Reasons to Visit
Whether admiring some of the best-preserved ruins anywhere in the former Roman or Greek worlds, wandering through ancient Saharan trading posts, or pondering on the fate of the Garamantian civilisation that died out almost overnight, Libya's ancient ruins will be a major reason for your visit to the country.
The Greeks and Romans had a heavy presence in North Africa, largely confined to the fertile coastal strip. In the east, the Greeks had a strong presence in the cities of Cyrene, Apollonia and Ptolemais, whilst in the west the Roman cities of Leptis Magna and Sabratha are some of the most impressive found anywhere.
With the fantastic rock art of the Sahara and the dunes and oases of the Ubari Sand Sea, the only way to get around is in a self-supported 4WD expedition. The solitude is a major draw, and because it's so far from any towns or cities, the night sky is brilliant with stars.
In the Ubari Sand Sea lie a series of lakes that fulfil every childhood fantasy of a desert oasis. Hidden deep amongst sand dunes, palm trees fringe limpid pools that perfectly reflect the clear blue skies.
The oldest rock art in Libya dates back 12,000 years, through to more recent pieces about 2,000 years old. The older pieces tell of a more fertile time when giraffe, elephants, hippos and fighting cats roamed the landscape: a bizarre contrast with the stunning desert scenery that now surrounds the area.
Although relatively accessible today, Ghadames was once a watchword for hostile cities on the fringe of the Sahara that traded in gold and slaves arriving from across the desert.
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North Africa & the Middle East
Leptis Magna is one of the most extensive Roman sites anywhere in the world.
The Akakus Mountains are home to one of the richest concentrations of rock art, in a dramatic mountain landscape where black rock is lapped by golden sands.
The theatre is the main attraction of Sabratha and is in excellent condition having had some restoration. The museum is a must, and has an extensive exhibition of everything from statues to small coins.
Ghadames, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an ancient medina located near the borders with Algeria and Tunisia. Known as the Jewel of the Sahara, this is a fascinating desert outpost, where whitewashed alleyways hide vividly decorated interiors.
Leptis Magna, one of the "Three Cities" or "Tripoli", was originally a trading post for the Phoenicians and was later controlled by Carthage (in modern-day Tunisia).
The 4WD convoy will set off to explore the Ubari sand sea, located 120 kms from Sebha. One of the wonders of the south-western Fezzan are the Ubari oases with their palm fringed saline lakes.
6 Days from £1,315pp
Explore Tripoli, offering ample time to experience a fascinating range of excursions in and around the capital.
8 Days from £1,790pp
An opportunity to explore Libya's capital, the Roman sites nearby and the desert town of Ghadames.
12 Days from £2,855pp
Discover the main archaeological sites along the north coast of Libya, as well as the Saharan town of Ghadames.
3 1/2 hours (Tripoli)
The best time to travel.
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of.
Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year.
Travel is not recommended.
Snow or ski season.
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Further reading:When to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout LibyaCountry Guides
Other countries in North Africa & the Middle East:EgyptIranJordanLebanonMoroccoOmanSyriaTunisia
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