Libya is not cheap!
Libya is not a cheap place to travel through when compared with other countries that offer similar cultural and historical experiences - Egypt and Syria for example. At present, most visitors must travel with a tour group, or at least with a considerable degree of tour company organization. If you are travelling in a tour group, you will have a very good idea of what is covered by the tour cost before you go but if you are travelling more independently you must be prepared for some fairly hefty costs, particularly if you are travelling alone or with just one other person, and even more so if you want to move away from the more populous areas or down into the desert.
A car and driver ( self drive car hire is not an option) will cost you anything from 80-100LD a day (currently the Libyan dinar is worth about $A1 or 60 Euro cents) - expensive for just one person.
Dinner in a reasonable restaurant will cost between 10 and 15LD for a main course (more for some fish dishes), and you can expect to pay between 15 and 20 LD for a meal of soup, salad, main course and fruit juice (alcohol is not available).
Lunch of soup and a sandwich with a soft drink will cost about 6LD and a cup of mint tea will cost 1LD in just about any cafe. Take it in the classy coffee shop in one of Tripoli's top hotels and it could cost as much as 5 LD.
Tipping is not usual and is certainly not expected, though rounding a bill up is always appreciated.
Internet use (there are any number of Internet cafes in Tripoli and you'll even find one in Ghadames, so don't use hotel facilities which are bound to be more expensive) is usually 1LD per hour.
Currency comes in 1/4, 1/2, 1, 5 and 10 dinar notes - old and new varieties are both legal tender. I never saw a coin in use the whole time I was in Libya.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Update - March 2009 Just returned from Libya and can report that all camera charges and restrictions have been removed from museums and historical sites! I don't use a video recorder so don't know about those, but for still camera photographers at least, this is excellent news, but, this being Libya, things could change back again at any time.
so ... be prepared ... this is how it was until recently ...
Whilst entry charges for Libya's historical sites are a very reasonable 3LD at most ( some are only 1LD), you will have to be prepared to pay a camera charge if you want to take photos (and you will want to take photos!) - 5LD for a still camera, 10LD for video. - at nearly all of them. Places such as Leptis Magna will levy the charge for both the site and the museum. This can knock quite a hole in your budget so do ensure that you allow for it when working out your finances.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Calls of nature
Public loos are thin on the ground in Libya - the only one I saw apart from those at the main archaeological sites was a very new pair in Gazelle Park in Tripoli. This is not a problem though as it is quite accepted practice to go into a restaurant, hotel or cafe (internet cafes are good too) and ask if you may use their toilet. When we did this at a hotel in Gharyan, we were escorted very politely to an unused hotel room!
I never found a loo that was not acceptably clean and never had to use a squat loo, though this may not be the case in more remote places. Update - June 2009 - I wish I could say the same from my latest visit, but this time round, some of the loos we found were pretty grim! Be prepared!
Water and soap were always available, but you should be sure to carry your own small supply of loo paper - and remember not to flush it away but use the bin, especially in the countryside - not all septic systems can cope with it.
Be sure to have a few 1/4 and 1/2 dinar notes on you - the charge for using the WC at places like Leptis Magna where there is an attendant.
Houses in Ghadames are made out of mud, lime, and palm tree trunks with covered alleyways between them to offer good shelter against summer heath.
Those covered alleyways can be visited in a complete atmosphere of darkness (pic 5) - in fact a danger tip for "claustrofobia" visitors. But if the local guide is a good one, he will warn youRelated to:
The "Latrines" - say toilets
Generaly spoken, the arabics have another view on the hygienic toilets in hotels, restaurants and many touristic places. Stating it short, they are dirty and sometimes boots are a must.
But oké, we as western tourists have to accept those facilities, alltough not to forget.. I just noticed that in NY (US) a first public toilet was installed (jan2008)
A dangerous legacy
Wars long since over are still claiming casualties in Libya. Each year 120 people are killed or injured by landmines sown as long ago as WWII. More have been added during conflicts with Egypt and, most recently, Chad. Over one-third of the country's arable land is suspected of being contaminated, leaving just 60%of the country's agricultural land safe enough to plough. With some 93% of the country classified as desert, this is a disastrous situation. Altogether 33% of the country - desert, towns and villages as well as farming land - is sown with mines. As well as the reduction of usable farming land, the presence of mines causes huge problems maintaining infrastructure, demining must be carried out before any survey work for the country's valuable oil industry can be carried out and the Great Man-Made River project has taken far longer and cost far more than estimated as a result of the presence of mines.
Whilst this is not a problem for the average tourist, it is something anyone preparing to set off on an independent driving expedition needs to be aware of. Local advice must be sought and , if you are intending to drive in an area known to be mined, a local guide is essential.
Everything said here is true
I've been traveling to Libya on business since it opened. All the tips here are true. But Libya is not a dangerous place for the ordinary tourist. Here's my list of don'ts.
Avoid political discussions:Libyans will not venture into political discussion with you, and neither should you.Respect Islamic culture and traditions. The Libyans will not make you feel uncomfortable about being non-Islamic unless you are Jewish. The Libyan govt has an argument with Israel and takes it out on all Jews. They have no argument with other religions.
Respect the law:alcohol is prohibited-don't bring it into the country even for personal consumption. The penalty is a lot worse than confiscation. Prostitution, homosex, drugs:all are available there,but don't even think about it. The upside is minimal,the downside is life-shattering.
