For the intrepid adventurers who relish exploring truly off-beat
destinations, such as Mongolia, Ethiopia, Mali, Albania….. Libya is an
extremely rewarding travel experience!
Visiting the outstanding, world-class sites as Roman Leptis Magna,
the haunting, 700 year old, fortified Berber granaries, the deserted
Saharan oasis city of Ghadames, interesting museums, etc. outweigh the
temporary inconveniences and lack of some creature comforts.
Libya is not an impoverished third-world country. Its millions of barrels a day of
oil, unlimited fresh water (thanks
to the Great Man-Made River Project) gushing out of the ground - and soon a
huge natural gas line threading under the Mediterranean to Europe … all
this make the five million Libyan well to do with their free housing, free schooling, free medical attention
cheap gas and power. It also makes
them happy go lucky. With just a
little effort Libya could be another Morocco, Egypt or Tunisia.
A very pleasant surprise was that the people were wonderful, sincerely bidding us welcome – specially
when we told them we were from the USA.
Politics were never discussed.
Gadaffi’s villa we bombed in ’86 is left in ruins as a
monument. It is within a walled
compound and is only visited by foreign dignitaries. The people are very honest. I witnessed
no street crime so prevalent in Barcelona, Rome, etc., and never felt threatened walking alone
Even though Italians comprise the greatest number of tourists, the
Libyans decry Mussolini’s conquest and occupation from 1911 to WW2 – even
though modern downtown Tripoli is resplendent with fancy government
buildings, boulevards and roads built by the Italians. The Italians introduced modern
farming, and all excavations stopped
after the Italians left. The famous
paved highway from Libya to Egypt that Rommel drove up – and back down again
– was build by the Italian general,
As in all Moslem countries women are clearly treated as 2nd
class people. I did see two women
driving cars. Most are covered head
to foot - some older ladies exposing just one
eye. Virtually no women have a job,
except hotel maids. Even shops
selling womens’ intimate apparel are served by men.
A Few Specifics
Many major airlines now fly into Tripoli and some to Benghazi. There is limited domestic air service –
mainly between Tripoli and Benghazi..
Ghadames has an airport but currently unused. No railroads. The public transportation – even in the
cities – is handled by jitney taxis and minibuses. Plenty of private cars that create huge
traffic jams. There is a shortage
of expert, English speaking guides.
Right now, most visitors
should tour Libya in a group in their chartered motor-coach.
Travel by private car with driver and guide poses a problem due to
lack of suitable equipment and a shortage of good guides. Driving by rental car is
impossible! For one reason….. all
road signs are in Arabic.
With the exception of two new ones,
the expensive, business-men oriented Corinthia Bab Africa in Tripoli and the Apollonia in Apollonia,
all the others are in various stages of decay. The Uzo
in Benghazi is not too bad. At the newish and quite comfortable Zliten
Hotel the elevators have not worked for a while. For visitors to Tripoli, by far, the
best hotel would be the Kabir due
to its excellent location in easy walking distance to all the touristic
sights. It is due for a complete
Most hotel rooms have beat up TV sets without remotes that offer CNN
Food & Drink:
What is excellent is the bread – approaching what one gets in
Italy. Otherwise the food in
monotonous with pretty much the same served everywhere. . Most hotels serve buffet meals in their
dining rooms. On tour, at the meal stops, lunch is usually the
same: a nice salad, then a “Libyan”
or fish soup, followed by couscous with chicken . Desert is usually an imported apple (from
Tunisia) and/or banana (from Ecuador).
In fact, most food is imported – except for olives and dates.
I did experience fine dinners at two sea-food restaurants in Tripoli.
Libya is very strictly non-alcoholic.
Available is excellent non-alcoholic Beck’s beer from Germany and
Efes from Turkey. Also canned
beverages, such as Pepsi and Pepsi
Light, Spitz – a grape juice from
Austria, Bitter Soda – fruit-based
with the color of Campari – also many great fruit-flavored drinks. Hot green tea and decent coffee.
Water is no problem! It is
plentiful everywhere in sealed plastic bottles. Every restaurant has bottles on the
tables – free of charge. The water
from faucets cannot be ingested – not even for brushing teeth!
