4-Xtremes – Part 22: Tunisia – exciting and unexpected

Series: 4-Xtremes – The World Tour

Hollywood and antelopes.

Tunisia is just a desert? Wrong! The country has a lot more to offer than just sand dunes. For example film locations for one of the most successful film sagas of all time. Or rare animals. Andrea and Mike take you on a journey of discovery!

Please enter! Tunisia, with its 160,000 square kilometres, is not that large – but has a lot to offer.


Whenever you think of Tunisia, you’re likely to quickly conjure up images of a barren landscape. And rightly so; after all the Sahara covers a large part of the country. However Tunisia is still varied!

That starts with the landscape that isn’t just barren at all. Up north, there is a lot of lush green. Practically every square metre is farmed. If you drive southwards you cross a range of mountains and the landscape becomes drier and sandier. But it’s still not a desert.

Scooters and goats at a historical site. 

Thugga lies in this semi-dry region. The remains of the ancient Roman town have been uncovered and are well-preserved. Just before sunset we wander through the ruins – and are amazed to see locals riding towards us on scooters. They still use the ancient roads. And shepherds drive their sheep through the ruins.

Our route south takes us through villages with narrow roads – particularly on market days. But people here are patient. Everyone drives at walking pace, they take turns making space for each other and there is no stress.


Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.
Not only for “Star Wars” fans: the settlement of Mos Espa and its “aerial” were constructed as scenery. On the other hand Ksar Ouled Soltane, that Hollywood “moved” to another planet, is a historic site.

Always under control.

Our encounters with uniformed officials are also stress-free: almost every second night, the tourist police visit us, sometimes accompanied by soldiers. The officers take note of our data and ask where we’ve come from and where we’re going. Main junctions are monitored with CCTV and there is often a military post. All the same: contact with the officials is always friendly.

What we didn’t know: in Tunisia you can visit several film locations for the ’Star Wars’ films. One of them is in the south-west where the steppe has long since transitioned into the Sahara. Close to Chott el Gharsa, a sedimentary basin, clay buildings with domed roofs stand in the middle of nowhere. Something like an aerial reaches skyward. Welcome to the settlement of Mos Espa! You can see it in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace”. We’re not really huge fans, but we were still impressed.


On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.
On the road: sometimes the Kammermanns had hardly any space, sometimes a good deal more – and in particularly lucky moments there were antelopes and a lot of stars to be seen.

The joy of discovery in the national park.

The Dghoumès National Park is located to the east. The region was declared a national park in order to protect an eco-system with animals and plants typical of the Tunisian Sahara. It’s possible to take an all-wheel drive vehicle like our Axor into a canyon at the edge of the park. In theory at least. We walk a little way in to it and decide that some parts may be too narrow.

Our caution is rewarded: in the form of Oryx antelopes. Only a few decades ago these animals with magnificent horns were almost extinct in the Arab world. In the meantime there are now colonies in several places, including today’s Dghoumès National Park. We are able to observe and even photograph a group of these animals that are still very rare.

A second off-road tour.

Our next stop is Douz, the gateway to the desert. Here a sandstorm forces us to interrupt an off-road route across the dunes – the very route we reported on last time. We have no choice but to wait it out at a campsite.

As soon as the sky is blue again, we set off on part 2 of the off-road tour! The Axor has no trouble with this challenge. Thanks to the short wheelbase and the high ground clearance there is enough space under the transfer case for the Axor to overcome short, peaked sand dunes. Reduced tyre pressure is very important to do that – we chose three bar. And depending on the obstacle you have to use the differential locks and reduction gear properly – often both at the same time.


Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.
Historic site in front of a surprisingly green background: Thugga is a third-century Roman settlement.

Absolutely no light pollution.

Together with our German friends with the Zetros, we camp at Fort Ksar Ghilane. Here, at a Roman fort, in the middle of a dune field, far away from civilisation we realise that we are rarely lucky enough to see so many stars in the sky.

We drive eastwards and reach Ksar Ouled Soltane: a collection of clay buildings made up of multi-story granary cellars. Berbers lived here until well into the 20th century. A few decades later, the makers of “Star Wars” converted it into a place on the fictitious planet of Tatooine – a name which they had derived from the nearby town of Tataouine.


Observations during Ramadan.

Once you have gone through this Tataouine and have travelled a few kilometres through the stony desert, you reach Chenini. This too is a Berber village with granary cellars. The difference is that many of the cellars are used for keeping livestock. We stroll through the village and climb into the unused chambers. We spend the night on a stone plateau. With a view of the inhabited village below and the evening song of the muezzin in our ears.

While we are writing this, it is Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. For us, this means doing without eating and drinking in public. During the day there is not a lot going on; many of the businesses are closed. At around 5.00 p.m. life returns to the villages and people come out onto the streets to go shopping. Queues form particularly in front of the bakeries. We haven’t yet had any opportunity to try special Ramadan dishes and we’re looking forward to it. As much as we are looking forward to the drive to the coast which we have planned for our next stage of the journey.


4-Xtremes – The World Tour.

A one-of-a-kind journey.

For eleven months, Andrea and Mike Kammermann were on the “4‑Xtremes” tour with their Axor. Now they are on an even greater adventure. The pair from Switzerland will be on the road for three years and the RoadStars community will again be joining them on the trip! Always be up-to-date and don’t miss any of the breathtaking destinations that our adventurous couple are heading for.

You can find all the parts from the “4-Xtremes – The World Tour” series here.


Photos: 4-Xtremes

14 comments