Visiting Libya in 2021: my 195th and last Country in the World!

Libya! Once one of the richest country in Africa, thanks to endless supplies of oil. And like many other oil countries would agree, wherever there is oil, there is trouble. Nothing could be further from the truth in the troubled north-African nation, which has been embroiled in Civil wars since the Arab Spring 10 years prior. I had waited since 2011 to enter Libya, with small windows opening once in a while. I had never managed to enter, and every time I seemed ready to go, more bad news would strike the country once again, spiraling to never ending chaos. \

Some might already know that I am a big fan of north African countries. In fact, I often say that they are my favorite Arab countries, along with Lebanon. Knowing Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia all reserved the same kind of culture, hospitality and amazing food, I knew I would have a great time in Libya. If only it was easier to make it there.

Bad luck… Until I finally made it

I don’t believe in luck, or even bad luck, but Libya really felt to me like I was hitting bad luck after bad luck. First, the bombing of Mitiga airport in 2019 resulted in the cancelation of my trip just a week prior. Then Covid happened a few weeks later and all borders closed. After a long wait, I had 2 failed attempts to secure a visa between April and June 2021, and so many failed variables on the table which I wouldn’t want to bore you with the details. At my final try at getting the precious visa, it took me 2 months, to finally be able schedule a flight. I couldn’t believe I had made it, at last! And finally, on the day before my flight, the government announced a full lockdown because of high Covid cases in the country, canceling the trip once again… I had actually pictured this to happen, and it did… I’m usually a lucky guy in life, but this time, it was just full blown defeats after defeats… And the, like a miracle, I finally managed to fly on the day the lockdown ended, on a standby seat, to finally step in my final country left for me in the world, my 195/195th country recognized by the united nations, and completing my visit of all the countries in the World.

General Haftar’s Threat

Libya was still in a very tense situation. General Haftar had retreated for a few months, back to the east. But there were imminent threats of him taking back his weapons and Libyans told me it is a matter of time until he attacks the capital Tripoli once more. This was my chance to go, a small window was opens, Even though covid cases were at their strongest since the beginning of the pandemic. But I knew that I couldn’t miss my chance once again, as war could strike again at any time…

Leptis Magna

I was happily impressed with the country. I dreamed of visiting Leptis Magna for years, the mighty ancient roman city located 120km from Tripoli. And it felt amazing to finally being able to experience it. It was like the cherry on the Sunday, once of the lat important romaine ruins left for me to see in the world. I also visited the mountain area near Tunisia, where we had suffocating temperatures of over 47 degrees Celsius! It is so dry in this part of the country that hardly anything grows (as you can see on the picture on top of this article).

Ancient Sabratha was also interesting, with its Phoenician and roman ruins. Not as impressive as Leptis Magna, but definitely undervalued internationally. It accounts for a good afternoon exploring the site. The new town of Sabratha is kind of developed, and was a stronghold for the rebels just a year prior to my visit, when it was captured by general Haftar troops. Pretty much every building on the main road is crippled with bullet holes. I had the feeling locals didn’t bother renovating the damage as they knew the war wasn’t over and more fighting was most probably on the menu in a near future.

Friendly locals, in need for peace

Libyans are friendly, this is the least I can say. My host were extremely welcoming. Most people I met on the way, in the old town, and around the country were surprise by my presence, knowing straight away I wasn’t Libyan, but always made me feel welcomed. This is typical from north-african hospitality, where the nomadic culture has always been to welcome the stranger. My hosts even had organized a surprise party to congratulate me for reaching my very last country in the world, with a big cake and three candles, 1, 9 and 5,  To represent my my final count of all the countries of the world.

Overall, I am extremely happy I came to Libya. I am definitely coming back to this country once it opens up and I am free to go around on my own. I know it reserves much more to discover. Meanwhile, I can only wish them the luxury of having peaceful days at last, after so much suffering…

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