This was a surprise! Here I
carried bundles of dollar bills.
They did not really want dollars or Euros and preferred their own
Libyan Dinars ($1 = 1.34 LD). Bring cash in dollars or Euros and change
them into LDs at airports, banks and hotels. Checks and credit cards not accepted
anywhere - with one exception, at the Corinthia Bab Africa Hotel Visa and
Mastercard are accepted.
Really not much to buy – antique Berber and Tuareg silver jewelry and
ugly stuff brought over from Egypt.
I did not encounter any contemporary Libyan art or handicrafts. There is no bargaining; the shop keepers do not know how to
bargain and don’t enjoy it.
There are many Internet
Cafes – small and very crowded.
But, getting through is very difficult, slow and rare.
Essentials to bring:
- Roll of toilet
- Wash & Dry
- Batteries for
cameras. For you with digital
cameras with rechargeable batteries bring a cigarette lighter
charger. This can be used in
busses and cars. Few hotel
bathrooms have a 110 volt shaver outlet.
- A flashlight in
case the electricity goes out, also to shine into dark corners at
museums and ruins.
- An all purpose sink
stopper, face cloth and decent bar of soap.
- Swiss Army knife
for peeling fruit.
- Cloth hat to ward
off the sun. Sun screen. Eye and nose drops against the dust.
- Forget swimming
gear! The miles and miles of
beaches are unusable. Most
hotels have no pools, or the pool cannot be used.
- Very comfortable
sandals or walking shoes for clambering over all those ruins and in
- Wear NO
shorts. Ladies should bring a
cloth to cover head and arms to enter mosques.
And, come with plenty of
patience and bring a
GOOD SENSE OF HUMOUR !
Why come to Libya:
- The sights are truly
outstanding! Many great
archaeological sites, such as
the virtually intact Greek temple of Cyrene with its springs and water works and huge, intact
- the Greek city and beautiful
theatre at Apollonia with
ruins of five Byzantine churches and palaces, Roman baths;
- the many large and
wonderful mosaics in museums and in the open – mostly Roman;
- the Sidi Abdusalam
mosque and attached madrassa (religious school) in Zliten. Here you will see boys sitting
around a mullah busily learning the Koran by heart. If only they would learn math and
- the immense Roman
city of Leptis Magna –
truly the finest and largest Roman city – anywhere. This and the other sites are so well
preserved as they were covered with sand until the Italians partially
dug them out.
Here you will see a magnificent Arch of Septimus Severus dominating
the cross- roads of the two
main city streets, the immense
Hadrianic Baths – larger than those
in Rome – the Fora, markets, old harbor, amphitheatre and circus;
- And nearby Sabratha -
smaller than Leptis Magna, but with the largest theatre in
Africa that once could seat 10,000 spectators enjoying Christians
being fed to the lions. All these sites were only 25 % excavated by
the Italians. Since the rest
remains uncovered. The museum
here is one of the best.
Unique to Libya are the many huge, fortified 700 year
old granaries where local Berber
villagers stored their grain and olive oils in hundred of family cubicles
and protected them from thieves and raiding tribes.
- All over there are
many colorful ruined, deserted stone
Berber villages that were
inhabited for generations and had
no water, sewage or power.
Then, in the early sixties with the gushing oil the villagers
were able to decamp for new houses with 20th century
conveniences. The old villages
are left to decay.
- Easily reached is
the great Sahara desert
with the unique deserted oasis city of Ghadames. This
major Libyan attraction was a
caravan trading center reaching back to Roman times of some 60,000
souls. A jumble of tall
mudwalled houses were connected by narrow, mostly covered lanes. The kitchens were on the top floors
and the women socialized and moved around the town from roof-top to
roof-top. Water from the oasis
springs runs throughout the town in underground channels. After the advent of oil the entire
city was abandoned and everybody moved next door into a new town. However, old Ghadames is lovingly
preserved, painted. It is great
fun to wander through the warren of dark lanes (bring a flashlight).
The new town has a fine restaurant and a number of
tourist shops. But, beware! Some
of the silver jewelry passed off as Tuareg actually comes from
Thailand! Wandering around are many proud men resplendent in their
flowing Tuareg costumes. Many ride camels, but these are being
replaced by 4X4 pick-ups. The excess camels are left wild to
roam the desert, or end up in slaughter houses.
