People often send us letters or cards after their trip. On a personal level, for the staff of TunisUSA (now Iconic Journeys Worldwide), it’s deeply gratifying to know we’ve helped so many people have the trip of their lives. If you are thinking about traveling with us take a moment to read through some of these letters. There’s nothing like hearing directly from people who have written to share their own unique experiences. If you’ve had a memorable trip to Turkey or Tunisia, we’d love to hear about it. Share your experience with others and us!
Kristen Woods writes…
Jerry, Thank you so much for organizing a truly enjoyable Tunisia holiday. While we moved through the country at what seemed at times to be lightning speed, I really learned so much and came away with the understanding and appreciation of this country and its people. Our guide was an excellent match to not only our temperament, but also the group’s chemistry as well. Wassim made the trip that much more successful and I feel he is a real asset to your company.
The disparity between the architectural antiquities of sites such as Dougga and the Berber village of Chenini were truly spectacular as well as the differences in the landscape surrounding them. The northwest region of Tunisia was surprisingly green and abounding in hills; a countryside I found to be quite mesmerizing especially on a crisp, spring morning like ours. The archaeological city of Dougga was so vast and picturesque. The rich, terra cotta color and surprisingly intact carvings of the Capitol’s peristyle contrasted sharply with the deep blue of the sky and green of the encircling olive tree orchards.
The mountain village of Chenini in southern Tunisia was incredibly breathtaking with its cave-like homes scattered about on the terraced slopes. Small, wood doors and fenestration indicated the dwellings built into the hillside. Ascending the zigzagging paths and terraces of Chenini offered a glimpse into ancient Berber life while yielding an incredible view of this barren, desert region. I was reminded of the deserts of America’s southwest except for the occasional camel herd and palm filled oasis.
Most people have no notion of where Tunisia lies and to be honest, I didn’t either before my sister invited me along. As Americans, we hear little to nothing about this country, and its mere proximity to Libya and Algeria, I believe, precludes people from pursuing travel there. Also, in a post-9/11 America, we have been somewhat brainwashed to be afraid of Arabic/ Islamic countries. The brief and few exchanges we had with Tunisians were very pleasant and I found them to be just as curious about us as we were of them. Mostly it seemed that they wanted to know why Americans didn’t travel to Tunisia more. While our tour guide kept a watchful eye on us most of the time, I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable with my surroundings or the Tunisian people.
Again, please feel free to use any or part of my comments as you feel necessary to promote TunisUSA tourism.
Thank you again Jerry and if I have friends or family interested in visiting Tunisia, I will definitely send them your way.
Kristen A. Woods
Santa Monica, CA
Marsha and Howard Seltzer write…
“When we first contacted Jerry about a private tour, we immediately learned that he had exceptional listening skills. He asked what we wanted/liked and what we did not want to be included in our trip. The program he arranged was outstanding. From the very first day Hammadi (our guide) and Hammeda (our driver) were like Family to us and we were treated to many “extras” and “out of the way places” everywhere along the itinerary because they seemed to know people in the smallest villages and antiquity sites. Even more important, everyone knew them. Hammadi is a well know archaeologist and gave us information and access to the ruins that would have been impossible with a group. He always knew where the best bakeries were and the two of them were always running off to get “special macaroons or baguettes” or some other local delicacies which we all shared. Believe me, our Land Cruiser was the best smelling car in the country. The four of us seemed to be talking and / or laughing all the time as we drove all over the country. And I do mean all over the country because it is amazing how much territory they were able to cover in the 18 days of our trip.
We have traveled all over the world, and it is not often anymore that we – as Americans – are greeted with such warmth and hope.
In summary, Jerry Sorkin arranged a wonderful trip and we will certainly consider traveling with TunisUSA again.
Howard and Marsha Seltzer
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mark Morrison writes…
Please feel free to use any of my comments – you may consider doing a Portfolio of Photographs on your website – I certainly have some good images – the American traveler is a difficult one – most want all of the comforts of home, etc. as you well know but the other big factor is that most are just not warm, open and friendly – also afraid of environments perceived to be unhealthy or unclean or simply other cultures and people that they simply do not understand. I have travelled to over 100 countries on the seven continents and have never had a problem because I warmly embrace the people that I visit whether they are street vendor or diplomats. I always find that a smile and a hug go a long way, in fact most people do not think I am from the USA – of course we could all get along much better if we did this in our own country as well. The Muslim culture and people are fascinating and really give one the feeling of deep historical context when travelling – it is so often the arrogance of our history that gets people in trouble – we have not had the same opportunities historically to develop – only technologically which certainly does not define a people or a culture.
