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Images of the Sahara Desert, Libya

Images of the Sahara Desert, Libya

By Joe de Kehoe

I have been spending these winter months watching it snow and waiting for the high passes to be clear of snowdrifts so I can get back out exploring some of the back roads, ghost towns and abandoned mining 

camps sprinkled around Colorado – all the while being envious of the 75° temps you all have been enjoying in California. I decided to spend this down time getting all of my photographs properly organized using Adobe Lightroom software. In the process I came across photos I had taken in Libya in the late 1970s and wanted to share these.

I was concerned that the Sahara was getting a little too far afield, but after all we are the Desert Explorers, and Jay assured me that it was ok – so blame Jay! My goal was to illustrate as best I could, the wide variation in topography in the Libyan Desert. I have always thought that deserts have a beauty all their own, and certainly the Libyan Desert rates pretty high on my list. The hard part in doing this presentation was in picking just a few photos as representative illustrations, but I think (hope) you’ll get the idea.

I was a geologist for Mobil Oil in Libya in the 1970s, and while I was there, I was busy working on several oil drilling rigs and therefore had only limited time to explore. My job required me to drive to the oil fields and drilling rigs at remote sites in the Sahara, and so I was able to see a lot of the desert that few Westerners get to see. My area covered Libya, southern Tunisia, Algeria and southern Morocco, but was mostly centered on Libya.

I would love to go back and explore some of these areas now in more detail, but of course, given the current political chaos in Libya, that would be nonsense. It is a shame too, because there are magnificent Roman ruins in several areas along the Mediterranean coast of Libya that look like the Romans left yesterday. With 1,000+ miles of beaches along the Mediterranean coastline I feel that Libya could make as much money on tourism as they do on oil revenue,but unfortunately Libya’s Islamic restrictions do not lend themselves to developing a viable tourist industry.

The captions for the photos include geographic coordinates, formatted so that they can be copied and pasted into Google Earth for the location of where the photos were taken. These photos were originally taken as 35mm slides, and they sat in a cardboard box for 40+ years and have specks of dust here and there. Unfortunately, too, the color on some of the slides faded over time. My apologies. Because visiting the area is out of the question, my goal here is just to provide a glimpse of the Libyan part of the Sahara Desert. If the political situation there ever stabilizes however, I’d be happy to lead a field trip.

It was good looking at these pictures during the cold months in Colorado because even now I can recall how blazing hot it was out there, and my Chevy truck did not have A/C. ~ Joe