No pics of government institutions. If in doubt,just ask the local police man. Gesture that you want to take a pic. He'll nod or shake his head. Don't go against his wishes. But don't be over-paranoid about it either. The sensitive places are police stations, the airport and the leader's compound.
Gadhafi: he's always referred to as the Leader. For some reason, using his name makes Libyans uncomfortable. And he has no official position in the govt, such as president or prime minister. So Leader it is.
But, the best warning I can give you is about being physically careful in Tripoli. The city's infrastructure has suffered through the Sanction Years. That means the sidewalks are a disaster - frequently broken up, holes, uncovered manholes, exposed wires. THere are virtually no traffic lights, and the general traffic rule is that cars have the right of way. You get hit by a car - well, you were asking for it. YOU DO NOT WANT to be exposed to the Libyan health care system. So take care of yourself there, and watch where you're walking.
It seems like Libya is a horror. Compared with NYC,London,Tokyo it probably is. But it has the highest GDP/person in Africa and is considered the Gold Coast of Africa.
Strictly speaking it is illegal to enter or exit libya with libyan dinars. I changed money in tunisia on the road to the libyan border because there may have been a large queue at the official exchange at the frontier and the exchange rate may have been worse (dont take my word for it though).
What is likely to happen if you are caught is that the official may help himself to a few notes in exchange for keeping quiet. Therefore i was advised to split my money up as this is much more likely to be a problem if they find a big wad of notes as opposed to just a few.
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Protection against the sun
The sun in the desert is very bright and hot during the day. It's advisable to protect your head. Also an umbrella can be very useful.
If you don't want to damage your eyes during the solar eclipse it's absolutely necessary to use safe eclipse viewing glasses !Related to:
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Watch the roads!
It seems to me the only real hazards you are likely to come across in Libya are all to do with the roads. Libya has a very high rate of car ownership and everyone is a wannabe Stirling Moss - speeding is endemic, 160kph seems to be considered quite normal once out of the city and in city streets there are only 2 speeds observed - crawling in a traffic jam and speeding. Negotiating city streets is a matter of watching the locals and sticking close to someone who is crossing - especially around Green Square where pedestrians weave in and out of the traffic with nonchalance.
If you find a good driver (taxi or private) ask for his card and call him when you need a car again. Good drivers are to be cherished. I mean good as in safe - I had a "good'" driver when I went out to Villa Sileen - he handled the car beautifully - at 160 kph all the way untill I told him to slow down - which he did - to 155! Next day when I left to drive to Ghadames I made it very clear to my new driver speeding like that was unacceptable.
Desert roads are good - but, speeding aside, there are still hazards, the main ones of which are sand across the road and camels - both of which can appear at any time so drivers need to be constantly alert and ready to slow right down. Early morning driving in the desert also carries the risk of driving in thick fog as the temperature differentials between the cold nights and hot days take effect.Related to:
If you can plan your travel, please avoid the period of the end of Ramaddan's celebration.
We had no problem with the international flights.
This year domestic flights were cancelled on the first day of the celebration though. So we got stuck in Benghazi :((
When travelling by air from Tripoli to Benghazi and back, before entering the plane, we had to recognize our luggage at the aire in the dark - which was not easy - and put it upon a cart.
Take also into account that all shops all over the country are closed during at least two or three days, with the exception of a single grocery.
As I love strolling in the souhks, feeling the local atmosphere, this was the biggest disappointment of my Libya-trip.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
Better check this before you leave
Special warning tips for american citizens
Whatever your nationality is, better check your own gouvernment warning tips before travelling.
We didn't have any problem at all, nor at the airport with the border control, nor in Tripoli or Benghazi or on the touristic sites.
As we were travelling by bus, we always have been accompanied by a Libyan guard "for our own safety and the safety of the country".
Libyan people has always been very kind.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
The day before we left the UK for Libya, I was chatting to a friend who'd just returned from Tunisia. Those of you who know your African geography, will know that Tunisia is right next door to Libya. She was complaining about how cold she had been and what a bitter wind they'd suffered.
I went straight home and packed another jumper, a hat and gloves. Boy was I glad I did. Many other in our party had packed for warm Mediterranean conditions or even Caribbean weather, and were really suffering from the cold! We were snug as a bug in a rug. Thanks Elaine!
The discardment of rubbish along the side of the road is a major problem for the country, and despite numerous TV, radio and poster campaigns, people do not seem to understand the importance of preserving their environment. Despite the fact that is is very unsightly, most people seem to think that it is "not their problem".
View of the Temple of Zeus at...
View of the Temple of Zeus at Cyrene (Shah'hat)founded in 631 BC by a group of settlers the Grrrk islands.
Cyrene thus became the leading city of the entire region, until a series of violent revolts in the 2nd century AD brought about its gradual and inevitable decline.
Ahistory enriched by diverse cultural influences and events that live on in the unchanging majesty of the ruined Temple of Zeus and Apollo (sacred to the Delphic oracle), in the Tolemaion, the Theatra, and the monumental Agora and Acropolis.
Meseera El Kubra Street, Off Omar El Mokhtar Street, Tripoli, 10000, Libya
Good for: Solo
When our KLM flight was cancelled on 21 Feb 2011 we were put in the Corinthia Bab Africa Hotel, and...more
Al Fatah Street - The Corniche, Tripoli, Libya
Good for: Business
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