[removed]

Comments: 201 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

cutelyaware70 karma

Hello Lazar. What do you think you're really looking for?

lzr2a100 karma

I guess all my life I've been looking for that special, raw feeling of being truly alive. I'm not sure how to describe it, but traveling to that place and finally standing in the center of the 40-km wide ring in the desert gave me that feeling. Does that make any sense?

incraved46 karma

Have you ever tried psychedelics? I'm not recommending that you do, I'm just curious.

lzr2a9 karma

Nopes, never. I was never into drugs. Alcohol, on the other hand, is something I won't say no to!

BrOs_suck34 karma

Hate to break it to you but alcohol is like drug numero uno

lzr2a7 karma

You are not wrong.

Maca_Najeznica1 karma

What's your favorite rakija?

lzr2a1 karma

I think I'll go with quince on this one.

cutelyaware5 karma

Choosing that spot and putting yourself there makes sense. I have similar quests, literally and figuratively. They do give me a sense of achievement and satisfaction, but not the sense of being truly alive. I always feel truly alive but I'm not sure it feels that great. But if I never felt that, I would probably need to feel it too. It's great that you found what you wanted.

The other commenter asked whether you've tried psychedelics, and I think that's a good question, especially if you are still searching. Psilocybin in a safe environment is a medical practice that has done wonders for a lot of people. Usually once is enough to make a lasting breakthrough. If the Eye of the Sahara wasn't everything you wanted, then it's something to consider. It's certainly a lot easier!

lzr2a10 karma

It was everything I wanted, back then. But that was almost ten years ago. I wonder how it would feel to go there now. I've found it that, the older I get, the more difficult it is to get really excited about anything, at least not the way I used to get excited when I was 20 or 30, when I literally couldn't sleep all night thinking about the things I wanted to do.

pisspoorplanning3 karma

Try caving.

lzr2a4 karma

Tried it!

NicklesBe45 karma

What was the most expensive, yet least useful piece of gear you brought, and inverse that, what was the cheapest yet most useful gear?

lzr2a52 karma

That's a tough one. The least useful piece of gear I brought (though not expensive at all) was, and yes I am ashamed to say it, an umbrella. I took an umbrella into the desert. To this day I don't know why.

The most expensive thing I had was my camera, which was around 500$. During a desert storm a grain of sand got inside and stuck onto the inner surface of the lense, and I was desperate because I couldn't take it out, especially since it was a new camera that I'd bought just before the trip.

As for the most inexpensive but useful thing, I think I can answer that: earplugs. Sometimes we slept at some kind of local "hotels" where a bunch of people share a large room, sleeping on mats on the floor. Without the earplugs, I don't think I would've been able to fall asleep there.

sanity_inn42 karma

Experience anything weird there?

lzr2a60 karma

Being there gave me a very weird feeling, but other than some mirages (like a lake on the horizon that was definitely not there a moment ago, or a part of the landscape rising and floating above the sand), I don't remember anything particularly weird.

Yakazotta23 karma

What do you think about the idea, that the Eye of the Sahara is the remnants of Atlantis?

lzr2a30 karma

I remember reading that many artifacts have been found there over the years, but all of them seem to belong to primitive cultures (arrowheads, stone tools and so on). However, the only things I found there were rocks and more rocks. So, to answer your question - I have no idea.

Rainbowdash59615 karma

What was so weird about it?

lzr2a62 karma

I'd say several things. First, the fact that one can actually go there, without any travel agents, fancy equipment, guides etc. Just an ordinary person, using ordinary transport, can reach one such place. Secondly, the feeling of being there is something that's hard to put down in words: as I climbed the ridge of the innermost circle, I could see the ridges of the other circles bending around it, all the way to the horizon. Even the largest open mines on the planet are just a couple of kilometers in the diameter, which is tiny compared to this thing.

But I guess the weirdest thing for me personally was the fact that something like that even exists and was created naturally, despite its almost perfect shape.

SuperSnoco11 karma

Was there a significant/noticeable difference once you reached the border of the ring? Is the terrain different than the surrounding desert?

