Travel Defender, how to organize a trip to the Sahara desert
Are you thinking of organizing a adventure trip to the Sahara Desert in Tunisia? For those like us who are passionate about overland, motors and 4x4s, nothing better than the travel story of Travel Defender, which explains how to get organized, what to bring, how to dress and like traveling by off-road vehicle in the dunes.
First of all we would like to introduce Gianluca, aka Travel Defender.
He is only 22 years old, but he has many adventure travels behind him. From a very young age with his family, who have always been fond of photographic safaris and overland travel, he has reached enviable destinations in the name of adventure. Motocross expert, he has always loved the world of 4x4s and the legendary Land Rovers in particular. Great passion for off-road vehicles, in short, but also for the preparation and fitting out of Defender vehicles. Trials, endurance, raids and challenges between the bumps, in short, earth, mud, water and wheels on all sides. But apart from the acrobatics and Sunday performances in our local nature and on the circuits, his new frontier is that of travels in the desert and other exotic horizons. This is why we asked him to tell us how he thought of organizing his trip among the dunes of the Sahara desert with a 4x4 caravan.
Which trip did you organize?
For my off-road trip in the desert, I chose the Tunisian part of the Sahara desert as my destination. The tour lasted 12 days and involved a close-knit group of 25 off-roaders and 7 vehicles . We traveled a circle that, immersing ourselves in the desert dunes, reached the following main destinations: Tunis, Dous, the Oasis of Ksar Ghilane, the mountains of Tembaine, the source of Ain Ouadette, Hammamet.
We contacted a very reliable and tested local guide.
What impressed you the most?
The temperature range of the desert that I had heard about, but which I did not imagine so impactful. You imagine the desert always arid with a heat impossible to face and instead you often find yourself in the cold, even if well covered.
The skyline that seems uniform and never changes, but in truth it is often very different from area to area and you have to be careful not to fall into the pitfalls of the desert: changes in slope, obstacles, unexpected distances.
How easy it is sink into the sand! Just get distracted for a moment, reduce or increase the speed without being constant and before you realize it you are already stuck.
The legend that it is easy to meet unexpected animals in the desert is actually an everyday truth. In the morning when we took down the tents on the ground, we always came across a large colony of scorpions. But the most surprising thing is the simplicity with which a trip of this kind is made and how it connects with travel companions creating a solid and close-knit group.
Which vehicle did you travel with? How to prepare the vehicle for the desert.
So, I was driving a Land Rover Defender 90. Naturally equipped with a sturdy roof rack, a bumper, an air camping, a fridge, two spare wheels, jerry cans for water and diesel and a good fire extinguisher. This is the minimum and indispensable preparation. It may be prudent to equip the vehicle with a roll-bar in the event of a rollover. Even if the sand is soft, it is always a good precaution. Surprise, at least for me, you don't need very specific tires. road tires and sand go perfectly together.
How do you dress and what to pack before leaving for the Sahara?
When planning a trip to the Sahara desert, 'Everything you can put in it' is not the right answer .. In fact, you end up carrying too much stuff. What you really need can be counted on your fingers. Military boots or similar to walk in the sand as between stones and to keep your feet safe from snakes, scorpions and to protect yourself when working around the car (however better than slippers ..) and enough high so that the sand does not enter. Socks which (strange, but true) insulate the foot both from the heat of the sun and from the cold of the evening. T-shirt at will. Short pants, with pockets and long swimwear. A good cap, a cotton scarf. A hat with a visor or brim. A robust and proven overshirt type of travel), excellent for protecting yourself from heat, wind and cold, to unbutton and button when the temperature suddenly drops at sunset (the desert climate is crazy), with a thousand pockets to always have everything at hand. Whatever garment you wear, it is important that it is breathable. Better than pure cotton.
Besides clothes, what do you bring to the Sahara Desert?
I know I'm surprised, but don't leave your sleeping bag at home. At night it can reach freezing point. Cold all night can be a ... nightmare. Sunglasses, especially for driving, a good camera, and some essential medicines.
