AG3 Algeria, Tunisia & Malta Tour

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Visit a Saharan town and UNESCO World Heritage Site; Shop in beautiful colourful souks; Go back hundreds of years as you explore preserved medieval architecture and ancient sites; Guided visit to Legendary Carthage; Roman sites Sufetula, Dougga, Bulla Regia; Pre-historic temples of Hagar Qim and Ggantija; colourful fishing village of Marsaxlokk

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to the entries under the blue box below.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Tue 31 Mar 2020Wed 22 Apr 2020 $8350 USD
Fri 02 Oct 2020Sat 24 Oct 2020 $8350 USD

The above prices are subject to an additional $90 for taxes/fees levied on flights that occur as part of the tour. The internal airfares ARE included (any exceptions are listed in red below), but we list the taxes separately on your invoice as they are beyond our control and can change at any time.


Optional Single Supplement: $1277 USD (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


On our Algeria, Tunisia & Malta tour, the entire country of Algeria makes for a fascinating historical journey and we make full use of our days in its locale, taking in the innumerable remnants of the once-great Roman Empire, ancient Phoenician trading posts, splendid mosques, museums and some of the best-preserved relics and sites of antiquity in all of North Africa.

In Tunisia we spend time in Carthage, a region founded in 814BC by Phoenicians from the eastern Mediterranean and one that the Romans entirely destroyed in the 2nd century BC before incorporating it into the Roman Empire.

In Malta, we sail the routes of the Knights of St. John and the great Ottoman fleet and bear witness to monuments that can only be fully appreciated from the sea, saunter through beautiful towns and gardens, learn about Maltese prehistory in the southern regions of the island and visit its most important historical sites. Malta's abundance of attraction means we'll be busy for our last couple of days on our tour, but it'll be well worth the rewards.

Regions visited: North And West Africa and Western Europe
Countries visited: Algeria; Tunisia and Malta


Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Algiers
Today we arrive in Algiers - welcome to Algeria!

Algiers, originally called Al-Jaza'ir, is built into the Sahel hills and runs for ten miles along the Bay of Algiers, located on the Mediterranean coast. This coastal location made it perfect for the Barbary pirate stronghold it would become in 1529, when the pirate "Redbeard" expelled the Spanish from the island of Penon, gaining control of the city for the Ottoman Empire. The country's turbulent history is writ large in the city's richly textured architecture: wide French-built boulevards and elegant apartments and villas, Socialist-era monuments and public buildings, and an enduring Islamic heart secreted in the steep, hillside Casbah.

Overnight in Algiers.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Algiers: Cherchell, Tipaza & Tomb of the Christian
Today we travel west to the ruins of Tipaza (also Tipasa), originally a Phoenician trading post but a Roman colony in the 2nd century AD onwards. Later it became one of the most important Christian settlements in Northern Africa. With the coming of the Vandals and their Arian Christianity in 430, most of the inhabitants fled to Spain. According to legend, the inhabitants had their tongues cut out, but by a miracle they could still speak! One the most interesting sites at Tipaza is the mausoleum built in the 5th century where there are 14 places for sarcophagi. The museum is small but full of valuable mosaics taken from the Basilica dating back to 1st century AD.

After a break for lunch in Tipaza (known for its excellent seafood), we continue to Cherchell and the ruins of the former Roman port of Caesarea. Today Cherchell is the seat of Cherchell District in Tipaza Province; under the names Iol and Caesarea, it was formerly a Phoenician, Carthaginian, and Roman colony and the capital of the kingdoms of Numidia and Mauretania.

On our way back to Algiers we'll stop at the pyramid-like structure of the Tomb of the Christians, set on a hill with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside. The tomb pre-dates the Christian era and probably belongs to the pre- Roman era of the Numidian rulers.

Overnight in Algiers.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Algiers - Setif - Djemila - Constantine
An early start take us first to city of Setif, the commercial centre of a region where native textiles and phosphates are manufactured and cereals are grown. Setif was built by the French on the ruins of the Roman town of Sitifis, founded in the 1st century AD. In 1945, more than 100 Europeans were killed in a revolt against French rule; it resulted in a bloody reprisal in which more than 6,000 locals died.

