Day 1 Tripoli
Highlights: Algeria Square and Martyrs Square.
Arrive Tripoli. Transfer to hotel. Short walking tour in modern Tripoli including Algeria Square with its imposing mosque converted from a cathedral, and Martyrs Square, the hub of Tripoli.
Day 2 Tripoli
Highlights: National Museum and the Tripoli old city.
A full day sightseeing in Libya’s capital city, known as the ”White Bride of the Mediterranean”. In the morning, we visit the wonderful National (Jamahiriya) Museum which includes one of the finest collections of statuary and mosaics in the world. The walled old town of Tripoli encloses, arguably, the most charming medina in all of North Africa. After lunch in an old town restaurant, we’ll explore the warren of streets and alleyways, including the bustling souks, each devoted to a different trade, the historic house of the 18th century governor Karamanli, the Karamanli Mosque, the 16th century Dragut Mosque, burial place of the famous pirate of that name, the 19th century Gorgi Mosque, the 18th century former British Consulate, the former Turkish Prison, now a school, St. George’s Orthodox Church, the 19th century Ottoman clock tower and the sole surviving building of Roman Oea, the 2nd century Arch of Marcus Aurelius.
Day 3 Janzour – Sabratha – Tripoli
Highlights: Roman Theatre of Sabratha and the Tomb paintings of Janzour.
We leave Tripoli for the day, heading west along the coastal road to Janzour where we visit the Janzour Museum and go underground to see the catacombs with their tomb paintings. We continue to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sabratha, originally founded in the 4th century BC. It later fell under Greek influence before Rome took hold in the 1st century AD. The most spectacular monument is the Theatre, featuring 108 Corinthian columns rising to a height of twenty metres above the stage. Below the stage you will see marble friezes depicting mythological figures including, inter alia, the Three Graces, the Judgement of Paris and the Nine Muses. We also see the Punic Mausoleum of Bes, the Temple of Antoninus, the Temple of Zeus, the Court of Justice and the great Roman Forum.
Day 4 Qasr Al-Haj – Nalut – Ghadames
Highlights: Centuries and the old Berber qasrs of Qasr al-Haj and Nalut.
Today, we leave Tripoli and drive into the Berber heartland of the Jabal Nafusa.Our first stop will be at Qasr al-Haj to visit the most beautiful Berber granary qasr (castle) in Libya, and it’s no wonder that Dan Cruickshank chose this imposing 13th century fortress, circular in build, as one of ”The World’s 80 Greatest Treasures” in his recent BBC TV series. We continue to Nalut to visit another Berber qasr situated on the edge of an escarpment. This impressive granary castle, with its narrow passageways, is of a different design to that of Qasr al-Haj. We continue to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ghadames, known as the ”Jewel of the Sahara”, where we stay for two nights.
Day 5 Ghadames
Highlights: Ghadames Old Town, Lunch in a Traditional House and the Sand Dunes of the Grand Erg.
Entering via the ancient gateway of Bab al-Burr, today we explore the labyrinthine streets and enclosed passages of Ghadames’ old town, once inhabited by the tribes of the Bani Wazid and the Bani Walid. Renowned for its distinctive architecture, we visit the various small squares, the old mosque and a madrasa (Koranic school), see the fruit and vegetable gardens and view the ancient system of irrigation. Lunch will be taken in a richly decorated traditional house in the age-old manner, sitting on the floor eating from commmunal dishes. We climb on to the roof of the house to see where the women, forbidden to wander the streets alone, would use the rooftops as a thoroughfare.
We also visit Ghadames museum with its historical and ethnographic displays. Later in the afternoon, we climb aboard four-wheel drive vehicles to visit Ras al-Ghoul (Summit of the Ghost), the remains of an ancient Roman fort before heading for the sand dunes of the Grand Erg Oriental, bordering the countries of Libya, Algeria and Tunisia to watch the sunset.
Day 6 Kabow – Tormisa – Gharyan – Leptis Magna
Highlights: Kabow qasr, Abandoned village of Tormisa, Troglodyte house of Gharyan.
Leaving Ghadames, head back into the Jabel Nafusa to visit another ancient qasr at Kabow before driving to the abandoned village of Tormisa with its stunning clifftop views. Continue to Gharyan to visit a troglodyte house and the pottery stalls for which the town is famous. Road mileage today: 570kms
Day 7 Leptis magna – Villa sileen – Tripoli
Highlights: Leptis Magna Theatre, Amphitheatre, Baths, Imperial Forum, Market and Villa Sileen.
Full day excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Leptis Magna, the largest and best-preserved Roman city in the world that came to prominence in the 2nd century AD under its native son, the Emperor Septimus Severus. Following his reign, the city fell into decline until revived by the Emperor Justinian in the 5th century AD at which time it fell under Byzantine rule. The vast site is truly spectacular: the sites include the triumphal Arch of Septimus Severus, the Hadrianic Baths complex, the Palaestra (Athletics Ground), the Nymphaeum (Temple of Nymphs), the huge Imperial Forum, the Basilica, the Arches of Tiberius and Trajan, the Theatre with its beautiful backdrop against the Mediterranean Sea, the Sanctuary of the Divine Emperors, and the Market with its unique kiosks which, at the time of construction, were a groundbreaking design in the Roman world. In the eastern section of Leptis Magna we will see the Circus and enormous Amphitheatre with seating for over 15,000 spectators. We will visit the vast arena, and see the gladiators’ anterooms and animal enclosures. En route back to Tripoli, if open a visit will be made to the 2nd century Villa Sileen, the home of a wealthy Byzantine that was discovered in 1974. The wall paintings portray scenes such as gladiatorial combat and chariot racing while the mosaics display river scenes that include sea nymphs, birds and animals. Picnic/lunch box for lunch. Road mileage today: 280kms
Day 8 Tripoli – Tripoli airport
Last day for shopping and at leisure until transfer to the airport.