El Feija National Park in Tunisia is a beautiful natural area, spanning 26 square kilometres of forested landscape intersected by babbling brooks and streams. The entire area is protected for the preservation of the Barbary deer, a species endemic to the humid forests of North Africa.
El Feija holds great aesthetic appeal. Hills carpeted in oak and cork forests hide plenty of small crisp springs and lakes. Rivers with cascading mini waterfalls tumble over moss-covered boulders, giving rise to remarkable forest scenes, revered by botanists worldwide. The ancient oak forests provide the ideal habitat for forest-dwelling creatures such as foxes, dormouse, deer and the elusive golden jackal.
This preserved forest, characterised by canopies of tall trees, is located in northwest Tunisia. The national park is only a few kilometres from the Tunisian-Algerian border, and the capital city of Tunis is an easy three-hour drive away.
Avid birders will be able to spot a variety of nocturnal and diurnal species. These include flycatchers, woodpeckers, blackbirds and bee-eaters.
In the summer, temperatures soar up to the mid 40s, while snow can be expected during winter at higher elevations. The best time to visit is therefore during spring and autumn when temperatures are more moderate.
The dense vegetation of the forest provides a sanctuary for 25 mammals and reptiles. The Barbary deer is the most notable species in the area and is found in abundance in the park.
The Barbary is the emblem of El Feija National Park. Two other major species to spot are the African golden wolf and the Barbary boar. Genets, dormouse, golden jackal, foxes, serval, weasels and hares are just a few other animals in the park. The typical array of forest birds occur within the park. Birders can spot both nocturnal and diurnal species, such as flycatchers, woodpeckers, blackbirds and bee-eaters.
El Feija National Park has a Mediterranean climate dominated by a rainy winter season. During the winter it snows in the higher reaches of the park. January sees the coldest average temperature. In summer, the park’s temperatures soar, and the warm wind from the Sahara can elevate temperatures to up to 45 degrees celsius. The best time to visit is during spring and autumn when temperatures are more moderate.
The best way to explore this emerald green preserved forest is on foot—camping and hiking excursions are popular. Beautiful forest trails meander their way through looming cork trees and lush forest floors, while hiking trails snake their way over elevated areas. The forest hides many wildlife secrets, just waiting to be uncovered.
There are organised birding and photographic tours led by knowledgeable guides. Barbary deer standing proudly against exquisite forest scenes make for fantastic photographic moments. Birders will delight in knowing that there are plenty of passerines and nocturnal raptors in the forest.
At the entrance of the park is eco-museum housing information about the natural environment and history of the area. There’s a quick, steep hike up to a wooden chalet offering panoramic views of unusual landscapes. Dotted with picnic spots, the park is the perfect place for day-trippers from surrounding towns and villages.
Visitors to the national park generally end up camping in the many available spots in the area. Most hikers carry their equipment, choosing to camp wherever is safest. There is a simple backpackers and hostel in the park, serving breakfast and other meals. Scattered around the park, there is an array of hotels and bed and breakfasts.