From Setif we make a diversion north through attractive hilly farming countryside to Djemila, Arabic for 'pretty town' (a World Heritage Site), considered to be the most outstanding Roman site in Algeria. Situated 900m (2,950 ft) above sea level, Djemila, or Cuicul, with its forum, temples, basilicas, triumphal arches and houses, is an interesting example of Roman town planning adapted to a mountain location. While the site itself is not one of the largest in North Africa, Djemila stands out as one of the best-preserved Roman ruins of North Africa and the adjoining museum is packed with the most amazing Roman mosaics.

We continue to Constantine after a full day of travel and sightseeing.

Overnight in Constantine.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Constantine: Timgad & Lambaesis
We start the day with a 2-hour drive to Timgad, Roman Thamugadi (a World Heritage Site), located on the northern slopes of the Aures Atlas Mountains. It was founded as a military colony by the Emperor Trajan in AD 100. Originally designed for a population of around 15,000, the city quickly outgrew its original specifications and spilled beyond the grid in a more loosely-organized fashion, an excellent example of Roman town planning. Although only partly excavated, Timgad is spectacular in both its scale and its setting.

We continue to the remains of the Roman town of Lambaesis (Lambessa), which includes two triumphal arches, temples, an aqueduct, an amphitheatre, baths, and many private houses. The camp of the third legion, charged with defending North Africa, was moved to Lambessa between 123 and 129 ce. The modern settlement was founded in 1848 by French agriculturalists attracted by the fertile soil. A large convict prison for French political deportees was established there in 1852.

We return to Constantine.

Overnight in Constantine.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Tiddis & Constantine City Tour
This morning we visit Tiddis, hovering on a barren mountain slope, some 30km from Constantine. The ruined Roman town is perhaps the most impressively situated of all Algeria's Roman sites. The Romans arrived during the age of Augustus, but built much of what can now be seen in the 3rd century AD, adapting their fundamental rule of town planning – two straight central streets that cross at the heart of the community – to the curves of the site. Tiddis had no water sources, so one of the most interesting features of the houses here are the channels and cisterns.

We return to Constantine for a city tour and visit the museum of Cirta. We spend the afternoon enjoying this breathtaking city; Constantine is set astride a spectacular gorge that splits the city in two. We'll explore the suspension bridges, the Constantine Museum, Kasbah, and Palace of Ahmed Bey.

Overnight in Constantine.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Constantine - Fly to Ghardaia
Today we fly to Ghardaia (via Algiers), located in the UNESCO World Heritage region of the M’Zab valley. We'll transfer to our hotel and, time-permitting, explore the markets and architecture unique to this region.

The valley, on the edge of the Sahara, is actually a cluster of five towns: Ghardaia, Melika, Beni Isguen, Bou Noura, and El-Atteuf. Often referred to collectively as Ghardaia, the once distinct villages are gradually sprawling together, but retain separate identities.

Overnight in Ghardaia.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 M'Zab Valley: El Attefu, Bon Nouria & Ghardaia
The M’Zab is home to a conservative Muslim sect known as the Ibadites, who broke from mainstream Islam some 900 years ago. This is, some say, a country unto itself, with ancient, unchanging social codes. The traditional white haik (a head-to-toe wool wrap) is worn by most women, who cover their entire face, exposing only one eye. Men sport extravagantly pleated baggy trousers called saroual loubia. While locals here can be reserved, it's a friendly and surprisingly laid-back place.

Today step back in time as we enjoy the local customs and culture while visiting the historic cities and sites in the M’Zab valley. We spend a full day visiting traditional market places, enjoying the lively atmosphere and lively colours and unique architecture. We wander narrow streets, visit important religious monuments and mosques, and enjoy the natural beauty.

Overnight in Ghardaia.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Ghardaia - Fly to Algiers
Today we fly back to the capital. Flight time permitting, we'll tour Algiers including the historic Kasbaha built in the 16th century, a maze of pretty small alleys and whitewashed houses. There are also quite a few nice boulevards dating back from the days of the French who come in Algiers in 1830 and stayed for 130 years.

Overnight in Algiers.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Algiers, Algeria - Tunis, Tunisia
Today we fly from Algiers to Tunis - welcome to Tunisia!

Tunis, the capital of the country, is a bustling metropolis and the home of one-sixth of the country’s population. Situated in the Gulf of Tunis on the Mediterranean Sea, the modern city extends along the coastal plains and to the surrounding hills. It is a city of many contrasts, with its modern office buildings, shopping malls and European cafes, the colonial French style of the Ville Nouvelle, and the dynamic Arab souks of Tunis' old Medina.

