When the car won’t start and you’re on the little-travelled Saharan trails of southeastern Libya, you know you have a problem.
It was the expedition of a lifetime, a journey into one of Africa’s remotest corners. The area around Jebel al-Uweinat, where Libya, Egypt and Sudan converge, gave rise to the story behind The English Patient. Camped amid the sand dunes within sight of the mountainous ramparts of Jebel al-Uweinat, we awoke to a perfect Saharan morning and a flat battery.
Even the ingenuity of my Libyan guides – I had seen them improvise countless times and even change an entire axle in the middle of nowhere – couldn’t get the 4WD started. Unlike Libya’s southwest, another vehicle might pass this way only every few days.
And so, one of my guides and the driver set out to walk the 25km to the nearest border post in the hope that they had a vehicle that could jump-start us out of here. Six hours later they returned, accompanied by finger-wagging Libyan soldiers only too happy to help us on our way.