What to leave at home (.. in hindsight)?
I confess that on a trip like this once, I don't know why, I brought a hairdryer. Here, leave that at home. Books and various pastimes, even those at home: you get tired in the evening and if you have more time and energy, the desert sky has no equal. Even the crossing by ship to Africa is time to devote to the so-called travel briefing. It is the moment of the indications, where we advise each other and get to know each other better. On the return journey, we make fun of ourselves, look at the photos, relive the most beautiful and fun moments and we are already beginning to have the first symptoms of African sickness.
The playlist of your trip
The playlist of my trip contains at least three songs of totally different genres. Because the desert offers different experiences. I could say Welcome to the jungle by Guns N 'Roses for when you walk around the dunes and when you face Tunisian traffic, a western soundtrack by Morricone for challenging moments, such as taking the reconversion to climb a dune or standing under the steep sun to reflect on which route to take, but also a piece of Ludovico Einaudi pleasantly melancholy for the evening sunsets.
How much does it cost to organize a trip to the Sahara Desert ?
A trip to the desert in Tunisia is paradoxically cheaper than many other destinations, and I would say absolutely inexpensive. Here is a list of some essential items. The cost of fuel in Tunisia is around 50 cents per liter (not much even considering how much off-road vehicles consume). The greatest cost for those who do not have suitable or unprepared vehicles is undoubtedly the cost for some modifications and adaptations, such as good shock absorbers, roof racks, protection of mechanical parts, filters and other technical things. As for clothing, as I said, just put some items in your backpack that we already have in the closet, and others that we all have for light trekking. I recommend cotton clothing because in contact with the skin, in the desert, they are much better than synthetic garments. The overnight expenses are practically zero. You spend the night in a tent, some of the food you bring from home and local food is cheap. The ferryboat is quite cheap also because, if booked in a group (more than 10 vehicles), it enjoys a special discount. We contacted: GNV . The one-off cost of preparing the 4x4 and spare parts is more important than the trip itself, which is affordable. In addition, you have to take into account health insurance and some bumps to be fixed on return, between bodywork and mechanics.
How do you prepare an adventure trip in the Sahara desert in Tunisia?
Before leaving, we checked that all 4x4 vehicles in the caravan had minimum requirements and necessary maintenance. We met often to choose the route and destinations, between a beer and the travel stories we have already experienced. Given that this type of travel can be within the reach of anyone who leaves well prepared and equipped, if you have not already had such experiences, it is better to rely on agencies or expert people who have been doing this type of travel for years to better organize a trip to the Sahara desert. There are international agencies that collaborate with local guides which you can contact. Then just book the ship crossing, and that's it. A good tip is to always carry out a overhaul of the off-road vehicle in a workshop or through an expert friend, to be sure that the vehicle is suitable for this type of trip and specifically for the chosen stages. Of course, Tunisia obviously has paved roads too, but our goal was to end up in the sand!
Important things to know before leaving for a trip to the Sahara desert
And now, also coming to our passion. How did you use your Overshirt?
Open or closed with a t-shirt or a sweatshirt with a hood underneath. Collar pulled up in the evening, and underneath a nice cotton scarf. Sleeves turned up as soon as the 'mechanics' require it. In the pockets many objects. From the car keys, safe in the buttoned pocket, the sunglasses tucked away in the chest pocket, a bandana, the smartphone for quick photos, a parrot and an Allen wrench for quick fixings, a hat and a pearl-sand rag in the pockets at the waist.
Why are you a Formula Iozzi Ambassador?
Because we share the same passions, adventure, motors, offroad. I chose to join Formula Iozzi also because we are sensitive to the same values. The importance of Made in Italy, fundamental for me, but difficult to find in contemporary clothing brands. Then, the brand, young and dynamic, and the idea of revisiting the iconic looks of the past in a modern key. It is a choice that represents me much more than the exploration of vintage shops and the use of brands from another era. Last but not least, I very much appreciate the principle of minimizing the environmental impact of products and packaging. In short, for me it is a cult brand even if it was born recently.