Exploring Libya 12 Days | Palace Travel

Exploring Libya 12 Days

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Exploring Libya 12 Days

Libya (Tripoli, Sabratha, Benghazi, Ptolemais, Qasr Libya, Apollonia, Cyrene, Ra’S Hilal, L’Atrun, Leptis Magna, Qsar El Haji, Nalut, Ghadames)

Explore Libya, visit Tripoli, Benghazi, Qasr Libya, Ptolemais , the ancient Roman cities of Apollonia & Cyrene as well as the Byzantine Basillica in L'Atrun

Day 1 Tripoli, Libya

Arrive Tripoli; meet assist and transfer to Hotel.

Meal(s) Included: Dinner

Day 2 Tripoli / Sabratha/Tripoli

Your Libyan experience starts with a tour to Sabratha, located on the Mediterranean coast about a one-hour drive west of Tripoli. In Roman times, the Tripolitania Province had three cities, Leptis Magna, and Oea (now the modern Tripoli) and Sabratha. Among all the coastal sites, Sabratha stands out as the most beautiful. A World Heritage Site, Sabratha was founded by the Canaanites in the 6th century B.C. and ruled by Carthage, Phoenicia, Numedia and then by Rome in 46 B.C.

The most spectacular site in Sabratha is the theatre, built during the reign of the Emperor Commodus (161-192 A.D.) with its three-story backdrop of columns, it remains in use today as an arena for both theatre and concerts. Other monuments and areas of interest include the Temple of Liber Pater, the Basilica of Justinian, the Capitolium, the Temple of Serapis, the Temple of Hercules and the Temple of Isis. After a day spent immersed in history of the region, return to Tripoli in the afternoon.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 Tripoli & Benghazi

This morning you will take a tour of Tarabalus Al-Gharb (Tripoli in Arabic), which was founded by the Phoenicians in 1000 B.C. and was conquered by the Romans in 106 B.C.

The entrance to Jamahiriya Museum is on Green Square, inside the Red Castle. Built in consultation with UNESCO, this National Antiquity Museum deals with the archaeology and ancient history of Libya. It covers Phoenician, Greek and Roman periods and has an expanding collection on the Islamic period. After lunch, take a walk in the district built during the Italian occupation to see the characteristic architecture of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Later in the afternoon we take a short flight to Benghazi, the second largest city in Libya. A military supply base during World War II. Benghazi was the headquarters of the Italian forces during their occupation of Libya from 1911 to 1943. Upon arrival, you’ll be transferred to your deluxe hotel. This evening enjoy a typical Libyan dinner at a local restaurant.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 Benghazi / Ptolemais / Qasr Libya / Apollonia

A morning drive along the coastal road takes you to Ptolemais, the former capital of Pentapolis. Named after Ptolemy III and originally a Hellenistic mercantile city, Ptolemais was founded during the 3rd century B.C. where its importance eventually increased following the acquisition of Cyrenaica by the Romans in 96 A.D. Ptolemais enjoyed the prosperity that characterized this era of the Roman Empire and as a result extensive public works programs were put into place for the upscale citizenry of this flourishing city. During the 3rd-century A.D., following a decline of nearby Cyrene, Ptolemais became the capital city of the region. Like Cyrene, it suffered the earthquake of 365 A.D. which was followed by a period of reconstruction. In the 6th-century A.D., Apollonia became the capital of Upper Libya, when the water supply system of Ptolemais failed. Ptolemais’ death knell tolled at the Arab conquest of Cyrenaica in the 7th-century A.D. Continue through the pleasant Green Mountains to Qasr Libya, where you’ll visit an interesting museum that houses more than 50 pieces of mosaic artifact fragments dating back to the 6th century A.D. The collection of mosaics is considered one of the worlds finest and, intriguingly, depicts pagan subjects as well as human and animal figures. One panel depicts the Pharaoh Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Your new hotel, Al Manara, is a few steps from the site in Apollonia. You will stay here for the next two nights, alongside the beautiful Mediterranean beach.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 Apollonia & Cyrene

