|Co-ords||N 33 31 46.6
E 11 06 46.2
|Fuel||38.18 L 42 953.4km
38.6 L 43 211.4km
Long day. Did not write at all today, as I was
feeling ill. Not sure why, maybe better tomorrow. I hope so.
10th May 99
|Co-ords||N 29 54 16.9
E 14 15 23
|Fuel||58.8 L 43 614.1km|
Woke up feeling marginally better after an appalling night. Hot and cold, aching all over, sore stomach. Oh well, no work then.
The Libyan border crossing was a breeze. We had asked for the help of an agency which was very good. As we thought, everything is in Arabic and I have no idea how it works. It cost us $250 using an agent and two guys we met today paid the same without. It took us 20min and them 2 hours.
The agent took us back to his office and gave us some hints. He also wrote the Arabic words for the town names in the hope of us being able to recognise them. Even so, as I predicted, we got lost often.
Yesterday was a long driving day. We aimed South to the great sand seas. The agent had told us about a hotel in Shwayrif so we decided to the 500km in an afternoon. We did stop to visit some really amazing Roman ruins at Surman. A really big settlement. It was very good but we did spend some valuable time, which could have been on the road.
I was feeling very shitty (but not literally) so poor Renee did most of the driving. The roads are good and 120km/hr is very easy. In fact, the locals, those in good cars do just that. We arrived at the town after dark, only to find that there are no hotels in this town nor campsites. Shit. Anyway, we camped on the roadside behind one of the many police checkpoints. We were not the only ones. All the truckers who passed by late, stopped too.
Food was then something else to think about. The only thing on offer was chicken and chips with couscous so we had that.
Did not sleep too well.
Today we got up early. The police post was closed, I suppose they were hung over. For a dry country it was odd to see the cops drinking whisky when you canít even get a beer. Oh, well.
Renee again did most of the driving, much to the amusement of the police at the checkpoints. We did 450km to the campsite run by Africa Tours. This is on the edge of the Idhan Awbari Sand Sea. We had been driving in this huge Sahara desert for the last 1000km with dunes on gravel plains. This was the first sea of sand we had seen since Tunisia. We are of course much further South now too. Itís hot, at least 50deg with hordes of flies but itís quite spectacular.
The campsite was easy to find. There are only
two other people here, once again Germans and once again on motorbikes.
We spent the afternoon talking in the shade, too hot to siesta, and this
evening we went for a walk on the dunes. The German guys headed off to
camp in the desert but returned a few hours later with one blown clutch.
Tomorrow we go into the deep desert, not with our car though. We have booked
a guide and he has his own 4x4. Much better to go in his, he doesnít have
another 18000km of driving to do. We will get to do some desert driving
of our own further South.
11th May 99
|Odo||43 835 km|
|Co-ords||N 26 33 58.8
E 13 15 20.1
Slept very well and woke up feeling 100% well. We postponed the start of Larium by a day just to make sure.
At 7am we met Mohamed and headed for the lakes. The driving was crazy. Sand dune bashing in a car is not as easy as it looks. The start of the trip is directly up a big sand dune. This entails a 2-300m run-up at full power and then turning right just as you make it to the top. The second dune is worse because you have to go down into the bowl between the two and speed up to the top. It took Mohamed 3 tries on that one and when we did make it, we took off over the top. Wow.
The whole drive is across sand dunes and is very hard to drive and navigate. You can do it alone but they suggest a guide. Our guidebook did not have any info on these lakes so we borrowed a German book and copied the map and co-ordinates. It is in Reneeís general info book.
We visited lakes at Maflu, Gabron, Umelmia and Mandara. All except Mandara had lots of water in which was a salt pan. This is like the oases you see in films, a deep pool with an edge of green in the middle of the dunes. What you donít see is the flies and you donít feel the heat. Lots and lots of both. We got back to camp by 11.
The lakes all have small villages near them, which are now deserted. The government wanted to move the people to new villages with water, electricity, schools etc but they didnít want to go. To make sure they did, the army went and took the roofs off all the houses. Sounds like a trick that may have been used in South Africa.
When we got back to the camp, it had been invaded by locals on holiday. The camp manager was a bit pissed off because he said they could not come in and they replied that in Libya you can do anything. So there. It turned out great though. They brought their own sheep, killed it and prepared it for dinner right here. Renee and I had prepared lunch and went off to eat. No sooner had we started than food and drink were brought to us. The whole day was like that and they made sure that we, the campers, were part of what they were doing. We sat around talking with different people all day and into the night. They had musical instruments and played and sang until about 10pm.
It turns out that they were teachers and students
from teachersí training college near here. What is odd is that most of
them were not Libyans but from other Arab countries.
