Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


February 20, 2013


I always laughed when people asked me where I was going on my next trip – saying Libya always stopped people in their tracks.

Libya is one of those destinations that most people never visit on their travels.  Luckily enough Oasis Overland (pre the uprisings in North Africa) offered a rather cool Overland trip that went from Tunis to Cairo or if you wanted too you could continue all the way up to Istanbul.  Fingers crossed that this trip might come back some time in the future.

Crossing the border from Tunisia into Libya was an eye opener in the aspect that the Libyan side was rather relaxed – weird really when you see what the media showed on the news each night of Mad Dog Gaddafi.

At the border our tour was provided with an official Libyan Tour Guide and a Police Officer whom would offer protection on our travels.  When we visited Libya in 2010 it was compulsory for all tour companies to have the Libyan Tour Guide and Police Officer, there was no escape. 


Our first stop on our tour was Sabratha and this was my favourite sight that we visited during our time in Libya.  I love mosaic’s and the mosaic’s at Sabratha just blow your mind. 

Are you sick of mosaic’s yet?  Told you I love mosaic’s – I was in my element! 

The Amphitheatre is amazing and you can just imagine that once upon a time gladiators faced ferocious animals and fought to their death.   Nothing like walking onto the stage and pretending to be a gladiator.

The sight is really impressive and in my world is a lot better than Leptis Magna which is where most tourists actually end up visiting.  Sabratha has the best Roman Ruins and incredible mosaic’s.

Much of the city of Sabratha was destroyed by earth quakes, the biggest one was in AD365. 


Our next stop was Ghadamis, a beautiful old oasis town which lies close to the borders of Tunisia and Algeria. 

Ghadamis was really an interesting stop on our itinerary however it was so hot, try 50 degrees Celsius in October and G managed to get a cold.  Only G could do that!

The old town is refreshingly cool and the local people who were moved from the old town to a new modern settlement on the other side of the town move back to take refuge from the unbearable heat in the summer months..

The residents in the old town used to decorate their homes with red dye.

Sand Dunes

As we were in the middle of nowhere we were able to visit some sand dunes for some lovely sunset photos which are always great fun.  And Richard managed to find us a pretty big sand dune to climb and my thighs burned like hell climbing to the top so thanks for that Richard!


A pit stop between Ghadamis and Tripoli was Nalut; a fortified granary which was built on a hilltop to protect their stores from raiding parties. 

We were on an Overland tour so there has to be a toilet photo from Libya and here it is – talk about having a great view!


Now I was looking forward to having a bit of time to do some shopping as food shopping doesn’t count in my world.  The one thing I love about Libya was that there was no bartering, no tipping and everything had a fixed price. 

After camping and staying in a couple of hostels, G and I were happy to be staying in a hotel of sorts.  Our accommodation was organised by our tour company however G did manage to locate the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli so we decided to have a five star dinner which was lovely even though we were five star camping at the time.

I fell in love with Tripoli, everyone is so lovely and friendly.  There was no harassment at all which was what I was expecting. 

I did have a shopping list which contained a Gaddafi watch which of course broke when I got back to the UK.  I purchased a beautiful pair of silver earrings which were made by hand by a little old man down a darkened alley, my one regret – I should have purchased two pairs.  That shopping experience still makes me smile as we didn’t speak a common language however we communicated through smiles and I told him I was from New Zealand and got a big smile.  Smiles make the world go around!

Leptis Magna

This is the stop I was looking forward to the most as all the tourism brochures always showcased this sight the most for Libya and that was what the Libyan government were pushing as they wanted 1 million tourists to visit in 2010.

Leptis Magna was a prominent city in the Roman Empire and it is one of the most impressive Roman Ruins even though in some cases the Ruins have been glued back together.

Our guide told us that the Italians started to try and put the ruins back together like a jigsaw puzzle so now things are in areas where they shouldn’t be.  The funniest thing is when you walk to the sea and you some rather big columns sitting at the seafront where they were left by the fleeing Italians.

The sight doesn’t offer much shade and its rather hot walking around the ruins so you need to take an umbrella and a huge bottle of water.


Our last Roman Ruin was Cyrene on the east side of Libya, by this point I was “Roman Ruined” and G had been “Roman Ruined” before we had even entered Libya.  The sight is pretty good but if you have visited Sabratha and Leptis Magna you will be slightly disappointed.


This was the one place I really wanted to visit, not so much the town however the memorials to the fallen soldiers and there were a lot of New Zealander’s who are buried at the cemetery.

Also in Tobruk is the German War Memorial which is so impressive and beautiful that it took my breath away.  Each name of the fallen solider is shown in Mosaic. 

Obviously things have changed greatly in Libya since I visited in 2010 and to be honest I hope that all the sights that we visited have come through the uprisings unscathed.

On any Overland tour you take photos as you are driving through the ever changing landscape, these are a selection of my photos.

I wasn’t sure if I should put a photo of Gaddafi on this post but have thought this is the country as it was when I visited.  These bill boards were everywhere in Libya.

On our tour in Libya we did a lot of rough camping ie sleeping on the beach where there are no toilet or shower facilities.  This was fine however the beaches are treated like a rubbish tip and there were stray dogs everyone; finding a bush to hide behind only to find puppies taking refuge and then barking in excitement at seeing us which of course alerted mum and dad who were further down the beach.  I have never pulled up my trousers faster than that one night on the beach and running with G as quickly as possible to get away from all the dogs. 

Our last night in Libya we were meant to be rough camping on the beach for the third night in a row however there was a beautiful resort right there on the beach where we were camping. The Libyan tour guide apparently negotiated a rate of USD190 a night – G was adamant that we were staying in the resort and not camping on the beach and that I could get a bargain – try USD60 for the night!  A smile goes a long way when negotiating and I was more than happy to pay USD60 just to have the shower.

If you get a chance to visit Libya I would recommend it as its such an interesting country with all the Roman Ruins along the coast line.

The Libyans are fantastic people and so polite and kind and were always interested on where we were from and where we had visited.  G and I felt safe while we were on our tour bar the one puppy incident where I am sure I almost got rabies in my bottom!


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