Gaberoun Oasis – Libya - Atlas Obscura

Libya

Gaberoun Oasis

A deserted Bedouin village lines the shores of this stunning desert oasis. 

This brilliant blue-green gem of a lake, surrounded by golden sand as far as the eye can see, looks like a small pocket of island paradise hidden among the dunes of the Sahara Desert. Palm trees fringe the water, and the ruins of an abandoned village dot one corner of the shore.

A Bedouin tribe once lived along the Gaberoun Oasis (also spelled Gabroon, Gabraun, and Gabr Awhn). They fished for saltwater crustaceans, little worm-like creatures that live within the lake. But they couldn’t rely on the lake itself for drinking water, the most precious desert treasure. Instead, they had to dig beneath the sand around its perimeter to search for the same underground springs that feed the trees.

The government relocated the entire tribe to a newly built village in the 1980s. The ruins of their old settlement remain, left to bake beneath the scorching sun.

A ramshackle tourist camp, complete with a handful of sleeping huts and a small market, keeps a sporadic trickle of human life flowing into the otherwise abandoned oasis. Those who do visit like to swim in the lake; its salinity makes it a pleasant place to float, especially since the surface is strangely chilly. The water’s temperature gets hotter the deeper you dive.