Overnight in Tunis.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Tunis: The Medina, Bardo Museum, Sidi Bou Said & Carthage
We begin the day with a walking tour through the old medina of Tunis, its narrow lanes crowded with mosques, tombs and palaces. This was Tunis until the arrival of the French in the late 19th century, who subsequently built their quarters outside of the "Sea Gate" -- now the Ville Nouvelle. En route we will see the Great Mosque of Tunis, Jemaa Zitouna, and the elegant Place du Gouvernement.

We then visit the Bardo Museum, recently re-opened after extensive renovations. The Bardo houses the largest and finest collection of ancient mosaics in the world. These mosaics were discovered in the wealthiest of Roman villas in the many ancient cities found in Tunisia. Rich patrons commissioned a vast array of subjects and themes, from scenes of gods and goddesses, daily life (hunting, fishing, harvesting), the zodiac, seasons, amphitheatre games. From their exquisite details, we can understand why the North African school of mosaicists was the finest in the ancient world, and whose masterpieces can be found throughout the Mediterranean.

We then head to Sidi Bou Said, a charming hilltop village famous for its beautifully decorated blue and white architecture. Visited by the likes of Cervantes, Simone de Beaauvouir and Jean Foucault, Sidi Bou Said made an indelible impression on the works of Paul Klee, August Macke and Louis Moilliet who stayed here together in 1914. You will have some free time for lunch and to explore this beautiful village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

We continue to Carthage – the legendary city of Queen Dido and Hannibal. We will begin with a visit to the ancient Punic cemetery -- the Tophet, or sanctuary to Baal and Tanit. Roman propaganda, hostile to their enemy, stated that the Carthaginians ritually sacrificed their children here to the gods. Our next stop is the Punic ports, once the foundation of Carthage's prosperity. Here we see the remains of what was once a sophisticated naval harbour, complete with ship sheds for dry-docking their warships, and a elaborate merchant harbor, for their fleets of cargo ships which engaged in trade throughout the Mediterranean. From here we visit Byrsa hill -- the ancient acropolis and the first area to be settled by the Phoenicians. Crowning the hill is the 19th century Cathedral of St. Louis and the Carthage museum with finds excavated from the city. Our final stop is the Antonine Baths -- the monumental public baths of the city. In the 2nd century AD, these were the largest baths in North Africa and the 3rd largest in the Roman world.

Overnight in Tunis.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Tunis - Bulla Regia & Dougga - Tunis
We leave Tunis early this morning for Bulla Regia. This ancient site is famous for its unique subterranean villas, which belonged to the wealthiest of its inhabitants; we descend to see these luxurious villas and their splendid floor mosaics, still in situ.

After lunch we continue to Dougga, the best-preserved Roman city in Tunisia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monumental Capitolium temple stands in the city's Forum, with a breathtaking view over the green rolling hills and plains below. The theaters, gymnasia, baths, shops, stone paved streets and lavish villas are all testimony to the golden age this North African city enjoyed during the Roman era.

Overnight in Tunis.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Tunis - Kairouan: City Touring
This morning we head to Kairouan, travelling through the fertile valleys and rolling hills of the North. Since antiquity to the present, Tunisia is still referred to by other Maghreb countries by the epithet, "Tunisia the Green." This area is a favorite haven for storks, who build their nest on top of telephone towers, minarets and rooftops. We head toward into the Sahel, the transitional barren region between the fertile north and the Sahara desert to the south.

The Holy City of Kairouan is not only the spiritual center of Tunisia, it is the first Islamic city to be established in North Africa, and the 4th oldest Muslim city outside of Arabia. Founded as the capital of the region in 670 AD by the Arab general Oqba ibn Nafi, Kairouan soon acquired magnificent ramparts, mosques, palaces and hammams. Our first stop is the Aghlabid basins, enormous artificial reservoirs constructed in the 9th century to store water for Kairouan, as part of a monumental system in which water was brought by aqueducts to the city from 36km away.

We visit the Great Mosque of Kairouan, the oldest, largest and most important mosque in Tunisia. The lowest story of the towering minaret is thought to date to 730 AD, one century earlier than the structure of the present mosque. Inside we will see the colonnaded courtyard with its ancient wellheads and sundials, and the forest of columns of the prayer sanctuary. The hundreds of columns all differ from one another, in marble types, size, shape and capital designs, since most were taken from ancient Roman sites and reused in the mosque's construction. Our final stop before leaving Kairouan is the Mausoleum of Sidi Sahab, also known as the Mosque of the Barber.

