Libya’s first National parks, protected areas and reserves were first designated in the 1970s. Many are found along the Mediterranean coastline with the most popular protected areas being Zellaf in the southwestern desert and Karabolli, Wadi El-Kouf and Benghazi, all spread along the northern coast.
Set near Beidha in the forested, upland region of Jebel al-Akhdar (Green Mountain), this national park spreads for 12 miles east and west along northeastern Libyan coastline as well as over 100 miles south into Cyrenaica, following the riverbed for which it is named. With landscapes ranging from beaches, coastal dunes and lagoons to scrublands, forested hills, cliffs and caves, the park protects both marine and land wildlife. Among other species, visitors here can glimpse bottle-nose dolphins, golden jackals, hyenas and small-spotted genets.
Located just to the north of Al-Garabulli, a town 31 miles east of Tripoli along the Mediterranean coast, Karaboli National Park covers nearly 60 square miles between Wadi Turghat in the East and Wadi Ramal in the west, stretching just several miles inland from the sea. Turghat, Ramal and Al-Mashid (a third wadi that bisects the park) all feature perennial, spring-fed streams. The park’s landscapes include beaches, dunes, salt lagoons and sandstone cliffs while its wildlife includes hyenas and nearly 100 recorded bird species. The area was proclaimed a protected park in 1992 to combat erosion along the coast.
Less than 10 miles north of Benghazi on the northeastern Libyan coast is the Benghazi Nature Reserve, a popular pit-stop for migratory waterbirds. The reserve includes a stretch of sandy coastline with dunes and salt marshes, as well as the Ayn Zayanah Lagoon. The latter is fed by 10 springs and attracts flamingos in the winter months. Although nominally protected, the area is also used for fishing, recreation and as a garbage dump.
Set deep in the desert of western Libya, Zellaf Nature Reserve is part of the Sabha area, gateway to the greater Sahara Desert. The reserve covers 385 square miles of dunes and rocky ridges populated by oryx and gazelle, among other desert fauna. It is one of the of the Sahara’s only protected wildlife areas.