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In November 2005 I visited Libya. Not the most obvious choice for a holiday, but spending a week in the Sahara was one of the things that attracted me to this country. Most people do not understand my fascination with the desert, and it is hard to put into words. The Sahara is more then a big sandpit. But I hope that by looking at the pictures you will see the beauty of the desert.

Natural Arch in the Jebel Acacus, about 100km from Ghat, Libya. But Libya has more to offer than just the desert. There are several ancient Roman cities to be seen, like Sabratha and Leptis Magna, one of the most intact Roman cities anywhere in the Mediterranean.

We arrived in Tripoli first, the capital. Except for the old Medina, it is quite a modern city. From Tripoli we set off ona daytrip to Leptis Magna. Lots of ruins, but also large portions that are beautifully restaured. The Arch of Septimus Severus resembles the Arc de Triophe in Paris, only much older and more impressive. Other highights include the Theatre and the Basilica and the Amphitheathre that lies just outside Leptis, but also the other constructions are well worth a look.

The next day we headed for the desert. Before reaching our final destination for the day, Ghadames, we stopped to visi two Qasrs, big fortified graneries. Early in the evening we arrived at Ghadames, a desert town which in earlier times was situated along the most important trade route in the Sahara. Now the old city is for the most part uninhabited. It is quite an experience to roam the labyrint of small streets and courtyards. The streets are partly covered to protect the inhabitants from the sun, with their thick walls the houses were well adapted to the extreme climate.

Sanddunes Sahara, LibiŽ In two days we drove to Ghat, stopping over in Sebha. Ghat is also the starting point of our desert trip. We leave the asphalt and drive our Land Cruisers into the huge sandpit. As I have mentioned in the beginning the Sahara is more then a big sandpit. We drive through gorges and along spectacular rock formations and offcourse huge sand dunes, the landscape is simply breathtaking and surprising. The first few days we cross the Accacus Mountains where there are still lots of rock engravings to be found. The oldest are believed to be drawn in 8000 B.C. They show pictures of Elephants and Giraffes, animals that are long since dissapeared from this part of the world. We spent the night under the stars or in our tents, either way a great experience. After the first few days in the Accacus, we head for the salt lakes of Fezzan. In between the huge sand dunes lie lakes where the salt contents make it possible for you to float, just like the Dead Sea. If you imagine what an stereotypical oasis looks like, that is the first thing you sea when driving up to the lakes. However, it wouldn't be wise to take a sip of the water, even if you had been roaming the deserts without water for several days ... it is very salty.

Salt Lakes Fezan After our week long track through the desert, without being able to take a shower, we boarded the plane that would take us from Sebha to Tripoli. Luckily the ariconditioning on the plane was working fine. The holiday is now nearing its end. Only a trip to the other big Roman excavations in Sabratha is left on the agenda. The most eyecatching in Sabratha is the Theatre, a truly magnificent peice of architecture. In Roman times it seated 5000 people to watch the performance. Even now there are occasional concerts.

Now the time has come to pack my backpack for the last time and board the plane to Amsterdam. The combination of some culture, Leptis and Sabratha, with the big adventure in the desert make Libya, for me, a top destination ... the desert is more then a big sandpit!
© 2002-2014 Jacques Herman, All rights reserved.