Considered the best national park in North Africa, Bou-Hedma National Park is an attractive destination of great ecological value. The park is being considered as a UNESCO world heritage site and is one of the most popular tourist parks in Tunisia. The national park straddles the border of the Sahara desert and spills out over the Tunisian mountain range, an extension of the Atlas mountains.
Encompassing several biospheres, Bou-Hedma is an iconic North African wilderness destination with an interesting archaeological history. Ancient scattered relics are found throughout the park, evidence of Roman civilization and the Neolithic period.
Bou-Hedma provides a habitat for rare antelope, jackal, Barbary sheep, and abundant birdlife. Undulating rocky mountains flank landscapes characterised by Kalahari style acacia savannah and Saharan steppe woodlands.
This remote park is situated a mere 85 kilometres east of the main town of Gafsa, a desert valley town and, arguably, Tunisia’s most thriving metropolitan desert town. The town boasts easy access, as the closest airport is Ksar International Airport, just six kilometres from Gafsa.
The Sahara desert forms the one border of the park while the undulating Tunisian mountain range also features prominently.
The national park is the perfect place for families with several picnic spots perfectly positioned to take in the spectacular surrounds.
Antelope are well represented in Bou-Hedma National Park. Commonly spotted ungulates include the oryx, Dorcas gazelle and the beautifully patterned dama gazelle. One of the typical species found throughout North Africa, the Barbary sheep, is found in Bou-Hedma National Park. Other mammals to spot include the striped hyena, goundi and the adorable jerboa. Jackal and porcupine also thrive in this desert environment.
Because of its variety of ecological zones, the park is ideal for birding. One of the common residents, the partridge, is found in abundance in the area. Other noteworthy bird species to spot include the North African ostrich, Bonelli’s eagle, booted eagle, and Numidian guinea fowl. There are also numerous bat populations in the park. Typical desert reptiles such as the cobra, monitor lizards and horned viper can also be spotted.
April is the best time of year to visit. From May to October the temperatures soar and can be sweltering hot. From November to March it can get extremely cold, especially in the mountain valleys and open savannah.
There is a unique climate in this area, unlike the other parts of the country. There’s high rainfall on the mountain tops and low rainfall in the valley.
There are several typical safari-type tours specifically tailored to visitors wanting to take in the splendour of this eco-tourist area. Eager safari-goers can book their choice of tours at the entrance of the park. Tours include everything from guided walking tours to thrilling game drives.
The more adventurous at heart are encouraged to follow the jeep tracks and hiking trails crisscrossing through the park. Exploring on foot provides ample opportunity for visitors to experience nature in its purest form, with a chance to soak up sweeping views of the Sahara terrain. The national park is the perfect place for families. There are several picnic spots in the park, perfectly positioned to take in the spectacular surrounds. Not only is Bou-Hedma a secluded destination, but it also has an interesting history, which is documented in the museum.
There are several accommodation options on the fringe of the park. Most accommodation options are designed to reflect the typical desert-style architecture of North Africa. It’s here where visitors will discover sand-colour castles, Islamic and Roman architecture, and buildings that look straight out of a scene from "Star Wars".
The main accommodation options include villa-style hotels and desert dwellings. Because of Tunisia’s searing heat during the summer months, most accommodation options are fully-equipped with swimming pools, shaded gardens and man-made oasis areas.