The Trip To The Lost Lake
The Trip To The Lost Lake

The Trip To The Lost Lake - Tunisia April 2004

Super 95:
costs 0.770 TUD that is 0.52 EUR per Liter
costs 0.60 TUD that is 0.40 EUR per Liter

In the second gear with lots of gas one have to cope the seven meters of soft sand on the luff side, then a deposition, diff-locks on and the car pulls slowly over the top. One have to stop almost at the top in order to decide how to proceed: Is the slop on the lee side vertical or does it go left or right. Now the procedure starts over and I have to gain momentum for the next top. Differential locks are valuable in this terrain. I have to keep the engine running at high refs, always over 3000 rpm. To much momentum and I fly over the top and crash in the sand or even roll the car. To little and I'm stuck. The dunes are hilly it is going constantly up and down with steeper passages if one has to cross a dune comb. We, that are eight Toyos, one Nissan Patrol, one Dodge and my Mercedes G, are with 23 people on the road to the Sahara desert in south Tunisia , a branch of Erg Orientale from Algeria. We are on the way to the little known lost lake Huaret Richet close to the prohibited area in the south. The trip is organized by the Sahara experts of the . They make three times a year trips into the Sahara and know the area as the back of one's hand. The trip is accurately planed with satellite maps.

09-04-2004 Traveling to Genua

5°C 498 km

We made 498 km and arrived in the evening in Genoa. At 5°C and rain we stayed the night on a barn near Genoa.

10-04-2004 und 11-04-2004 Entry to Tunesien

327 km 11:00 h 21:00 h

We arrive in Genoa at 11:00 h and enqueue for the ferry to Tunisia. The car pool looks like an Arabic bazaar. The cars and roof racks are stacked up with meters of goods, fridges are placed on the rear-window and fixed at the heck spoiler. The other portion are terrain vehicles. Toyotas, Patrols, Gs, Landrover, Unimogs, Pinzgauers. Pickups with removable campers, roof-top tents. One can pick up ideas here, but also gaze at many miss-construction, like the two spare wheels fixed on top of each other at the rear door. We bring our cars on board and leave the habour on time at 17:00 h. The Carthage is a RoRo(Roll on Roll off) ferry with three car decks. We go to our first class rooms. After the dinner at 18:30 h one can already do the declarations for the immigration. At the passport control I was lucky because I was first in the row since the counter just reopened. The officer looked for a long time at all my visas and stamps again and again and asks where this and that visas is from, because one must not have stamps from Israel, Taiwan and South Africa. In this case the trip is finished already here. Now I have to declare my car. I simply join our group and are again near the front of the queue. I have to fill in a form, bring the Card Grise (Car registration) and the green insurance card to be written valid for Tunisia and the passport. The car registration is written into the passport and I am done. It is not possible to leave the country without car. Sacha has not so much luck. He has punched his car registration in order to file it and the officer claims that he has made it invalid. Further more his second name is missing in the authorization. Corinne, Sacha 's girl friend claim she has punched the holes into the car registration and and this bring the story to a happy end. The sea is smooth as glass and I sleep very well. We arrive in the habour in Tunis at 14:30 the following day and drive off the deck at 15:00 and we pass the custom and passport control in a record breaking 15 minutes. We get cheap Tunisian fuel and continue at 15:45 h in direction south. After 327 km we build our night camp at 21:00 h.

12-04-2004 Tozeur

8.2°C 35°C

I feel cold in the night and it is with 8.2°C very cool in the morning. Over day the temperature rises to comfortable 35°C. We visit a waterfall were allot of annoying souvenir sales guys hang around. One asks me if I have a souvenir from Switzerland for the children: "Whiskey - you understand". I understand and continue.
In Tunisia every intersection has it's police man, but as tourist you are never stopped. Today a rally seems to take place, which even means more police and they stop the traffic for us so we can pass. We visit the desert zoo in Tozeur and finally camp at a lonesome place.

