has been a hectic couple of days and we are somewhere I was starting to believe
impossible – on a barge and heading for Sudan! What a mad rush it all turned
out to be. Today is Wednesday. We arrived in Aswan on Monday and at 6:30pm went
to the Nile River Navigation offices to see if maybe they could help us in some
way. Not only could they help us, but they told us that there was a barge
leaving on the following day! It had been booked and paid for by a Swiss group
and he was sure that they would be amenable to sharing space and costs. He
didn’t know where to find them but thought that they may be camping. They were
there and were more than happy for us to join them. From there it was a rush off
to buy some basic stocks for the journey and the unknown of Sudan, send off an
email to tell the world of our luck then dinner and off to bed for a sleepless
Tuesday, we met Felix and Alfons (father and son) at the campsite at 8am. We had
been told to be at the port at 9am sharp and ‘do not be late’! We arrived at
8:30am but were not allowed in and had to wait outside. We stayed there until
about 11:30am when Scott and Felix finally managed to convince the guard to let
us in. From there it was to the car office to sort out the plates and carnet.
What a disaster! The others had lost a number plate which proved to be a major
stumbling block. They went backwards and forwards – even going back to Aswan
to sort it out while we did the paperwork for our car to get onto the ship and
tickets for ourselves. We were done by about 1:30pm and waited until 3:30pm for
Felix to get back from Aswan. By this stage the boat was loaded and everyone
claimed to be waiting for us. This may have been true but when we got to the
boat, only then did they start thinking about ramps to load up the cars.
We got going at about 4:30pm, I had expected 2pm (we were told 9am) so
was way out! It was a hellish day – hot, hot, hot but we made it – carnet
stamped and passport stamped. Hopefully now we get into Sudan!
about the boat. It takes 3 days and costs ŁE5870 independent of the number of
cars. There is a boat which runs regardless but what we did is basically hire a
big flat barge which gets tied next to the boat and moves along with it. We are
still really on day 1 on the boat (less than 24hr here) but we already know why
it takes so long. Last night at 7:30pm we tied up at an island to spend the
night, getting going again at 6am this morning. Oh well, we’ll turn this into
our personal Nile Cruise! We slept under the starts last night, it was pretty
warm but at least bearable.
morning we were up at 6 and I have done the washing – underwear stocks were at
an all time low, and Scott has done a mini-service and an oil change. It is now
10:30am and I feel as if the day is hours old. It is but I am expecting lunch by
about now! It is hellishly hot and the wind caused by our forward motion helps a
little but not nearly enough. We
have rigged up a shelter so that at least we have shade.
still struggling to come to terms with how lucky we’ve been with this. Not
only did Felix and Alfons do all the hard work in arranging the barge, they took
over 2 weeks to do it and we walk in the day before they are due to leave and
get the benefit! The timing is scary – neither of us even want to think about
the consequences of being even 24 hours later. We skipped the oasis route and
left Cairo as soon as my health permitted – both of which turned out to be
very lucky decisions. Even better is that they are 2 really nice guys and we
have made a decision to travel through Sudan together which makes all of us feel
a lot better. Scott is also happy that we don’t have to separate – one of us
staying with the car and one on the regular ferry. So, things are looking great
– we are ahead of schedule, heading for Sudan and have excellent travelling
companions. OK so three days on a boat is boring but small price to pay!
morning and we’re still here! After getting on the boat on Tuesday, this is
turning into a long, slow process. We are currently tied up just outside Wadi
Halfa harbour. We got here yesterday morning but Sudan appears to close it's borders
on a Friday – at least it does here. Fundamentalist Muslim government and all.
We are supposed to land today but now at 8:30am after a regular 6am start, there
have still been no moves made so who knows when it will happen?
the boat trip itself, well it was long, hot and pretty boring. The heat was the
worst. We rigged up our tarp for shade but it was still terrible. We were
nervous about swimming because my medical book says bilharzia is a risk, even in
deep water. So we sweated! The highlight was seeing Abu Simbel from quite close.
The dam is narrow at that point and we got a pretty good view of the monument.
It is very impressive and I don’t know which is more incredible – building
it in the first place or moving in a couple of thousand years later.
were sleeping on deck in a windstorm and getting covered in a layer of sand.
Yuck! We used the opportunity to figure out a way of sleeping in the car. We
have slept inside for 2 nights now and it works pretty well. A tent is still
preferable but if we have to camp wild in Sudan, we will feel safer in the car.
must rate as one of the most boring days I have ever had. At least when we were
on the move we had an occasional cooling breeze, a few boats passing us,
changing scenery (vaguely) and above all, the feeling of progress, of moving
towards a destination. Yesterday we had none of that – just stagnation. At
least I am getting on with the reading of my Spanish book!
are all starting to get edgy and nervous about what lies ahead. We are all more
and more retreating into our own private space and not socialising much. I guess
it is better than arguing and bickering. I am fully recovered from my sick
episode but yesterday Felix was not feeling well, also his stomach, at least he
feels better today. We’ll have to see how it goes I guess and can do nothing
until we get off the boat. I just hope that we all get into Sudan OK, this
waiting eats away at the nerves.
engine is running now but we are still firmly tied up and moored to shore so no
idea what is happening.