Mark K. Morrison Associates Ltd.
New York, NY
The McKay family writes…
“I simply wanted to write to you to let you know how simply wonderful our trip was! It was absolutely perfect – not a single thing went wrong (OK so I did have a little stomach trouble one day and we had to call the doctor – but nothing really too bad)! Thank you for helping us achieve such a magnificent trip!
Words cannot fully describe how wonderful our guide was. I’m sure you can appreciate the diamond he is. Not only is he wonderful as a guide, but he was so kind and caring to the children. Our kids – LOVED him – and they can regurgitate any story he told word for word. They have already corrected me on several occasions as I have tried to re-tell historical facts. They soaked up every word he said. He did an exceptional job of making not only Tunisia, but ancient history, come alive for the kids (and for us). We truly feel as though we made a friend!
If there is anything we can do in terms of posting testimonials or giving references, please do not hesitate to contact us. Tunisia is truly an amazing country with so much to offer – I can only hope that many more people discover it!
Our sincerest thanks,”
The McKay family
Elizabeth and Hershel Richman write…
The tour that you arranged for us was truly superb. Our archaeologist guide, Nejib, was scholarly and passionate about his work. Our driver, Mustafa, was kind, energetic and very attentive. A great team!
We loved the charming boutique hotels and the incredibly interesting “farmhouse” where we stayed. Your attention to detail was evident in all of the planning. You listened to our preferences and created an experience for us that we will always remember.
Of particular interest for us were the Jewish experiences – attending a Shabbat service in Tunis, finding a kosher restaurant there, and seeing the synagogue in Jerba. Traveling in an “enlightened” Arab country was unique and eye-opening for us.
We felt welcome and safe. The people were gracious and friendly. We enjoy reliving our journey as we relive the photos.
Elizabeth and Hershel Richman
The Dougherty’s write…
Great trip! Hammadi was the best and Tunisia is a rich country with friendly people and more history that can absorbed in a week. We would highly recommend TunisUSA and are looking forward to our next trip with them.
R.L. and Chris Dougherty
The Burkan’s write…
Roberta and I want to thank you for your superb Tunisia tour. It was a great travel experience that we will never forget. Many of our friends are envious of our Tunisian adventure.
Again, we want to thank you and thank you Jerry for choosing Abde, who made our trip so enjoyable.
Roberta and Nathan Burkan, Jr.
New York, NY
Carolyn Jackson writes…
I just wanted to tell you how much Sarah and I enjoyed our trip to Tunisia and to express our appreciation for all of your efforts in making our visit an outstanding experience that we will never forget. Nejib far surpassed my expectations for a guide with his vast knowledge of history and culture, both ancient and modern. We would arrive at the ruins of an ancient city and look at acres of stones, but as Nejib spoke, the stones became places where people lived in homes, markets, baths, theaters and forum. We could almost see the inhabitants at their dining tables on the beautiful mosaics. Nejib truly provided a view into the ancient world that a stack of guide books couldn’t have touched. We also enjoyed his sense of humor and were grateful to have spent a week with such an accomplished, interesting man. Thank you for making available such an educational and memorable experience! I know you get many photos from your clients, but I attached several as we have enjoyed reviewing our images of a fantastic country.
The Johnsons write…
Words and a scrapbook full of photographic memories are still not enough to express the great satisfaction we felt after our recent trip to Tunisia. The arrangements of TunisUSA and the pre-planning of Jerry Sorkin made our adventure into the antiquities of Roman Tunisia, our explorations in Carthage and the beauties of the mosaics of the Bardo Museum a treasure of memories for years to come. Not only did we have the benefit of a wonderful guide, we were impressed by the superior accommodations that excelled expectations. There can be no doubt that Tunisia is one of the most hospitable countries where Americans are both safe and welcome. In the past decade, we have toured in Turkey, Tibet, India and China, but none of the facilities and features could compare with the convenience, cleanliness and comfort of our drives through the cultural centers and archaeological sites, both open and on the verge of exposition. We were fortunate to be able to travel to many places all within a few hour’s drive. For grand vistas and tasty visuals, mosques and markets, our trip to Tunisia was the best investment we could have made in time, money and treasured memories. We clearly understand what an outstanding service you and TunisUSA render to tourism and to a concept of inter-cultural appreciation. We wish you every success in your continued work.
