Egypt IV

USEFUL INFO FOR OVERLANDERS HOW TO CROSS THE BORDER FROM EGYPT TO SUDAN

Ironically we spend a month in Egypt – almost a week of it was to get  into the country and 2 weeks to get out:P

 Every single overlanding crew has different experience with border crossing between Egypt and Sudan. I have read plenty of Africa overlanding blogs and in comparison to our  adventure I found similarities  and differences  related to the entire process of crossing this difficult border (Even prices for a ferry per passenger were various and I am not talking about taking 1st or 2nd class).

Another issue I want to talk about is: fixer on the border. I have read in many blogs that having a fixer is necessary as you won’t do any paperwork without a professional help! That is not true!!! You can do everything on your own. We did it! True – Fixer will help you and save you lots of stress and probably time, therefore  if you have extra monies to pay for help and you want to save hassles you can do it, but if you are patient and prefer do some cost savings you can do paperwork at the border by yourself. Definitely no speaking in Arabic is not a reason to not to deal with officials on your own at the port or other offices. Fixers are helpful, but they cost money.

Anyway, those are our tips and sort of step by step instruction how to deal on your own hope it would be helpful for some of you, who prefer doing stuff alone:D

GPS CORDINATIONS

ADAM HOME – N24 10,161 E32 51,977

Mohamed Mobile number:  002 001 224 42 17 67 Note: Mohamed is not a fixer, he a very friendly guy, who just can help you in a different way)

NILE NAVIGATION OFFICE :  N 24° 05.949 E32° 53.982 (next to the tourist office in sort of a mall)

Mr Saleh Takourny – the manager of the booking office

Phone no: 002 012 8316 0926

e-mail: Takourny@gmail.com

TRAFFIC COURT : N 24° 03.693 E32° 53.153 „Drive south on the Corniche, follow the turn around the Nubian Museum and turn left at the “COOP” (blue sign) petrol station. Follow right and then left.”

TRAFFIC POLICE:  N 24° 05.043 E 32° 54.504 (hectic building)

HIGH DAM PORT: N 23° 58.223 E 32° 53.755

Sudanese Embassy  – I have read that they have recently changed location. Now the place is next to Rudwan Mosque. It is probably the best place of getting Sudanese visa as it’s 50USD (in Cairo it is 100USD and we paid similar in Berlin 80EUR)

Step by step what to do (very short instructions)

1)      Get your Sudanese visa, if if still don’t have it

2)      Friday or the latest Saturday go to Nile Navigation Office and talk to Mr Saleh. Make sure that you will be on the ferry and there is barge also going. Little advice – Show Mr Saleh  respect and be nice to him then he will be respectful to you and also very helpful (Some people didn’t have nice opinions about him, but to us he was very helpful and friendly)

3)      Go to Traffic Court – you will need copy of your passport, driving licence and carnet de passage, plus you need to give them back your Egyptian Driving License (white paper – see the first post about Egypt, you will see an example) Copies can be made in opposite to  the Traffic Court building. In Traffic Court you will also receive a receipt which you need to give in Traffic Police

4)      Go to Traffic Police (next to the big supermarket „Moria”) hand over receipt from Traffic Court and your Egyptian number plates. Someone from Traffic Police will go with you to the Port (escort you)

5)      Then you are going to the High Dam Port (you are paying some little money as a entrance fee to the harbour) you need to stamp out your carnet and put your vehicle on the barge. Try to not hand over your car keys. We somehow we managed to keep them, but many overlanders leave car keys with the barge crew. Remember also that you need copies of your passport and carnet de passage.

And also remember  to take all valuables and useful things with you on the ferry as you don’t know exactly when the barge will dock to Wadi Halfa. Don’t forget your visa photos, they are needed in Sudan:)

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Aswan – 3 days of faked happiness

The reasons why we had to stay in Aswan 2 weeks were:

1)getting us on the ferry to Sudan and

2) getting Rusty on the barge, which also goes to Sudan

It sounds simple, but it’s not really. The border between Egypt and Sudan is long, but all land border crossing are closed.There is a talk of a land border opening up, but that’s been a rumour for years. Who knows maybe that happy day will come,  so far the only way to get to Sudan from Egypt or vice versa is a passenger ferry  and separate barge for vehicles, which runs across the world’s largest man –  made  Lake Nasser . Passenger ferry leaves once a week (Monday) and separate barge, which transport cars and other goods, leaves when it is fully packed and barge company’s costs are covered.  It is very important to arrive to Aswan at least 4 days before ferry leaves and do all paperwork!

When we arrived to Aswan/ Adam Home it was already late afternoon. Next day, Charlie was feeling better, so we decided to go the town and start organising ferry to Sudan. Before we left, Mohamed had shown us their Guest Book – but it wasn’t just a guest book with comments regarding the place. That thing was seriously very useful as other overlanders, who stayed at Adam Home wrote about their experiences connected with leaving Egypt (Plenty of advices where to go, what to do firstly, how to behave and lots of useful GPS coordinates). The guest book is worth to have a look!

