Image: Tripoli
Amr Nabil  /  AP file
An evening view of Tripoli, Libya, showsthe Zat el-Emad, right, and al Fateh , left, during sunset.
updated 8/22/2008 9:51:27 AM ET 2008-08-22T13:51:27

The Real Deal: Ten nights' accommodations, the services of a guide, most meals, sightseeing tours and entrance fees, and local transportation by plane and air-conditioned bus, for $2,834 per person — plus an estimated $22 in airfare taxes.

When: Oct. 25, 2008; April 16, Oct. 24, 2009.

The fine print: Does not include taxes of $22 for flights within Libya. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $471. U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel; a visa is also required (the cost should be between $30 and $50). The tour operator will obtain a visa on your behalf before departure. Note that because of group visa procedures, your passport will be held for about six weeks and returned only one week before the departure date. Group size is typically 8 to 21 people. Use promo code LY1. International airfare isn't included; call the tour operator for a quote, or book independently. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: Adventures Abroad, 800/665-3998, adventures-abroad.com.

Why it's a deal: This package is less about bottom-of-the-barrel prices and more about providing a safe, hassle-free means to visit a challenging country that nonetheless has much to offer travelers. For about $283 per person per night, Adventures Abroad takes care of the 10-night hotel stay, transportation within Libya, sightseeing tours, entrance fees, taxes, and meals — while providing the reassurance of an experienced guide. The company also takes care of the visa process. Libya recently has been denying American visas, and just this week, Adventures Abroad learned it would most likely be able to secure them again. So, you can be sure that visiting this destination is a rare, crowd-free experience.

Trip details: The Oases, Ruins, and Coastal Towns trip begins and ends in Tripoli. You'll meet the group at the centrally located Al-Kabir Hotel, your base for two nights. If you booked your airfare through Adventures Abroad, hotel transfers are included; if you booked it independently, hotel transfers aren't included, but a taxi ride should cost about $15 to $20.

You'll visit Tripoli's Jamahiriya Museum, a handy introduction to Libya's history, as it has artifacts dating back to the 600s B.C. You'll make a day trip to Sabrata, about an hour to the west, which was founded in the 4th century B.C. by Carthaginians and has a spectacular theater with three-story columns. You'll also get a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea.

After a stop at the mountain town of Nalut, you'll continue to Ghadamis, about 340 miles southwest of Tripoli, near where Libya borders Algeria and Tunisia. This UNESCO World Heritage site has beautiful sand dunes and both Byzantine and Islamic architectural influences. You'll have another day of touring Ghadamis during which you can expect to see homes built from mud, tree trunks, and leaves in this town of about 17,000. You'll stay for two nights at the Waha Hotel.

Say good-bye to Ghadamis and hello to Yefren, the next stop. This tiny town has ghurfas, or grain stores. Grain has traditionally been an important crop in Yefren, and you'll get to observe farmers at work. Spend the night at the Yefren Lodge.

You'll head back to Tripoli to catch a 90-minute flight on Libyan Airways to Benghazi. This port town on the Gulf of Sidra is a major commercial center for Libya. After a night at the Tibesti Hotel, continue on to Cyrene, home to ancient temples, tombs, an agora (a traditional Grecian city square), a theater, and the sanctuary of Apollo, with Roman baths. You'll also be taken to Tobruk, an important battle site in World War II.

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A flight from Benghazi brings you back to Tripoli and the Al-Kabir Hotel. You'll have an afternoon to yourself and then a final outing to Leptis Magna. This well-preserved site has some beautiful Roman ruins, including a forum, a harbor, an amphitheater, and a basilica. The area was founded by the Phoenicians as early as the 7th century B.C., and after a lifetime of being buried in the sand, about 30 monuments are now on view.

In October, the Mediterranean climate of northern Libya will be cool — expect highs in the 60s and 70s, with bursts of rain showers during the day.

Keep in mind that Libya is at least as famous (or infamous) for its authoritative, mercurial leader Muammar al-Qaddafi as it is for its ancient ruins and dramatic deserts and coastlines. Islam is the dominant religion. The Libyan government — whose designation as a state sponsor of terrorism was lifted in June 2006 — does not allow travelers whose passports have Israeli visas or entry/exit stamps to enter the country. You can find more background information through the U.S. State Department's Libya travel fact sheet.

For more one-of-a-kind experiences and trips to far-flung destinations, check the 40 Best Deals from our September issue, devoted to the best places you've never heard of.

Getting there: The trip begins and ends in Tripoli. A recent Kayak search yielded these round-trip fares for late October: $1,266 from New York City (British Airways), $1,284 from Boston (British Airways), $1,337 from Chicago (British Airways), $1,373 from Atlanta (Alitalia), $1,579 from L.A. (British Airways), and $1,621 from Seattle (British Airways).

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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