- A must is to drive
out to the huge sand dunes,
climb one and watch the red sunset. Ghandames is truly fascinating and
worth the arduous 400 mile desert drive from Tripoli (and the 400
miles back!). If only air
service would resume.
- Benghazi is a ghastly
dirty. It has a colorful and
crowded souk and a street of buildings from the Italian colonization
with the old town hall (now a derelict) with its famous balcony from
which Mussolini addressed the crowd, Rommel reviewed his troops and
King Idris gave speeches. There
is also a WW2 cemetery.
- The capital, Tripoli, is actually a very pleasant
town. Downtown was rebuilt by
the Italians with tree lined boulevards with large, white “Italian,
tropical, baroque” buildings and up-market shops, government offices
and a huge cathedral (now a mosque).
The governor’s palace is now the national library. The boulevards all lead to the Green
Square – actually, a huge parking lot – located at the main gate of
the walled Medina. The old fort has been converted to a very well laid
out and excellent National Museum.
The Medina is a pleasant walking area with many shops, coppersmiths, jewelry stores, coffee shops and a few
restaurants. Walk as far as the
great Marcus Aurelius
arch with the nearby Ahmed Pasha Karamanli mosque and the old British and French consulates. The
nearby Catholic St.Francis church is open to view, but not operating.
Downtown Tripoli and most of the Medina are pretty much kept
clean. Taxis are plentiful and
inexpensive. 2 LD will take you most
anywhere, but have your destination
written in Arabic.
If you have extra time drive out to the Allied WW2
cemetery, also to the Villa Sirin, a recently discovered
Roman beachfront villa with wonderful mosaic floors and beautifully, vivid
suggests you make a one week side-trip from Europe to
B Y A
Home to the most significant remains
of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans of bygone days, and offering
a vivid Bedouin lifestyle in the Sahara, Libya holds some of the most
interesting attractions in the world. This tour covers three of the five
World Heritage Sites in Libya, and provides an in depth look into this
fabulous country, and empire of which little is known today. This 8-day
program can be combined with Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
Many flights from a number of European
cities to Tripoli and Benghazi.
Day 1: Arrive Tripoli
Ahlaan wasahlaan “Welcome” to Libya –
we are warmly welcomed and after clearing Custom and Immigration, we are
met at the exit gate and transferred to our hotel. The drive gives us our
first glimpse into the life of the people who live in the capital city.
Overnight: Kabir Hotel,
Tripoli (1 night) (D)
Day 2: Tripoli / Benghazi (Flight)
Our Libyan experience
starts with a tour of Tripoli, founded by the Phoenicians in 1000 B.C. and
later conquered by the Romans. Our
tour of this beautiful metropolis covers the huge fortress, the National
Museum, the old souq and the Islamic quarters. Later in the day we are
transferred to the airport for our short flight to the second largest and
most beautiful city of Libya, Benghazi. Upon arrival in Benghazi we are met
and transferred to our hotel. Evening we enjoy a typical dinner at a local
Uzo Hotel, Benghazi (1 night) (B,
3: Benghazi/El Beyda (Drive 210kms/130miles)
Our day starts with
a tour of this beautiful resort city of Libya. The second largest city of the
Jamariya houses a spectacularly maintained War cemetery (Libya played a
major role in the North African Korps). We see the old town with its
artistically designed buildings, and colourful souq. Benghazi also offers
us the opportunity to meet the Libyan folks and enjoy tea with very
friendly people who have lived history in the making for several thousand
years. An interesting drive along the eastern coast gets us to the small
town of El Beyda. El Beyda might not be much in terms of tourism, but it is
the best base for those exploring the great ruins of Cyrene, Apollonia, and
Slonta. It also has a number of colonial-style buildings, as well as an
Islamic university. The religious importance of El Beyda harks back to the
Sanussiyy movement that has had a formative impact on modern Libya.