The first thing you need to do/you need to have before you start doing all paperwork in Egypt to get on the ferry to Sudan is SUNDANESE VISA. Unfortunately, our visas to Sudan, which Charlie organised in Berlin expired and we needed to apply for another ones. Surprisingly, it was very easy to get them. Aswan seems to be the best place to apply for Sundanese visas. We paid 50 USD/person (in Berlin 80 Euros/person) and we could pick them up within two hour the same day.

Next, we went to Nile Navigation Office (Ticket Office) to talk with the Manager Mr Saleh and buy tickets  for a ferry and barge. Unfortunately, there was no Mr Saleh around, so we left. When we were  about to drive back to Adam Home, some guy came to us and asked whether we were interested in getting on the next  ferry to Sudan. He also asked if we wanted to join his customers in solving all paperwork. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were – firstly there was a chance to leave Egypt that soon, secondly there were other overlanders, other people who wanted to cross Africa by their car (Due to unstable situation in the Middle East and that time lack of ferry between Turkey and Egypt we lost our hope to meet other overlanders).  That was the moment of joy. In Aswan,  we met first overlanders and their unusual mode of transport. Let me present : Dirk&Trudy, their crew and amazing car – 1915 Model T-Ford from the Netherlands. They are travelling around the World in order to raise money to support the worldwide work of SOS Children’s villages International.  The black continent was just one part of their around the World expedition.

If your are interested in Model T World Tour have a look here:  

T-Ford Model World Tour

We agreed to join them and even used their fixer as the perspective of going to Sudan that soon was very tempting. Their fixer took us to the TRAFFIC COURT. In traffic court you need to get a slip of paper that  says you haven’t committed any driving offences whilst driving in Egypt (Remember our car crush with UFO, while we were leaving Cairo? Finally, we never  reported this car incident to anyone officially and  that was a good decision as otherwise, who knows how many problems we would get at Traffic Court). The fixer was helping us to get those slips, but to be honest (when you are leaving Egypt) you are able to do all paperworks without any helpers. Even though we started going forward with paperwork, we still were not very convinced that we would leave Egypt with the crew form the Netherlands as we still didn’t have ferry tickets. The fixer (I think his name was Mohamed) said that he spoke with Mr Saleh and all we needed to do was just go to his office next day and pay for tickets. After  traffic court we were told that rest of the paperwork would be solved next day and today we should pack and enjoy Aswan. With smiles on our faces we came back to Adam Home and we started packing. In the evening we met with Dirk, Trudy and rest of the crew as they had invited us for a delicious dinner.

Next day, we said good bye to our Nubian friends and very happy went to Mr Saleh Office to buy tickets…Well, we knew that perspective of leaving Egypt was to beautiful to be real. At the Nile Navigation Office we were told that we were actually not going to Sudan on the next ferry as there was not enough space for our Rusty on the barge. Mr Saleh told us that they forgot about the car, which was already in the harbour. That vehicle couldn’t go on the previous barge as it was suspected of smuggling drugs and police needed to check it. The car was clean and it had precedence to go first. We were also told that we might go on the ferry next week or in two weeks…. or we could pay around 2000 USD and hire private barge to transport our van. We didn’t have a choice and we needed to wait till the barge would be fully packed to cross the Lake. It was seriously depressive as there was no other overlanders and local people generally don’t transport their cars. We could wait ages…With that perspective, but also with little hope we were waiting for miracle!!

During the next week we were calling Mr Saleh, waiting for his phone call, visiting him in his office and asking whether  there was a chance for a barge next Monday. The whole situation was horrible, we were trying to be patient, but we were getting more and more frustrated. Most of the time we were spending at Adam Home (as we naturally came back there), but time to time we were going out and we were  exploring Aswan and surroundings…We needed to do something otherwise we would go crazy.

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Around Aswan

During our stay in Aswan we needed to find ourselves an entertainment. We were exploring Aswan in many ways. We were climbing the nearest dunes, as you already know we visited  Nubian village, plus we did some other sightseeing. For instance we went to see the High Dam, we did a day Nile Cruise with Mohamed and we explored the most amazing Temple in the whole Egypt – Abu Simbel.

Regarding to High Dam – it is an example of modern and also controversial construction on monumental scale in Egypt. The main target of that enormous  investment  was to increase economic production by further regulating the annual river flooding.  Nevertheless, it also brought great benefits to the Egypt’s farmers increasing cultivable land by at least 30%. And helped a lot in generating hydroelectricity – the electricity producing capability of the Dam doubled Egypt’s available supply. As a curiosity: the hydro-electric power generated is able to supply electricity to the whole of the country, however when we were in Aswan every day sometimes night the town had lot of power cuts – some of them lasted even few hours. The Aswan High Dam has produced several negative side effects, mostly environmental such as: raise of water tables, use of artificial fertilisers led to increasing salinity of the the agricultural areas and it caused endemic infection in perennially irrigated canals.Aswan High Dam is very often visited by tourists as it is historic attraction.