13-04-2004 Traveling South to the Desert

11 °C 177 km

Again this night was cool - 11°C was it at 6:45 h in the morning. Today we will leave the roads. At 13:45 h we leave Douz and 30 km further the road. We switch the last time in the high gear. From now on le Sable - the sand determines our life. It is everywhere, it spreads around in the car, at night it is blown by the wind into my tent, and in the evening into the meals. We start with the low dunes and going slowly to the higher one the next days. Despite all my apprehensions everything goes well. My 4x4 keeps what it promises. When I stuck at the first soft sand patch, I lower the tire pressure to 1.2 bar an go on. Daniel with his HDJ 80 Land Cruiser has broad his wife and three little children. For the kids the Sahara is the largest sandbox in the world. Today we drove 177 km.

14-04-2004 Finaly Sand

37.5°C 47 km 16:30 h

The piste is scattered with sand and we continue over low dunes to the well Bir el Hafater. Some Bedouin water their camels. Nicole and the kids are allowed to ride the camels. As a small reward the Bedouins get a can of apple puree.
We go on over easy to pass ground. We drive 50 km/h in 3rd gear. The last time for the next week. Around 14:00 h we reach the real dunes. From now on we only drive with walking speed. 35 km per day. Drive and shuffling is on the agenda. Especially the long wheelbase stuck on the ground at the top of the dunes.
Christian from the planed the route with help of satellite maps in the way that we can stay on top at the ridges if possible. This way you have a great outlook which also makes it easier to plan our path over the terrain.
You have to choose the speed in the way that you have enough momentum to reach the top of the dune - actually get a little bit over the top. To much momentum and you fly over the top und crashes in the sand or roll even the car. To little and you are stuck. Then you have to backup and gain momentum again or shuffle or use PSPs.
Around 16:00 h we build our camp. The wind is strong and there is sand everywhere in the air. No real vacation atmosphere. We have dinner. Ueli burns himself with hot water. We sit around the campfire till 21:00 h. One may think that the desert is empty. But this is not the case. There is always some vegetation and hence you always find some dead wood that we use for a decent camp fire.
Today we made 47 km.

Durch die Sahara


Tunisian Dinar (TND). 1 Tunisian Dinar (TND)r (TDN) is divided in 1000 Millimes. There arw bills of 5,10, 20, 30 Dinar. Coins are divided in 5, 10, 20, 100 und 200 Millimes and 1/2, 1 and 5 Dinar. 1 TND = 0,50751 EUR am 31.12.2011.
Time zone:
200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 cigarillos or 500g of tobacco. There are no information on age restrictions ,1L of spirits (over 25% volume of alcohol) or 2L of lighter alcohol beverages (up to 25% volume of alcohol), non-commercial amount of gifts and other items for personal use.
Prohibited: • Narcotics
• Pornography (please consider the term as used under the Islamic law)
• Counterfeit items
• Cultural artefacts and other objects of cultural importance
• Henna
• Palm tree and any products thereof
• Explosive material
Entry Requirements
For stays of up to 3 months you need a passport (no id) that should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay; you don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. For entrance with a car your passport must not have any stamps Israel, Taiwan and South Africa.
Entry with a vehicle:
The car can stay up to 3 month in the county with out paying tax. The vehicle will be entered in the passport and you will not be able to leave the county without it. Once my friends car was enter in his sisters passport, because she was driving. When she left the county earlier per flight the car was confiscated.