We finish our day with a walking tour of old medina of Kairouan -- the entire medina is protected by UNESCO. Meandering through the lanes, we will stop to admire the beautiful traditional doors and architectural styles, the main monuments, markets, pastry shops and traditional workshops where weavers (men) still create textiles on hand looms.

Overnight in Kairouan.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Kairouan - Sbeitla - Tozeur
We continue to the spectacular Roman city of Sufeitula -- modern Sbeitla. The Roman civic center is incredibly photogenic, due to the excellent state of preservation its three monumental temples dedicated to Juno, Jupiter and Minerva towering over the Forum. Sbeitla, like other North African cities, prospered in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD under the Pax Romana. Upon entering the site, we will see olive press -- one of many in the city, since the inhabitants here became extremely wealthy from the trade of olives and olive oil. After visiting the forum and its temples, we will walk through Sbeitla's stone paved streets to see the public baths, the theater, and numerous Christian basilicas with their elaborate baptisteries covered in colourful mosaics.

Heading south, we arrive in the late afternoon at the fascinating oasis town of Tozeur. In medieval times, Tozeur was an important cultural and market center, due to its strategic location on the caravan routes. Merchants from North and West Africa gathered in this thriving oasis, trade such goods as wool, dates, gold, ivory, salt and slaves. Some of the finest dates of the world are grown in the region, the deglat nour or "finger of light". Medieval accounts state that over 1,000 camels used to leave here per day, laden only with dates!

Overnight in Tozeur.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 Tozeur - Douz - Matmata - Djerba
This morning while in the vicinity of Tozeur, we will visit the palmerie to view the various crops being grown and to absorb the oasis atmosphere.

We then continue eastwards across Chott El Jerid, Tunisia's largest salt lake, extending over 5,000km2. The chott lies 30m below sea level, and is a remnant from over 1.5 million years ago when the area was flooded by the sea. Water on the surface of the salt floor reflects strange hues of pink and yellow, and the refraction of light on this depression often creates mirages.

Our next stop is Douz, the "Gateway of the Sahara", another ancient oasis town surrounded by vast expanses of sand dunes. The final leg of our journey takes us to the legendary Island of Djerba, where we will spend the first of two nights. Our drive takes us through one of the main olive growing regions of the country; Tunisia has over 65 million olive trees (6 for each inhabitant!) and is currently the 4th largest exporter of olive oil in the world.

We stop at Matmata, where the inhabitants live in rock-hewn dwellings ("troglodyte" homes), some of which are over 400 years old. We will visit the pit dwelling of a local family who will happily show us around. We will also stop to see the cave home which appeared in the first Star Wars film (1977) and was later converted into Hotel Sidi Driss.

Overnight in Djerba.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 The Isle of Djerba
We will spend the morning exploring the sites of this splendid island. Originally settled by the Phoenicians, the isle of Djerba is the mythical place where Odysseus encountered the Lotus Eaters during his journey back home from Troy. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Normans, Arabs, Spaniards, and Ottoman Turks -- all have come to Djerba and left their footprint. Historically Djerba has been known for its sponge fishing and agriculture -- here we can find olive trees which are over 1000 years old. The island today is one of Tunisia’s most famous resorts, with its small villages, charming towns, and 125 km of sandy beaches. Today’s inhabitants of Djerba are culturally distinct from mainland Tunisians, and are proud of their customs, dress and dialect.

Our first visit is the excellent ethnographic Museum of Patrimonie, which celebrates the island’s peoples and traditions. Here we will see displays of marriage festivals and traditional wedding dresses from various parts of the country, traditional costumes of the island, circumcision ceremonies, household and agricultural implements, and displays of typical arts of weaving, calligraphy, jewelry and metalwork. We proceed to the center of Guellala, the pottery producing center of the island where we stop to see the kilns and workshops. Next is El Ghriba ("The Miracle") synagogue: one of the oldest synagogues and most important Jewish pilgrimage sites in the world. Djerba is home to one of the world’s most ancient Jewish communities: tradition states that they arrived here after the First Destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 566 BC. This holy synagogue is fascinating for its historic and spiritual importance, as well as for its distinctive style of architecture (a marvelous blend of Jewish, Tunisian, Maghrebian and Sephardic elements). We proceed to the main town Houmt Souq, where first we shall stop to see the medieval fort, Borj el Kebir; this was the scene of a bloody conflict in 1560 between the forces of Dragut, the Barbary corsair, and Philip II of Spain. In town, we will explore the fruit and vegetable markets, watch the excitement at the daily fish auctions, and wander the narrow lanes and souqs. You will have free time to explore more of this charming town, perhaps do some shopping and have lunch at one of the many restaurants in the center.

