In order to be ready for the solar eclipses of Monday 2005 October 3 (annular) and Wednesday 2006 March 29 (totality phase during 4 min 07 sec), an initial inspection visit in Libya was mandatory. You can also now browse the eclipse report.
The point of greatest eclipse in 2006 lies just on the border between Libya and Chad, on the Libyan side. This area, hardly reachable and extremely remote (hence the need to have two well prepared high clearance 4WD vehicles with a 2,000 kilometers (1,200 mi) range and serious mechanical skills), is landmined following the 1980s territorial conflict between Libya and Chad. The area, a no-go zone due to military activity and extensive landmining of the once disputed border, is usually forbidden. Arms and drug smugglers are also passing by in the vicinity.
To enter Libya a visa is required. To get it, your passport must be free of any Israeli visa and must be valid for six months after your return. If you travel by yourself, you then need an invitation letter from a Libyan citizen. The front page of your passport must be translated into Arabic, on the passport, by a certified translator. In the seven days following your arrival, you must have your passport stamped by the immigration office located in every big town (Sebha, Awbari or Ghat in the south). Tourists must at all times be accompanied by their guide.
For this exploration trip, it was mandatory to travel with our own well prepared 4WD vehicles to minimize the chances of vehicle breakdown which would be a serious hazard in the harsh desert. If you travel with your own vehicule, the customs procedures are lengthy: Libyan licence plates rental, withdrawal of travel notebook at the customs, insurance.
Usually, for an expedition like ours in the deep south, you must be escorted by a guide and a police officer. We managed our way without any (no room in our 4WD vehicules anyway).