The desert has always had a particular charm on me, after being there 3 times driving 4×4 and contracted the famous disease Mal d’Africa, I decided to go back by motorbike.
My travel started during Christmas time 2019, with my “biker in crime” Riccardo.
We organized the trip very quickly. Within 2 weeks we booked the ship tickets from Genoa to Tunis and we planned more or less the route to follow leaving some details to be decided later during the trip.
I will save you all the part of the 30 hours spent on the ferry, with the sea at force 6. I could barely get customs operations done, and then I took refuge in the cabin.We disembarked at 19 in Tunis completely out of schedule, so we decide to travel the 160 km towards Kairouan,fast enough to get to the hotel as soon as possible
With us at this point, there was a new entry…
I noticed Federico while boarding on the ship, in Genoa: his Ktm 990 certainly couldn’t be unseen,and after having dinner together, he decided to join us for 1 day. He was without a map,without any plan, he didn’t even book an accommodation for the first night.The new Trio was formed.
The second day was quiet long, the goal was to reach quickly Tozeur in the South.
After having made a Tunisian Sim card and got an internet connection, we made 300 boring km, passing through the town of Gafsa to reach finally the Rommel Track.The Famous German General was also called “The Desert Fox” for his advanced war techniques. He had several roads built to defend the German rule in Africa. On the Rommel Track is possible to admire a monument in his memory.
Since my last time in Tunisia in 2012 a lot of off road streets has been paved,Like so part of the Rommel Track, but fortunately we could enjoy the remaining off road part with a breathtaking view.Is very simple to find this track with Google Maps. The Track is very easy to be travelled, even with big adventure motorbike with a second passenger and baggage.
After the Rommel Track, in order to reach Redeyef, we had to go trough the landfill of the city.We made a quick stop to refuel and we continued the trip towards the famous mountain oasis, very close to the Algerian border.
Don’t Expect to find gas stations in this area, but only places where you can buy bottles of petrol.
On the way we stopped in Tameghza where there is one of the most famous Canyon of the valley, eroded by the passage of the water for thousands of years.Our guide, Faruck, explains to us the history of this city which in 1969 was swept away by a flood that killed more than 300 people, and also about the different varieties of date tree.
We departed again in the late afternoon towards Tozeour. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy the view of this panoramic road because it was already dark. At this point the road was paved and very enjoyable to drive.
We departed from Tozeurt towards Douz and we found ourself in the middle of the famous Chott El Jerid lake. It is a salty big lake and the road is going directly through it. During this period of the year the lake is completely dry.
The landscape here is unreal, the road is completely straight as far as far as the eye can see, we met just few others cars on the way.My companions wanted to go and discover the salty area, but a rusty abandoned bus in the middle of it made them change idea.
Arrived in Douz we had lunch with a local Guide at the Palmiers Restaurant. The guide name is Arbi and he has been recommended to me by a friend. He is specialized in desert tours and speaks a perfect English. For lunch we had a fantastic grilled lamb, brick au l’euf, and a classic Tunisian salad.
My idea was to reach the ”Cafee portiere du desert” as the name says, located at the edge of the desert in order to test our heavy twins on the sandy strips. In case we couldn’t make it the plan to was to take the Pipeline track, a boring paved road towards Ksar Ghilane.
Arbi instead suggested us to do the track that runs along the Parc du djebil, going through the desert and reach our camp located half an hour southward Ksar.
Like so we decide to follow his suggestion, excited at the Idea to drive in the desert, we didn’t realize that was very late with a lot of km to do…
The km from Douz to the camp are a lot and 95% off road, a mix of fast tracks and strips of sand fine as flour.
We drove the first 70 km enjoying like never before reaching 110km/h, the dunes here were low put tricky. Riccardo made a jump with is 1290s that broke the suspension, at the meanwhile, looking at him, I closed the gas and I got buried, from 60km/h to 0 in a a half second.
My leg was stuck under the bike. I tried to dig, but I couldn’t get free, Riccardo and Federico came back to help me. It took us 20 minutes of sweat and swear to get the bike out, it was buried up to the engine guard.
After 1 hour driving through the dunes we reach the Cafe Grand Erg, nothing more than a shack in the middle of nothing. Riccardo has pierced a tire, but fortunately we repair it with a tubeless. At this point was clear that we couldn’t manage to reach the camp and the sun started to set. After a little debate we decided to risk and we tried, but the sand blocks us again after only 3 km where the dunes were high 6-7 meters.
We turn the bikes and we drove back to the Cafee for the night.
We spent our Christmas Eve in the fortune shack, with 6 Tunisinian and 3 Lebanese guys, that welcome us in the best way possible. None of them spoke English but somehow we managed to communicate. We had a hot meal and lots of mint tea, we sang in unknown languages, following the rhythm of an empty tank. At the end of the Evening We fell asleep still wearing our bike suits just on dirty carpets directly on the desert sand at the temperature of -2 degrees C…
It has been an incredible experience!
The next morning we had breakfast it homemade bread cooked under the sand, ricotta cheese and tea, we said bye to our new friends and start again our journey towards Douz, back to the civilization!
We decide to spend the Christmas lunch at the restaurant Le Palmieres, laughing about the adventures we had.
The next morning we visited the area of Matmara, driving off road surrounded by beautiful landscapes we reached the village of Zeraua.
Zeraua is an abandoned village located on top of a hill dominating the valleys around. We drove through the village, the houses are in ruins, but we saw three women wearing the veil which were not really entusiastich to see strangers around. As soon as we stopped our bike, a group of kids and old people came to welcome us. An old man, at the beginning a bit suspicious about us, start to tell us the story of the village that is nowadays home of 1 person only they are also there to visit the village.
After the classic pictures we departed again trough different fast tracks with breathtaking landscapes. We were not even checking the GPs, we just enjoyed driving for more than 2 hours without even knowing where we were, it was one of the most beautiful day of the journey.
Founded the paved road we drove towards Djerba stopping for lunch in Matmara. Arriving at the Island we saw one of the most colorful sunset I’ve ever seen.
We had a gourmet dinner at the Djerba’s Casinò
The morning of the sixth day was about relax, beach, massage and gym (not me), in the afternoon we departed towards Tunisi,(600km away) with a night stop in Sfax. Sfax is not a turistic place.
Arrived in Tunisi the next day we visited the city and we had a very good fish lunch in the La Goulette port area. In the main steet you can find a lot of good restaurants that serve fresh fish at very reasonable prices.
We pass the morning before boarding in Sidi Bou Said, located about 20 minutes from the center of Tunis, where we treat ourselves to the last nargilè and the last mint tea!
If you have read all this story you will have noticed that many famous places are missing,I have neglected them specifically, we wanted to spend our time doing off-roading (our passion) and relaxing, because it was still a holiday … Total km about 1800
Tutto iniziò grazie a mio Padre , che all’età di 4 anni ,mi mise in sella alla mia prima moto, una gloriosa Malaguti Grizzly 50 .
Nel corso degli anni la passione per il fuoristrada a 2 e 4 ruote mi ha portato ad appassionarmi ai viaggi avventura, a bordo di Land Rover Defender o di Toyota Land Cruiser, alla scoperta di Romania,Albania,Marocco,Tunisia,Turchia ed Iran per citarne alcuni.
Dopodichè il ritorno in sella non solo per il fuoristrada nostrano , ma anche come modo di vivere, viaggiare e di vedere il mondo.