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. You may wish to stay in Houmt Souq, go to the beach, or relax at the hotel.

Overnight in Djerba.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 16 Djerba - Sfax
Our drive continues to the coastal city of Sfax where we arrrive in time for a walk though the medina. This is the second largest city in Tunisia; today Sfax a major commercial and manufacturing centre (mainly of olive oil, almonds, phosphates and textiles) with very little tourism. Inside the massive 9th century ramparts of the old walled city, is the country's finest "living and working" medina.

On arrival we'll walk through the medina of Sfax; part of the Blacksmith's souq was featured in the film, 'The English Patient.' We will do a walk through the historic lanes, markets and workshops before continuing inland to El Djem (ancient Thysdrus).

Overnight in Sfax.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 17 Sfax - El Djem - Monastir - Tunis
Our first visit is the excellent Archaeological Museum, with its splendid collection of floor mosaics from the villas of the wealthiest inhabitants of El Djem. Just behind the museum is the House of Africa, an opulent villa covering over 3000 sq m which was found in the center of town, dismantled and moved here in its entirety. The villa is named after one of its excellent fine floor mosaics depicting the Goddess of Africa (the only mosaic of its kind in the world).

The sudden appearance of the massive Roman Amphitheatre is an extraordinary sight. With a capacity of 30,000 spectators, it rises 3 stories above the surrounding plains -- though smaller than the Colosseum in Rome, it is in many ways more impressive due to its excellent state of preservation. It was built during the reigns of the (usurper) Emperors Gordion I and his son, Gordian II, both of whom reigned for only a few weeks before being defeated by the legions sent from Rome. Wild beast fights, gladiatorial combats, circuses and games were held here. We climb up to the upper tiers for excellent views of the arena and surrounding countryside, before descending to the basement to see the chambers where scenery, gladiators, prisoners and wild animals were kept. Wild animals were hoisted by a sophisticated (if not theatrical) system of elevators and pulleys into the arena to the delight of the spectators.

Returning to the coast, we go to Monastir to see the 8th century ribat, a kind of fortified Islamic monastery, after which the city is named. The Ribat of Monastir affords wonderful views of the city and the sea. North African ribats were built when the inhabitants were threatened by invading European armies; they served not only a military but religious purpose as well, as fortresses and places of prayer and study for devout soldiers. This spectacular ribat served as a backdrop in numerous films, including Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' and Zeffirelli's 'Jesus of Nazareth.'

Overnight in Tunis.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 18 Tunis, Tunisia - Valetta, Malta
Today we fly from Tunis to Malta.

PLEASE NOTE that, though we are often able to get a direct flight, such flights do not necessarily operate every day and, if the airlines change their schedule, today's journey may end up being more convoluted, ie with a connection in Rome or elsewhere.

Overnight in Malta.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 19 Valetta: City Tour
This morning we depart on foot for a full-day tour of Valletta, the capital of Malta.* Valletta is arguably the smallest capital in Europe -- the entire city is only 1000m (1 km) long and 600m wide! Jean Parisot de la Valette, the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St. John, founded the city in 1566 following the Knights' defeat of the Ottoman Turks during the "Great Siege of Malta". Massive fortifications on the seaward side were built, and a defensive ditch on the landward side. The city inside the walls was then laid out on a regular street grid pattern, and adorned with churches, palaces, auberges (inns), and the famous hospital of the Knights, the Sacra Infermeria.

We start our day with a relaxing cruise around the two natural harbours on either side of Valletta, Marsamxett Harbour and the Grand Harbour. A detailed commentary will unfold the
history of Valletta and the Three Cities connected with the two Great Sieges of 1565 and 1942, as well as the other places of interest including the historical forts, battlements and creeks which can only be admired from the seaharbours, creeks, shipyards, skylines and bastions of Valletta, and the "Three Cities" are unforgettable.

