Egypt, part one



Egypt !
Another country that was not planned on our initial itinerary and what a country ! We arrived in the country from the East, on the slow ferry from Aqaba (Jordan) to Nuweiba. The boat was full of men (many of them, we thought, were returning from the Haj in Mecca). There was not a single woman or tourist in sight. Although we had been travelling since HK on Belgian passports, we had decided to enter Egypt on our 2nd passports as to be able to send passports home to apply for Libyan visas. As we entered the boat, there was a small check we had not expected and when asked for our nationality, we duly answered "Belgium" ! The man was not amused when we presented him our British and Canadian passports and snapped back "Do you also have Israeli passports ?". 


Sunset on the Gulf of Aqaba (left), Kathleen on the Santa Catherine (centre), serious packing that all had to be undone at the Egyptian customs (right)


Our first encounter with Egypt was done at the port of Nuweiba : not the best of introductions. Amongst the family of overlanders, entering Egypt by car is known as a serious headache and it was no exception for us. Despite having all the right documents, some people have spent 3 days at border crossings trying to get in. This bureaucratic nightmare involves paying tips, baksheesh and other fees. After walking around the port and asking 5 different people where to go for the first step, Christian still blew his top off.  Luckily Kathleen found a very helpful employee of the Egyptian Tourism Police who went through the whole process for us for one small baksheesh (present Carnet de Passage, pay for import permit, get a local license, get stamp in passports, clear the car through customs, declare video camera written in passport, obtain a temporary number plates, buy auto insurance, plastify the local license (!), photocopy all documents, pay for this pay for that, get a receipt for this and get a receipt for that...) After a 2 or 3 hours of paperwork, we got moving again up to the gate where it all started again. Please show us your Carnet de Passage, passports, insurance, license. Everybody's interested so everybody wants to have a look at our papers. By then it's 11 pm and we've spent 4 hours at the Jordan border, 4 hours on a ferry and 4 hours at the Egyptian border. It was 1 am before we found a quiet spot on the beach and went to bed. As soon as we switched off the engine, 3 men with flashlights came by. Police. Is it OK to sleep here ? Yes...


First night in Egypt, Nuweiba, Sinai


After climbing Mt Sinai and visiting the coloured canyon, we settled in easy-going Dahab for a week whilst Kathleen learned to dive. We met with a few overlanders who must have thought the "Palm Beach" camp was the best ! The first of our extra pages is on the Sinai.


A Benz van from Hamburg (left), a old-timer Opel cum Ford Transit roof from Germany (centre) and an old VW van from South Africa !


The day we left Dahab was special. After crossing the Sinai desert from east to west, we reached the Suez canal that severs Africa from Asia. From a distance we started seeing the top of huge container boats sliding over the desert !  A very special sight indeed. That day, we crossed from Asia to Africa by car !


One of many wrecks in the Sinai desert (left), Troopie's new Egyptian identity : Sinai customs 8876 (centre) and the Suez Canal tunnel leading to Africa (right)


Left turn to Cairo and Africa !


A container ship on the Suez Canal. The area is controlled by the Egyptian army and taking pictures is said to be forbidden. Just try snatching a roll of film out of my camera !


After a night in the car in Suez, we headed straight to Cairo. We found an incredibly well-stocked supermarket called "Alfa", filled up with petrol and fruits and headed further West to the Western Desert (our second extra page). 


Buying fruit on a Cairo street (left), our first sight of the Nile (centre) and a friendly petrol station crowd (right)


Here are our extra pages on Egypt I : 

The Sinai desert The Western or Libyan Desert 50,000 km since HK


Coming from Jordan Back to Trip page Egypt, part II