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Tune into southern Tunisia for an alternative sun holiday

30th December 2011 Print

From hot springs to star-gazing and Arabian adventure movie-set scenes, southern Tunisia offers a thrilling alternative to the traditional sea and sun holiday destination.

Whether you're beating a new trail to secret retreats or following in the footsteps of the likes of Antonio Banderas, a sojourn south will be full of surprises.

Tunisia will be in the spotlight in 2012 thanks to the hotly anticipated epic Arabian drama, Black Gold.  Starring Antonio Banderas and British talent, Mark Strong, the film is an adaptation of Swiss writer Hans Ruesch's 1957 novel South of the Heart: A Novel of Modern Arabia and was shot on location in the small southern town of Matmata.

Matmata is famous to a whole generation of movie goers as home to Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars, which celebrates its 35th anniversary in May 2012. Visitors can tour the village and stand in the same spot as Luke's moisture farm home on Tatooine, and check into the famous Hotel Sidi Driss, whose restaurant and bar courtyard featured in both the original Star Wars as well as Attack of the Clones.

Other southern highlights include the oasis towns of Tozeur, famous for its beautiful brick architecture, and Nefta often known as the 'Land of the Palms'. Set on the north west shore of Chott el-Jerid - an immense salt lake spanning almost 5,000km, where Luke Skywalker contemplated the two moons - this area is a place of startling mirages. The shimmering salt lake also featured inThe English Patient.

If star-gazing is a bigger draw than Star Wars, head to Ksar Ghilane to marvel at the star-filled night sky from the area's natural hot springs. Or hop aboard the Red Lizard Train at Metlaoui and journey through the spectacular Seldja Gorge with its pink mountains and grand canyons to spot some of Tunisia's weirdest rock formations. For real Arabian adventures, the Tunisian Sahara desert offers exhilarating experiences such as camel trekking, dune buggy riding, hot air balloon rides and Bedouin camping excursions.

The new Dar Hi boutique hotel at Nefta is the ideal desert haven, an eco-friendly design hotel geared at travellers seeking to get under the skin of Tunisia. The hotel can arrange desert excursions for guests as well as offering an oasis of wellbeing.

Travel to southern Tunisia with one of the following:

Seven nights all inclusive holiday at The Dar HI hotel from £840 per person

Dar HI hotel offers a seven night stay in February 2012 from £840 per person based on two people sharing the Troglodyte inspired room on an all-inclusive basis. Price includes: Return airport transfers from Tozeur - Nefta International Airport, access to the traditional hammam, heated swimming pool and a complimentary massage.

For more information or to book, visit

Nine day Tunisia Desert Explorer package with Exodus from £899 per person

Experience a camel trek in the Tunisian Sahara desert, visit Kairouan, the fourth most important holy city in the Muslim world and the troglodyte town of Matmata, home to the Star Wars film set for an action packed holiday to remember.

Prices start from £899 per person departing in February 2012 and include: Return flights, seven nights' accommodation, all breakfasts, two lunches and six dinners, on-tour transport, a local guide, entrances fees, excursions and all activities.

For more information, visit

Get there with Tunisair

Tunisair operates five flights per week from London Heathrow to Tunis, prices start from £180 return, including taxes. A connecting flight from Tunis to Tozeur costs from £88 return with Tunisair Express and takes less than an hour.

For reservations, visit