Thanks for sharing!

lzr2a21 karma

In the center of the ring there were much more rocks, while outside there was mostly sand. There were many beautiful rocks shaped by the sun and the wind, and also colorful ones. I took home a couple of small ones, but I wish I could have taken a larger one.

The ring itself is different from the surrounding desert because it rises like a giant wall made of very dark boulders. When you're standing next to the largest ring, you actually perceive it more as a mountain than a circle, because the curvature is so large.

remaking_the_noob8 karma

Do you prefer smooth or crunchy peanut butter?

lzr2a14 karma

Not sure why the smooth one even exists. Has anyone ever bought that?

pixelatedpopulation8 karma

How did you get there, who did you go with and what did yu do there?

lzr2a14 karma

I rode a desert train (supposedly the "longest desert train in the world"), and then basically a series of jeeps that locals use for transport from village to village.

I was trying to shoot an amateur documentary, which I sadly never finished.

cvok44443 karma

Are you planning on finishing it some day? I'd pay for watching it

lzr2a10 karma

It is basically just desert, and very lame shots of me putting my camera on a tripod and then walking in front of it :/ But yeah, as I said in another post, I did put some of it on youtube (not so much from the Eye, but from that trip in general).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7Gjfm9PjH0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGsZrtQYOmg

To really capture the Eye of the Sahara, I think one would need a drone (provided that it can survive the heat).

wstacon3 karma

Do you have the footage?

lzr2a10 karma

Yes, I still have it. I used some if it to make two short "documentaries" that I put on youtube.

4 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7Gjfm9PjH0

9 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGsZrtQYOmg

pixelatedpopulation3 karma

Whoa. I wonder if the locals ever looked at you funny? Like what are you doing here? Do they get a lot of travellers?

lzr2a6 karma

I think the locals were convinced we were completely out of our minds to go there. Several times they even tried to persuade us not to go, because there is nothing there worth seeing, just the desert, which they (unsurprisingly) don't find fascinating at all. Also, I remember it was around that time that some French travelers were executed by the ISIS in Mauritania, so the locals warned us several times to be careful and not go to the eastern parts of the country.

pixelatedpopulation1 karma

Wow this sounds like a milder episode of Dark Tourist haha, you must be crazy! But respect!

How big is the eye really? And is it protected by the government/UNESCO?

lzr2a3 karma

Around 40 km (25 mi) in diameter. In short, if you want to walk from the center to the outer rim... well, don't do it.

I don't think it's protected, as it would be very difficult to damage it.

partiallycylon7 karma

Have you, to your knowledge, ever travelled to a spot you are pretty sure you were the first person to ever document the location, and how did that feel?

(Asking this as a landscape photographer with that exact lifetime goal)

lzr2a11 karma

To my knowledge, I have never been the first person to visit a location. Not that I wouldn't like to, but I think such places are extremely rare nowadays. Except if you go to the Andaman Islands. :)

fartandsmile5 karma

I have been to the andamans and there were plenty of people... maybe you would need to go somewhere in Antarctica to truly be the first person somewhere?

lzr2a2 karma

To be honest, I don't really get a kick out of being the first one to do something, so I've never given it much thought.

Benjideaula7 karma

did you find sand?

lzr2a12 karma

Yes, and collected some of it to take home! I've been to many parts of the Sahara, and the sand is very different everywhere: different colors and size of grains.

Spooky-Ougi5 karma

Are there still animals that far out?

lzr2a9 karma

I remember seeing a couple of camels and goats on my way there, but they were not inside the circle. I think they belong to the nomads, whose camp we also saw on the way.

NSWCSEAL4 karma

How does a nomad even survive in that type of weather? Where do they get their water and stay cool in the heat?

lzr2a3 karma

I was actually surprised at how many oases we saw along the way. They are super tiny, maybe a hundred meters in diameter, but each one has a pond in the middle, and many trees and shrubs growing around it. The settlements were usually around or near them.

