Hints for tourists of Libya
Formalities for entry:
Individual travelers have to bring along enough national currency upon entry, which does not apply for the booking of holiday packages. Furthermore you have to register at the agency for passports within a certain time, which is usually arranged by the hotel you are staying in for a little fee.
As children’s identity cards are not accepted, you should issue passports for your kids.
The Libyan Denarius is the official medium of exchange and may not be exported or imported. 1 Libyan Denarius = 1.000 Dirham. Non-Libyan foreign exchange has to be stated and it is only allowed to export just the amount of foreign currency, which was stated at entry.
Embargoes on imports:
It is not allowed to import pork or alcohol.
I experienced different handling times in the processing for a visa. These vary from 3 months to 4 days (after intervention and full personal activity of my favored travel agency). For this reason I recommend to apply for your visa 2 months in advance. The formalities should be handled by a travel agency of your choice. Since a particular stamp (which is only available at the Libyan embassy) and a translation are required for the visa, there is a chance, that notable fees are going to be imposed. The exact amount is variable.
If you have ever been to the United States of America or Israel, your passport probably contains a reference to the visa for these countries. In this case, the journey to Libya can already be ended at the border from the officials. Therefore I highly recommend issuing a new passport without the reference to the visa for the USA and Israel. As far as I know, other countries do not imply any problems.
Escort agency (agent):
Sounds worse than it actually mostly is. Because Libya wants to avoid mass tourism, secure their own interests and officially wants to protect tourists in case of an emergency, there is a possibility, that a group of travelers is accompanied by an executive agent (government). Since they do not want the travelers to feel supervised, the agent, who attends the group, often undertakes a task in the team (in our case he was once the cook and once a driver). However there is absolutely nothing to fear about this agent! If contrary to expectations problems emerge, the attendant can interfere, too.
Booking exclusively with Libyan travel agencies
One problem for many individual travelers is the Libyan demand, that you may only visit the country, if your journey was booked and processed by a Libyan travel agency. This is a condition of the government, who wants take in money on the one hand in order to boost the economy in this area, on the other hand mass tourism should be avoided. Of course this results in having an “attendant on board” as already said above and secondly the closely calculated travelling budget can eventually be charged by the travel agency’s price expectations, which are partly not quite optimistic.
As photographer you get your money worth (excellent photos of landscapes and motifs are numerous). All the more annoying it is, if you are restrained in your hobby. Even if it is not handled as strictly as in the past, you will nevertheless have to face the fact, that taking pictures is forbidden in some places. Furthermore you should ask in any case for the inhabitants‘consent for photographing them their selves or their property.
In Libya summer can sometimes be very hot and winter quite moderate. In general the best time for traveling is in spring from March to May. Preceding are temperatures around 5-15 degrees Celsius and afterwards between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius. Clothes should be chosen according to these temperatures.
If there a trip to the desert is planed, it is recommended to pack windproof and warm clothes, since you are exposed to partly extreme fluctuation of temperature. Minus degrees at night and scorching heat with over 30 degrees Celsius at day and tempestuous winds are definitely realistic.
Although Libya is quite liberal for an Arabian country, especially as a woman you should keep in mind, that your clothes are “decent”. ;-) The visit of some sites can be refused, if too much skin can be seen. Also on a walk through town or on a shopping tour you should not stroll through the streets only dressed with your beach-outfit. With covered thighs and shoulders there actually should not be any problems.
CET (e.g. German time) plus one hour. I.e. at 09:00 o’clock in Germany it is already 10:00 o’clock in Libya.
During the fasting month Ramadan (November ends with the feast Eid al-Fitr, which can last a few day depending on the region), which is preceding the holiday Eid al-Fitr, Muslims do not eat during day, but rather after sunset. Many restaurants are therefore closed by day.
During the fasting month Ramadan you should better desist from eating, drinking and smoking in public. Selling and serving alcohol is generally not allowed in Libya, 1969 a general prohibition was enacted. Moreover a non-Muslim is normally not allowed to enter a mosque or a madrasah, in which the Friday sermon is still given.
September 1st is a national holiday. Stores could be closed on this day.
Following diseases can occur in Libya:
- Intestinal infections due to contaminated edibles and water
- Hepatitis A and B
- Kala Azar-disease – nationwide occurrences
- Infantile paralysis, Polio
Following immunizations are recommended:
- Diphtheria - (also important in your homeland).
- Hepatitis A and B - (also important in your homeland).
- Infantile paralysis, Polio - (also important in your homeland).
- Tetanus - (also important in your homeland).
- Hydrophobia - (also important in your homeland).
- Typhus – only for travelers, who can encounter contaminated water or edibles.
- For Libya following immunization is obligatory: For every person, who is older than one year and enters from a region with yellow fever infection, which is designated by the WHO, there is compulsory vaccination against affection with yellow fever.