Betty and Andrew Johnson
Ellen Petersen and Marilyn Giles write…
Americans are truly missing out on a wonderful adventure and experience if they eliminate traveling to Muslim countries. As two American women traveling to Tunisia, we were at first, a bit hesitant to answer the question, ‘Where are you from?’ The moment we said “United States, we were met with the most sincere welcome you can imagine. People were genuinely honored to have Americans visit their country. We found Tunisians to be open, tolerant, loving, respectful, genuine and warm people. For us, it was a wonderful opportunity to experience a different culture, without prejudice. It was also ideal to travel in a small group.
The guides are exceptional and Jerry is ever vigilant on making sure all travelers are safe and cared for.
Ellen Petersen and Marilyn Giles,
Carolyn Wallace writes…
Akram was the most delightful and patient guide. We had him running from one site to another to make sure we had time for a little shopping. Each one of us thoroughly enjoyed his personality, his wealth of knowledge and his flexibility. Tunisia is a destination I am so glad to have gotten a little taste of…what a great country and see why you have such a huge passion for it. I am excited about recommending it to clients. I think it would be great fun to do a shopping/historical group trip. Have you ever done anything like that for high end shoppers/clients? I can’t thank you enough for all of your help. I am going to pass your information along to all advisers in my office and hope some business comes your way. Have a great weekend and many thanks again for arranging one of the highlights of our trip. Caroline T. Wallace
Sterling Brownell Travel – A Virtuoso Agency
Pam Peffer writes…
We are all home safely and back in our right time zone. Thank you for arranging two wonderful days for our group of ten. Our guides in Malta and in Tunisia were both WONDERFUL guides. Both so pleasant, so informed and kept our pace moving nicely. They each made us love Malta and Tunisia. We didn’t expect to be “wowed” after stops in Israel and Egypt, but we definitely were. We were particularly impressed with Tunisia as a progressive Muslim country with emphasis on ecology, education, opportunities for women.
We all hope to return some day!
Best to you
Colette Miller writes…
It gives me great pleasure to recommend Tunis USA and Jerry Sorkin as experts in Tunisian travel.
Jerry’s warm personality and guidance in making a good fit for me (a single traveler) became evident as the trip progressed. From airline selection to itinerary extensions I was handled with respect for my wishes and the best possible advice.
Our guide, Hatem, was knowledgeable in all areas of travel and led our group of five to discover the culture and history of a fascinating country in a relaxed learning environment with excellent pacing.
I highly recommend all aspects of travel under the auspices of Jerry Sorkin–you will not be disappointed.
Heather Florence writes…
Having never taken an organized tour before, I was skeptical. And then, I was pleasantly surprised. This trip was so personally planned for our expressed interests that we saw and learned much more than we would have on our own. Everything was organized smoothly and it was a pleasure to avoid all the little hassles that foreign travel can entail. We felt well cared for not just by our guide, but by the tour organizer throughout our entire trip. I’m delighted we broke our mold and went for a professional tour.
Thanks, really, for a wonderful job,
The Wongs write…
It was indeed a truly exotic and special journey for me in Tunisia. I am very satisfied for almost everything arranged by TunisUSA, particularly the lovely guide and driver. I was fascinated by the explanation by the guide throughout the trip who was very well-educated. She did give me a great lesson on Islamic history, culture of different tribes in the country and also some other interesting information on other African countries.
It was also a very memorable experience to visit a berber’s home to let me know how’s the local people live which was still very primitive but very happy
TunisUSA is really a very professional travel specialist which greatly widen my horizons to the Islamic and African world.
Lily and Jason Wong
Hong Kong, China
Jerilyn Cohen writes…
I had never traveled in a country where women wear veils. As an American woman, I had no idea what to expect. What I found was consistent friendliness. From the elderly couple on a bench at the Bardo Museum who chatted about my visit, to the young man buying music in the supermarket who spent 15 minutes advising me about the best CD’s, I found the ordinary Tunisians, men and women, to be open and welcoming. A smile was always met with a smile!