12th May 99
|Co-ords||N 26 33 58.8
E 13 15 20.1
|Fuel||41 L 43 917km
and 30 L from reserve at same km
Instead of heading further South to Ghat we decided to laze around here and have a look at Germa the next village. It may not have been a wise idea. It is hot, damn hot and the wind is howling but the wind is hot too and the dust is everywhere. My eyes are really sore and my page keeps getting sand on it.
This morning we had rooibos tea and biscuits and headed off along the dunes to Germa. We did a little Ďplayingí in the sand and tackled a very minor dune ourselves. Did get it right though! We had a look at the museum at Germa, which was quite interesting but mostly in Arabic. We also found a market and wandered around for a bit but it was too hot. We came back to the campsite for lunch and then headed into the mountains. Actually it was just a steep climb out of the Wadi onto black gravel plains. Very bad driving. Took some pictures but thatís it.
Now we hang around a bit fighting the sand. Tomorrow
we leave, not sure where to yet.
13th May 99
|Co-ords||N 26 33 58.8
E 13 15 20.1
|Fuel||30 L 44 399.9km from reserve
55.1 L 44 511.2km
Well we are in the middle of nowhere. This will be our second night of free camping but this time nowhere near anyone. I am a bit nervous to tell the truth but let's see. The next town, Sirte is 150km North of us.
The drive was OK, we started at 9 this morning and we pulled over at 5:30. The road led us through some very varied scenery. Always desert of course but through red dunes, white dunes, plains and mountains. All of it desert with very little population.
We had to use our spare fuel, as we did not start with 100% full tank. We did not run out and would probably have been OK but it is better to see a nearly full tank gauge than an empty one. We again put diesel in two jerries when we filled up.
Finding the route was again, ask, ask but the roads so rarely have intersections that itís not too often. Most of the time we ask at the police or army checkpoints. They never give us any hassles and just once we had to show our passports. It comes as a surprise to many that we are South Africans.
Once I stopped to ask directions from a roadside stall. Before I could even ask he wanted to know where we came from. Once he found out, he invited us to tea. Inside his stall, it was really just a 3-sided palm frond shelter, he had carpets. He invited us to sit down and had tea with us. He also gave us some palm tree juice which is the syrup gathered from palm trees, I didnít even know it had any. He had a few friends join us and we talked for about 30minutes. He was an old man who had studied French in Paris but could also speak very good English. I find it odd that this guy now sells juice, he had one bottle, on the side of the road far from anything but a small village. I am not sure how to ask.
I find the Libyans quite friendly. They will always shake your hand, even the policemen, when they see you. But also perhaps a little too inquisitive. The girls seem to love Renee and always insist on having their picture taken with her. At least the kids are not pushy and asking for things all the time like in Tunisia, though there werenít many there either.
Well, itís 6:30. I will make dinner and put up
the tent. Donít want to look too settled early in case someone comes by.
I will let you know tomorrow how it went.
14th May 99
|Co-ords||N 28 57 47.1
E 16 31 13.1
|Fuel||45 L 45 203.8km|
So I slept very well and woke up at sunrise feeling good. The stars are so impressive in the desert, there seem to be just so many of them. A bit it wind started blowing when the sun set and continued until about 10pm. I moved the car right up against the tent as a windblock. We had all the panels zipped off the tent so that we could see the stars but soon got covered in dust so shut them up. Fell asleep quite easily too.
Today was a long drive. Did not have to use reserve fuel because after Sirte saw many fuel stations. The drive around the Gulf of Sirte (400km) is not as scenic as the map promises because you only get to see the sea in glimpses and then itís far away. Also there is lots more traffic than we have seen for along time.
At Ajdabiya we decided to take the desert route towards Tubruq (scene of major WWII clashes) and maybe sleep in the desert again. This road is 370km across a flat plain. The road stays at 72° East of north for the whole way. It is the longest straight bit of road I have seen in a long time with just flatness all around. It feels as if you are in a bowl, the horizon seems to curve up at you. Anyway, the road was good and devoid of other vehicles though we did see quite a few camels and the now every 20m burnt or used tyre. The last 20km to Tubruq is a dual carriageway in a shocking condition. I hit a pothole so hard that the automatic accident hazards came on.
In Tubruq the first hotel we came to politely asked us ďwhat do you wantĒ and then told us we would have to pay $120 for a room. He did however guide us to another cheaper place in town, which is very acceptable at 25Dinars Ė El Jabor Hotel. We had a shower and dinner of Arabian soup with pasta and beef in a minty sauce and then chicken and chips. Vegetarian options wereÖÖ
Tomorrow we cross to Egypt. Hopefully no hassles.
Libya is great and has tons to see. The people are extremely friendly and
more than generous but it is a bit taxing not speaking or reading Arabic.
If we come again we will take on a full time guide. It needs weeks though,
so this time just a taste.