Fightz_5 karma

Hi Lazar

How long were you there and where did you stay? When researching the location, did you find anything interesting out about the experiences of others that visited it before you?

lzr2a8 karma

Inside the Eye of the Sahara itself I spent less than a day. I was staying in the village some 25 km from the outermost circle. I couldn't find any testimonies of other travelers, except for some geologists. However, I found it interesting that most of the locals had no idea what I was talking about when I was trying to find out how to get there from the village. Even when I drew the rings and used it's Arabic name, they still had no idea what it was. I guess they perceive it as just another mountain in the desert, and had no reason to ever go there. Or maybe they had a local name for it and just thought I was raving mad.

Alexgamer1554 karma

What were the dangers of going to that place(besides obviously heat), and how did you manage them?

lzr2a7 karma

Other than the heat, there is a very real danger of getting lost in the desert, as it is huge and everything looks the same, and the wind will erase your footprints very quickly. When a sandstorm picks up (which is quite often), you literally can't see someone who is standing five meters away, and it is easy to get lost.

Also, some French travelers were kidnapped and executed by the ISIS in Mauritania around that time, maybe a year or two before, which is something I tried not to think about, but it was always at the back of my head.

When we arrived to the capital, we were arrested because my travel companion accidentally took a photo of a government building, so we ended up in jail. It took us a whole day to convince them that we were harmless.

serioussham1 karma

Did you get any trouble from the locals/drivers on the way? Not so much of the ISIS kidnapping variety, but perhaps "fleecing the tourist"?

lzr2a1 karma

I guess Mauritania sees so few tourists, that people didn't have that kind of mindset. Compared to, for example, Egypt, where so many people are trying to scam you or just rip you off at every step, the locals in Mauritania were generally interested to talk to me, sometimes inviting me to their home for tea (which I always accepted), but that was it. No trouble whatsoever, except several times from the police, as there are frequent checkpoints on all major roads, and my friend was dumb enough to take a pic of some government building, for which we got arrested and spent a day in jail.

missingbunny113 karma

Do you feel like there is an invisible entity looming over you, looking at you like an experiment when you are walking in that part? Does it make you feel alive enough? What is the experience that made you feel the most alive?

lzr2a2 karma

I was mostly thinking about whether or not there were any ISIS entities lurking somewhere, as there had been incidents in Mauritania prior to my trip there.

The experience that made me feel the most alive... Damn, that's a tough one. There were so many good moments, I'm not sure I could single out one or two. Climbing a volcano in the jungle in Tanzania, or looking at the night sky in the Sahara, or watching dervishes dance at an old cemetary in Sudan... Maybe. I honestly don't know.

newgoliath3 karma

Only a tiny fraction of the Earth's population has, or will ever have, the means to travel anywhere on the globe, let alone out I of their maybe land. Do you think this special privilege has influenced your choice of destinations and how you perceive them? If so, how?

lzr2a5 karma

I generally agree with you, even though I'm not sure how tiny the fraction is. When I was younger, my travel budget was around 250 USD per month. I basically hitchhiked everywhere and slept in a small tent by the road. I traveled twice from Europe to China and back, overland, on that kind of monthly budget. And all around Africa and the Middle East. So yeah, I agree it is a special privilege, as you said (there are many people on this planet who can't even afford 50 bucks for a one-week hitchhiking trip), but it is not as exclusive as people generally believe, if one is willing to forsake some comfort. Not to mention that, as a Serbian citizen, I had huge problems getting visas to go anywhere, up until 2010 when the political situation improved dramatically.

That's why, when I was younger, I only traveled to inexpensive countries, and those where I could get a visa. My first travels were in Turkey, Syria, Ukraine, Russia, Mongolia etc. Western Europe was out of bounds for many years - I could neither afford it, nor enter it.

my_toddler_reacted4 karma

I basically hitchhiked everywhere and slept in a small tent by the road.

This is not a viable means of travel for most women; it's simply not safe for us.

lzr2a2 karma

I agree! I have often been asked whether I would recommend hitchhiking to women, and my answer is always that I would advise against it. But if you can find a friend or a boyfriend to go with you, I don't see why not. I often traveled with girlfriends and nothing bad ever happened to us.

newgoliath2 karma

Yes, half the world's population is too endangered by traveling. A significant portion is too young or too old.

