Libya Explorer – 14 Days
Day 1: Tripoli (D)
On arrival at Tripoli Airport, you will be met by your tour guide and transferred to your hotel. This is simply an arrival day so you may arrive at any time. Note that hotel rooms are generally only available after midday. Depending on your arrival time, you may have an introductory visity to Tripoli.
Day 2: Tripoli-Jebel Nafusa-Ghadames (B, D)
Leaving Tripoli, you will drive south into the highlands of the Jebel Nafusa (Western Mountains). The barren, rocky mountains are spectacular, with stone villages looking out over the arid plains. You will visit the 700-year-old Qasr of Kabaw where villagers ‘banked’ their grain to trade with caravans heading south into the desert. This is a fascinating and spectacular spot – and largely devoid of tourists! Ghadames is an ancient, UNESCO world Heritage-listed caravan trading town.
Day 3: Ghadames (B, D)
Ghadames is celebrated for its beautiful and inventive architecture, designed to resist the dramatic extremes of the Saharan climate. The houses are built from mud, lime, and palm tree trunks and fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Covered alleyways run between the houses with adjacent roofs, allowing passage from one house to another. You will spend the bulk of the day exploring this charming town, and visit its museum, before heading out into some beautiful desert landscape for afternoon tea in a sea of undulating sand dunes.
Day 4: Ghadames-Nalut (B, D)
At the southern end of the Jebel Nafusa lies Nalut, one of the most fascinating old towns in the region. Built on an escarpment, with superb views to the east, lies an ancient ‘kasr’ or fortified house, more than 300 years old, which was primarily used for storing grain and oil. The kasr is made up of 400 chambers or ‘ghurfas’. You may spend an hour or so exploring the ancient mud-brick ruins before returning to Tripoli.
Day 5: Leptis Magna (B, D)
Today you will visit the outstanding site of Leptis Magna, one of the greatest ancient sites in the world. It was originally a Phoenician trading port, and prospered for nearly 1000 years before vandal invasions and sand storms brought its downfall. In its heyday during the reign of Libyan Emperor Septimus Severus, it was second only to Rome and housed over 100,000 people. This vast city remained buried for some 1300 years, and it wasn’t until the 1920’s that a major excavation by Italian and Libyan archaeologists revealed the limestone and marble wonders that we explore today.
Day 6: Sabratha-Benghazi (B, D)
After a morning visit to a Tripoli museum, we head out to Sabratha. Like Leptis, Sabratha was a Phoenician trading post that served as an outlet for the products of the African hinterland. It was part of the short-lived Numidian Kingdom of Massinissa before being Romanized and rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. It is beautifully situated, overloooking the shores of the Mediterranean, and you will spend the morning exploring its splendid theatre, baths, fountains and mosaics. After your visit you will drive to the Tripoli Airport to check in for your flight to Benghazi where upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel for an evening at your leisure.
Day 7: Cyrene, Apollonia-Benghazi (B, D)
You will travel to Cyrene, which was originally a Greek city, but eventually Romanized and remained a significant metropolis until the earthquake of AD 365, which brought it to its knees. Today, its interest lies not only in the many splendid public buildings, which include the Temple of Apollo, Acropolis, Agora, Forum and the Temple of Zeus – but also in its superb setting. Nearby is Apollonia, the ancient port of Cyrene, which played a critical role in its prosperity. Most of what remains today dates from the Byzantine era, when Apollonia was known as the ‘city of churches’. You will spend a full day exploring these two ancient sites.
Day 8: Benghazi-Tripoli-Sebha (B, D)
In the morning you will fly back to Tripoli and later continue on your journey to Sebha. Note that today’s itinerary is dependent on flight schedules and will be confirmed when you arrive in Libya.
Day 9: Germa-Ghat-Aweinat (B, D)
Deep in the interior is Fezzan, home of dramatic mountains, desert lakes and the finest natural rock art in North Africa. Sebha, a modern city, is the largest oasis and the principal metropolis in the Fezzan Region. From here you will drive south to Germa, in 4WD vehicles. Germa is an ancient city, founded by the Garamantes, who belonged to a large Libyan tribe that was experienced in desert travel. Here can be found ancient houses, temples and baths dating back to ancient Egyptian, Carthaginian, Greek and Roman periods. You will then reach the ancient trading center of Ghat, in the heart of the Fezzan, one of the most attractive Libyan oasis towns. It is one of the few permanent Tuareg settlements in the Sahara. You will have time to explore the enchanting mud-brick medina in the heart of the town. The Acacus Mountains can clearly be seen, which provide a natural fortification for this isolated settlement. You will return to the pleasant oasis town of Aweinat, where the night will be spent in simple huts.
Days 10 – 12: Acacus Mountains (B, D)
This Unesco World Heritage listed area is home to some wonderful scenery with several unique natural rock formations enhanced by the ever-shifting sands of the desert. You will camp out in the desert underneath a spectacular blanket of stars. Hidden in the valleys and wadis of the Acacus Mountains lie some of the most outstanding cave paintings in the world. On narrow ledges under cliff faces, you see red and black images of hunting and ritual dances. Two full days will be spent exploring this extraordinary region and camping out under the stars. The following day you make your way back towards Aweinat, and then on to the Ubari Sand Sea where you spend the night at a fixed campsite.
Day 13: Desert Lakes-Tripoli (B, D)
You enter the Ubari Sand Sea where salt lakes, surrounded by lush vegetation, flash like sparkling gems amongst the towering sand dunes. There are around 11 lakes in the region, the largest of which is Lake Gabraoun. You will have time for a swim before making your way back to Sebha Airport to fly back to Tripoli for your final night.
Day 14: Tripoli (B)
Day 14: Tripoli
Your trip ends today after breakfast. If you have arranged a private airport transfer, you will be advised of the pick-up time.
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