One may believe that you will only eat bread and water in the dessert. In any case one must carry food for days and weeks. Deep freezing is to risky. Your compressor fridge you may better utilized to cool your beer and butter. There are instant meals and cold cut that have not to be cooled. One find delicious meals in the Mosaik series of the Mirgos supermarket chain or canned soups. These can be served with mashed potatoes to which one needs only add butter and water to prepare it. Prepacked Swiss Rösti is also a delious alternative, but one need a lot of energy to prepare them. Precooked nudels and rise are further alternatives. For desert there is canned chocolate- and vanilla pudding from Nestle . Or for a change you go for canned fruit salad or grape fruit. Bread can be carried as crispbread, canned bread. It is also entertaining to take brown-bread premix and to bake bread like beduins in the sand at the camp fire with the whole group. Do not spoil the landscape with litter. Plastic packaging as well as cans you burn and tack the cans back to civilization. Do not burry trash. Animal will dig them out again.

recovery belt


It is advisable to tape all ventilation slots and and to mount a filter over the ventilation air intake - like it is used for cooker hood filters. This does not prevented sand in the cars however it prevents damage of the ventilator. In my case it was one cup of sand a day that did not get into the ventilation.

15-04-2004 Rain and Rudi's Rollover

16°C 23 km

Madness! I suddenly wake up! The tent is twisting and bending in the sand storm. Again and again there are small flashes caused by static electricity when the grains of sand hitting my tent like bullets. The wind storms so hard through my tend that I believe that it has taken the outer fly sheet. Where is my car? Did the storm drift me away? This can not be. I have no water in the tent I think still half sleeping. I turn on the flashlight and everything is on its place. Then it is raining for hours. I put my head out of the tent to get a shower. In the morning the desert appeared like a moon landscape. I jump and I don't sink in a millimeter. The sand it hart like concrete. We will drive like on a highway. Around noon we are at the mountain Tin Souane . If desired people can climb the mountain. We proceed quickly through the dune valley. Now we have to pass a dune ridge what is more difficult. Everybody tries it on different places. Finally we find a pass for the cars with weak engines. A HZJ 78 drives very close to a edge of a dune. Everybody scouts but without success and the car slips even more - get into a slanting position and rolls down the edge and rolls one and a half one time. The driver fortunately is not injured, however the car lies on the side. We clear a area and recover the Toyo. There are traces of oil in the air filter . We clean it. We are in bad mood. Are we able to continue? Will the engine run. We stay here and build out night camp.i In the evening we bake bread like the Bedouins in the fire. Today we did 28 km.

16-04-2004 Desert

39°C 20 km

The Sahara present itself not very inviting. The light sand storm in the morning blows our tents away. The most difficult leg of our trip begins today. We have to pass nine dune crests to reach the lake. To avoid the problems we encountered yesterday we build two groups. Our group is led by Christian. Nicole and Vreni are driving in front of me. Christian is navigating with satellite maps and always looks for the best passes. The cars with the weaker engines do have problems with steep slops. The Patrol did not succeed after fives tries and Christian looks for a simpler path. After a slop the Patrol get tiles and drills itself in the slope. We shuffle and pull it free. At 40°C we always have to drink water. One tire slipped from the rim and we pump it up. But it appeared now that the bumper is twisted and the Patrol can not be steered anymore. We fix it by pulling it with a recovery belt. Christian looses a bolt from the stabilizer and Patrick's seat is fix with exactly the bolt. This way we fixed the problems. The Quad that Michael rides has a defect petrol pump which we fixed. In the evening Christian invited us for a Drink. We make 20km today.

17-04-2004 Wir ereichen den verlornen See

30°C 13 km 08:15 h 11:45 h

Start is at 8:15 h. The determines the route with a sattelite map and tires to get to the lake on the dune crest. The was we have to cross less then nine dunes. It still is a interesting route with some challenging paths. At 11 o'clock the lake Huaret Richet is in sight. The mood lifts. Now bathing and sunning is on the agenda with pleasant 30°C. Some are bathing near the warm fountains. We enjoy the the calmness and relax at the water I repair my leaking air mattress, however I take Rudi's compressor, because does not last only pump 5 minutes not 25. And we wash our clothes. In the evening we drive little away from the lake in let the animals drink. We drove today 13 km.

