Sunday, February 05, 2006

Libyan hotels, visas, and other issues

Our tour operator for ground arrangements in Libya (Bestway Tours & Safaris) has confirmed our hotels for Tripoli and Benghazi. After making a trip to Libya a few months ago to personally check out the arrangements for their groups, they decided to switch our reservations to "private" hotels that are not subject to government overrides. I'm sure you can read between the lines here! The Libyan government appears to be completely overwhelmed by the huge amount of interest from 2006 Solar Eclipse observers. That said, Bestway appears to have elicited a workable procedure for issuance of Visas for our group. We have given copies of our passports to Bestway, who have forwarded the tour group list and these passport copies along with a 40 Euro prepaid fee for each of us to the Libyan government. It appears that our Visas will be issued upon our arrival in Tripoli. Our tour leader tells us that accommodations at the desert camp for the night before the eclipse will be in 4-person tents fitted for 2 occupants. Each tent will have 2 mattresses, 2 pillows and 2 blankets. Bestway will confirm soon whether we should plan on bringing sleeping bags, but it appears this will not be necessary, thank goodness! Can you image every desert camp participant dragging along their own sleeping bag? Our group will be flying from Tripoli to Benghazi (and back), and apparently there are severe restrictions on baggage allowances for flights internal to Libya. Our tour leader is working on helping us to avoid excess baggage charges, since obviously many of our group will be bringing telescopes and other fairly bulky and heavy gear. I'm glad I decided to travel light: a dSLR, long telephoto, and a tripod. Our tour leader states "...everything appears to be falling into place. Thanks for you patience and understanding. This trip is probably the most difficult one to arrange since I started organizing eclipse tours in 1972." 'Nuff said...

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