This is also not possible for those billions with family and community obligations - the vast population of the world is subsistence factory or farm workers and their families.

While I have met the occasional African, South American, Indian or East Asians in my travels - by far the world travelers are Europeans. It's a continuing benefit of imperial colonialism. Japanese, Chinese, etc do once in a lifetime group travel.

lzr2a2 karma

Western Europeans, to be precise. Yes, I agree 100%. That being said, it is not so hard for a Chinese person to travel around China nowadays, and they do it a lot, even going to the nearby countries if they can afford it. It is becoming less and less of a luxury. I've also met Africans traveling around Africa. It doesn't have to be a huge transcontinental trip; there are interesting things to be seen everywhere, and interesting people to meet.

sweatywebspace3 karma

How long does it take to travel there from the nearest permanent city? What means of transportation did you rely on? And how did you keep yourself with a safe supply of water?

lzr2a7 karma

There is a village called Ouadane, around 25 km away. However, it's 25 km through the desert without any roads, so it takes quite some time to reach it even though it's such a short distance. There I hired a Tuareg guy with a jeep to take me to the Eye. First he spent almost an hour trying to convince me that there is nothing there and I shouldn't go there. In the end I gave him 50 dollars and that changed his mind.

There are villages throughout the Sahara, and I even saw several small oases with tiny lakes (didn't try drinking from there though). In the villages there is usually one tiny shop where you can get bottled water. And you need to carry a lot of it - half for drinking, half for pouring over your head every 20 or so minutes.

ALemonadeMaker3 karma

What are some other standout remote places that you’ve visited/experienced? Could be positive or negative!

Do you speak more then one language?

What’s a place still on your bucket list?

lzr2a17 karma

Once I traveled, with my then girlfriend, from Europe, across Central Asia, to Western China. There is a small part of Western China called Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County. It is basically where the Karakorum Highway goes into Pakistan, and where China has borders with 4 countries: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is a mountain there called Mustagh Ata, one of the remotest and most beautiful places I remember. If I recall correctly, the altitude of the lake is around 4000 meters. I recently posted a photo here on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/EarthPorn/comments/n3nb72/taxkorgan_tajik_autonomous_county_china_oc/

I can speak Serbian (my native language), English, Spanish and Russian. As I've been living in China since early 2016, I can also speak some Mandarin Chinese, but very broken.

I always wanted to visit the remote polar areas of Russia, and meet the reindeer nomads who live there, but so far I haven't had the chance. It is on my list though.

Riggald2 karma

Do you have the URL for the pic on Google Maps?

lzr2a1 karma

Are you referring to this pic? https://www.thetravelclub.org/images/travelogues/eye-of-the-sahara/richatt-structure-google-maps.jpg

You can just open Google Maps and type "the eye of the sahara".

88toddler2 karma

What did the locals say when you mentioned you were going to the Eye?

lzr2a2 karma

They just touched their forehead with their index finger several times. Maybe they meant to say that we were smart to go there? Who knows. It's a different culture, after all.

lily_tiger2 karma

Could be pointing to the Third Eye

lzr2a1 karma

That is a possibility worth considering.

jrk-2 karma

Hi Lazar!

Thank you for sharing your story, it is truly inspirational! Now I want to go to the remote areas on Baffin Island, northern Canada and Alaska even more than before. Karakorum is on my list but I'm anxious about going to Pakistan as a Westerner. The eye of the Sahara is now on my list as well, especially because I wanted to go to Morocco for a long time. Personally I've been to Nepal twice, but not off the beaten tracks. Nevertheless those were the most memorable trips of my life.

I have one question only: How old are you? :)

I'm nearing 40 myself and hope to see as much of the world as possible and by any chance places that only few people have seen or visited.

lzr2a3 karma

I'm 40 now. When I went there I was 31.

I don't like giving advice, but here's my advice: don't go to those places alone. Find at least one other person to go with you, and if you can put together a team, that would be ideal.

