The current Ubari Lakes are a group of about 20 lakes, set amidst the landscape of towering dunes and palm fringed oases of the Ubari Sand Sea. To reach these Ubari Lakes, tourists usually drive to Sabha, then from Sabha to Tkerkiba, where an excellent camping site is used as the base to explore the lakes as well as Wadi Matkhandouch. The depth of the lakes, according to one Libyan diving centre, varies from seven meters deep (as in Gabroun) to 32 meters deep (Ain al-Dibbanah, near Ghadames). Some of these lakes are slowly drying out, owing to drought and artificial drainage of underground resources. The lakes are salty, and swimming here is a buoyant experience.
Most of the lakes of the Libyan interior are highly carbonated, enabling swimmers to easily float without exerting any effort. The content of salt is rather high: nearly five times saltier than seawater. Some of the lakes are home for a harmless tiny red shrimp-like creatures that thrive in the shallow waters of the lake, which the Tuareg grind into a paste and use for making cakes. Although the lakes are splendid places by day, resist the temptation to sleep there by night as mosquito swarms are an unpleasant feature.
Among the most picturesque lakes are:
Lake Gaberoun: that’s one of the largest lakes of the Ubari, measuring about 300 meters. There is an abandoned village with palm trees fans out from the western shore, and the wall of sand rising precipitously up from the southern bank is one of the highest in the ubari region.
Lake Umm al-Maa: the Mother of the Water is magnificent narrow, elongated stretch of water surrounded by closely packed palm trees, and with a backdrop of perfectly sculpted sand dune.
Lake Mandara: is running out of water, but its renowed for the changing colour of its water. From brilliant shades of green, and from blue to red, depending on the time of the day.
There are two more beautiful lakes which are rarely visited by tourists.
These are: Umm al-H’isan, also spelt as Oum El Hassan, located north of Gaberoun, and at-Tarhouna, about 11km from Umm al-H’isan.