Thanks to our terrific guide, Hatem, we had lots of opportunities to interact. A meeting with the local people could happen at any moment! Walking through a courtyard in a souk, we saw two men playing cards among several friends. We asked Hatem about the card game. He stopped to explain the rules, and the players greeted us with friendly smiles. One of the teenage boys sitting nearby came over with his small drum, and gave Hatem’s explanation a soundtrack. The players and onlookers laughed at every turn of the cards, and farewells were cheerfully exchanged by all!
The itinerary was an ideal sampling of the full scope of Tunisia; the glorious ruins in amazing condition, the mosques and minarets, the mountain Ksour, the desert Oasis, island resort, remote villages and the bustling capital.
I think Americans should hurry to Tunisia before the word gets out! The country has archaeological sites where you can be virtually alone with Berber, Phoenician, Roman, and Ottoman sites. It has fascinating Medinas (old city centers), Souks (markets), ancient Mosques, Berber mountain strongholds, island resorts, silky sand beaches and the starkly unique Sahara desert, with friendly people and safe streets. Add to that clean, modern and well appointed hotels, high quality ceramics and rugs, and really great food, all at bargain prices!
Our guide, Hatem, added immeasurably to the quality of the trip. He has a breadth of knowledge of history, architecture, literature, religion and the culture of his country that is staggering. Add to that an ability to spot an opportunity for a spontaneous encounter, an entertaining way of telling a story, and careful attention to the interests of each member of the tour, and you have a recipe for a top-notch guide!
Hatem showed us the real Tunisia, introducing us to all sorts of people: women walking to the well, a family harvesting their date palms, a 15th generation brick maker, even a small town olive merchant. We could never have met those people on our own!
I absolutely loved Tunisia, and certainly think the word needs to get out.
Los Angeles, CA
Peter Volny writes…
Jerry – After 107 countries on all seven continents I guess you can say that I’ve “been around” but every single aspect of our trip to Tunisia ranks right up there at or near the top. From our very first contact with you, throughout the planning process, and the trip itself everything went smoothly and you delivered even more than we had expected.
Tunisia is the proverbial undiscovered gold mine. Where else can you see the world’s third largest Coliseum with just a handful of other visitors as we did in El Jem? Where else can you wander totally alone around the ruins of an entire Roman town dating back to the third century as we did at Dougga? Why so many Americans flock to over-crowded Europe to see Roman ruins, and at significantly greater cost, is beyond me.
The accommodations from luxurious beachfront hotels to tents in the Sahara were all great and each new day brought new sights, experiences and treasured memories.
We are so glad that we went now before it is inevitably discovered by the masses and regret that we were unable to visit Libya this time but will definitely do so through your company as soon as possible.
Peter I. Volny
Fountain Hills, AZ
Bob Wells and Ruth West write…
While we traveled in Tunisia between April 3 and April 12, we met Tunisians everywhere who are celebrating the jasmine (“Facebook”) revolution. They are so easy to know and so easy to talk with -informed, interested, and interesting whether at the souqs, the ruins, the hotel or the beach.
Tunisia is a destination for leisure travel that combines comfortable hotels, unparalleled archaeological, geographical and historical wonders, destination resorts at the beach or in the mountains and a Saharan experience for an unforgettable vacation.
Bob Wells and Ruth West
Kim Armstrong writes…
Fan letters, as far as I know, aren’t much in vogue these days. But
I am undaunted by that — this is a fan letter.
To express admiration for you, for TunisUSA, and for everyone with
whom you work to create such a grand experience. The past two
weeks were special, with fine experiences in this wonderful country
and with their delightful people.
I came to care very much about Tunisia, and share the people’s
hopes for the future. Meanwhile, I’ll be telling everyone who told
me not to go that they really must go and see for themselves.”
With every best wish,
Mark Eckman writes…
I have been back for almost a month now, and have had time to reflect on the week in Tunisia organized by TunisUSA. I am hard pressed to find adjectives to describe how wonderful the tour was: the accommodations, the meals, the sights, the camaraderie among us participants. Everything was as smooth as silk. All my life I have been an independent traveler, but I fear that you have spoiled me! Although I am very familiar with Tunisia, on my own I simply could not have planned a week’s stay that included so many sights and so many interesting people to meet.
