Time to re­turn to Tu­nisia?

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Globetrotter -

Two years af­ter ter­ror­ist at­tacks at the re­sort town of Sousse, the FCO has lifted its travel warn­ing for most of Tu­nisia. Lonely Planet’s Mid­dle East ex­pert He­len Elfer is just back from the coun­try. Here she shares some of the high­lights from her visit to this ‘most unique and wel­com­ing place’.

Sidi Bou Said is a pretty town about 12 miles from Tu­nis, with all its houses painted white and blue. It has lots of lit­tle ar­ti­san shops and cafés, and in­ter­est­ing nooks to ex­plore. It proved to be su­per-pho­to­genic. I vis­ited troglodyte dwellings in and around Mat­mata, in­clud­ing one that was used as the set­ting for Luke Sky­walker’s home in Star Wars Episode IV. There were no other visi­tors at the Ro­man town of Carthage and that made it even more mag­i­cal. The views from the hill­top ru­ins were epic. I felt I was look­ing out at the same scenes as the Ro­mans once did. Tu­nisians say they grow the best dates in the world. I joined a date-palm fes­ti­val in Douz, eat­ing fruit freshly shaken from the trees in a beau­ti­ful man-made grove. No trip to Tu­nisia would be com­plete with­out some camel-spot­ting and it was thrilling to see whole herds of them wan­der­ing through the desert.

Driv­ing across Tu­nisia’s salt-lake deserts, with noth­ing to see but flat blank land­scapes, was in­cred­i­ble. My eyes started to play tricks on me and I learned from the driver how salt-lake deserts pro­duce mi­rages: what you see is the sun re­flect­ing off the dried salt. Af­ter a full day’s driv­ing, I thought we were ap­proach­ing a pool of water, but, nope, it was a mirage!

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