made it into Libya! At one hour to leave Tunisia plus all formalities as well as
arrive in Libya plus all formalities we were very pleased. I would recommend to
anyone to use Azar travel to help them. The 250USD we paid them seems to be even
cheaper than doing the whole thing independently.
got ourselves over-excited by this success and started on the road South. We
even stopped off at some Roman ruins for over an hour. They were awesome and
well worth the time but we behaved as if we had all the time in the world. Next
was navigation Libyan style. We had read that all road signs and place names
were in Arabic but somehow the true meaning of this did not sink in – it makes
you an illiterate! We got the guy from Azar to write key place names on the map
in Arabic for us but still we struggled terribly in Tripoli. In the end we found
a guy who led us onto the right road – talk about helpful! From there on, we
asked at every intersection, a strategy that seems to work OK – I mean here we
are camping near the desert lakes in the heart of the Sahara between Sabha and
night we drove until after 8pm expecting to find a hotel we had been told about.
We found the right building – right down to the eagle carved on the door –
but no hotel. Scott at this stage was losing patience. I did not realise that he
was feeling quite ill, in fact he was not well at all. I knew something was
wrong because I ended up doing a lot of driving but I didn’t know what the
problem was – he knows not to do that again. Anyway we camped in the open
behind a police checkpoint – zero facilities of course. We had dinner at a
local dive – good food but when they started insisting that we sleep in their
single quarters, we ducked!
was a pretty noisy night so we were on the road early. Scott looked and felt
awful – achy, nauseous, the works so the plan was to head to Sabha and find a
doctor if there was no improvement. In the end it was not needed, he is still
sensitive in the stomach region but feeling a lot better. We will take it easy
for a couple of days. Tomorrow we will go out with a guide for 4-5 hours to see
the lakes. We will use his car so it will be quite relaxing for us. Then,
instead of pushing on to do the 400km to Ghat we will spend a second night here
and leave the day after. Because of yesterday’s push and the fact that we will
visit the lakes in 1 day instead of 2, we will still be pretty much on schedule.
campsite is great. It has showers and toilets and a view over the sand dunes.
What more can you ask for? The road here was very, very long. Clearly the Sahara
is a huge place – much more of it gravel plains and general flatness or rocky
hills than sand dunes but still impressive. We just spoke to the guide for
tomorrow. The rate is 250LD, more than we expected initially but OK I guess
since we will be using his car and not ours!
are almost alone but not entirely, we have two German guys on bikes with us.
They were planning a night in the desert but on the way out one had a clutch
failure. They’re back here now trying to get things going again – its very
disappointing for them so I hope they get it right. I have not been feeling
great today either. Better than Scott but not wonderful. However, we have both
started feeling hungry which is a good sign so off to prepare dinner!
we kind of took root here! We were planning to leave this morning but in the end
decided not to. Yesterday was excellent. We started the day off at 7am by going
off with a driver in another car to see the desert lakes. This was what we had
both been waiting for – true oases with no-one around and beautiful lakes. The
water in them is undrinkable, saltier than the red sea apparently, but they are
wonderful. Particularly nice is seeing the dunes which tower over them,
reflected in the water. We back soon after 10am to find our campsite taken over
by a busload of locals. What could have been a terrible day turned out great
because they made us a part of their group. Scott and I had just started our
lunch when they brought us salad and tuna. We then moved over to sit with them
and they made us 4 foreigners very welcome even though most speak no English.
For the first time we were on the receiving end of the camera too – they had
brought a camera and all the girls wanted a photo taken with me. I don’t know
turned out to be a group of student teachers and their lecturers, out for a
party before their year-end exams. Most of the lecturers were not Libyan –
Egypt, Iraq and Syria. We ate a lot and some meat was unavoidable because they
slaughtered a sheep especially for the event. It was an interesting day though.
We got to experience the Libyan hospitality – all that it is made out to be
and more, and also got a glimpse into the culture. Our guidebook way overstates
things I think. The girls for example – some wore head covers and some not.
Some even wore trousers! Also, they did eat separately but it really seemed to
be no more than the separation you get in small towns – they were laughing,
talking and generally having a ball. As far as the work went, I am not sure if
some were junior students or not because some did all the cooking and cleaning
etc. while others did nothing. This was largely gender independent.
chief professor of education was Syrian and spoke the best English so we spent a
lot of time talking to him. It was really very, very interesting and I am glad
we were here for it. We started at about 1pm and they left at 10pm! Quite a day.
Our plan had been to pack up and sort out the car and head off to Ghat today. We
did the car this morning and explored around here instead. We practised driving
over sand dunes, went to the Germa museum and saw some rock art. After lunch we
went to the other side of the valley, what looked like hills not sand dunes. We
headed up the hills to find ourselves on a plateau with endless black gravel
plains stretching into the distance. It is awful out there and with the gravel
being black, it makes the heat even worse. We took our obligatory photo and
left! We then looked at some old Germanite constructions and will do more later
as well. Now the weather is awful. Our regular, cooling breeze has turned into a
hot Sahara wind bringing heat, dust and sand with it. Yuck!!
Today we started our Larium so let’s see how it goes. I have a bot of a sore stomach but after eating meat yesterday I am not surprised!
writing yesterday we again met a group of people, this time school girls. I am
now well photographed and will start expecting to be paid soon!
morning we left our home of the past three days. It was a leisurely get up and
go so we hit the road at about 9am. Our navigation to get here was pretty much
as before – take the road you think you need and ask the first person you see
for confirmation. It works great! Today we stopped and first had to drink tea
and palm tree juice – both delicious. It amazes me that university graduates
end up selling cooldrinks on the side of the road or watering trees at
saw only Sahara today – sand dunes both red and white, black mountains, gravel
plains – reddish and whitish and black rock plains. Sand dunes actually look
the least inhospitable because at least you see an occasional palm tree. We saw
very few people today and I persuaded Scott to try wild camping. He is nervous
about it but I am nervous about Libyan hotels. We have pulled well off the road
and I am sure that we will not see a soul until we hit the road again tomorrow.
I wanted to try it here because Libya is the only country where we will be safe
doing this. No where else can you hope not to run into someone. Anyway, it’s
cheap! I’ll report on how it went tomorrow. It is totally silent here and I
hope for lots of stars.
night went great. It was a windy night but we had total solitude and silence so
we slept wonderfully. We saw our first scorpion yesterday morning under the tent
but thankfully nothing today. We were on the road by 7am heading North for
Sirte. From there it was East all the way to here. We had the option of a scenic
coastal road or a boring, direct 372km straight stretch cutting through the
desert. We took the second option because it is much easier to navigate and
anyway, Egypt is calling! We had our first roadside lunch – egg roll which we
bought from a stall. It was much better than eating our own lunch in the sun. We
saw no camping opportunities near Tubruq so we headed into town. The first hotel
we saw expected 120USD from us. They sent us into town to find something
cheaper. We have a lovely place. 25LD gets us a room with a double bed –
spotlessly clean, and a bathroom – toilet, basin and showerhead. I am more
than happy with it and we even have a sea view. To top it off, they gave us a
a day of covering nearly 1000km, this is our last night in Libya. We are
spending less time here than we planned, for me this was not because I didn’t
like it but rather because I liked it too much. We would not have had time to
see Ghat and the Acacus properly so rather than squeezing in another 1000km and
feeling rushed all the time, we skipped it totally. I was completely captivated
by the Sahara we saw near the Obari lakes. When we left Tunisia I felt that I
had seen pretty much all I wanted to of the country but I can’t say the same
about Libya. It is so vast that I feel I would like to come back and visit
we head for Egypt and then Cairo – our next big milestone.