Benghazi to Eclipse Camp

2006 Total Solar Eclipse – Libya

March 28, 2006 – Tuesday – Benghazi to Eclipse Camp

We leave at 8AM this morning on our bus headed to the Eclipse Camp, south of Jalu. After stopping to pick up some water and box lunches, we finally get underway at 9:30am. We make several pit stops along the way, including a lunch stop on the roadside. We see some sheep and camels being herded beside the road.

Location of Eclipse Camp south of Jalu
Location of Eclipse Camp south of Jalu

On the way down to the eclipse camp, we go through multiple security check points. Security has been high throughout this trip – we have Tourist Police aboard our bus at all times, as well as our Numidia Tours guide and our driver. The Libyans are taking no chances of any “tourist incidents” happening for this Solar Eclipse event!

We have arrived at the eclipse camp! My GPS says we are at N28° 13′ 48″ E21° 30′ 44″. This camp is amazing:

  • Hundreds of tents in each of three large sites, which were setup from scratch in the middle of the Libyan Sahara Desert especially for the foreign guests by Libyan scouts.
  • Commissary/dining hall
  • Souvenir and coffee shops
  • Showers and flush toilet latrines – running water delivered by a steady stream of tanker trucks
  • Wireless Internet and telephones – electricity from a generator running 24 hrs/day

This evening the organizers in the dining hall lose control of the crowd of 500-1,000 who show up for dinner around 8pm. Libyans are crashing the line, pushing the tourists back – a bad scene. Most of my group eat dinner around 9pm. Needless to say, we are exceedingly hungry by then! I find a small stuffed camel in one of the shops, which will make a nice gift for someone special when I return home.

There are perhaps 500-1,000 people at our camp, and I can see at least two other camps nearby. Everyone is excited to finally be at our destination – the reason for our long journey. After some supper, most of us adjourn to a coffee shop setup in the desert, and shoot the breeze for awhile, then retire to our tents. We are all tired after being in the bus and on the road for 8 hours, so sleeping in the desert is a fitting end to the day.