Gallops will embark on their latest equestrian adventure with a hundred rider-adventurers across the desert happening on November 12 to 19.
Gallops is making its fifth return after the Sultanate of Oman and its fascinating Wahiba Sands in 2014, Morocco and the dunes of Merzouga in 2017, India and the sands of Rajasthan in 2018, and Jordan and the extra-terrestrial landscapes of Wadi Rum in 2021. It is in the Tunisian Sahara at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains that Bady Kebir and Benoît Perrier will make people dream and travel on horseback for its fifth edition.
As soon as you wander to off-the-beaten tourist tracks and the large seaside hotel complexes, Tunisia is a fascinating country full of sites which are real hidden treasures. “It is a country which has a heritage, culture, and an extremely rich history,” Bady Kebir emphasizes.
Carthage, a Phoenician city under Greek influence, is one of the most emblematic archaeological sites on the planet. Tunisia was a jewel of the Roman Empire. If it is above all a country embraced by the sea, the Berbers have strongly marked the mountain and the desert with their presence for centuries. Some mountain villages with their cave dwellings are remarkable wonders. The landscapes to be discovered with the Gallops of Tunisia will surprise guests, even those that have already participated in one of our previous editions.
To embark on such a raid of 150 kilometers, it is necessary to build up your strength and energy. For this, the organization has chosen the Anantara Sahara Tozeur Resort & Villas. The first gathering will take place in a dreamy location: a top-of-the-range hotel, near which the trial day to test the horses will take place and where the starting line begins.
The caravan of riders will cross the dunes of Nefta for two days to arrive at Ong-jmal, a site famous for being one of the scenes filmed in Star Wars. The route will continue onwards in the famous triangle of the Oasis of the Atlas Mountains whose foothills first begin in Tunisia before expanding across Algeria and Morocco. The journey will take you to the location of the film Black Gold and will end in the mountain oasis of Midès before returning to the Anantara Resort in Tozeur for the award ceremony and the gala celebration evening.
The principle of this raid remains the same as the previous editions. One hundred riders, representing eighteen different nations, will be divided into twenty teams of five people. Each team will have to complete each of the five stages of 30 kilometers in a time close to a pre-set objective time.
It is not really a race, but rather an equestrian raid through spectacular desert landscapes with a GPS as the only orientation tool. It is a significant sporting challenge and a formidable surpassing of oneself. The competition still remains, and many come to win – but that is not the main goal.
Meanwhile, the horses are currently being selected. There will be Barbs rented from Tunisian breeders and equestrian centers who will begin their endurance training shortly.
The horses’ well-being is a top priority of the Gallops organization. Five veterinarians will carry out two checks per stage and the horses are constantly monitored by the “caravan” that accompanies them. The length of each stage has been reduced to thirty kilometers and, as in every edition, the equestrian level of the riders will be closely verified.
Without needing to be experts of endurance riding, the participants must be accomplished outdoor riders with a perfect mastery of the three gaits and an irreproachable knowledge of horses. In previous Gallops editions, inseparable pairs have been formed between rider and horse during the desert adventure to the point of not being able to be separated from each other. Competitors have acquired and imported their horses to be reunited together in their new forever home.
Non-rider participants, less seasoned on horseback, will be able to partake in a rich touristic program to taste the salt. But this will be without the saddle – only a short two-day hike in the form of a 20-kilometer trek following in the footsteps of the riders. And in case of fatigue, two camels will be following, ready to transport exhausted walkers on their backs!
Sometimes, the adventure can be difficult for some. But comfort awaits all participants at the end of each stage. Abivouac for which this year will be more comfortable and with tents that are rather more like real lounges with shimmering colors. Meals will be cooked by the restaurant chefs of the Anantara Sahara Tozeur Resort, with Berber and Asian flavors. The Gallops legendary white party at the end of the fourth stage in Chebika, and a Berber soirée and DJ at each stage will allow for an active and festive recovery.
The entire caravan will be transported by a privately charted plane from Roissy Charles de Gaulle that will go directly to Tozeur.
For the fifth time, this Gallops edition promises to be exhilarating and unique. It’s a new setting to discover: deserts as fascinating as they are abundant in curiosities, life, and intriguing landscapes. This part of the Sahara is no exception to the rule.
For more information and to register, visit gallopsoftunisia.com.