Monday, 1 December 2014

Mountain biking: Lac Tunis - Chikly Fortress

Distance: 17km
Altitude difference: 0m
Terrain: dirt track
Technical difficulty: * (out of *****)
Notes: sometimes dogs on the causeway, Guard National may be difficult
GPS track

This is probably the best traffic free bike ride in Tunis. The start of the ride is at the northern connection (a canal) between Lac Tunis and the Mediterranean, at the bridge next to the roundabout and the causeway road between La Goulette and Tunis TGM. There is no official car park, so it's best to park your car in La Goulette. There is a Guard National post at the entrance to the causeway to Chikly. I asked permission and it was fine. Coming back to report my return, another official told me it was forbidden and I would need a permit from the Ministry of Environment, Culture and Internal Affairs. Just take your chances, I've heard many people do it and have no issues.

Chikly, a fantastically restored 16th century fortress in the middle of Lac Tunis

The ride to the fortress is very easy. It's all flat with some potholes and bumps. Along the way you will see fishermen at their improvised huts, waiting for the catch of the day. On your right you will pass Lac 1 and Lac 2, the principle business centre in the country. On your left you can see the causeway road towards Tunis Centre. And as the dirt track is crossing the flight path of the planes bound for Tunis Carthage, you will see many planes flying very low.

The author reaching Chikly Fortress

The fortress itself, which you will reach after about 8km, is spectacular. See here for some background information about the fortress. It was "guarded" by a big flock of flamingos. Take your time to explore the building, and there's great views from the top. Go back the way you came (or go for a swim!) as Chikly is an island and the end of the dirt track. This bike trip is a true gem and a must do for cyclists in Tunis!

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