National Geographic : 1930 Jun
CIRENAICA, EASTERN WING OF ITALIAN LIBIA Photograph by Harriet Chalmers Adams DESERT FOLK BRING THEIR GOODS TO THE CARAVANSARIES TO SELL On the outskirts of Bengasi is such a congregating place, with facilities for display and for taking care of the wants of both man and beast. The bags of these Bedouins are of home spun camel's or goat's hair and are used to carry grain and wool (see, also, text, page 704). desert, which lies along the frontier of Egypt, has high, billowy sand dunes run ning in long lines from northwest to south east, held together by scanty vegetation and collecting through the wind all the swirling sand of the neighborhood. East to west travel here is very difficult, even for experienced natives. It means the ascent of each high dune and a sheer drop on its western side. Some of the valleys between the dunes are blocked with soft sand, in which the camels sink knee-deep; others, strewn with fossil shells, have a harder surface. The natives make these oases, occupied from a very remote period, stepping stones to the northern plateau and the sea. Since the pioneer expedition of the German ex plorer, Gerhard Rohlfs, to Cufra in 1879, a few other foreign adventurers, with years' intervals between, have braved the hardships and dangers of the Libian Des- ert. Not many years ago the Egyptian ex plorer, Sir Ahmed Hassanein Bey, made his second expedition from Gialo to Cufra, and continued south to the Anglo-Egyp tian Sudan, crossing a heretofore-un mapped portion of the desert.* Between Cufra and that southern part of Tripoli tania to the west, known as Fezzan, oases may yet be discovered. Straight east from Cufra, separated by a stretch of only par tially explored waste, lies Aswan, on the Nile. I talked with an Italian aviator who had recently flown over Cufra, making the round trip, from the fort at Gialo, in six hours, a distance which would have meant weeks of hard caravan travel. "It was wonderful," he said, "to see the green palms and the shimmering lake, * See "Crossing the Untraversed Libyan Des ert," by A. M. Hassanein Bey, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for September, 1924.