Explore the site of Apollonia and the traditional village of Sousa. Here your visit includes a detailed viewing of the Greek Theatre, situated in a particularly picturesque location by the sea. The Roman baths, the Eastern, Central and Western Basilicas, and the Byzantine Palace, which served as a government building in the 6th-century A.D. will also be visited. Established in the 7th-century B.C., Apollonia was the port of Cyrene, and remained so for more than a millennium. Its importance was such that it remained autonomous of Cyrene during the Roman period and even surpassed it as the major city of the region in the 6th-century A.D. Built on a series of levels, the spectacular ruins of Cyrene are only partially excavated and, as you walk, you may actually discover a mosaic or statue appearing from beneath the sand. Starting from the top of the hills, you will visit the Agora quarter with the gymnasium, forum, Roman basilica, the Temple of Demetra and Batthus Tomb. Following a narrow path, you will descend to the Temple of Apollo, the principal building of Cyrene. The temple was built as early as 7th-century B.C. and rebuilt three centuries later. Nearby lies the Fountain of Apollo, whose water was used for its healing properties. The Great Baths are in exceptional condition and inside the Grand Hall, the pipes carrying water from the Fountain of Apollo are still visible. The amphitheatre is Roman, but its foundations and style are Greek.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 Ra’S Hilal / L’Atrun / Tripoli

This morning you will drive through some of the coast’s most spectacular scenery, visiting two atmospheric churches located by the sea, Ra’s Hilal and L’Atrun.

The early Christian site of Ra’s Hilal has a three-nave church, situated on one of the most spectacular spots on the coast and at the often overlooked site of L’Atrun, you’ll have the chance to see a superb Byzantine basilica where the original marble floor remains intact and the Corinthian columns which have crosses carved into them.

After lunch return to Benghazi for our flight to Tripoli, where you will stay for the next three nights.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 Tripoli

Continue your exploration of Tripoli this morning on a tour of the city. The many historic mosques and the lively medina (walled city) display features typical of Afro-Mediterranean towns.

There are a number of interesting mosques in the old town and you will visit the best known, the elegant Gurgi Mosque, first constructed in 1833. Other points of interest are the Arch of Marcus Aurelius and the residence of the Karamanli family where you will see handicrafts and traditional clothing. You’ll also visit Santa Maria degli Angeli church, the oldest church in Tripoli, which is today used as an exhibition hall.

A unique feature to Tripoli’s architecture, when walking through the medina, it is typical to come across Roman columns which have been reused as building material. The medina in Tripoli is one of the classical sites of the Mediterranean where the basic street plan was laid down in the Roman period when the walls were constructed and has changes little in the interim period.

Late this afternoon stroll through the souks, which provide the best shopping in the city. As still only few tourists visit Libya, the souk is authentic as it gets and caters to local tastes. North African handicrafts include silver and gold jewelry, silks, carpets, rugs, pottery and items made from camel skin. Most places have fixed prices, and the souks are wonderful places to see weavers, coppersmiths, leatherworkers and jewelers ply their trades.

In the afternoon, you’ll have the rare treat to be welcomed for tea at a private home in Tripoli. This is a unique opportunity and experience that most visitors find very interesting and educational.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 Tripoli / Leptis Magna

The highlight of any journey to Libya is visiting the renowned World Heritage Site of Leptis Magna, world famous as the best-preserved and most extensive Roman city in the Mediterranean.

Originally a Berber settlement made into a trading port by the Phoenicians, it was conquered in the 6th-century B.C. under the aegis of Carthage. The port city grew wealthy from slaves, gold, ivory and precious metals, as well as by the rich agricultural land surrounding it.

