Africa twin in Tunisia
A Brief Tour Report
In keeping with its namesake, the Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L took a ride to Tunisia in October 2019 with a bunch of other riders to discover the highlights of this North African country, namely the Star Wars sets, deserts and salt lakes along with the friendly and humble culture that is evident virtually anywhere you go in Tunisia
The bike in question had already achieved 58,000 hassle free miles, the 2016 Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L (nick named “Pee Wee”) has toured all over Europe, Romania, Morocco and Greece and has been an outstanding machine, accomplishing some demanding and very stressful situations. It handles anything you seem to throw at it with ease.
The bike started off in the UK, rode through France into The Vosges Mountains near the Swiss border and then into Switzerland to cross a few passes, one of them being Grimsel Pass, which, unfortunately was extremely wet, cold and snowing at the top.
From Switzerland the bike headed for Genoa in Italy, catching the 1800 sailing to Tunis for what would be a 23 hour crossing. Its rider, Chris Seagal, was treated to a cabin to relax and get some kip throughout the sailing. As for the bike, it was safely secured and strapped to the deck in the garage area of the boat on Deck D.
Getting the bike through customs wasn’t too difficult, a few forms needed to be filled out, sometimes twice for some reason and a green card had to be obtained in case the Africa Twin decided to try and bond too closely with the locals. After an hour or so we were on Tunisian soil riding to Gammarth where we stayed for the night in a 5 star hotel.
The following day we headed to El Jem to have a look at the colleseum and then headed to Sfax for the night staying in an Ibis hotel just a few yards from the Medina.
The landscape was flat, the roads were relatively smooth but the traffic in Sfax was eye opening to say the least. Drivers of cars and taxis and riders of mopeds seemed to have no sense of what was around them, making navigating through chaotic traffic and interesting event. It reminded me of a go kart game I once played on an entertainment games system.
From Sfax we headed to Matmata, where we stopped for a while to see Hotel Sidi Idris, Luke Skywalkers home in the Star, Wars film.
It was then a short ride to see my friend Slim in Tamazaret where we stayed in his beautiful complex, with a pool, glorious food and views we made the most of the relaxing and chilled out atmosphere on offer.
Tatouine was where we were heading today, on route we stopped off at Medinine to see the Old Grain stores, believed to have been used in the filming of star wars.
We also stopped at Ksar Ouled Soltane, although we were lynch mobbed by a bunch of kids trying to hitch a ride on the back of our bikes, it was fun to see the Old Grain stores, albeit only a stones throw from the Libyan border.
From here he headed to Chenini and rode through some stunning scenery. Chenini is a fortified granary (ksar) built by the Berbers between two hilltop ridges to protect the village from raiding parties. At first sight, Chenini appears to be an uninhabited ruined Berber village used only as a tourist destination. However, there are still about 600 people who live in Chenini today and you will be able to observe their everyday living as you explore the area.
Upon arriving to Chenini, you will notice a large white mosque at the hilltop which stands out in contrast to the mountainous terrain. If you climb to the hilltop, there is a nice picturesque view of the Southern Tunisia landscape. You will also be able to see a small mosque in the distance known as the Mosque of the Seven Sleepers. According to legend, there were 7 Christians who each lived over 400 years and have reached an enormous height of giants. They took a rest in this mosque after converting to Islam.
We then headed for Djerba in the east and stayed the night in a 4* Hotel on the island.
From Derjaba, having had a day of rest, we headed across the desert to Douz and then to Naftah via Chott El Djerid Salt Lake, where we stayed for the night before heading out to the desert to see the Phantom Menace film set, Ong Jmal.
The road leading to the film set is a perfect ribbon of black tarmac, the occasional camel will be seen wandering in the desert and its common for the sand to be blown onto the road so at times it can be a challenge to cross these small overflows of sand drifting onto the tarmac.
After the visit to the film set we headed for Kairouan, sadly we had to be escorted around a small town due to an incident, the police took us through the outback and in an arc like fashion to keep up safe. We finnaly ended up in Kairouan at our 5* Hotel for two nights.
The day, after our rest day we headed for Dougga and spent time walking around the Roman Archaeological site which was fascinating as much as it was impressive to see.
Unfortunately, exiting the car park, with rain now showering down on us “Pee wee” decided to have a lie down on top of some clay like mud and in doing so broke the footrest bracket on the right side, along with disabling the front brake lever and brake light, caused by the Barkbuster pinching the brake light cable on the controls.
Undeterred, the front brake lever was freed off and we continued, using the pillion foot rest to rest my leg. 60 miles later we arrived at our hotel back in Gammarth, where the repairs to the bike would resume tomorrow, for now though, it was whisky and pain killers to dull the ache in my shoulder.
We made a sling from a strap and secured it to the rear foot rest hanger and the crash bars, we also zip tied the footrest back in place and this seemed to work well to support my foot but I now couldn’t get to the rear brake lever. It was a sacrifice but a worthy one. I would have to ride like this for another 900 miles.
The brake light was fixed by splicing the wires back together and some insulation tape.
The next day we headed for the port and waited a couple of hours to board our boat for the 24 hour crossing back to Genoa again. Staying in Genoa the night after leaving the boat in Genoa we would set off next morning. Returning to the the UK, we stayed on motorways most of the way as we only had two days to get back to Folkestone. We arrived back in the UK after 17 days on the road having done 3000 miles to Tunisia in North Africa. I was glad to finally roll up to my home 180 miles from Folkestone that evening, with an aching leg caused from the vibrations of the footrest not being properly attached. On reflection, it was an epic tour, an adventure for sure and for me, Tunisia is definitely well worth visiting.
As for the Africa Twin Crf1000l, its now on 61,000 and I’m sure it will continue for another 60,000. What an awesome bike. Period. ✌️😎👍