Laszlo was no exception to the rumors of the mythical city. Flying a Gipsy Moth, he explored the Gilf Kebir, a Switzerland-size massif deep in the Sahara along the Libyan border where Zersura was reportedly located. With vertical cliffs rising over 1,000 feet on the west and the Trackless Great Sand Sea on the east, the plateau was inaccessible except by air. What Laszlo found and photographed from the air was a vegetated wadi corresponding to Wilkinson’s description of Zersura but rather than a white-washed city of the desert”, he found only a few Tebu huts – evidence nonetheless that nomads knew and regularly used the oasis.
This is similar to the mystic of Timbuctoo – once considered to be the Eldorado of Africa. The rumor that the city contained an immeasurable quantity of gold originated from the 1500s when camel caravans traversed northern Africa. They did return to Cairo with gold but it did not originate in Timbuctoo. It was transported from other regions up the Niger River.
For more information: The Lost Oasis: The Desert War and the Hunt for Zerzura by Saul Kelly; and The Secret Life of Laszlo Almasy by John Bierman.