18-04-2004 Sandsturm

37.5°C 86 km 19:45 h 11:00 h

In the morning a Beduin appears, and ask for Ma water. Ueli hand him a liter pineapple juice, Christian a can fruit salad. He went overjoyed away. We go to the lake and they get some T-shirts. The two say good bye with lost of Schukran and thank you. Finally to go toward the closing dune of this trip passing many smaller dunes and valleys and larger dune crests. After some days of cross in sand and dunes we make fast progress and driving is a lot of fun. Some longer passages of soft sand have to be mastered. With the right acceleration and sometime differential locks I master the dunes ad feel secure. When fetching a log for the camp fire in the evening, a saurian appears and feel well in the shadow of Sacha's Hilux. It is pleasant 37.5 °C. Another sandstorm is building up. We decided at 16:00 that we do not like to camp another night in storm and move forward to the the camping place Ain Essebat at the edge of the desert. We pass the closing dune where we wanted to camp. 10 more km over a stony piste. We decided that we need not to pump up the tire pressure. But Rudi think he must delete fill up air to the anger to the rest of the group. At 19:45 h we reach eventually the camping. We are allowed to cook and eat in the saloon which is covered with carpet. 5 TUD per person is the fee for camping. Bathrooms are unusually clean and it is a pleasure to take a shower and swim after days in the dessert. Most members are tired and go early to bed. Ueli und I talk, with some Pastice , till late in the night. Around 2:00 h we go to bed. I sleep very well. Today we traveled 86 km in 11 hours.

19-04-2004 The Oasis

10:30 h 17 km

At 10:30 h w start for the 17 km piste to Ksar Ghilane. We reach Abdullahs palm garden and build our camp and relax.
In the afternoon we take a bath in the hot sources in the center of the oasis and enjoy the hot sun and cold drinks. We are the only people here and enjoy the calmness.

20-04-2004 Crossing the Dunes to Douz

15°C 40 km

Abdullah baked bread for us what we enjoy for breakfast. Since we returned earlier, because of the bad weather, we decides not to go to Gabes directly, but over the dunes to Douz. Other automobiles we encounter use the southern two pistes but are not faster then we are.
Almost everybody want to take advantage of the last day driving in the sand.
Patrick descents a unusually steep lee side of a dune and hits the ground, which result and damaged front. For the last time we camp in the desert and we are rewarded with a nice sunset. The fine crest of the mood shows shortly in front of the red background of the sunset. We drove 40 km today.

21-04-2004 Bir Haj Brahim to Douz

09:00 h 8km Sand 30km Piste 203 km Total

We depart at 9:00. For the last time we put in the low gear. We drive the last 5 km dunes and reach the well Bir Haj Brahim (N 33°15.338' E 9°15.202'). Here starts the 30 km long piste to Douz. It starts with terrible corrugations. That is a infinite sequence of small peaks and and lows. The car is terribly shaken. One possibility is to ride out the peaks with 25 km/h or to jump over them with 70 to 100 km/h. For the car the it is enormous burden. Everybody looks for its own track. I worry about my car and drive with 35 km/h slow, other race with 100 km/h throughout the landscape. In Douz we are back on tarmac road. It is a incredible pleasure to float over the sealed road. After filling up petrol and buying bread we continue to Matmata. I am fascinated from the curiously sparse landscape the I enjoy with Arabic music. From Matmata we can already see the sea. We ride the 34 km to the beach of Gabes that is pretty littered. We build our camp. A scorpion runs between our legs, which motivates us to put on firm shoes. A strong unpleasant wind starts. I did not want to spend a another night in the cold tent and sleep uncomfortable inside the car. Today we manage 203 km.

22-04-2004 End of the Journey

277 km

Today is travel day. We go the 227 km to Nabeul where we stay one night among al the all-inclusive tourists. Hammannet and Nabeul is a contrast between the modern world and Arabic traditions. Between the traditional shops there are big billboards with beautiful Arabic women that advertise for diapers, chocolate, mineral water. Also the number of shop with (not so) old Roman amphora that obviously target tourists.

Greetings from Tunesien

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