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Thursday 3 April

Left for the airport at 6 p.m. Issam (super efficient or annoying?) and the driver went to check us in, then we gave our money to the driver who went off. I had a worried moment thinking that Issam had also disappeared and that it was a scam, but he presently reappeared.

The plane to Sebha was quite narrow. Later we heard of people having terribly rough rides, but thankfully ours was smooth. We ate our emergency snacks on the plane. On arrival in Sebha we had a short drive to the Alam Camp. We stayed in a round white house and had a late dinner sitting outside the restaurant and chatting to Issam, and we began to like him better. Our bedrooms would never make it into Wallpaper – or maybe they would! Padded toilet seats, plastic plants and heavily patterned sheets …

Friday 4 April

Our sleep was too short. We had to beat off the flies whilst eating our no-fibre breakfast. Pottered around the camp and investigated the goats, gazelle, ostriches, hyraxes and chicks. There was also a swimming pool.

Then we set off for Germa Museum where we met the knowledgeable, effusive and impossible to understand Nureddin Mohammed, a very young Libyan archaeologist who had recently discovered another mummified body. His mobile number is 092 898 8097 and he works with David Mattingly at Leicester University.

After the museum we visited Germa itself which is now very ruined and very dusty and crumbly. I suppose one day London will be like that.

Then on to Wat Nat Mausoleum tourist site where Waleed produced lunch for us, which Tim and I enjoyed very much. Boys less keen. We'd asked not to have meat and couscous for every meal. So we got: canned fish, beans, cheese, salad, dates and bananas. Boy was I full! It was very pleasant sitting there in the shade with a gentle breeze blowing and watching little birds who had nested under the huge marquee. A couple of Tuareg gentlemen dressed in indigo blue were selling jewellery …

Then we visited the reconstructed Hatta pyramid tombs. Mysteriously there was a short piece of tarmac with a parking place; maybe an important person once visited?

It was a short distance into the dunes. Our driver, whose name I have since forgotten, was a very jolly chap and knew the dunes like the back of his hand. We would swoop to the top of a crest then perch at the top to admire the view before hurtling down to prepare for the next dune. We finally settled on a spot deep in a dip because the wind was getting up. While our crew cleared away the inevitable rubbish and set up camp, the boys played in the sand and Tim and I walked over to Lake Mandara, which is all but dry. It felt good to stretch our legs. We knew we could follow our footsteps back, but we made sure to be back before dark. A passing pick-up stopped to check if we were OK.

We collapsed by the camp fire, all feeling tired. Unfortunately the wind was getting stronger and poor Waleed the cook was struggling to cook our dinner. The fire kept blowing ash over us and we  couldn't keep sand out of our mouths. Our soup and couscous were delicious, if crunchy (Waleed was a bit upset to have his creation infiltrated by sand), and we went to bed early. But it was very hot in the tent and we couldn't sleep. However, it was clear that outside the wind was getting steadily worse, and we thought if we tried to sleep outside we might get buried in the sand!

Saturday 5 April

I am pretty sure that had we not been in the tents they would have blown away. The crew had difficulty packing up in the gale and visibility was very low. Unfortunately breakfast was produced and we had to eat it sitting in the car. I would have moved somewhere else and then eaten it. Jerome got sand in his eye and was miserable for the rest of the morning. Set off to Lake Umm el Maa (not blue as in the photos!) then across some very big dunes! Jerome suddenly threw up and Justin felt very bad. I gave them SeaLegs at Lake Mavo, which probably stopped them getting any worse. Finally on to Gebraoun. Tim and I walked right around the lake while the boys rested in the shade to recover from their ordeal.

Luckily we took a flatter route back to the camp on the edge of the desert (where Justin had seen one of his school friends the previous day!). Lunch seemed to take ages and we were so hungry. Then we drove back to Alam Camp for showers and a really excellent dinner in the little restaurant there. Unfortunately we had to wait ages at Sebha Airport, but after saying goodbye to Issam, who had been a star, especially with the boys, we got to bed early the following morning after a successful, interesting trip.

Things I should have taken:

Sweets, especially something sharp and sour

A fan


Coffee pot

Scarves to wrap over face when windy

Jerome also suggested various things for Justin which we won't put down here

Suggestion from Issam for another trip

Rock paintings – best weather is in November and February, but it is also busiest. Can be a little warm in October and cold in December. Take the morning flight, sleep in Adat. Spend the second night in Tashwind and return home on the third night.

Published April 2010.

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by Kate Minogue


Published April 2010