Customer Review

John

Countries visitedTunisia
Date of tourMarch 2023
General
The tour was fantastic, with a wonderful kaleidoscopic experience that introduced us to two fantastic countries, their history, and their culture.
Would we do it again or go back?
In a heartbeat. At some point in the future, we would love to return to both countries, as there was so much left to see, even if a lifetime could be spent getting to know them.
Our Drivers and Guides
Both our drivers were excellent. Ali ben Haddouch in Morocco was thoroughly delightful, attentive to our itinerary, and good at giving us an insight into Moroccan/Almazigh life in the country.
Ridha was even more outstanding, and our favorite. His insights and historical knowledge were beyond compare, as he was both kind, generous, knowledgeable about his country and the vast history contained therein, and he is personable and caring. Through him we learned a vast amount about Tunisia during our travels throughout the country. We felt we bonded with him.
 
Guides in Morocco were quite fine. Best were Abdulrahman in Chefchouan, as well as Mohammed in Marrakesh. Ahmed in Fez was also quite personable and knowledgeable about the Medina, though we did feel a bit rushed with our guide in Volubilis, as we wanted to linger for a bit from time to time for the ruins (Ali seemed impressed that we could read the Latin steles). Still, he did take the time to point out some interesting features.
 
The journey
The short time (1 week + or -) in each country only gave a glimpse into a wonderful culture, but it was a good introduction. We wish the Bardo and Carthage Museums had been open, but those we did visit in Sbeitla, Tozeur, and in the Sahara were excellently arranged and quite well endowed with things that gave us an important view of the life and history of the country. The museum in El Jem was especially noteworthy for its fabulous Roman mosaic collection, as well as the various ruins we visited as living history museums. We would not have missed the Andalusian town on the way to Dougga, either, which was an incredible experience. For the most part, the accommodation was first rate, offering some relaxation on what could only be called a steady pace of travel. So much more to see and experience in both places.
Food
We found Tunisian food the most interesting and filled with variety. Moroccan food was also quite good, though more mildly spiced than one might expect. We did sample both Moroccan and Tunisian wines, both excellent and should be known more widely. The breakfasts were often filling enough that lunch was not needed, and the dinners were, for the most part, more than we might normally have at home, but filled with wonderful flavors we will be duplicating here. The purchase of a tagine in Fez will enhance our continued making of the food from Morocco, and we’ve already discovered a Tunisian harissa available here. We also enjoyed in Tunisia the local foods and coffee/tea, all of which enhanced the visit.

Favorites
It is hard to list any favorites, since everywhere was new and amazing. Ranking one over another of the many experiences would be more than daunting, as everywhere we went, we learned and discovered new things. We noted the differences in the Medinas of Morocco and Tunisia, for example, and felt safe everywhere we went. We did note that in Tunisia there were discrete follow-ups as we neared the border areas close to Tozeur, but these were well in order. The people were friendly everywhere we went.

Issues
Very few issues with the tour, but as a head’s up a couple of things need to be mentioned:
First, the second night restaurant in Chefchouan (I believe the Hassan Restaurant) was below par. Food was mediocre at best, and not much in the way of good flavors (and compared with the kefta tagine at the Riad the night before, which was outstanding), and apart from the salad, edibility was marginal. There must be other places with better preparation and food options.
The accommodation in Chefchouan was lovely, though the bedroom was quite tight (no room on either side of the bed to even step down) and the bathroom fixtures did need to be maintained as there were several that were loose.
 
In Fez, Ali let us know that the intended itinerary through the Middle Atlas was at a minimum 12 hours to Marrakech, instead of the 8 or so on the printed itinerary. And that was due to the roads, the route, and without much in the way of stops, so it could be much longer. His estimate based upon his experience was that it would take from 7AM to 20-21:00 to make the journey without much in the way of stopping en route. He offered us an alternate via the motorways Fez-Rabat-Casablanca-Marrakech, which in itself was long, taking about 7 hours as it was. This is the one we took because it offered a good view of the Moroccan countryside, not to mention reasonable times for departure and arrival. It was a great journey that day, but you might want to find a way to break up the journey if the Middle Atlas route is to be taken. Or at least let clients know that there is a time factor.
The one part of Tunisia that was not up to standard was at the Dar Ben Gacem. We were pleased to receive a small book on the history of the riad and are sympathetic to their wish to restore this historical house in an excellent location. They were trying their best. But the room (the Fish Room) overlooked a busy street, was small and lacked space to accommodate suitcases or sitting (though the bathroom was first rate). The first night’s meal (at their other better equipped location) was incredible, with an excellent set of courses with Tunisian cuisine. The second night, however, was far below par. The main dish was a mediocre pasta, too highly spiced with harissa to get any real flavors of the simple dish (and this from people who love various spices and spiced heat), and the courses sort of flung our way. We found some of this meal really a bit inedible. Could it have been that they had two chefs doing the kitchen work? The breakfasts too were served in a haphazard way, with some things appearing at odd intervals. This contrasted with the excellent accommodations (even the camp at Zmela, where the food was as memorable as the fantastic desert setting) elsewhere in the country. Perhaps the younger people who ran it were doing other things? We ran into a tourist group from the Dar Ben Gacem in Tozeur and Kairouan led by one of the members of the Dar Ben Gacem staff. We wondered if they were beginning their own tour business. In any case, this was more 2 stars than 4.
Conclusions
We definitely want to return, especially to Tunisia, and the tour created by Mosaic North Africa was excellent overall. We would be pleased to recommend you; the smaller issues were what one might expect on any tour, and in no way diminished the adventure and exploration that Mosaic provided for us; a trip of a lifetime.
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About the author

Joshua Mok has been living in Tunisia since 2016. He has traveled extensively throughout the country, and has firsthand experience with the language, people, and culture of North Africa. It is his passion to introduce to others some of the best destinations in North Africa that he has experienced.

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