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Adventure Magazine

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Wild Horizons
Inroads Into the Forbidden Desert. By McKenzie Funk

Any travelers who are sorry they couldn't be on the very first American trip to Libya in decades, take note: Things didn't go exactly as planned when adventure travel guide Richard Bangs led a group of trekkers into the country in April. The United States had just lifted its travel ban, but it seems no one told the Libyans: En route, the group had to spend an extra 24 hours grounded in London, waiting for impossible-to-get visas. When they finally reached the magnificently bleak Akakus Mountains, one of the most stunning, undertouristed regions in the Sahara, the nuclear heat induced mutiny in half the crew and then a kidney stone in one trekker. (Bangs used his satellite phone to arrange a hasty Land Cruiser pickup.) In the end, only four out of the original group of ten completed the trip. "That was the cost of being first," says Paolo Balduzzi, who manages operations for Mountain Travel Sobek. "We're not going to run trips that late in the season anymore."

Thanks to these guinea pigs, Sobek's Libya trips have been streamlined. Visa kinks have been worked out, and groups will travel only in the winter—when temperatures are in the 80s and 90s. Instead of a multiday march through the desert, the itinerary combines the Mediterranean's most spectacular Roman ruins—from Leptis Magna to Sabratha—with day hikes and a Land Cruiser tour of the Sahara's most arresting landscapes. At one point the Akakus Mountains, filled with 12,000-year-old petroglyphs, rise up 2,000 feet (610 meters) on your left, while the black cliffs of the Messak Setafet pass by on your right. A few surprises should still be expected on a trip this new—hardly a deterrent, no doubt, for those hoping to beat the crowds. $4,290 for 13 days; 888-687-6235; www.mtsobek.com.

Twenty-four other new trips made the cut to be included as one of 2005's best outfitter excursions. Read about each one of them in the November issue.

Additional Excerpts
From the print edition, November 2004

Adventure Travel 2005: Amazing excursions for the new year
Return to Zootopia: David Quammen revisits the Galápagos
No Margin for Error: America's most perilous peak
Pelton's World: Former no-go zones make a comeback

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November 2004

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