Chaambi National Park protects Tunisia’s highest mountain, Mount Chaambi. The spectacular peak forms part of the famous Atlas Mountains and is located close to the border of Algeria. The Aleppo pine-covered slopes are the last Tunisian forested parts before entering desert landscapes.
The area is not a major tourist hotspot, but it does hold great appeal for die-hard hikers and climbers wanting to experience an untamed adventure in an unpredictable environment.
Visitors to the park are rewarded with rare sightings of regal Peregrine falcons taking to the skies, and wild curly-horned Barbary sheep on the jagged mountain slopes.
Located three hours from the capital of Tunis, the closest village is Kasserine. The village isn’t geared toward tourism, so staying there is not recommended. If Chaambi is on the bucket list, then visitors are encouraged to stay in the capital city of Tunis.
Unfortunately, there are no facilities in the park where visitors can stay overnight. The closest accommodation is around three hours away in the city of Tunis.
The summit of Mount Chaambi sits at 1,300 metres above sea level and will take approximately three hours to reach. The track to the top is clearly marked but visitors should at least be of moderate fitness levels.
The pine forests carpeting the slopes provide the perfect habitat for small populations of the striped hyena, Ruppell’s fox, Cape hare, wild boar and the elusive golden jackal. In total, there are 24 mammals and 15 reptiles found within the park.
In the open areas, visitors can potentially spot both the Cuvier’s gazelle (one of the few remaining places where they survive) and Dorcas gazelle. The ever vocal gundi (a small rodent-like creature that looks like a rock hyrax) is found in abundance on the rocky ledges of Mount Chaambi. Unique to the area are the herds of wild Barbary sheep with impressive curled horns.
Eagle sightings are prolific, and visitors can expect to see Peregrine falcons, booted eagles, Bonelli’s eagle and the royal eagle. In addition to the presence of raptors, there are also Griffon vultures and plenty of sightings of migratory birds.
The best time for hiking and climbing is during the dry season, which is from March to October. Between March and May is when the wild sheep give birth to their young, which are often spotted on the slopes.
A semi-Mediterranean climate characterises the area, and rainfall is normally between 200 and 400 mm during the winter season.
The region is appealing to visitors wanting to completely escape civilisation and explore an area where very few mountaineers have gone before. The journey from Tunis is a three-hour drive and requires the use of a 4WD vehicle. The terrain is rugged and only fit for experienced drivers. It’s probably best to hire the services of a local driver who knows the area.
There is a well-used track providing access to the 1,300-metre summit, which takes roughly two to three hours. Hikers who have a keen interest in birdwatching will delight in the many species of raptor to spot while trekking through contrasting terrain of the Chaambi Mountain.
Scenes of deep gouges eroded into sedimentary mountains combined with forested area provide a challenging hiking terrain for mountaineers wanting to conquer unknown parts of the Atlas mountain range.
The only reliable accommodation options are in the capital city of Tunis, where the main accommodation types are large resort-style hotels. Hotels with typical Tunisian character can be found in the city centre. Mansions, backpackers and inns are also in abundance in Tunis.