Leptis Magna became a great metropolis under the Romans, particularly during the reign of Septimus Severus (193-211 A.D.), who was born in the city. Following the end of the Severan Dynasty in 235 A.D., the city fell into decline. When the Vandals conquered Tripolitania in the mid 5th-century A.D., it fell upon the Emperor Justinian to reclaim the land for Byzantium. In the 7th-century the Arabs conquered Tripolitania and Leptis Magna never regained its former glory. By the 11th-century the city was abandoned to the encroaching sand dunes.

In the 20th-century, when serious excavations began, archaeologists found that the sand dunes had preserved the ruins remarkably well. You’ll see the Severan Arch, erected in honor of the Emperor’s visit, and the marble and granite paneled Hadrianic Baths, the largest outside of Rome. Discover the partially covered nymphaeum, a shrine dedicated to the worship of nymphs, the Palaestra or Sports Ground. You’ll also see the amazingly detailed Severan Basilica, the Theatre, and the Circus and Amphitheatre, where spectacles were held for the amusement of the populace.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 Tripoli / Qsar El Haji / Nalut / Ghadames

Today you’ll head south to the Saharan oasis of Ghadames, the jewel of the desert. En route, you will stop at Qsar el Haji to visit one of the most beautiful and well-preserved Berber granaries. Continue high into the Nafusa Mountains to the “ghost town” of Nalut. Offering insights into the traditional Berber lifestyle as they were until Libya discovered oil, Nalut shows what life was like before villagers moved from caves to concrete structures. Located on an escarpment reached by a series of hairpin bends, Nalut is the site of a fascinating grain store, some 300 years old, and offers a beautiful panorama of the plains below. After a tour of Nalut, we head further south towards the immense Sahara Desert. You’ll arrive in Ghadames early in the evening and check into your hotel.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 Ghadames

Described as the “Pearl of the Desert,” Ghadames is an attractive oasis town on the edge of the Sahara near the border with Algeria. Settled in prehistoric times and a major port of call for the traders and pilgrims en route to Mecca, it was also once the southern outpost of the Roman Empire, although there is now little evidence other than tombs. Your first stop will be at the cultural Museum which is located inside a Turkish fortress. Afterwards, take a walk inside the old town, amazingly picturesque and notable for its “cake and icing” architecture and its labyrinthine streets. Your visit will end at a traditional house, richly decorated in local style, where lunch will be served. At sunset, weather permitting, you’ll travel into the desert in 4×4 vehicle to watch the sand dunes change from hues of gold to blazing red. Located within the desert are about 10,000 Tuareg nomads, notable for the fact that men and not women are the ones who wear veils. The blue dye used in the veils and clothing of nobles frequently transfers to the skin, causing the Tuareg to be known as “blue men.” Marriage is monogamous, and Tuareg women enjoy high status; inheritance is through the female line, and it is usual that women can read and write the Berber Tifinagh script. Enjoy tea and a special performance of traditional music and dance before returning to your hotel for dinner.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11 Ghadames / Tripoli

After the Saharan experience, proceed to Kabaw, a village full of antiquated houses that give a glimpse into how life was once lived in the region. You will also visit the ghurfas, grain stores built by the local Berbers, located at the very top of the village. In older days, grain was almost as important to protect as water which explains the prime real estate these ghurfas enjoy. After a picnic lunch, you will visit the pottery market at Gharian before your return to Tripoli, arriving late afternoon. In the evening you will enjoy a festive dinner party with your fellow travelers to reminisce about your incredible journey through Libya.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12 Depart Tripoli

Today you will be taken to the Tripoli airport for your flight home or on to your next destination.

Meal(s) Included: Breakfast

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES

  • Meeting and assistance upon arrival and departure
  • Roundtrip airport/hotel transfers
  • Hotel accommodation in the listed properties
  • Transportation in private vehicle
  • Experienced tour guide
  • Admission to listed sites
  • Meals indicated

TOUR PRICE DOESN'T INCLUDE

  • Flights
  • Cost of visa
  • Meals not listed
  • Travel Insurance
  • Gratuity to driver and guide
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