I finally rolled off the ferry to arrive in Egypt,5 hours behind schedule, I put my tent up in the port,too many people for my stress level limits to bother with the reknowned customs. I make it though customs fairly quickly despite reports to the contrary, though having to leave the control to get even more money,something it transpires the Egyptians are keen to do. I head to the beach for lunch under a shade tree,people wave, shout and smile as they pass in 4x4s, perhaps Egypt will be good. I see the track running way down the beach long towards the horizon, and think it stupid to ride such track with no map and low water supplies and with this thought I decide to head down the beach! 50km of sandy, corrugated track with endless beautiful scenery and numerous police check points (and a swim) I come to a problem, the track ends, I speak to some locals who tell me about a Camel track,but nearly falling in to the sea, my bike beached on a boulder at its mid drift I head backwards in failing light, back to the port. I head to Suez, more spectacular scenery and on to Port Said, then down to dreaded Cairo. On the way, I am invited for tea nd later I pass through Mansura, a buzzing stretch of shops which I decide must be viewed more closely. I park, walk 15 paces and am arrested. 3 hours later I am released, no apology and no reason.
In Cairo, lost I ask a guy for directions, “follow me!”, we travel at warp speed, and I mean fast, we pass Chewbacka in the millennium falcon somewhere near the opera and I reach the hostel in a slightly disheveled state, but find it i only $3 per night including breakfast! I spend 5 days here, mainly organising visas and trying to find maps. Luckily, apart from the constant pestering of people, Cairo was actually good! I meet the three left hands here, 3 great Dutch guys travelling in a VW camper….they’ve been in Cairo one month alone!
I hit the road to Alamien for WW2 fix (not before seeing Dashur pyramids, no Giza) then out to Siwa oasis, 300km of desert road….here I am told the road onward is only allowed in group, I cant find one and decide to back track and take a different road to the net oasis in the route, this road it turns out is military, requires a permit from Alexandria, here I am told I must get it from Cairo, so 1200km for nothing! In Cairo I am told I need no permit!
I take another road to Bahariya (eventually), then into the spectacular Black desert and en the white desert. Camping here was an absolute treat. Then into a petrol dead end, no petrol at the only place for 210km in each direction, luckily after asking a billion people one nice fella fills me up, with something resembling petrol, and also a cuppa!
Then I’m tailed by the military for 90km and a lunch stop through desert, they don’t realise that I don’t actually have to go to Luxor to get to Aswan, i give them a geography lesson and am let n my way.
In Aswan I inquire about the road to Sudan, generally regarded as closed to non-arabs, after many inquiries it seems not possible and i am low on time with my visa and carnet running out, and reluctantly go to persuade the ferry company to squeeze me on.
After more paperwork, created only to create jobs I make it on board,meeting again with the three left hands and also Steve a smashing – and well travelled – backpacker and Miguel, Elody and Lola, a French family travelling in a Peugeot RV! We discuss Egypt and the general consensus is – nice country, but shame about the people,most of whom (though not all) were untrustworthy and only out to rip us off, each of us now full of distrust of people are pleased to leave and vow not to return, a shame as the country is beautiful.
We all join up for the Sudan leg at least until Khartoum. Its a good job because I have clearly not researched it enough. Our vehicles arrive a day later and we skip through customs (without paying).
The road is pretty bad as roads go, managing 25mph maximum, covering only 120km per day. Food and petrol are fairly scarce, food is also bizarrely expensive. it takes 5 days to reach the next major town, Dongola, but 5 great days through amazing scenery, in blistering temperatures of 45C, with great, great people.
We visit some pyramids, before being hassled for permits and continue to Khartoum, from here I will ATTEMPT to follow in Ted Simon’s tire marks,taking a 400km stretch of desert from Atbara to Kassala on the Eritrean border. This could be tough indeed, took Ted Simon 6 days, or more but is what Sudan is all about for me.
There is unfortunately way too much to write about, thousands of photos, and now I am i listening to Steve recount even more stories. I will sadly miss our group of 8, but i decided long ago to try the dirt track to Kassala, first of course, I need a permit to do so!