Mountain bike tour in the Sahara Desert of Tunisia

December 2001 / January 2002

It was a rather short cycling tour - two weeks over Christmas and New Year to get some sun and exercise. Due to our baggage being delivered three days late, we were forced to change plans a bit. Thus, we took the train to Gabes and started the cycling trip throught the south of Tunisia from there, with ten remaining days for cycling.

Starting in Gabes, we went south on paved road to Matmata, Tataouine, and the mountain village Chenini. We then took a small gravel track to Ksar Ghilane, a desert oasis close to the sandy desert Eastern Erg. Ksar Ghilane is pretty touristy by now, and seems to be a playground for off-road motor cyclists. However, the small track we took from Chenini to Ksar Ghilane was very challening and rather remote - it actually was the nicest part of our tour.
From Ksar Ghilane we took the main track north along a pipeline. It is quite a challenge to cycle this road due to many sandy stretches that require some riding skills and force. Bir Soltane (approx. 50 km north of Ksar Ghilane) is worth while a visit, it is the oldes well in the region, and supposedly has the best water available in Tunisia

After another strenuous day on the pipline track, we hit the paved road to from Matmata to Douz, where we spent a few hours stocking up on fresh food at the local market. From Douz there are a number of smaller roads around the different date palm plantations near the Chott el Djerid. We explored a few of them, enjoying the shade and constant supply of fresh dates. From Kebili we crossed the Chott el Djerid. It was quite spectacular then enter a mountain range with rugged valleys and peaks just north to the Chott el Djerid. There are even some remnants of Roman castles to see. From Gafsa we then returned to Tunis by taking the night train - an adventrue of its own...

Bike tour Tunisia 2001 on a bigger map