ICHKEUL NATIONAL PARK
Where the (water) Buffalo Roam
Ichkeul is not just any nature spot in Tunisia. It is the only nature site on UNESCO's World Heritage List in North Africa.
Ichkeul's main claim to fame is the unique habitat for fish and bird life. The lake is shallow all over, allowing ideal conditions for birds like flamingoes, widgeons, pochards, shovellers, coots and white-headed ducks. Bird watchers will be able amuse themselves all day here, but the best time of the year is winter, when migratory birds stop here. There can be up to 200,000 of them at a time.
Wildlife is another attraction, with wild boar, jackals and even water buffalos. If that wasn't enough, the mountainside of Ichkeul Mountain (511 metres) has a colourful variety of flowers, which blooms depending on the recent level of rainfall.
The nearest hotel to the national park should be near Menzel Bourguiba, and is called nothing less than Ichkeul Hotel. Still, this is a bit far from the entrance to the National Park, so might as well use the hotels in Bizerte.
Getting to the park, and back, is a bit difficult if you do not have your own transportation. There is almost no sort of public transport that brings you to the park entrance. The best option would then be to arrange for a taxi from Menzel Bourguiba, which can be reached easily from any other major transport hub in the northeastern corner of Tunisia. Getting back is more difficult if you do not want to pay the taxi driver to wait. Hitchhiking may be an option, but could involve a bit of waiting.
Opening hours seem to vary from time to time, but it usually opens between 6.00 and 8.00, and closes between 18.00 and 20.00. According to the most recent information, there was no admission fee. Officially, there is a prohibition against photographing.