Updated April 2022
Peace may have broken out but, for a tourist, Libya remains the least safe country in North Africa.
Last trouble-free transit in 2014. More here (see last post).
Some information below predates the current situation.
You get about 1.65 LYD to a Euro.
Price of fuel
Along with Egypt and Algeria, fuel in Libya was about as cheap as it got in the Sahara. Petrol was about 0.20D/litre dinars. Diesel 0.15 LD/litre. Now, with production collapsed and much of it smuggled abroad, it may not be so cheap.
World fuel prices.
With the business visa costs, Libya was not so cheap and is now doubtless expensive as some take advantage of the upheaval.
Useful languages Arabic and English. Road signs names are in Arabic but the distance numbers are in Roman (‘English’) script. Nevertheless it helps to learn the ten cardinal Arabic numerals (right, read from left to right, unlike Arabic script).
Rather like Russia, ‘Business visas’ are the only way to get in and cost from €250 with an ‘invitation’ supplied. The visa could be authorised from as little as ten days after submission at an embassy (possible extra fee) and be available at the Ras Adjir border, though it might be considered more of a ‘collection’ with an authorisation in advance. Last heard, with a ‘business visa’ you didn’t need an escort to transit the coast route between Tunisia and Egypt, but with several checkpoints run by different militias, it’s probably a very good idea unless you speak Arabic.
Border costs – all from the old days
- €250 visa / person
- From 6LD a fortnight for insurance
- 150LD’ fixed charge’ per car. Motorcycle 75LD
- 70LD to rent an Arabic number plate with a refund at the other end
- Around €35 / day for the guide in your car
Libya is no longer listed on foreign carnets and the local permit is not available. So that’s one less document needed but were you going right across Africa you may as well get carnet. Finding a reliable Libyan tour operator used to be tricky but was getting better. almuheettours.net have been recommended, as have tidwa.com. The transparent temehu.com web page inspires confidence too. All the websites are there at this update, but you wonder if they’re still doing business.
Border formalities used to be show green form and passport the rent number plate and buy local carnet and insurance at another hanger further up. Allow at least two hours. You can change money at the kiosk in the hanger or use the ATM. Accounts from February 2013 and October 2013 and December 2013.
Desert pistes Plenty to see but nothing doing nor likely to change soon: the south of Libya has become like north Mali; a haven for jihadists and smugglers. The main area of interest was the fabulous Fezzan in the southwest, and particularly the amazing Akakus mountains east of Ghat (rock paintings, sadly nearly all vandalised by a local in 2009). The engravings at Wadi Mathendous were also worth a visit. The piste over to the mosquito-ridden crater at Waw el Namus was also popular, as was a visit to the dune lakes in the erg between Ubari and Idri.
Eastern Libya was a bit more off the map but this whole area has not seen tourists since 2010 and won’t for years to come.