We then proceed to the Upper Barakka Gardens, with its magnificent views of the Grand Harbour, and the fortified peninsulas of Senglea and Vittoriosa. Next is the Grand Master's Palace, today the official residence of the President of Malta and the seat of parliament. The palace housed the residence and state rooms of the Grand Masters from 1571 until their expulsion by Napoleon in 1798. If open, we will visit the State Apartments and the Council Chamber where the 17th century Gobelins tapestry are hung. We will also visit the Armoury, housed in the former stables of the Grand Masters. The armoury is the largest collection in the world of its kind. Thousands of suits of armour and a huge array of weaponry are to be seen here which either belonged to the Knights of the Order or were captured as trophies of war.

You will have free time to take lunch in one of the many sidewalk cafes and restaurants in Valletta.

After lunch we will see the 45 minute film "The Malta Experience," an excellent audiovisual documentary providing a detailed overview of the history of the island, from prehistory to modern times. The film is screened in the 16th century hospital of the Knights of St. John -- the Sacra Infermeria -- famous throughout Europe for its sheer size and highest standards of care. We return to the hotel to freshen up before dinner this evening.

* Most of our tours are accommodated in St Julian's, a smaller seaside district located just to the north of Valetta.

Overnight on Malta.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 20 Valletta & Prehistoric Malta
We return to Valletta and begin the day with St. John's Co-Cathedral, the architectural gem of Malta. The church was built in the 1570's for the Knights of St. John, by the great Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar, who also designed the Grand Master's Palace and many of the auberges of the Order. It is the masterpiece of Maltese baroque, with its rich interior decoration and paintings by the celebrated artist Mattia Preti (1613-1699). The impressive floor is paved with colourful slabs of inlaid marble, with ornate decorations and epitaphs marking the location of over 300 tombs below, including the tombs of the first 12 Grand Masters of the Order of the Knights. We will visit the Cathedral's Museum and Oratory, where hangs the masterpiece, 'The Beheading of St. John the Baptist' by Caravaggio. During his brief stay in Malta (1607-8), he was admitted (and soon expelled) from the order of the Knights, and commissioned to paint several works. 'The Beheading of St. John the Baptist' is the largest painting ever created by the artist, and the only one he ever signed.

From here we proceed to the National Museum of Archaeology, housed in an original Auberge, the residence of the division of Knights from Provence. Here we will get an overview of the prehistoric cultures, the first known inhabitants of the Maltese islands. On exhibition are the ancient artefacts of the mysterious megalithic temple builders -- dating as far back as the 4th millennium BCE.

We continue to south coast to Hagar Qim on the south coast. This temple dates to the Ggantija phase (3600-3200 BCE) and is spectacularly located on a hill overlooking the islet of Fifla. The prehistoric temples on the Maltese islands are the oldest surviving freestanding structures in the world; dating to the 4th and 3rd millennium BCE, they are 500-1,000 years earlier than the oldest pyramid built at Giza! Who were these mysterious people? Why and how did they build the temples?

We drive to the picturesque village of Marsaxlokk set on a harbour of colourful traditional fishing boats. The boats are brightly painted in blue, yellow and red, with a vigilant eye on the bow to ward off evil, a tradition believed to date back to Phoenician times. Because most of the fishing boats of the island moor here, the Bay of Marsaxlokk has some of the finest seafood restaurants on the island.

Overnight on Malta.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 21 Day Trip to Gozo
This morning we head to the north-western tip of Malta to catch the ferry to the island of Gozo, which lies nearly 5km from the coast of Malta; the crossing takes only about 30 minutes. Gozo, pronounced "awdesch" in Malti, is about 1/3rd the size of Malta, 14 km long and 7km at its widest point. Gozo has its own distinctive characteristics and identity -- the Gozitans are proud of their traditions, lifestyle and dialects -- distinct from those of the main island. The island is more fertile, and economic activity is still based on farming and fishing; it is known for its magnificent landscapes, traditional villages and unspoiled coves.

We proceed to the prehistoric temples of Ggantija, one of the oldest and certainly the largest temple complexes of the Maltese archipelago, hence the folklore that they were built by giants. The largest megalith here is over 5m in length and is estimated to weigh over 50 tonnes! The two temples are surrounded by a monumental wall and date to the period 3600-3200 BCE, the same period as Hagar Qim.

