As you already know we were in touch with Mr Saleh or his assistant every day. We were asking whether there would be enough stuff (luggages/ white goods) or other cars to load on the barge and “dispatch” it to Sudan. Mr Saleh was nice to us; he was trying to help, but every day he was saying that there was not enough things to cover cost of the barge. We lost the chance of going to Sudan with the Dutch Crew previous week and we seriously lost our hope of getting out from Egypt. We felt very downhearted as we never expected other overlanders soon (As Situation is Syria was getting worse and worse). We even were thinking about going back, but didn’t know how and if. On Saturday we came to see Mr Saleh in his Navigation Office. The first thing he did was a big smile towards us and then he said: “I have good news to you, Charlie you are going on the bout on Monday”. Firstly, we thought that we misunderstood him as we couldn’t believe such good news. But he confirmed it again and said: “There are other overlanders from Great Britain, who are going with you.” Of course we paid immediately – as it was confirmation for us, a real proof that we were seriously leaving Egypt. Well, it was sort of lots of money, but we were prepared for those prices:
1) We paid around 238 EP/ person (40 USD) for the second class deck seat (basically half of a bench or liitle space on the deck)
2) We paid around 2012 EP (335 USD) for Rusty (for a space on the barge)
With full of joy, we did some shopping and we came back to Adam Home to pack Rusty and ourselves. We asked Mohamed for help as we needed some lift from and to the harbour. Mohamed offered himself and his car without any „buts” and „ifs”.
Next day (Sunday) in the morning we were still packing – we were segregating what to take with us and what to leave in Rusty. It was around 11 AM when we got phone call from Mr Saleh, who was asking where we were as we needed to be in the harbour right then. We were a little bit confused – the day before – he never specified what time were supposed be leave Rusty on the barge. Anyway , in another 10 minutes we were ready to go to the port, but firstly we needed to go to TRAFFIC POLICE (we already dealt with Traffic Court). We arrived there around 12.00 AM. Charlie went to the building and one of the guys said that because Charlie was delayed and we wouldn’t go anywhere as they were just about closing their office. He also added that he didn’t know that we were coming, and generally it was too late and we had to wait till next barge. Charlie got a little bit angry and showed him our ferry tickets and said that we already talked to Mr Saleh. The guy was very stubborn with saying „no”, „no” , but finally he called to Mr Saleh to confirm whether we were going on the ferry or not. Mr Saleh confirmed that we were supposed to be on the ferry and the guy very reluctantly coped with Charlie and Rusty’s papers. Traffic Police is the place where you leave Egyptian Number plate and the slip from Traffic Court. Because driving without Egyptian Number plates is illegal, someone from the the Traffic Police needs to go with you to the Port (sort of escort and confirmation that you wouldn’t drive in Egypt without the country number plates).
At the Harbour, we paid some little money as an entrance fee, they checked our car and we drove in. We parked near to the building and Charlie went to Immigration Office and other offices and only our Carnet de Passage got stamped out. Before we drove close to the barge, someone quickly checked Rusty’s chassis number.
After we were done with paperwork and car control, the real adventure started. We needed to place our van on the barge. Nevertheless I didn’t witness the process of putting Rusty of the barge as in the meantime of dealing with paperwork we called Mohamed to take us back to the Adam Home. Because Mohamed was already waiting for us, I decided to leave the harbour and find our friend. Getting back through a queue to Immigration Office among Egyptian and Sudanese people was very interesting. Suddenly , a nice guy appeared and helped me get out of that place. At the gate I saw Mohamed waiting for us, but the official who was checking my passport was confused that why my Egyptian visa was not stamped out and Sudanese not even touched…Mohamed helped me to explain that I was just there to park my car on the barge and that I would be leaving next day. In another 30 minutes or more, Charlie finally joined us telling the „Rusty on barge” story.
The place where Charlie was supposed to park, was as wide as Rusty were. Someone from the barge staff wanted to drive our car on the barge, but Charlie refused and said that he would do it on his own. They were directing Charlie how to drive on the barge, but few more moves and Rusty would collapse. Charlie found his way of parking Rusty on the designated place and after a while our car finally was perfectly placed among…washing machines, fridges, bags of tomatoes and potatoes:). Moreover barge crew asked Charlie for van keys as there are mid-lake Sudanese vehicle inspections. We heard about that and we were afraid that this may happen… Well, finally Charlie never handed our keys over. He couldn’t get why someone would do a car inspection in the middle of the lake… somehow he ducked out of it and we kept our keys.
Next day, we were supposed to be at the port in the morning. As we were told that barge was leaving at 11AM. We asked Mohamed for a ride and we finally said good bye to him. We went to the Immigration Office and then towards ferry. We saw Rusty looking good on the barge as well. We were group of passengers who came firstly and after the ferry got unloaded, we had that priority to go and look for a nice places to sit. In the meantime, we finally met other overlanders, who were also driving from the UK, but we didn’t have talked much as they were still dealing with paperwork and car.
We found perfect seats! It was actually a place for women only, but no body was trying to kick Charlie out. That part of ferry had nice benches and it was air-conditioned. It was so good for me as I started getting dehydrated again
Few hours later the barge left and we were watching as our Rusty was sailing down the lake. We were full of hope, we would see him again! An hour or so later our ferry also leflt (not at 11AM as we were told but much later).
People we were sitting next to were very nice. When it was finally after sunset they were eating and they were sharing with us. We didn’t want to eat their food, but it would be impolite to refused. We also realised that there is a meal included in the ticket price. We had chicken and lots of veggies, and I have to say that it was delicious!
As non Sudanese/Egyptian passengers we were “interviewed” by a immigration guy (still on the board). Moreover, we needed to fill the Immigration forms and after that we received the Sudan entry stamps (but those stamps are only beginning of another procedure you will read in next country posts).
When we got back to our benches, they were sort of occupied by sleeping people (Anyway this ferry is not a 5 stars luxurious Caribbean ship and everybody sleeps wherever finds a place – on the luggages like Charlie or on the deck or on the floor.)
Firstly I wanted to lie down on some bags – they looked comfy and tempting really, but amazing lady sitting on the other bench asked me to sleep on her spot. I was refusing, but she was insisting. Finally I was sleeping on the bench, while she took the floor. It was incredible. That lady was just too pleasant! In the morning she gave me some perfumed water for refreshing. Absolutely amazing experience and I was feeling like a mascot, but in this very positive way.
In the morning we were exploring ferry outside and again we saw Abu Simbel Temles
After I think 20 hours (next day afternoon) we finally docked to Wadi Halfa..Ultimately land…At long last Sudan…