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  #1  
Old 21 Jan 2002
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Libyan visas

Sahara-overland.com states that Libyan visas are very difficult to obtain and you should go to Algeria instead! However, perseverance has paid off and I (we) have found a relatively simple way to obtain independent travel visas for Libya.

You do indeed need at least 4 people to make your initial application but it seems that these people do not need to travel together or even at the same time. If you really wanted you could probably make up another 2 names although it would be rather expensive.

Anne and I met 2 other Libya potential tourists through this forum and decided to apply as a 4. We contacted Arkno Tours in Libya, and dealt with Jamal Fteis, jamal@arkno.com, www.arkno.8m.com.
tel 00218 21 441452
fax 00218 21 3330530
mobiel 00218 91 214 0262

If you go to their web site then they have all the details that they require for you to send for a letter of application. They don’t request Nationality or sex but I included both anyway. Nationality is needed.

Arkno charge $100 per person for the letter and $200 for paperwork at the border when you cross.

10 days after sending our details I received a scanned copy of the letter of invitation from Jamal. During this time I called him a couple of times from the UK and found him available and helpful. Phone connections were not a problem. I had the letter translated by a friend of mine and it was very normal. They seemed to get my wife’s nationality wrong, but it did not hinder anything later.

With the letter I then contacted Kalifa Hamed at Visa and Translating Services in London. He was very helpful and friendly also. His contact details are :-
Britannia House
1-11 Glenthorne Road
Hammersmith
London
W6 0LH
Tel: 020 87489898
Fax: 020 87484250
Mob: 0786 0620078
hamed@btinternet.com

He posted up some visa application forms and said that he could get the visas for us. All 4 of us used him. Another option was Thames Consular who didn’t seem to have a clue and didn’t even recognise my invitation letter when I faxed it to them.

As I live in Aberdeen it is fairly difficult to get translation stamps in passports etc so I decided to use Hamed for everything. He stamped, translated, applied for and dealt with everything for me and posted our passports back for £100 each. Sounds a lot but he provided a good service.

Our visas took 3 weeks to get but that was over Christmas and New Year and it usually takes 2 weeks apparently. The other couple were in more of a hurry and were in London at the time and Hamed dealt with theirs within a week i.e. Monday start and complete by Friday! Cost was more but I don’t know how much.

The other couple have now crossed into Libya successfully and are in Tripoli. They reported no problems at the border. An Arkno man met them and dealt with everything with minimum fuss. There was no search, no money changing necessary and it was over in an hour. They have not had to take a guide and it seems do not have to for the time being.

We will be setting off ourselves in a couple of weeks, if we get our passports back from the Sudanese Embassy, and hope things go as smoothly.

If you’re out there Charles and Jo, hi, and let us know how you’re getting on.

I hope this helps those that want to but were finding it difficult. Any further info needed, get in touch

Happy travels

Jasper


[This message has been edited by Jasper (edited 04 February 2002).]

[This message has been edited by Jasper (edited 04 February 2002).]
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  #2  
Old 21 Jan 2002
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Thanks for the news - quite a palarver but you got them - and no guide looks promising.
I hope I'm wrong, but Sudanese visas are actually much more difficult for Brits...
Let us know if you get them soon.

Chris S
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  #3  
Old 23 Jan 2002
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Thanks for e-mails on Libyan visas. Sorry for wrong Arkno address! It is actually www.arkno.8m.com.

Most people seem interested in guide situation. Although Jo and Charles have reported none required so far, I will also confirm when we get there.

The other couple were in a 4x4 BTW.

Jasper

[This message has been edited by Jasper (edited 23 January 2002).]

[This message has been edited by Jasper (edited 23 January 2002).]
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Old 23 Jan 2002
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I have just heard back from two guys in Ndjamena:

One Brit, One Kiwi, Sudanese visas, 3 hours...

funny old world,
Sam.
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  #5  
Old 23 Jan 2002
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Jasper, the adress was okee.
Tim
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  #6  
Old 2 Feb 2002
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Jasper - good to hear you got your visa successfully.

Obviously, agree totally with your account of how to get a visa. For other people's benefit, we paid Hamed 130 GBP per visa for a five day service (which included New Year's Day as one of the days!).

We can confirm that you definitely don't need a guide in Libya. After using Arkno to get us across the border, which we would recommend, we have travelled without problem on our own virtually the whole time.

