Libya is fast becoming a new, fun and exotic place to visit for many people. There is a little something for everyone to be found in this North African country. For history buffs, there are ancient cities that date back to the Phoenician Empire and World War II battle fields made famous by the Desert Fox. For those who enjoy history in the making look no further, Libya is an oil rich country that has only recently decided to join the rest of the international community. And for the brave among us who enjoy sleeping under the stars, and taking roads less traveled, I ask what could be more interesting than visiting the Sahara. Libya is certainly a country with enough variety to satisfy many palettes.
The doors to this Mediterranean jewel have only recently been opened so there would be much in the way of elbow rubbing with other tourists. And anyone who tells you that you’ll find terrorists lurking there, waiting for innocent westerners needs to recheck their facts. Libya is a country that desperately wants to be readmitted into the global community. After years of a foreign embargo, the oil rich country is seeking prosperity, and tourists welcome with open arms because they are a sign that this country has a new beginning. In fact this is a country that is doing everything it can to bring unity to the African Continent.
The first to things to consider when planning a trip to Libya are securing a visa and a guide. The process of obtaining a visa is not as daunting as it sounds. The most important, and in some cases only, step is choosing a tour company. This is because all tourists in Libya are required to have an escort. An incident occurred in 2000 in which some ancient sites were vandalized, and subsequently all tourists must be accompanied with a guide. In most if not all cases this is a good thing, especially for those who plan to visit the Sahara, because a tour guide is guaranteed to be part of your package. Also once the tour company has been paid, everything is paid for except money for shopping. Some words of advice; do as much shopping around for a tour company as possible, and to be specific about your itinerary.
Speaking of which, there is so much to do here that it really is in your best interests to plan ahead of time. Those interested in history without the adventure of the Sahara should definitely visit the capitol city of Tripoli. This is a city full of rich history; the Arch of Marcus Aurelius bears witness to this. Yet this is also a town undergoing new-found economic prosperity. It is indeed a great meeting place for past and present. World War Two buffs will definitely enjoy a trip to the city of Tobruk, the site of major battles and now memorials and cemeteries and even a bomber that crashed in the Sahara. Whatever you do don’t miss the ancient Greek city of Cyrene or the ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna and take your time at both.
If you feel like taking a worth-while trip, make sure that you see the region known as the Jebel Nafusa and the city of Ghadames. Here you can see ancient Berber architecture and an ancient African trade nexus in Ghadames.
When planning a trip into the desert be sure that you have prepared: two four wheel drive vehicles, plenty of water and food, a satellite phone and most importantly an experienced guide.
Wherever your destination, make sure that you follow some simple rules of etiquette in Libya. Even though the political climate has improved dramatically and continues to improve, most people will shy away from political conversations. Remember that Libya is a Muslim country, so be sure to dress modestly and be modest in respect to the opposite gender. Bring a gift when invited to someone’s home, and don’t turn away an offer of food or drink. Most if not all reports of Libya include good hospitality and kindness, but remember to always use caution in a foreign environment.