In terms of hassle, Aswan was much better that other cities in the North. Of course we had to deal time to time with insolent people, but it wasn’t that bad. When we were in town we of course were buying lots of water and other soft drinks. We discovered a sort of street shop (nearby the Nile Navigation Office) with a  large choice of drinks.  When we came first time, they were trying to cheat us. The conversation started like this:

Us: – “Salam Alaikum, how much for the Sprite?”

Seller:- “ 7 Egyptian Pounds”

Us:- “Ok, how much for the Coke?”

S: – “ 7 Egyptian Pounds”

U: – “Ok, how much for the water?”

S: – “ 5 Egyptian Pounds”

The prices were clear – we were supposed to pay 19EP. We didn’t have smaller money that day than 50EP and we gave that note to the seller. He gave us only 5 EP change(!) He looked into Charlie’ s eyes with a confused face expression and asked: – “Is that ok?”

We looked at him and said:  – “No it’s not ok, we gave you 50 EP and we were supposed pay 19 EP”

The guy gave us 10 EP more, smiled and asked: – “Is it ok now?”

We got a little bit angry, but still politely answered: – “No, it’s no ok, you need to give us more change”

After, third time we finally got 30EP change….

They were trying some funny games the next time we went over to buy more drinks, but already after a few words the owner said to the guy who was serving us “Halas!” (which mean Stop/That’s enough!) – And after that suddenly everyone started counting correctly and shopping became so much easier.

In Aswan we also discovered shop with souvenirs, which was named: „No hassle shop”. That name was interesting, and I wanted to test whether it was really no hassle…Well nobody bothered me, but young boy (seller) asked me 6 Euros for one not even looking good postcard! A wayyy to expensive…

What we definitely would love to recommend to anyone in Aswan is McDonald with  one of the best views ever – On the Nile River🙂. It was weird, but fast food helped Charlie to recover faster. We assumed that due to Ramadan all sandwiches were freshly made on customer’s request. The buns were crispy, salad fresh and meat juicy🙂 Plus they had amazing, seriously amazing freshly squeezed orange juice.

In Aswan we also noticed enormous amount of luxurious cruise ships. They were mostly docked on the river banks…they were half empty, just time to time we saw a person in bikini/swimming trunks walking on the ship’s roof deck, where swimming pool and leisure area were available.

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The Nile Day with Mohamed

It was seriously amazing day. Mohamed and his relative took us on a boat cruise through the Nile. We paid 150 EP for a whole day and that was a really good price. That boat trip was brilliant –Nile breeze in that heat was very pleasant and relaxing. It was lovely to lie down and feel that gentle wind.

On our „Nile Day” we also explored:

1)      Aswan Botanic Garden  – The place was given to Lord Kitchener, who was commander of Egyptian Army in 1890’s. He had passion for stunning palms and plants, so he transformed the entire island into Botanic Garden and imported plants India and other parts of Africa

2)      Old Cataract  – We didn’t explore that place, but we were able to see it up-close. Old Cataract is a luxurious hotel, where Agatha Christie was writing her novel Death on the Nile

3)      Elephantine Island – We were discovering the ancient Nubian City Ruins

Short video:

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One day in majestic Abu Simble Temples

Abu Simbel itself is the village, located only 40 km from Sudanese border, however mostly  it is associated with two amazing temples:  The great Temple of Ramses II and Temple of Hatkor.

Abu Simbel is around 300 km from Aswan. The road (very good condition) to get there is open, but foreigners are only allowed to travel in police convoy (Mostly tourists travel by buses or microbuses – among those coaches Rusty looked pretty funny).

Mohamed told us, that convoys leaves from the parking, which in front of the Unfinished Obelisk. The day before our trip, we went there to get some info. We drove on the parking and there was nothing, no sign, no cars, no tourist info place. Fortunately, we noticed a policeman who gave us information we needed. Convoys to Abu Simbel gathers every day in the parking lot opposite the Unfinished Obelisk at 4am and 11am

We decided to go at 4am. We arrived on the designated plate punctually, but surprisingly, there was not even a single bus with tourists. We were told that the convoy had left  5 minutes ago. ..We were very upset, but  very nice policeman helped us. He said that we still could join the convoy, but we needed to be hurry up. He also called someone on the first check point and informed him, that 2 tourists in white Mercedes Van were coming and they were allowed to drive further and catch up the rest of the buses and coaches…We managed..after 100km we finally joined the convoy

THE GREAT ABU SIMBEL TEMPLES:

Both Temples were originally carved out of the mountainside on the west bank of the Nile. They were relocated to Abu Simbel in 1960’s due to raising waters of the Lake Nasser formed after the creation of Aswan High Dam. The Great Temple of Ramses II was not only dedicated to gods and but also to deified Pharaoh himself. The Temple is guarded by four  more than 20m tall, commanding statues of the Ramses II.

In terms of costs – for that one day excursion the price was really profitable. For (all together) 600 km of the road leading through the desert we paid only 10-12 USD for diesel and plus 40 EP/person (student ID) for entrance ticket to the Abu Simble Temples.

When we were coming back we noticed a sign of Wadi Halfa (Sudan) – It was so close…but we needed to come back to Aswan and wait for a ferry

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Bye bye Egypt – on the ferry

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…

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