I have returned to Tunisia a number of times since my departure in 1967. Each time I felt a certain sadness, because Tunisia was no longer the way it was when I was in my early twenties. This time, however, I felt no sadness, since I was seeing the country with congenial people who were visiting for the first time and who were fascinated by everything they saw. In addition, your own affection for Tunisia rubbed off on them, and on me.
I have spread the word about TunisUSA with my family, and we are interested in joining you on a tour of Iran sometime in 2011.
All the best to you, to TunisUSA, and to all the people in Tunisia who made our stay so memorable.
Frances Strazis writes…
Imagine white stucco and Mediterranean blue doors and the bluest sky ever imaginable. Tunisia is a magical egg waiting to get cracked open. It is primitive, yet sophisticated; synagogues and mosques; arid land to the south and verdant green to the north. Tunisia is steeped in history and culture. Crack open the magical egg and the colors pour out. It’s a welcoming country and never have I been so awed at the sights, sounds and taste. I would return in a Memphis minute to explore some more!
Memphis in May Cultural
Judith and Leonard Kahan write…
Having traveled in seventy countries and five continents we found in Tunisia a modern country in steeped in ancient history, a country small enough to cover in 12 days and large enough to fascinate the most experienced traveler.
TunisUSA provided us with an extremely educated and experienced guide and wonderful driver. We saw the oldest synagogue in Africa and the ancient ruins of Carthage, Sbeitla and Dougga. The fascinating Sahara desert was a special surprise with salt, lakes, camels and mile and miles of fencing to stop the shifting sands.
Don’t’ hesitate to visit a country where the people are friendly, the hotels and food first rate and, most important history comes alive.
Judith and Leonard Kahan
Joseph and Elizabeth Holland write…
Magical were the ancient sites and sounds of Tunisia; Uthia, Utica, Carthage, Dougga, Chimtu, Sbeitla, Bulla Regia, Makthar, El Jem, Thurburbo Majus…transporting us back in time as we walked among the regal capitals, heard the roaring crowds at the theatres, the hawking of merchants in the busy market places, watching the gaming in the carved shallows of the stone steps, straining to hear conversations of centuries past in the dining rooms, the clatter of cooking utensils in the kitchens, the bubbling of water in the aquariums off the dining rooms, peaking at the astonishingly beautiful mosaics in the masters’ quarters, listening to the sublime conversation among the patrons in the baths, the crying of the doomed infants in Carthage.
We were alone to behold the majesty of the sites, escorted by one who understood and respected every corner, every pottery chard, and every crumbling mosaic. A teacher who tirelessly introduced two eager soles to the beauty and horror of the past, the masterful design and careless upkeep, the well promoted and the undiscovered. It was then that our appreciation soared for the ancient treasures of Tunisia.
Joseph & Elizabeth A.V. Holland
San Diego, CA
Ed and Cathy Sweeney write…
We want to thank you both for a wonderful trip. Jerry, your planning and vision laid the groundwork for a thorough exploration of Tunisia’s many unique features. Wassim, your enthusiasm for the mission and your depth of knowledge about Tunisia made our experience particularly rewarding.
First, of course, we found Tunisia remarkable. The people, the scenery, the history, the food all combine to make it a fascinating place to visit. We ended our trip feeling both that we had experienced a rich introduction to the country and that there was far more to learn and see in Tunisia.
The olive processing plant in Djerba was an unexpected highlight – thanks Wassim. You were a real champ at making the most of every opportunity that arose to give us a closer look at everyday Tunisia and we enjoyed them all.
Ed and the girls appreciated the chicha stops. Cathi found our Tea Topics lectures really interesting, but the smoke was awful.
The visit in Matmata was very interesting and the fact that you had known the lady for so many years, Wassim, was also very cool.
We loved the quad bike ride in Ksar Gilane. Truly memorable!!
The patisserie in Tatouine with the “Cornu du Gazelle” was fun and tasty. Amanda reports her friends in Aix loved the leftovers.
Chenini was a great walk. The Berber guide added a lot to the experience and the picnic lunch was fun.
There were too many great moments to enumerate, but the walks stand out.
Thanks again for a great journey and a chance to peek into the unique world of Tunisia.
