Tunisia 97/98

Hallo, here you'll find some photos and facts about my last
Niva-Tour. I went from Germany to Italy (Genua), took the
ferry to Tunis and made a round-tour trough Tunisia. We were a group
of 4 people (2 men, 2 women) and had 1 Suzuki Samurai and 1 Lada Niva.
We started on 12.12.97 and had been back on 4.1.98.
We did a round-tour through Tunisia, which could give you a wide picture of the country.
We started at Tunis, went up to North-Cape of Africa (Cape Blanc), then down
the Algerien border (partly on pists), crossed the Chott-El-Jerid (big salt lake)
and have been to the Door to the Sahara, Douz. From Douz to Ksar Ghilane
We drove in 2.5 days. The direct line is 85km, so imagine our speed.
We went free through the sanddunes, using a GPS.
I'll put a map of the route here:.

We used a Garmin GPS II and marked automatically every 1/2 hour 1 point,
but in the desert sometimes we had a speed
of 200 meters per hour, so it is very exactly in that area.
We celebrated Christmas in the dunes of the Sahara, area of Ksar Ghilane and Douz and
we visited that native Sahara-Festival, which happens every year around
Christmas. This is not made for tourists, because of only a few of them being there at this time.
After that we went to the Eastcoast and traveled up the Tunis back.
On the Shore of the Isle of Djerba we had our hardest recovery, because
my Niva got stucked, and we needed a Caterpillar to get me out there...
New Years Eve was in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, but because
of the Ramadan started at same day, there was no party in the city,
everybody was at home, almost every restaurants were closed and for a moment
we thought of being in a 'dead' city. We could drive through the city on 6-lane-roads being alone...
Some photos are here now. I developed the films: 12 Slidefilms and
12 color-print-films....
Sorry, I can only put some here, tell me, if you want more!

All following photos are from my Tour to Tunisia 97/98:

ok, lets go...

Driving in the Sand is fascinating, you should try it once, really!

As you can see, we are a group of 2 4x4's. Sleeping out there in the dunes gives you a very nice feeling of being close to the nature...
A nice sunset is mostly inlcuded free of charge...

Getting stucked in the soft sand areas is not a big problem, but our sandboards were to small and our - swedish made - scoop started braking after 2 hard days in the dunes...
Here: nobody is sitting in the Lada, front right and rear left wheel are turning and turning and...
Just looking like a 'grabber'...

Steep downhills are not a problem, if you know the way after that, but never try to go back this route...
We did this way so far.

Looking for a place to sleep. Neverending sand, enough water and a good whisky -
That's all you need there!

When the sun goes down, the clouds are sometimes coming. Be careful not to stay in a wadi for the night!
But we were very impressed by this landscape - really.

In southern Tunisia, the dunes are very soft, quite low but they are very close together.
Sometimes only 1st gear low range for a couple of kilometers will need all your concentration..

Oops, on the shore of the Isle of Djerba, I got so hardly stucked, that we needed a Caterpillar. 2 cables got broken at this.
A 2" (5cm) Cable only got me out there - and my trailerhitch a bit wrong...

In the Western Tunisia Area they grave for Phosphat and need real big trucks therefore. So imagine the trucks, if you see the tires only...

The Sahara-Festival of Douz is not made for Tourists, it's a real citizens party. You can see Camel 'Trophys',
Miss Sahara-Festival election, wild horse-riders, a lot of natives... It's really nice!!!

Very quickly?

Looking for the Deserts Toilet or Dunes Restroom ;-))))

Please don't worry about pic-size, it should be a photogallery.

Now some expieriences from this tour:

We had 1 Suzuki Samurai and my Niva and tested this cars in the dunes and other offroad areas. In relation you can't say that one of them is better. The Niva has more torque, much more place inside, bigger tires, but the SJ has less weight, consumes less petrol (Niva approx. 25l/100km, Suzuki approx 22l/100km in the real dunes area). And the Niva - of course - is much better in winter conditions than SJ. I tested this last winter in Lappland at approx. -35degr. Cent.
In the sand we often needed our sandboards and the scoop. Once at a shore, we needed a Caterpillar to pull me Niva out before the flood comes. A new 5-ton cable destroyed at this test...

Problems on tour: once the carb.-screws got loose so I had to fix it better, the Airfilters gasket was to small (low) so the air find a way between airfilter and Airfilterbox a bit, but not a problem to fix. The cover of the engines radiator ventilator got loose, so I removed it.
We did sometimes trough the sand 1st or second gear in reduction at full throttle for some kilometers so it was not only trial-style everytime. After the hardest drive my Niva did not get higher than 70degr. on road. I thought first, that the indicator is wrong, but I found the following:
1. I removed the thermostat.
2. put it in water on a stove
3. bring it to boil
4. take off the thermostat and shake it:
a piece of soldering tin comes out.
This comes from the sealing of the radiator and may be vibrated loosen by heavy driving. You can remove the thermostat in following way in order to reduce the loosing of cooling liquid:
1. place a plastic box below the car
2. remove top hose not on thermostat, do it on its top end, (at engine)
approx. 2l will come out.
3. remove lower hose on thermostat quickly and place it in a high position
4. remove thermostat for middle hose quickly and close this hole
easily with a top-cover of a small spray-bottle.
In that way only approx. 4-5liter will leak. This is good for road side repairing. To place the thermostat back, you can do it in reverse way. By a coincidence I had copies of all Lada-relating articles of old East-german-Cars-Journal "Der Deutsche Straßenverkehr" with me and in a very short notice I found this tip and could use it successfully. The piece of soldering tin was 2cmx1cmx2mm in size and blocked the valve.
Don't worry, if your thermostat gets problems - look for this!!
I had to readjust the front wheel bearing on right side twice and on left side once.
After removing my cat., I used normal essence leaded successfully. We carried about 80-85l petrol, and 30l water in each car for being approx. 3-4 days independent from others.
In the sand I reduced the tire inflation pressure from 2.5 to 1.2 bar, which really helps. And used original pump to bring all 195R16 back to 2.5 bar.
One thing was interesting: at really extrem angle of the axles 195R16 so also get in touch with the cars body on rear axle...

Any comments?