Spudious2 karma

Hi Lazar,

Did you have any obstacles/problems on your journey?

How did you prepare for going in to such a harsh environment?

What were some of the positive memories you have from the journey?

lzr2a10 karma

One of my travel companions got a pretty severe heatstroke. It only started the next morning, after we had already finished with the Eye. It took us around a day and a night to reach a city that had a hospital, and she was vomiting all the time and repeating that she was going to die and so on. That was very scary. We only had one plastic bag for her to vomit in, and that bag had a hole. I had to stop the driver many times and go out to empty the bag, with her vomit all over my hands.

We did our best to always stay hidrated and never go out without our head covered. Also we always carried a lot of water. But despite that all three of us suffered heatstroke, to a varying extent. The locals told us that we were unlucky, as it was one of the hottest periods they could remember.

Positive memories... yes, many. For example, what the night sky looks like from a tiny desert village with virtually zero light polution. You can see the Milky Way the way I've never seen it anywhere else.

Spudious2 karma

Thank you for all your responses.

I hope you have many more incredible journeys to share with us in the future!

lzr2a1 karma

Thanks! I hope so too.

Blas03302 karma

How isolated was that location? How far away was the closest village or populated place?

lzr2a3 karma

Around 25 km to the nearest desert village, if I remember correctly. But getting to that village was a challenge in its own right. And especially getting from the village to the Eye, as there is no road and the terrain gets quite difficult at some points.

GringoTheDingoAU2 karma

Well... how hot was it?

lzr2a11 karma

My phone was showing something like 52 or 53 degrees C before it died.

GringoTheDingoAU1 karma

Sheesh. How did the heat feel on your body?

lzr2a3 karma

Actually, it's extremely dry heat, so you don't feel it as much as you'd expect. You don't sweat at all, because the desert sucks out the sweat from your skin before you can even see it. You just feel thirsty all the time, and your mouth keeps getting dry.

eatadick921 karma

What caused that formation? I know you said erosion but can you elaborate?

lzr2a1 karma

I'm not an expert, so let's trust Wikipedia on this one. The way I understand it, it was a giant underground cave that collapsed, or smth like that:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richat_Structure

Lobotomist1 karma

Why is there "Stop" sign in middle of desert ?
And are you Serbian ?

lzr2a1 karma

There are some desert roads, especially between larger villages. But the stop sign was a surprise to me too, that's why I took the pic.

Yes.

idkm801 karma

Where are you from?

lzr2a2 karma

I was born in Yugoslavia, today's Serbia. I live in China.

Perfect_Initiative1 karma

What do you do for a living that you can afford to travel so much!?! Unfortunately, I can’t afford to travel at all yet.

lzr2a4 karma

Translation work, and teaching English online. As I wrote in another reply, I had a very limited budget for my trips when I was younger. I remember once traveling from Belgrade to Istanbul and back, about ten days in total, and spending 25 US dollars for the whole trip. I hitchhiked there and back, and used a free accommodation website to find a host. It was a long time ago, I was 21 or smth. Nowadays I prefer to have at least minimum comfort when I travel, but it's still quite inexpensive. I'm 40 now.

DigiMagic1 karma

What were you able to do about the heat? Did the locals know any tricks to keep themselves cool? Did you travel by night and sleep by day (and would that even help)?

Also, did you do chemical analysis of any of the rocks you've got there, perhaps they contain some cobalt, copper, silver or other interesting metals?

lzr2a4 karma

We did sometimes travel overnight, but not always. The locals seemed to have been much better used to the climate than we were. They told us to never ever step outside without covering our head, as it would be suicidal. You need to stay hidrated, to eat well and sleep well, and to keep pouring water over your head every half an hour or so, occasionally soaking your whole shirt and putting it back on. Outside of that, I don't think there's much you can do. Most of the locals (both male and female) covered their faces completely, leaving just a narrow slit for the eyes.

Sadly, I lacked the expertise to do the chemical analysis, but I did take a lot of rocks home. We also found many fossils, but not exactly there; it was closer to the ocean shore.

