This ten day journey will take you deep into the heart of the Acacus mountains in South West Libya – one of the most spectacular regions of the Sahara. After a flight from Tripoli to Sebha, the expedition will drive south to explore the desert towns of Germa and Ghat, and the lunar landscape of the Acacus with its numerous wadis. Hidden in the valleys are rock paintings and carvings dating back to prehistoric times when the region was a fertile savannah. You will drive through an enormous sand sea, camp under the stars, and swim in palm fringed lakes. Our desert team includes experienced drivers familiar with the terrain and a cook who provides you with delicious food made with fresh local ingredients. You will fly back to Tripoli and then have a day to visit the magnificent ruins of Leptis Magna. There will also be time in Tripoli where you can relax and enjoy a visit to the souks of the old town and the museum in Green Square which houses one of the largest collections of classical art as well as the remarkable Qadaffi Gallery.
An adventurous ‘off the beaten track’ journey accompanied by an experienced English speaking local Libyan guide.
Day 1 Arrival in Tripoli
Fly from the UK direct to Tripoli (three and a half hour flight). You will meet your local guide on arrival and take an evening flight to Sebha for an overnight stay.
O/n Fezzan Park Camp (basic)
Day 2 Germa and the Garamantians
After an early breakfast you will set off on the road to Ghat with a picnic lunch along the way. The town of Germa is en route. Germa was once the capital of the Garamantian Empire – the first indigenous empire of significance in Libya. The Garamantes were one of the most advanced and forward thinking peoples of their time, and are said to have introduced writing, horses and finally camels to the Sahara. The visible remains of this ancient civilisation include pyramid-style burial chambers and an ancient crumbling town. These sites are some of the most significant archaeological locations in Libya. Further South from Germa, the terrain changes from flat desert into the jagged landscape of the Acacus Mountains; you will pass the legendary haunted Kaf Ejoul, or Mountain of Spirits, and reach Ghat in time for dinner. Please note this is a long driving day (approx 5 – 6 hrs)
O/n Ghat Campsite (basic)
Day 3 Ghat and Uan Caza
Ghat is an ancient caravan trading centre surrounded by magnificent dunes and overlooked by an Italian fortress from which there are superb views of the old town. Wandering through its narrow streets and archways you will meet local Tuareg tribes people selling their wares: beautiful handmade silver jewellery, daggers and indigo headscarves. After lunch you will then drive up to the small town of Al Aweinat and enter the desert to drive into the start of the Acacus range for your first night under the stars.
O/n under the stars
Day 4 Rock Art
Enjoy the silence of waking in the desert. After breakfast in spectacular surroundings you will drive on into the Acacus and visit the towering 170m high natural arch – one of the most awesome sites in the Acacus. Drive on to Wadi Anshall and Wadi Tanshall. Along the way you will stop to view the incredible galleries of prehistoric rock art painted in hidden cracks and caves by the earliest Libyan tribes over 12,000 years ago. Depicting scenes of life prior to the desertification of the Sahara, when the land was a well-watered savannah teeming with wildlife. Although the Tuareg have known about this art for centuries, the frescoes did not receive serious academic attention until the 1950s when the Italian explorer, Professor Fabrizio Mori. A picnic lunch en route will give you time to relax and soak up the landscape before driving on to your camping area in the late afternoon.
Day 5 Wadi Teshweinat
Today you will drive into the largest and longest wadi in the Acacus that hides some of the most prolific works of rock art and engravings – Wadi Teshweinat. You will pass Tuareg encampments of palm-thatched huts. Tuareg children grow up learning to survive in this harsh environment, to herd and look after the goats and sheep. You will see numerous caves, which provided shelter to prehistoric dwellers for many thousands of years and if time visit the site where the skeleton of a child thought to be 5,400 years old was found by Professor Mori during his excavations, and is now in the Tripoli museum. A suitable campsite will be made early evening and you will have dinner under the stars.
O/n under the stars
Day 6 The Awiss
Rise early to climb one of the surrounding hills and watch a spectacular Saharan sunrise. After breakfast you will begin the drive out of the Jebel Acacus, and into the otherworldly landscape of the Awiss. This area is covered with small mushroom shaped cones and spidery shaped rock protrusions in all shapes and sizes. Deep golden sand dunes pile up around these rocks and you will picnic amongst them in a shady spot. This area is always popular with photographers for the prolific mass of beautifully eroded natural rock formations. In the afternoon drive on to find a good camping spot.
O/n under the stars
Day 7 Ubari Sand Sea and the lakes
After an early morning start you will drive out of the desert from Alweinat and make the long journey North stopping for a picnic lunch en route. In the afternoon drive into the great Ubari Sand Sea where the hidden lakes are among one of the many highlights of the Libyan Sahara. To come across these beautiful waters hidden amongst towering sand dunes is nothing short of a miracle! All the lakes are highly carbonated and so you can enjoy the exhilarating experience of floating without swimming while contemplating the wonderful colours of the desert landscape. Camp will be set up amongst the dunes and from there you can watch the sunset.
O/n under the stars
Day 8 Umm al Maa
Today you will have the opportunity to relax on the palm-fringed shores of the most picturesque lake, Umm al Maa where you will have lunch. Some of the lakes contain tiny red shrimp that the Tuareg grind into a paste and bake as small cakes, which they dry in the sun. In the early afternoon you will drive out of the Sand Sea and on to Sebha for the evening flight back to Tripoli. Dinner in a local restaurant.
O/n 4* hotel in Tripoli
Day 9 Leptis Magna
The entire day will be spent at Leptis Magna, an hour’s drive from Tripoli. The site is extensive and, after a guided tour, there will be time to absorb it at your own pace. Benefiting from the patronage of the founder of the African dynasty of Roman emperors, Emperor Septimus Severus (b. 146), Leptis Magna was a city of extraordinary imperial extravagance – and is still a place of immense splendour. The sands that swept over the site in early modern times prevented pillaging and preserved its glories. The day will also include a visit to the spectacular amphitheatre. Return to Tripoli for a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.
O/n 4* Hotel in Tripoli
Day 10 Tripoli and the flight home
This morning you will have plenty of time to shop and wander through the old medina browsing in the gold and spice shops. You can also visit the museum (shut on a Monday) and watch the world go by while sipping mint tea in Green Square. Tripoli is an attractive town combining the dual charms of the Italianate architecture and cosmopolitan squares of the ‘new town’ with the North African bustle of the Arab ‘old town’. Lunch in a local restaurant (depending on time of flight) and transfer to the airport.