Once we had docked in Nuweiba, the fun started. Welcome to Egypt… or to Hell. Firstly the ferry called Queen Nefertiti was delayed about 3 hours and secondly when we finally had arrived to the harbor, for some reasons we needed to spend another 60 minutes inside the ferry.
When we finally drove off from the ferry, bureaucratic and complicated process started! Firstly we needed visas as we didn’t manage to get them in Jordan due to lack of time. Getting visas was quite easy as there was one very helpful official who took Charlie to proper office and Charlie managed to get visas in 15 minutes. In the meantime other guys were searching our van.
Visa cost for Polish = 15 USD/person
Once we had got visas, hard time came for Rusty. We knew from other travelers and bloggers that this border is demanding, but we never ever expected it would take that long…So ladies and gentlemen Egyptian car paperwork and bureaucracy took “only” 2 hours and 5 DAYS!
People who know the topic of travelling by car to Egypt by one car, they also know that Egyptian borders are not the easiest. Anyway firstly you need your carnet de passage – Every Automobile Club, which issues carnet has different rules – RAC in the UK demands 800% value of your car as permission for temporary import of your vehicle on Egyptian territory.
We didn’t want to leave such high deposit of 800% especially that we found out that some travelers managed to drive into Egypt without carnet de passage by using Egyptian temporary import documents. Unaware of hell connected with bureaucracy we decided to rely on luck.
When Charlie started dealing with the car paperwork, somehow one of officials signed our carnet and the whole long procedure started. We thought we were the luckiest people ever, but not that time unfortunately. The main boss noticed that our carnet is not valid for Egypt and we had to stay in Nuweiba Harbor till we found the best solution for Rusty and us. It took 5 days. Charlie and I could find some campsite or hotel nearby the harbor, but we couldn’t leave our Rusty alone. It was a very good decision as in the morning we noticed that the place we were looked like a cemetery of abandoned and destroyed vehicles (see photos)
Just short instruction called “how to beat bureaucracy without losing patience when you are in Nuweiba with your own car”:
1) You need to have your passport (of course), carnet the passage and V5 (car ownership document in the UK)
2) In Egypt you need to have at least one 2 kg extinguisher (We took two 1 kg extinguishers) – they never checked us, however many overlanders have problems with it.
3) Our entry cost were between 150 – 180 USD
We paid: road tax, car insurance at Delta Insurance (which is anyway useless), number plate and many, many photo copies of our and their documents. (We paid less than usual as we were not 4×4)
4) You need to use help of English speaking Ashraf (someone from the Tourism Police in an official uniform) as all documents are in Arabic and dealing with it by yourself is kind of impossible. Moreover, because of your Ashraf, coping with paperwork is less time consuming as all your stuff is done offhand without standing in a long queue. Our guy – Ibrahim was slow and he liked disappearing sometimes for longer, but in general he was very helpful and friendly.
The whole process of running around offices in Nuweiba is very oftensimilar, therefore if you are interested, you can read story of other overlanders, which we scanned from Overlanders’ Handbook by Chriss Scott.
During those 5 days we were thinking how we could enter Egypt with our car. We had some options, but each on involved lots of money.
1) Pay rest of the deposit (600%of Rusty’s value) to RAC in the UK
2) Pay some money plus deposit and leave Egypt within 3 days with some guy who, was supposed to make sure that we seriously leave the country in that time.
3) Pay some CRAZY amount of money (as a deposit and fixed price) to Customs and enjoy Egypt longer than 3 days
We didn’t want to use first option as we, so we decided to deal with Egyptians. We were thinking about second option – but it was not really worth it. They wanted around 600 USD, plus around 500 USD as a deposit, plus we needed to pay for accommodation and food of guarding us guy. Moreover, Egyptian officials were telling us every 10 minutes different version of getting that 500 USD deposit back. Firstly, they told us that there would be a guy who was coming after us in a different car with our money. Secondly, that we would get money back from Egyptian Automobile Club in the Port Aswan, but then someone told us that there was no Auto Club in Aswan. Thirdly, that one of us would have to stay in Aswan Harbor with car and second would have to go back to Automobile Club in Cairo to get deposit back. It was TOO fishy, too complicated and we didn’t like those many options. It looked like we couldn’t trust them at all.
When we were trying to use option number three – we didn’t know whether we should have cried of laughed…Charlie called to the Customs in Cairo, told them that we were trying to come to Egypt by car (Mercedes van) without carnet. After a while they told us that we had to leave deposit worth of 450.000 Euros (!), a moment later Charlie added that Mercedes was old and rusty and it was not a limo! They dropped the price to 260.000 Euros (!). No money, no deal!
Finally we had to use option number 1 and pay more deposit to RAC in the UK. At least we knew where our money was (It was the safest option). After we had got fax from RAC confirming that we paid rest of deposit for being on Egyptian land and also after they finally had believed that the fax is original, we were able to pick up the Egyptian number plates. The number plates were the last thing we needed to get; we thanked our Ibrahim (The Tourism Policeman) for his time and involvement and we gave him one of our oldish cell phones. (He looked very happy after he had received the gift). We said good bye to our new friends from Harbor and although it was late (2 AM) (yes, we have heard that in Egypt driving at nights is dangerous), we left Nuweiba. We were in hurry, we wanted to feel freedom again plus there was a thought, which appeared in our heads – the officials would change their minds and they would not let us out…
5 DAYS OF “HOLIDAY” IN THE HARBOR
I am not going to lie it was horrible, nevertheless some Egyptian were seriously very nice to us. Firstly everybody was laughing at us. No one could believe that “tourists” would sleep in their car. Every day situation between us and some local people were changing. They were getting a respect for us. For instance they were sharing food. Once they bought a nice pizza for us and second time an awesome fish. They were friendly and they liked talking with Charlie (mostly sign language, but still). Unfortunately, some Egyptians were not that nice. Very often, when I was going to a shop for something to drink I was coming back with drinks and at least 5 marriage proposals. Some men just didn’t care that I was telling I had a “husband”. In order to avoid some not necessary situations, most of those 5 days I spent in Rusty.
Regarding to drinks – on the fourth day of our stay in Nuweiba, the harbor was running out of drinking water. It was very, very hot and lack of water was a horrible nightmare. Only soft drinks and juices were available, however quenchthirst with very sweet beverages was hard. We were lucky that, on the fifth day we left that place – and trust me, after pure water was the best drink ever, never been sooo tasty!