Do not climb the haunted mountain of Libya was the warning of Kira Salak, a National Geographic Explorer. Kira was referring to Kaf Ajnoun, a natural rock fortress located in the southern region of Libya, north of Ghat.
Also known as the Fortress of Ghosts or the Cave of the Jinn, bizarre rock formations shaped Kaf Ajnoun earning its reputation as strange mountain. Locals believed that the mountain is the home of mythical beings, particularly the Jinn and an area where they meet and discuss their affairs.
The Jinn or Genie is an invisible spirit that have the powers to influence humans. It can appear in various forms including humans and animals. According to Libyan folklore, there were many instances that the Jinn took the human form and live alongside with man. The locals believed that in some point, a person can meet a Jinn in his life.
In 1822, explorer Hugh Clapperton visited the area. He told that the red hair locals beat their drums at night and fire their muskets as if to ward off unfriendly spirits.
James Richardson attempted to climb the haunted mountain in 1845. He lost his way and got ill. Explorer Heinrich Barth reached the top but lost his way down. Stories say that he slit his own vein and drunk his blood due to extreme thirst and hunger. A local Taureg found him close to death.
Kira Salak, the real life Lara Croft, climbed the Kaf Ajnoun in 2004 following the trail of Clapperton. She and her team reached the top successfully and back safety without unusual encounters. However, months later, she was possessed by and freed of evil spirits that “entered her body when, against the warnings of the local tribesmen, she climbed a supposedly haunted mountain in Libya”.
“Jinoon and its vicinity has been considered a stomping ground for evil genies for centuries. Intrepid Arab traveler Ibn Battuta first wrote about this desert in the 14th century, describing it as a place “haunted by demons; if the [traveler] be alone, they make sport of him and disorder his mind, so that he loses his way and perishes.”
Kira shared that after a year of her climb to the haunted mountain, possessed evil spirits possessed her. She reported in her journal:
“All I know is that one after another, demonic-looking forms seem to be pulled from my body. I’ve read nothing about this sort of experience happening when taking ayahuasca. And now I see an image of a mountain in Libya—a supposedly haunted mountain that I climbed a year and a half ago, despite strong warnings from locals. A voice tells me that whatever is now leaving my body attached itself to me in that place.”
Even today, local Tuareg refused to be near Kaf Ajnoun. Guides would say no to tourists who would like to hike to the top. Locals and travelers reported hearing strange sounds from the haunted mountain and stories of encounters with supernatural beings.