NirdeshJ1 karma

What was the most challenging thing on your journey?

lzr2a3 karma

I guess that would be the heat, and the sand. It is often very windy in the desert, and the sand gets into your eyes and sticks to the inner side of your eyelids, so every time you blink, you can feel it scratching over your eye. And if you try to get it out, it often gets even worse, so after a while you just decide to leave it there until you can find enough water to rinse your eyes throughly. If you try to rinse them while in the desert, even more sand will stick to them.

The roads were practically inexistent, and the ride was so bumpy that everything kept breaking. I remember having bought a couple of ceramic tiles in the bazaar in Morocco, they all broke on the way. My camera tripod also broke, my glasses broke inside my backpack, my camera got sand inside the lense, even my pants were completely torn by the end of the trip.

aznkalun1 karma

Exactly how difficult was the terrain heading in there and then back?

lzr2a2 karma

There are desert roads, but the ride is super bumpy. As I wrote in another reply, many of the things in my backpack broke because of that. Basically everything that was breakable did break, and everything bendable was bent out of shape by the end of the trip. The locals use camels, and Toyota Land Cruisers that serve as public transportation.

CorsairVI1 karma

Did you make like an underrated Police song and have Tea in the Sahara?

lzr2a2 karma

It's really hard to avoid having tea in the Sahara, as the locals drink it all the time. It's also a way of purifying water (I was told).

Gwanbigupyaself1 karma

How do you afford this much travel?

lzr2a2 karma

When I was younger I basically hitchhiked everywhere, and used free accommodation exchange websites such as Couchsurfing or Hospitality Club (not sure if that one still exists), so basically my biggest expense was visas and food. I also slept in a tent, at train stations, on park benches. Nowadays I still do it from time to time, but I seem to have grown softer. It might have something to do with turning 40.

p0t4toes1 karma

Do locals have stories about the crater?

lzr2a1 karma

I was of the impression that most of them didn't even know there was a crater there. From the ground, it basically looks like a bunch of mountains, until you climb the ridge. But even then, without knowing what it really looks like, it would be hard to tell it's a circle. That being said, I had very limited ability to communicate there. I used to study Arabic many years ago, but that was the variety used in Syria, and I never learned it well, so... even if they had stories, it would have been hard for me to understand it.

drugosrbijanac1 karma

You seem to have south slavic name. Hello from Balkans!

Where are you from? :D

lzr2a2 karma

Same as you :)

GoingCommercial1 karma

Do you think you'll ever be satisfied?

lzr2a2 karma

I'm ok most of the time. But from time to time I feel "the itch" and I just need to up and leave. I guess that's why I ended up in China.

gibgod1 karma

Is there a gift shop?

lzr2a1 karma

Exit through the gift shop?

s_zlikovski1 karma

Why?

lzr2a1 karma

I thought it might be interesting. Beats sitting at home and watching movies!

PopeSusej1 karma

What do you think about the theory that this is Atlantis?

lzr2a1 karma

No idea. Aren't there many places that are supposedly Atlantis?

thefastest91 karma

What was your favorite thing about going there or being there?

lzr2a2 karma

I read a lot of science fiction, so when I was there, I couldn't stop imagining I was actually walking on another planet. There was absolutely nothing in sight to prove me wrong.

HerKaish1 karma

Hi Lazar, that's a weird lastname you have. So, I should probably ask the all known question of " 'okle su tvoji?"

lzr2a2 karma

I'm the only one with that first-last name combination, so a 1-minute Google search can tell you a lot about me. In short, I was born in Novi Sad.

AnnaBananner82-1 karma

What was the feeling you had while being there, spiritually? Any supernatural experiences?

lzr2a2 karma

Nothing supernatural, just the feeling of being super excited and curious about everything there. The feeling of being alive (which is the opposite of what I've been feeling lately, spending most of my days at home, staring at my laptop).

xxsneakysinxx-3 karma

Are you related to Bob Lazar?

lzr2a4 karma

Not that I'm aware of, except in the sense that all humans are related.