We spend some time in the capital of the island, Victoria, inhabited since Neolithic times. The city encompasses both the imposing citadel, Il Kastell, perched on a high vantage point and dominating the landscape in all directions, and Rabat, the suburb outside the walls. Entering the main gate, we will explore the lanes and monuments of the citadel including its 17th century bastions, fortifications and the Cathedral of the Assumption. After a brief visit of the Archaeological Museum, we go to the Folklore Museum, a fine ethnological museum with exhibits dedicated to traditions and culture of rural Gozo. We will also wander the streets and colourful markets outside the walls.

Our last stop of the day is Dwejra for some the most spectacular coastal stretches of the island. Two huge underground caverns in the limestone collapsed to form what is today Dwejra Bay and the Inland Sea. We will take a relaxing boat trip, run by local fishermen to see the inland sea, a lagoon surrounded by cliffs which joins the sea via a 100m long tunnel through the headland of Dwejra Point. We will see the fantastic geological phenomena of the Blue Hole, and enjoy the panoramas of Dwejra Bay and Fungus Rock. The fungus (cynomorium coccineus) growing on the islet was exploited by the Knights of St. John for its wide array of curative properties. Indigenous to North Africa, but not found anywhere else in Europe, it was so valuable that the Knights built the nearby Qawra watchtower. Ferry back to Malta.

Overnight on Malta.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 22 Mosta, Mdina, Rabat, Dingli Cliffs
Today is dedicated to the fascinating cities of the interior: Mosta, Rabat and Mdina.

Our first stop is the see the Rotunda Church in the city of Mosta, which dominates the landscape in all directions from its position on a plateau. Based on the design of the Pantheon in Rome, it is the 3rd largest unsupported dome in Europe after the Pantheon and St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Built in the mid 19th century by a local architect and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it has held a special place in the hearts of the Maltese because of the miraculous events of World War II. In June, 1942, three bombs were dropped on the church during mass; 2 fell in the square and one penetrated the dome -- but none of the three exploded. Next is the Ta' Qali Crafts Village, where you will have time to explore the various workshops where traditional Maltese handicrafts are made. Admire the fine gold and silver filigree work, lace making, glass-blowing, traditional weaving and ceramics.

One of the main highlights of the island is the ancient walled city Mdina, former capital of the island, and its suburb outside the walls, Rabat. Both have been inhabited since antiquity. In medieval times, Mdina was known as Citta Notabile where the Maltese aristocracy lived and which is reflected in the quiet dignity of its 17th century architecture and narrow shady lanes. We will stroll the peaceful streets, stopping to admire to the views from the city walls, the mansions of the nobility, the churches and Cathedral of St. Paul -- the seat of the Archbishop of Malta. You will have time to have lunch in one of the pretty cafes/restaurants.

Exiting the walls of the city through the Main Gate, we cross the moat to the suburb of Rabat. We stop first at the remains of the Domus Romana, a Roman townhouse with colonnaded courtyard and beautifully preserved mosaics. It is one of dozens of Roman villas which dotted the countryside around Mdina (Roman Melita). Here in Rabat is the Church and Grotto of St. Paul, where tradition says that he preached to the citizens of Roman Melita (Mdina) during his stay in Malta. According to Acts: 27-8, St Paul was shipwrecked on Malta on his way from Caesarea to Rome.

The governor Publius received him and gave him shelter for 3 months; he converted to Christianity, became the first bishop of Malta and was later canonized. We continue to see the series of interconnected Catacombs, the cemeteries which were dug into the rock outside ancient city walls. The two largest on the island are the so-called Catacombs of St. Paul and St. Agatha and date back to the 4th and 5th centuries. The most characteristic feature of these Paleochristian tombs is the mensa, or agape table surrounded by an inclined platform, for tomb visitors to partake in funerary feasts commemorating the dead. If the Catacombs of St. Agatha are not open, we will visit those of St. Paul.

We end our tour with a drive to the south coast of the island. We stop for the beautiful panorama at the 220m high Dingli cliffs with its magnificent views of the cliffs and the offshore islet of Fifla. Just beyond, at Clapham Junction, are the remnants of mysterious "cart ruts" in the limestone from the Bronze Age. These are a series of deep, intersecting parallel ruts, probably carved by sleds rather than carts. Whether the sleds transported stone, salt, or topsoil remains a topic of archaeological debate. Return to our hotel.

Overnight on Malta.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 23 Departure
Departure from Malta.

IL-VJAGG IT-TAJJEB!

