Traveling as a Tourist in Libya in 2018
People told me that I was insane to go to Libya at this time, four years into the country’s brutal civil war, at a time where they dont issue tourist visas because of the situation. I had even been denied entry to Tunisia because of my intention of visiting Libya and it was just lucky that I had brought my second passport which I used to get in.
As the Libyan Wings plane got ready for take off the pilot let out three Allahu Akhbars and that was it. There was no going back. The plane took off from Tunis Carthage and I was feeling a mix of uncertainty and exitement.
I was arriving at Mitiga military airport (as the main airport had been destroyed by the war) with a business visa that had cost me over 1000$ in total*, and I was afraid that the immigration was able to spot that I was there for tourism. Luckily they didnt ask a question and just about an hour later I was walking through the streets of Tripoli city center which felt much more safe than I first had anticipated.
Plenty of bullet holes, even on the mosque
I think it was a great time to go. The Black market rate for the dollar was at 6,2 dinars while the official rate was about 1,3dinars. Also the fightings West in Tripoli had stopped just 4 months ago and was now very quite in peaceful. The best part was that there was not a single other tourist in the country, with my guide I had the whole Roman Ruin sites of Sabratha and Leptis Magna to myself.
A bombed bridge on our way to Sabratha.
The ruins of Leptis Magna and Sabratha was some of the most beautiful I have seen in my whole time traveling. Sabratha had been used as a hiding ground for ISIS and could just as well have been destroyed just like the ruins in Syria. The ruins already had a lot of damage from the fightings, like the mortar holes on the walls of the Amphitheater:
I went to Libya with a company called Sherwes travel who organized my visa on the ground and provided an excellent itinerary with a knowledgable guide. I would have reccommended them at the warmest had it only not been for the response I got from their booking agent Ibrahim when asking him if I could stay longer. His answer was downright aggressive saying that if I refused to leave the country after the 4 day tour was finished he would report me to the secret police as being a spy and have me arrested. I left the country after that threat but am sure that I will be back again soon, but then to go to Benghazi and the mountains in the East, which currently works as their own country with their own parlament and visa requirements. Will be interesting.
There were lots of grafitti in Tripoli, including caricarures of Gaddafi
* The official visa fee at the embassy was 300£, but then I also had to pay a 50£ express fee, 350$ handling fee to the a Libyan agent and then another couple of hundred dollars for flights and hotel to arrange my visa in London