This camping trail in the west of Tunisia, starting in the oasis town of Nefta that sits at the western end of the giant green strip of palms that stretches all the way from Tozeur. It is hugely important locally as the home of Sufism in Tunisia. Ride via Ong Jemel, an arid mountain landscape where the original Star Wars was filmed and Chebika oasis, once a Roman outpost, ending in Tamerza, the largest mountain oasis in Tunisia. Bathe in a natural hot spring, visit a Tunisian Hammam, and enjoy canters along the dried riverbeds. Camp out with the horses in a palm grove, and dine under eucalyptus trees.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from TM of Wadhurst on 02/04/2011
Arrive at Monastir airport and meet the transfer to the palm grove at Nefta (5 hours from Monastir). Enjoy a welcome dinner around the campfire before the first night in a Bedouin tent. Riders should arrive before 6pm otherwise there will be an extra charge for the transfer into camp.
After breakfast under the palm trees, set out across the palm grove of Nefta; 152 springs and 400,000 date palms and the so-called "deglet ennour" (light's fingers). Return to the camp for lunch and then enjoy some faster riding across the Chott, a salt lake lying below sea level which creates mirages in the sunlight. Camp in the sand dunes tonight. (5-6 hours riding)
Continue through the beautiful dune landscape of Ongl Jemel which was a filming location for the original ‘Star Wars’ films. Stop look around and enjoy lunch. Continue riding in the afternoon on the Chott, with long gallops to a lake near the Chemsa oasis, the overnight spot. (7 hours riding)
The terrain is more varied today, passing hills, canyons and dry salt lakes. Look out for tracks of wild boars and maybe the boars themselves. There are herds of camels and sheep in the dunes. After lunch, ride towards the distant mountains and oasis of "Chebika" with lots of opportunities to trot and canter. Stop and make camp in the hills near Sac Dut. (6.5 hours riding).
Ride to the mountains of El Djebel Negueb and stop for lunch in the foothills. Visit the Chebika oasis in the afternoon, where there will be an opportunity to swin at the waterfall. (3 hours riding)
After breakfas, set out on an adventurous canyon ride to Tamerza and the old city ruins. Explore these over the lunch break, before visiting the oasis with its waterfall and gorge. In the afternoon, if time allows, take a short ride into the mountains. Sometimes there is the option to spend more time at Tamerza and stay in the new city overnight.
The route today leads back towards civilization, with one last gallop along a dry river to Mides, the most beautiful mountain oasis in Tunisia. There is an opportunity for some sight-seeing.After lunch, say goodbye to the horses and local guides to drive back to Monastir. Farewell dinner and overnight in a hotel. (2.5 hours riding)
Breakfas and transfer to airport
Single tents are available at no extra charge.
Hotel Option as above itinerary but returning to the hotel each evening.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses are Barb and ArabXBarb ranging between 14.2hh - 16.2hh. They are very willing, surefooted and perfectly adapted to the pace and terrain. Their temperaments vary from steady to more lively. They are ridden English style with a loose contact as is common on long distance rides. A choice of trail or English saddles is available. There will be opportunities for canters when the countryside opens up. The pace of this ride is moderate, walking is usual where the terrain is rocky. When walking, side-by-side is common, but trot and canter is done single file for safety.
Riders must be secure at all paces and riding times of up to 7 hours are encountered on some days.
Riders are encouraged to groom and saddle the horses as part of the bonding process.
A reasonable level of fitness and the ability to mount and dismount unaided is required. There may not be convenient mounting blocks in all parts of the desert!
This trail is not suitable for children under 15 years due to the long hours.
The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The camping portion of the ride uses small dome tents. The camp is prepared by the camp staff and single tents can be requested for no extra cost. Facilities available while camping include a long drop toilet.
In the desert the main purpose of bathing is to remove dust, not sweat, due to the dry climate. Warm water can be requested for washing every evening. Halfway through the week a traditional hamman (bathhouse) is visited giving riders the opportunity for a good soak.
The hotel used for the hotel option for this trail is the Hotel Ksar Rouge in Tozeur, or similar. It features double/twin rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning/heating, a swimming pool, spa and wellness centre, restaurant, tennis, billiards, mini golf and bike rental.
Meals are prepared by the chef and are typically North African: lamb dishes, couscous, tagines, salads and traditional sweets with fresh fruit. Vegetarian food is available on request, however it is not possible to accommodate other dietary requirements at this time. Please check with your travel advisor if you have any questions regarding this.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.
NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures
Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.
Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/tunisia
In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Tunisia.html
In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/tunisia
Desert climates frequently feature large temperature changes from day to night. At the times this ride is offered the days will be sunny and warm to hot while the nights can be very cold. Temperature changes quickly, as soon as the sun comes up the air warms almost within minutes. Likewise at night, as soon as the sun sets, the air temperature drops quickly.
COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.
You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.
Tunisia has a well-developed, if somewhat limited, public health service. There are a few private ’polyclinics’ available in the larger towns, which function as hospitals and provide a range of procedures. Some doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payments before treatment. Insurance to cover hospital bills is recommended.
Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Tunisia and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.
Riding is 5-7 hours per day so riders need to be fairly fit. Please don't forget your sun block!
In Tunisia the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Tunisia, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 - 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa). Manufacturers take these small deviations into account. If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 100 V - 127 V (as is in the US, Canada and most South American countries), you need a voltage converter in Tunisia. You can also consider a combined power plug adapter/voltage converter.
Bear in mind this is a camping trip so electricity will not be available on the camping nights. Mobile phone reception is not available on most parts of the trail but usually available in the towns. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.
The riding holiday involves long hours in the saddle so clothing should be comfortable and well-tested. A broad-brimmed hat is a useful addition and high-factor suncream is essential. Boots suitable for riding and walking are advised. Temperatures can drop at night in the desert so a sleeping bag is required if you are camping but unfortunately it is not possible to hire these, you must provide your own. Blankets can be provided and are used in addition to a sleeping bag.
Saddlebags are provided. The evenings are informal round the campfire, no change of clothing is required, just the addition of a few layers.
Short boots and half-chaps
Warm loose clothing for sleeping in
Sleeping bag and liner
Socks and underwear
Torch (essential for ablutions)
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates.
2023: 22 April, 14 October
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,315|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||single supplement||169|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||New Year's supplement||57|
|2023 Tent||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,075|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,465|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||single supplement||189|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||New Year's supplement||63|
|2023 Tent||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,195|
|Riding days||Product item description||US $|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,645|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||single supplement||209|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||New Year's supplement||71|
|2023 Tent||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,329|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||double pp||16,760|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||single supplement||2,150|
|2022/23 Hotel||8d/7n||6||New Year's supplement||720|
|2023 Tent||8d/7n||6||double pp||13,869|
For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
Large herds of wild camels roam the desert and will be frequently encountered. Birds of prey such as eagles and hawks can also be spotted.
Languages spoken - Arabic, French widely spoken, English only in tourist areas. Muslim festivals (eg Ramadan) are observed. Theft is rare. The time zone for Tunisia is GMT/UTC +1 and the dialling code is +216