Overnight: Loloat Jabel Hotel, El Beyda (2 nights) (B,
4: Cyrene & Apollonia
journey today starts with a visit to the World Heritage Site of
Cyrene. The city was part of the 1st
century five city state of Pentapolis and was second in size only to
Athens. Cyrene was founded by the
Greeks in 631 B.C. and was later occupied by the Romans and then the
Arabs. We also visit the famous
temples of Zeus and Apollo and after lunch we visit incredible Apollonia
(Sousa), which was the port of Cyrene and is located 20 kms/12 miles to the
north. Here our visit includes a
detailed visit of the majestic Theatre, the Roman baths as well as the
Byzantine palace. (B, L, D)
5: El Beyda / Qasr Libya / Benghazi (Drive 210kms / 130miles) / Tripoli
A morning drive through
Jabel Akhdar gets us to Qasr Libya where we visit an interesting museum
that houses more than 50 pieces of mosaic artifact fragments dating back to
the 6th century AD. Our
next stop is Ptolemais, the former capital of Pentapolis, offering today
remains of palaces, theatres, Bouleterion and a 3rd century
bridge. Lunch at a local restaurant and then we have some free time in
Benghazi before we are transferred to the airport for our flight to
Tripoli. At Tripoli we are met and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Kabir Hotel, Tripoli (3 nights) (B,
6: Leptis Magna
The highlight of any journey to Libya is visiting the
renowned World Heritage Site of Leptis Magna located east of Tripoli. From
a Berber settlement it became an important community when it was
established as a city by the Canaanites and reached its climax under the
rule of Roman Emperor Septimus Severus.
We visit the vast site including the Triumphal Arch, huge Basilica,
Forum, Public Baths, Hippodrome, and Amphitheater etc. Lunch will be at the
local restaurant at the site before returning to Tripoli.
(B, L, D)
all the coastal sites, Sabratha stands out as the most beautiful. A World
Heritage Site, Sabratha was founded by the Canaanites (6th c.
B.C.), ruled by Carthage, Phoenicia, Numedia and then Rome in 46 B.C. The site offers a majestic collection of
public buildings, arenas, temples of Liber Peter, Srapis, Isis, and
Hercules. Tripoli “ Oea“ (the bride)
of the Mediterranean is the capital of Libya. (B, L, D)
Day 8: Depart Tripoli
Morning transfer to
the airport for our departure flight after what will have been a wonder
trip to see and experience the wonders of Libya. (B)
Tour Details: The Wonders of Libya
- Hotels as mentioned (or similar).
- Meals as mentioned (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch,
D – Dinner)
- All sightseeing and transfers by private
- Services of local English speaking guides.
- Entrance fees to museums and sites included
in the itinerary.
- Economy air ticket Tripoli/Benghazi
price does not include:
airport/departure taxes, insurance, visas and services not mentioned above.
price for 2005: US $ 2195.00 per
person sharing, US $ 275.00 single supplement
dates for 2005:
May 08 Jun
26 Jul 10 Aug 21
Sep 25 Oct
09 Nov 20 Dec 18
limited to a maximum of 15persons!
World Heritage Sites visited:
- 1982 Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna
- 1982 Archaeological Site of Sabratha
- 1982 Archaeological Site of Cyrene
Rex invites you to
experience a total Solar Eclipse in the heart of the Libyan desert. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
SOLAR ECLIPSE TOUR
to LIBYA &
March 24 Friday: Arrive Tripoli
Ahlaan wasahlaan “Welcome” to Libya – we are warmly welcomed and
after clearing Custom and Immigration, we are met at the exit gate and transferred
to our hotel. The drive gives us our first glimpse into the life of the
people who live in the capital city.
Kabir Hotel, Tripoli (3 nights) (D)
March 25 Saturday: Tripoli
Morning departure to the extensive ruins of the Roman city of
Sabrata. . It was founded by the Canaanites in the 6th century B.C. and
then came under the rule of Carthage followed by Phoenicia and then the
nomidans of Rome in 46 B.C. The site offers a majestic collection of public
buildings, arenas, temples of Liber Peter, Srapis, Isis,
Hercules, the forum, theatre, etc. (B, L, D)
March 26 Sunday: Tripoli
Full day to exploring the wonderful site of the Roman City of Leptis
Magna including a visit to the excellent museum. The highlight of any visit
to Libya is to see Leptis Magna, now known as Libda. From Berber settlement
it became important when it was established as a city by the Caanite ships
from Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia. In the 3rd century it became an even more
important trading port under the Roman Emperor
Septimus Servarus. We will see the vast site including the Triuphal
Arch, the huge Basilica, the Forum, the Public Baths, the Hippodrome, the
Amphi-theatre, etc. (B, L, D)
March 27 Monday: Tripoli / Benghazi (Flight)
Tripoli “ Oea“ (the bride) of
the Mediterranean is the capital of Libya.