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Hotel Ibis Constantine

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Constantine
Country: Algeria

A 6-minute walk from the Place des Martyres, this relaxed hotel is 12 minutes on foot from the Cirta Museum.
... rooms feature free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Dar el Medina Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Tunis
Country: Tunisia

Dar El Medina Hotel Tunis is a boutique hotel and is set in an elegant house with whitewashed walls, traditional
... terraces, latticed windows and inner courtyards. It is also only few minutes walk from Kasbah and Dar El Bey.


Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Belvedere Fourati

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Tunis
Country: Tunisia

Set in the city center, this relaxed, urban hotel is 13 minutes' walk from Belvedere Park, 1.7 km from Tunis
... of Fine Arts and 2.6 km from the 16th-century Youssef Dey Mosque.

Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Hotel Ras El Ain Tozeur

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Tozeur
Country: Tunisia

A 7-minute walk from the Musée Dar Cheraït, this refined hotel features polished rooms feature TVs and ornate accents.


Click here to visit hotel website

Hasdrubal Thalassa Hotel

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Djerba
Country: Tunisia

Set along Sidi Mahrez beach, this extravagant resort hotel surrounded by gardens lies 5 km from Djerba Explore Park and
... km from Lalla Hadria Museum.
Read More.


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily. All accommodation (twin-share), transport, and sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Domestic flights via local scheduled carriers as per the itinerary. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving/late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

Your official "Letter of Invitation" to be included with your Algeria visa application is also included (see also 'exclusions').

Exclusions

International airfare to/from the tour. Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international (if applicable) and domestic air taxes, and visa fees. Optional single supplement. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on packing, optional meal costs, and visas.

Tourists visas are required for USA and Canadian passport holders visiting Algeria. Your must acquire your visa in advance, preferably through our preferred visa service. Your should budget about $200-$250 per visa including all fees and taxes. You will have to send your passport away for processing, and your passport cannot show evidence of a prior visit to Israel. Tunisia & Malta do not require visas.

Seasonality and Weather

Our Algeria tour occurs entirely in the northern part of the country, a temperate zone that enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate. It and Tunisia lie within approximately the same latitudes as southern California and has somewhat similar climatic conditions. The region's broken topography, however, provides sharp local contrasts in both prevailing temperatures and incidence of rainfall. Further north in Malta, we cold experience some chilly conditions, especially due to windy conditions.

Our dates in spring and fall will see comfortable mild-to-warm temperatures and the possibility of rain showers at any time. Spring will see green landscape and possibly wildflowers, while our fall date will enjoy the possibility of locally-produced fruits and vegetables.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout will be via private air-conditioned bus. Though we will have some full days of travel and sightseeing, road travel is not particularly arduous as there are plenty of stops of interest. Roads are generally in good condition, though a little winding on some stretches. We have a couple of internal flights via scheduled local airlines.

Though Algeria has stabilized greatly since its civil war ending in 2002, for security reasons we avoid areas near borders with neighbouring countries and restrict our explorations to the well-controlled and secure northern part of the country. Though our routes are already well-policed, our local partners may choose to assign a security escort on some stretches if deemed prudent due to prevailing conditions. At this time we do not currently offer the far south of the country, which is remote and not as well-patrolled. That said, we do get a nice taste of desert life on the edge of the Sahara in Ghardaia.

We encourage all travellers (as we do for any destination) to review online government advisories that provide guidance on, among other things, issues concerning security. We are presently very confident that your journey will be problem-free and want to ensure that you feel likewise before choosing to join this trip.

Our 'Level 2' difficulty rating reflects our comfortable transport and road journeys on good roads that are not terribly long. Heat should also not be a significant factor during our two dates. That said, our program is ambitious with plenty of moving around, some full days, early starts, remote locations, and plenty of time on your feet -- walking tours of towns and cities and at sites, some of which are large.

Accommodation

Well-located, air-conditioned, mid-range hotels and inns throughout; our hotel in Ghardaia, Algeria, however, is of a simpler standard but is clean and charming with local atmosphere (it does not have a website). All hotels have en suite bath, though some may have shower only. Porter service is usually available (see '˜Inclusions') though you should be independent with your luggage. Single rooms are limited in number and possibly smaller than twins.

Please click on the 'Map & Hotels' tab for more information.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, local guides, driver/s.

Group Size

Maximum 18 plus Tour Leader

AG3 TRIP DETAILS

DURATION23 days

TOUR STARTAlgiers

TOUR ENDMalta

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