traditions of making silver jewelry. Today you are having a close up introduction to the Berber culture and lives. In the afternoon, back to Algiers for check-in at your hotel followed by dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Apr 17
Algiers – Cherchell – Tipaza – Algiers

Your full day is a trip outside Algiers, first visiting Tombeau de la Chrétienne (Mausoleum of Mauritania), one of North Africa's most enigmatic archaeological survivals; continue to the Roman town of Cherchell (88km) where you will visit its archaeology museum, housing many of the statues and coffins from the Roman era and after lunch, continue to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tipasa (25.3km) on the Mediterranean coast. There, you will stroll its amphitheater, 4th century basilica, forum, and museum before returning to Algiers (70.5km) where you will have your last dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Saturday, Apr 18
Algiers to (Mauritania) or US

Morning at leisure to visit more of the city’s museums or do some shopping or spend some time strolling the Kasbah again. After lunch, transfer to the airport for your flight back to the US or to Mauritania “arriving the same day”, OR for those who are coming from the US, upon arrival meet and transfer to your hotel in Nouakchott for check in and overnight. You will be fed a light dinner on the flight from Algiers to Nouakchott. (B,L)

Sunday, Apr 19
Nouakchott – Atar

After breakfast, Depart for Atar, the capital of Adrar region, the best tourist region in Mauritania, discover the nomad camps on your way. Afterwards return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Monday, Apr 20
Atar – Chinguetti

After breakfast; drive to Chinguetti the seventh holy city of Islam declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Enjoy your tour in its libraries and quarters and its oases. Chinguetti mean “Good horse”, this city would be buried by large waves of quicksand; some sources establish the foundation of Chinguetti to (1261). It was on the caravan route linking northern Sudan to North-Africa. This road was the main access to the gold and other products from the Sudan. The ancient city was a centre of religious and cultural influence from which scientists Mauritanian spread Islam and the Arab-Muslim culture in the entire West Africa. Chinguetti was a cultural centre where they studied, among other subjects, theology, poetry, philosophy and law .The Minaret of Chinguetti (topped by the symbolic ostrich egg) has become the symbol of Mauritania called until recently “Bilad Chinguett”. Transfer to Auberge hotel for dinner and overnight (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Apr 21
Chinguetti - Guelb Errichat – Ouadane – Chinguetti

After breakfast, depart to Guelb Errichat; Africa’s Eye via Ouadane with a stop at the old city of Ouadane, which was one of the main caravanning centres in West Africa. After lunch, continue to Guelb Errichat, an impressive crater, which originated from a meteorite that Theodore Monod has been looking for many years. Back to your hotel in Chinguetti for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Apr 22
Chinguetti – Atar

Departure towards the high plateau to reach the pass of Amogjar with its impressive canyon and its Mesa range of mountains where the famous French movie Fort Saganne has been shot, starring Gerard Depardieu. After lunch, head to visit the rock paintings discovered by the French naturalist Theodore Monod, then drive towards Atar. Upon arrival transfer to Al Waha hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Apr 23
Atar – Terjit - White Valley – Azoughi –Atar

Today cross the White Valley area to reach Terjit the most beautiful oasis in Mauritania, where an oasis with thermal springs and marvelous pools awaits us for bathing. This greenery oases is nestled in a hollow of the valley, very appreciated by tourists for its beauty and freshness; opportunity to swim in the desert. Then we explore the remains of Azougui, the ancient capital of the Almoravids. The Almoravids were warrior monks Muslims who went to the conquest of Morocco, Spain and sub-Saharan Africa from the eleventh century. A fortress was built amid 20 000 palm trees. The city-wall is still standing; through the maze of rocks you can find rests of the mosque. Sparsely populated the year it was assaulted by Mauritanians returning to their homeland during the Guetna (the date harvest). Afterwards return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)

Friday, Apr 24
Atar – Nouakchott – USA

Today we return to Nouakchott, Lunch upon arrival then visit the National museum and stroll in the traditional market of gold and handcraft. Day-use in your hotel to rest and get ready and transfer for a light dinner before being transferred to the airport for your flight back to USA (arriving Sat. April 25). (B,L,D)

We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed