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Waw an Namus is an extinct volcanic crater located in one of the remotest destinations in Libya, deep in the Sahara desert almost at its geographic center. Waw n-Namus volcanic field is about 4 km wide, surrounded by a 10 to 20 km wide dark-black deposit of ash that stands out starkly against the yellowish desert. On the floor of the caldera there is a 120 meter high cinder cone, the apparent source of the ash, as well as three small salty, colored lakes. The name “Waw an-Namus” means the "Oasis of Mosquitoes", or according to other interpretation "The Crater of the Mosquitoes" , from the fact that the surrounding small lakes are infested with mosquitoes, and therefore camping nearby requires nets or repellents.

A common phenomenon in the Sahara is the occurrence of reasonably potable water close to, and at nearly the same elevation as, salt lakes. This scarce source of water feeds the lakes and was also used by travellers in the old days. Due to the presence of fresh water at this remote volcano, Waw An-Namus was always an important watering point for the caravans en route from Waw Al-Kabir to Rebiana and Al Kufrah oases further southeast in Libya.


Photo credit: George Steinmetz

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© Amusing Planet, 2013.


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