The only bureaucracy we have encountered is the need to re-register with the police within five days. We ended up doing it on our own in Tripoli but most of the hotels should do it for you, so long as you're staying long enough (which we weren't). To DIY, get a taxi to the passport office (ask for the Jawazat) as it's impossible to find on your own. You get two copies of two forms (i.e. 4 bits of paper) from the little hut at the front gate (1 Dinar - probably not required), have the forms filled in by a guy who sits under a tree outside the main building (2 Dinar - probably too much) and have your passports stamped in the office up the stairs round the side of the large building (5 Dinar - definitely right!). You can also get the registration done in Ghadames if you are going straight there and probably most other major towns.

After going to Leptis Magna on the north coast we headed to Ghadames slowly via Gharyan and Nalut. We then crossed the Hamada al Hamra from Derj to Idri (L1) on our own. We didn't see another vehicle the first day but saw a couple of local cars on the second. We went on to the lakes (L3) and should probably have taken Chris' advice and taken a guide here as this was our first real session in the dunes. However, despite 3 hours of digging, we made it round the circuit and felt elated on our return. With a night at Un El Ma lake, this has been a highlight of our trip. Also went to Wadi Mathendous (L4) alone and saw no other tourists. We asked the guy at the museum about permits and he sold us two tickets for 6 Dinar. You definitely don't need these. When asked for our permit at Km 128, these didn't wash. The police seemed to suggest that we needed a permit from Germa police but they let us through anyway.

The only place we have used a guide was in a tour of the Akakus from Ghat and you do need both guide and permit here. There are numerous control posts in the mountains, and as Chris says, you won't find the sites without a guide. We did a three day circuit with a guide from Awiss tours, based at Mohammed's campsite in the book. Fantastic landscape and I think we saw all the highlights but four days would have been more comfortable. Awiss Tours are a family of Toureg who clearly know the area well and entertained us royally. Camel tours appear to be their speciality. Our only gripe was that our guide, Shierk, the youngest brother, wouldn't shut up and given he had 20 words of mixed European languages and we have 10 of Arabic he got irritating pretty quickly.

We are now back in Sabha about to head to El Gatrun and see if we can get across the Marlboro piste to Niger. A number of people have warned us about the safety of this area and told us about German tourists being robbed recently at Waw en Namus by Tubbu bandits. However, it is likely that this is the attack at Djabo we read about on this site, but we will continue to keep our ears to the ground.

There are very few tourists in Libya at the moment. We have seen two other independent tourist cars and a couple of other European tour groups but that is it in over two weeks! Libya, however, is fantastic and the people are incredibly friendly and scenery spectacular. We're missing and are bloody cold at night but it's a small price to pay.

Charles
joandcharles@hotmail.com
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Old 3 Feb 2002
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Hi there in Libya, what the exchange rate these days? I hear its not as good as it was.

Chris S
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Old 30 Mar 2002
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We are now in Libya, its amazing what a valid visa can do!! For this sorry tale see our website in a week or so. Be warned, Libyan visas are valid for 45 days from issue, not 3 months, as we were told.

We met the Arkno man, Nasser Deeb, at Ras Adjir yesterday morning. He had requested us to be there at 1000 hours, to avoid Friday prayer, an early start but worth it.

We passed out of Tunisia without the almost 30 minute wait for Customs of 3 weeks ago, and met Nasser. The Libyan crossing has changed just in the three weeks since our last visit. Last time they were building new booths and this time they were using the lanes but not the booths, but it will be soon.

Nasser had already filled in our paperwork, passports were stamped and Customs was a 2 second wave of the hand.

We then had a half hour wait for the Carnet, insurance and plates. We have a Carnet but decided not to waste time trying to use this. Nasser turned up with everything in order and we left the border.

Leaving Tunisia and entering Libya took an hour altogether. It helped it was Friday. It didn't help that this was accomplished in a serious sand storm.

We followed Nasser to Sabratha, he wanted to leave the border area, and sat and talked about our tour of Libya. He listened to what we wanted to do, and seems very helpful. Due to our now late running, we will probably only 'do' the main touristy bits, but include Dirj to Idri. Nasser suggests a guide for this, but it is not compulsory.

Otherwise, I can only confirm what Jo and Charles said. We are on our own, no currency declaration was necessary and it does not look like we will need a compulsory guide for any of our trip.

The USD 200 we paid to Arkno for the border crossing included all documentation, there was no further money to pay. I can only recommend Arkno fully, they have been very helpful, Jamal did his best on our first border attempt, and their help has proved extremely beneficial.

Exchange rate in Tripoli hotel USD1=LD1.53
Ben Ghadarm USD1=LD1.5 best rate

Jasper

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Old 30 Mar 2002
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Thanks for your report Jasper. I'll update things on the site.
Glad to hear Libya's come back online - until their next strop...

Chris S
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