Founded by the Phoenicians in 1000 B.C. Tripoli was later conquered
by the Romans. Our tour of this
beautiful metropolis covers the huge fortress, the National Museum, the Old
Souq and the Islamic Quarters.
Afternoon flight to Benghazi
Overnight: Uzo Hotel, Benghazi (1 night) (B, L, D)
March 28 Tuesday: Benghazi / Eclipse Camp Site (Drive)
This morning we will have a brief tour of Benghazi, arguably the most
beautiful city in Libya, visit includes the spectacularly maintained World
War II Cemetery. Continue onto the camp site.
Overnight: Tents (1 night) (B, L, D)
March 29 Wednesday: Eclipse Camp Site /
Viewing of the eclipse then head to El-Beyda.
Overnight: Loloat Jabel Hotel, El Beyda (2 nights) (B, L, D)
March 30 Thursday: El-Beyda
Full day exploring the sites of the Greek cites of Cyrene and
Apollonia. Another interesting day
into the Greco-Roman times. Cyrene was part of the 1st century five cities
„state‰ called Pentapolis, which was second to the size of Athens. It was
founded by the Greeks in 631 B.C. and was later occupied by the Romans and
then the Arabs. The
interesting sites here are the temples of Zeus and Apollo plus the
Byzantine churches. Apollonia (Sousa) was the port of Cyrene and is located
20 kms north. Here we see the great Theatre, the Roman baths and Byzantine
palace. (B, L, D)
March 31 Friday: El-Beyda / Tobruk / Mersa Matruh (Drive)
Early morning departure to Tobruk, a Libyan port famous for the
British victory over the Italians in January of 1941. The battle demonstrated Italian
incompetence and prompted Hitler to send his famed Afrika Korps to help
battle the British. We visit the
very well maintained World War II cemetery, where we pay respect to the
many soldiers who died in Tobruk.
Afternoon cross over to the Egyptian side and continue onto Mersa
Overnight: Camp or guest
house, Mersa Matruh (1 night) (B, L, D)
April 01 Saturday: Mersa Matruh / Alexandria (Drive)
Depart for Alexandria.
Overnight: Sofitel Cecil
Hotel, Alexandria (1 night) (B, L, D)
April 02 Sunday: Alexandria / Cairo (Drive)
Our tour this morning starts with a visit to the newly opened
Bibliothek. At the beginning of the
3rd Century B.C. the ancient city of Alexandria was the
birthplace of the Bibliotheca Alexandria. The library and its vast
storehouse of learning were destroyed in a fire that ravaged Alexandria. A
new library was opened at the same location, endowing the world once again
with an important focal point for culture, education and science. We then
visit the Greco Roman Museum, the Catacombs, Pompey’s Pillar, Montazah
Garden, the Citadel of Qaitbay and the Roman Amphitheater. Continue onto Cairo.
Overnight: Oasis Hotel, Cairo
(1 night) (B, L, D)
April 03 Monday: Depart Cairo
Morning departure transfer. (B)
Tour Details: Solar Eclipse Tour 2006
Tour services includes:
- Hotels as mentioned
- Meals as mentioned
(B–Breakfast, L–Lunch, D–Dinner)
- All sightseeing and
transfers by private transportation
- Services of local
English speaking guides
- Entrance fees to
museums and sites included in the itinerary
- Economy air ticket
Tour price does not include:
- Border taxes
- Services not
Tour price for 2006: USD
2885.00 per person sharing, USD 585.00 single supplement
Minimum: 10 persons Maximum: 20 persons
= World Heritage Site
World Heritage Sites visited:
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya:
Site of Leptis Magna (1982)
Site of Sabratha (1982)
Site of Cyrene (1982)
You may e-mail us at email@example.com.
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