Libya

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"Joseph of Arabia"Sometimes, all we need is an excuse to travel, which was the main reason for my trip to Libya.

On March 29, 2006 there was a total Solar Eclipse. The track for this eclipse started on the coast of Brazil, traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and over northern Africa and central Asia, where it ended at sunset in northern Mongolia. NASA - Total Solar Eclipse of 2006 March 29

I decided to join an Eclipse Expedition to Libya being hosted by the Toronto Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society. We observed the eclipse from deep in the Sahara Desert - the chosen location was optimum, offering over an 80% chance of a cloud-free day. This tour also offered very near to the maximum duration for totality - 4 minutes and 3 seconds.

We spent a week in Libya, which gave us time to see the largest intact Roman ruins to be found anywhere (Sabratha and Leptis Magna), as well as some other sights. The group itinerary also included a week in Italy, where we saw both astronomical and the regular sights in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan. The group then returned to Toronto, however I added an extra week to the trip by traveling onward to Athens, Greece.  This gave me time to kick back and relax…and see a few of the sights on the Greek mainland. Believe it or not, this was my first trip to Europe, and I really found that portion of the itinerary fascinating.

 
bulletVictoria to Tripoli - air arrangements, scenery from the air
bulletLibya
bulletTripoli
bulletJamahiriya Museum
bulletSabratha
bulletLeptis Magna
bulletBenghazi
bulletSolar Eclipse 2006
bulletItaly
bulletGreece

Please click on one of the links above to get started. You can click on the "Next" links at the bottom of each page and find your way through the whole trip beginning to end.  Of course, the text link navigation bar to be found at the top of each page is also an excellent way to explore the JoeTourist website, especially if you want to jump around.

The top-most map (below) shows the route we took through Libya, and map below it shows the eclipse track. We toured locally in Tripoli for a couple of days, flew to and from Benghazi, and drove to and from the Eclipse Camp and Benghazi. As can be observed, we only covered about a third of Libya, which is fine since the main point of this trip was to observe the eclipse.  As I always say, leave some destinations for a future trip

From - To Hours Distance (mi) Distance (km)
Tripoli - Benghazi (air) 1 400 650
Benghazi - Eclipse Camp (bus) 8 300 500
Eclipse Camp - Benghazi (bus) 7 300 500
Benghazi - Tripoli (air) 1

 

400

 

650

 

Total   1,400 2,300

Thoughts on Libya

The Libyan people are generally friendly, although some are hesitant around tourists and draw away, especially women.  Speaking of women, you won't find any on the streets, except in the markets.  It appears Libyan men spend lots of time in coffee bars smoking, drinking coffee, and having discussions.  I'm assuming their wives are in the home, and stay there for the most part.  Of course, there are exceptions to this generalization, especially in downtown Tripoli, where there are some women who work for a living and wear office clothes.

Our guide and driver from Numidia Travel, and our Tourist Police were all very friendly, and worked very hard at keeping us safe, and at the same time ensuring we enjoyed ourselves. Our Canadian tour operator Bestway Tours & Safaris who put the land arrangements in place for us throughout Libya had a staff of four with us (including their other two groups) at all times, and again, they worked very hard to ensure everything that was planned actually happened.

I felt very safe in Libya, once I got over my initial nervousness from being immersed in a foreign culture (culture shock). I was more concerned about security when I was in Italy and Greece than I was in Libya.

I want to return to Libya within the next couple of years to cover the rest of the country we missed on this trip:

bulletGhadames, Ghat, and other Saharan cities and towns
bulletThe Great Sand Seas - lots of adventures in the middle of the country - mountains and sand
bulletThe area just south of Tripoli in the mountains - close by but a world apart from the coastal cities
bulletMediterranean coastal area between Benghazi and Egypt - Cyrene and Tobruk

Covering this much in three weeks would be rushing it a bit, so I might have to leave something for a third trip...who knows?

2011 - Congratulations to the courageous people of Libya who prevailed in your struggle against Mu'ammar Gaddafi.  Ultimately, his family and supporters will pay for their atrocities against the people.  Your freedom is precious, so guard it well.  The new Libya you sacrificed for will have strong support from the people of Canada.

I will return to Libya for a visit.  My good thoughts are with you,the beautiful people of Libya...

Joe Carr

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The following is contributed by "leyle", part of TheWanderingCamel group of VirtualTourist travelers:

About Libyan agriculture - Libya grows huge amounts of its own food. We saw enormous fields of wheat, barley, vegetables of all sorts, citrus orchards and vineyards growing in the Wadi al Hayat on the road from Sebah to Al Awanat, and flew over very large irrigated areas where similar crops were growing on the flight south from Tripoli. Australian farmers have been very involved in helping establish some of this dry land grain growing for many years now. My husband has been traveling to Libya 3 and 4 times a year for the last 10 years or so and we have a stack of photos of local produce markets, melon sellers, truffle and orange stalls by the roadsides, almond groves at blossom time. With the opening of the first sections of the Great Man-Made River the areas under irrigation are set to increase enormously.

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Libya Links

bulletTravel Report for Libya - from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs
bullet Libya - lonley planet - Lonely Planet travel guide, offering a good selection of destinations to explore in Libya
bullet Libya Travel Guide - VirtualTourist gives you access to information and opinions provided by travelers who have actually gone to Libya, answering the question why go to Libya?
bullet Libya - the Library of Congress - an extensive  country study examining all aspects of Libya, including: history, society & environment,  economy, government and politics, and national security.
bullet Libya - meatnpotatoes - same approach as the Library of Congress (above), but much briefer
bulletLibyana Culture of Libya - profiles the Land, People, Art, and Culture of Libya
bullet Libya - Encyclopaedia of the Orient gives concise facts about Libya, however it hasn't been updated since the revolution, so some facts are in error
bullet Libya  -  Travel Photos by Galen R Frysinger - some good photos, and don't miss the fascinating online article:  Colonel Muammar Al Qadhafi -  The Makeover (The New York Times, January 19, 2003) by Scott Anderson, especially interesting in this post-revolution time
bullet Sahara - Wikipedia - information about the Saharan countries, their people, the varied climate and ecosystems, and endless links
bullet Libya Maps - Perry-Castañeda Map Collection - UT Library Online - CIA fact sheets on Libya
bullet Adventures of Libya - specific info on Libyan locales and cities

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