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Nafusa Mountains

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Winding roads, rugged mountains

Nafusa Mountains, Libya / Tarmeisa

Scenery from the village of Tarmeisa.

Nafusa Mountains, Libya / Nalut

Inside the ghurfas of Nalut.

Nafusa Mountains is both one of the most scenic areas of Libya, yet one which is fairly easy to get to, as it starts just 50-100 km south of Tripoli. The area is not impressive in the sense of altitudes (the highest point is at "modest" 968 metres), but the landscape here is fantastically wild and varied. Many travellers with very limited expectations for Libya, leave the Nafusa simply stunned. The Nafusa, which is a desert mountain range, in the way that agriculture has very different conditions depending on nearby mountains, is excellently paired by Akhdar Mountains in eastern Libya, which is clearly greener in its Mediterranean appearance.
The roads of Nafusa Mountains does not invite to fast driving, but nor does the shifting landscape around you, complete with small farms, independent villages, and the Berber population, which was never completely absorbed by the Arab community. Still many speak the Berber language, called Mazir (close to Tifinagh). Large parts of the population belongs to the Khariji sect of Islam, the smallest of Islam's three main directions. I know you won't believe me, but snow is not all that uncommon up here in winter time, and all the year through, the area has a climate far cooler than what is around Tripoli, not to to say further south.
Agriculture is fairly rich, especially when compared to the rest of Libya. Olives and grain are the main produce, but the figs and apricots grown here are of the highest quality.
Out of many places to visit in the mountains, Gharyan appears to be on most itineraries. Yefren, Kabaw, Nalut, and Jadu are other main attractions. Ghadames which is often included in longer explorations of the Nafusa Mountains, is actually out of the mountain region, and involves quite a journey if weather is hot.

By Tore Kjeilen