Ed & Cathi Sweeney
The Sweeney family
Paula and Alfred Stillman write…
Run, don’t walk, to take this trip. Now is the time to visit this wonderful country…Tunisia. It is not yet over run with American tourists and has magnificent sites, fabulous hotels and wonderful food. We suspect that within a few years, it will become touristy and lost some of its charm. The archaeological sites are preserved and often intact.
We are world travelers and the trip to Tunisia was one of the best vacations that we have had. We usually travel independently and have not been on a group tour in many ears. For the trip to Tunisia, we were with a group of ten people. The other members of the group were seasoned travelers and very interesting companions. We bonded immediately.
Because we are Jewish, we had some concerns about traveling in a Muslim country. Our fears were unnecessary. The people in Tunisia were friendly, open and interested in talking to Americans. They were also well versed in American politics. We felt completely safe throughout the entire trip.
Our guide, Nejib, was fabulous. He is a very well respected Tunisian archaeologist and gave us wonderful insights into the archaeological sites. In fact, he had uncovered several of these himself. His knowledge of Tunisia history is very impressive. Our driver, Slah, was also wonderful. The trip was made extra special by having Jerry Sorkin accompany us for part of the trip.
In toto, it was a magnificent experience that we will always remember.
Paula and Alfred Stillman
James Childs of Middlesex Traveller writes…
“For twenty-four years I’ve worked with many tour companies. My experience with TunisUSA is among the very best. I could not say this unless those in my tour group enjoyed the many wonders of Tunisia, enjoyed the hard work TunisUSA employed behind the scenes to make their trip memorable. If the group is not enjoying itself, I’m not enjoying myself. I had a wonderful time along with all 22 in the group.
The itinerary of the tour direction was substantial and well directed, the hotels were well chosen, the food was superb, and the guide and driver excellent.“
Curtis Keller writes…
“If any travel Agency and tour should receive the “above and beyond the call of duty” award, it should go to TunisUSA and the October 2001 tour of Tunisia called “From Phoenicians to Berbers.”
Due to the 9/11 disaster, air travelers, and especially those flying off to an Arab country, were greatly apprehensive for their safety. Jerry Sorkin, President of TunisUSA, kept us all upto date on the current conditions and eased any of our concerns. In the end, he, himself, came to TuniUsa to be on hand to greet those arriving for the tour.
And his Tunisian counterparts could not have welcomed us more warmly, including having us for dinner in their own home on the first night. In fact, it seemed that everyone with whom we came into contact in that wonderful country expressed their delight in seeing us there and their sincere regret for the terrible tragedy in New York City. One after another asked me to tell my friends that such action could never be approved by any part of the Islam faith and that they had only warm regards for America.
With these very personal words of support, the entire tour was an educational and interesting adventure. We stayed at the very best of hotels and ate in the finest restaurants, all 5-star. Our comfort continued as we toured in a comfortable mini-bus, driven by a most capable and friendly driver.
Anyone with an interest in history will find this tour a daily agenda of wonders, including the Roman mosaics in the Bardo Museum in Tunis, the underground houses of the Sahara peoples, the site of Carthage, etc.
All of these were made all the more valuable by the excellent guide who was with us for the entire tour. Mourad was always eager to handle any of our requests, proud to show off his country and well informed regarding the sites we were seeing. It never appeared that he ever got tired of being our “host” 24 hours a day! Truly, at the conclusion of the tour, we felt that we were leaving behind a good friend.
This was a wonderful visit to a wonderful country.”
Sandra Olsen writes…
“We were impressed most by the openness, optimism, and level of education of the Tunisian people, particularly the youth. Through this travel, we have also become enlightened regarding the rich cultural history, bountiful agricultural production, and beautiful landscape of this incredible, but poorly known country. We are confident that we will find numerous ways to translate our own experiences into informative media to educate others about Tunisia.
I would also like to comment on the consistently high quality of the hotels, food, and transportation throughout the tour. The schedule, though very full, was a nice blend of informative lectures, cultural sightseeing, and exposure to the landscape, infrastructure and people of Tunisia. I came away extremely impressed and hopeful that Tunisia’s best days lay ahead. ”
Dr. Sandra L. Olsen
Head of Anthropology and Curator
Carnegie Museum of Natural History