|Co-ords||N 32 04 48.5
E 26 58 24.2
|Fuel||25 L 45 961.1km from reserve
53.8 L 45 759.4km
37.11 L 46 008km
and 62.9 L into reserve tanks
A long, long, long day. Started at 8:00 ended at 22:00. Two firsts today, the first time to take an entire day to cross a border and the first time (and last) we had to drive at night.
Slept well. The hotel is really OK. Just over the bridge into Tubruq and on the right. Tonightís is a little worse but not phenomenally. It is being renovated and I donít think there are any other guests.
So today was interesting. We arrived at the border at 9:00am this morning and left it on the Egypt side at 17:30 this afternoon. First thing is that you need a stamp in the passport, which you must have before you leave Libya. They sent us back to Tubruq to get it. 260Km round trip to fill in a form we could not read and pay 11 Dinars. The office for this is in the same street as the hotel and just three buildings along on the same side. You have to go to the back, behind the stairwell to see an army captain and get the form. If itís not busy, it wasnít, he will fill it in too, he did.
Back to the border. The Libya side was easy but confusing, first stop hand in numberplate and get money back. The guard took us along and did that for us. Second, hand in car papers, third passport (this is where we got to the first time) , fourth customs. This is behind a big steel gate which they open from time to time so you just sit there waiting, we did for 10 minutes. At the customs they search people but we said that we only had personal stuff so they waved us on.
Egypt side. Stop and show passport, get waved on. Stop again and show passport 20m later, get waved on. Stop again and show passport 100m later get waved on and told to go into the building on the left. Done. Fill in entry form and get stamp in passport. Told to drive to customs. Leave passport control, get stopped again to look at passport. Stop in front of customs shed. Told to unload the car. Fuck. Unload the car of everything, through X-rays, all boxes opened and looked in but not searched. Bags now cleared but car not. Take car to customs. They look at everything, body panels, under matting, even had to park over a trench so they could look underneath. Still did not see safe or safety deposit box bolted underneath.
Go to other side of customs shed to load the boxes. Next stop traffic department. Show Carnet, get a form, they check engine and chassis number, give you a form, go back to customs shed. Go to middle window and get form stamped. Pay E pounds 1200 (USD 300), first go to bank to change money. Go to left window to pay. Go to office in back and leave Carnet but get new forms. Go back to traffic who direct you to buy insurance 20 E pounds. Back to traffic, get insurance stamped, get sent to police for folder and photocopy 4 pounds. Go back to traffic, get numberplates, 34 pounds, and another form. Go back to man with Carnet. Get it stamped. Take carnet back to traffic. More forms, receive little credit card thing with all details from carnet on it. Told goodbye. We pass 6 police checkpoints in the first kilometer in Egypt.
Possibly the last of the cheap diesel. The town with hotels was 200km from the border hence the night drive. Very knackered. Good night. Actually we passed a motel about 10km before Sidi Barrani. Should have stopped. Tomorrow Cairo.
16th May 99
|Co-ords||N 31 21 23.1
E 27 14 01.7
We have travelled a long way in the last 4 days. Now we are in Cairo. A major milestone. Now itís just Cape to Cairo in reverse. Still a big wow. I was worried this morning about the police roadblocks. Donít know why but they are just a pain. The Libyans were not so aggressive.
We took a desert track to Cairo which is now a two-lane highway though still full of potholes and bumps. The drive was smooth enough. I had to put oil in the car. Not sure if I just took the measurement while the engine was too hot.
Arrival in Cairo was not as major problem as we expected. We just drove to the pyramids and stopped at a tourist info office. He made a few inquiries and found a man who knew a man about camping. This is how it is in Egypt. Never direct but always someone who knows someone etc. A big headache but not possible to avoid. The man who knew the camping owner took us to the owners carpet shop. Why is it that the entire developing world has carpet shop owners who actually run the place? So after tea, taking the first man back to the tourist info and getting another man to take us to the campsite (we had 4 in the car at one point), we arrived.
Actually the drive to it was like something out of a movie. Along dusty back roads Ė snotty kids playing in the rubbish, a canal full of stagnant water and piled high with garbage. Like Mother Theresa in Calcutta stuff, it is filthy.
The campsite is a little oasis amongst this. Quite nice with shade and
grass. We were the only ones here, again (actually worried because we have
not heard of any other overlanders). While the place was nice the facilities
are awful. No hot water (which is OK because itís warm), toilets donít
flush and when we got one to do so it was half-hearted and full of brown
shitty water. The facilities are actually appalling. Oh well, we can be
comfortable, letís see how it goes.
17th May 99
|Co-ords||N 29 57 47.1
E 31 09 29.7
A terrible night. The campsite was invaded by dogs which bark outside the tent all night. No amount of chasing made them go away. To make matters worse, the mosque nearby doesnít just do the 2-minute call to prayer at 4am, it did a 30minute everything. Itís very close too so with loudspeakers it is very, very annoying.
We got up and had a cold shower and met Nasser at 8:30 to take us to town. He was to be ours for the whole day. Another Egyptian thing, EL120. Anyway, we decided it would be a fair introduction. First stop was the Ethiopian embassy for visas. It took a while to find as the address had changed. We actually had the new address but Nasser knew where it was and off we went. 1 ½ hours later we are being told it is not possible to issue because we have no tickets, when we said we would be going by car they said we should do it in Khartoum. Anyway we filled in the form and asked if we could call back for news.
We then went searching for shipping agents as our fall back plan. Another drive from place to place. The short answer is that there are no boats to Port Sudan and no one knows of any to Djibouti. Fuck. Anyway we have Messina lines if all fails.
Then to the Tourist Police (shudder) to register. It seems as if we already have the correct stamps so not needed. We then had lunch. For this we went to the Nile Hilton. Suddenly I feel right at home. I canít believe it, I am tired of the dust and dirt. Here we are in an air-conditioned place, clean with things I recognise. Anyway, pancakes for lunch and off to the Egyptian Museum.
This is really awesome. So much stuff cramped into a fairly small building.
The Tutankamun display is amazing with so much gold. They must have been
really wealthy. This unfortunately, is where the troubles began. Renee
started to get violent stomach cramps and had to keep going to the bathroom.
We had to stop and sit down every now and then. Shit. I decided enough
was enough with roughing it in the dirt. Health is more important (sanity
too). We told Nasser we were looking for an international hotel. Back to
the carpet man. He has a friend (of course) who is the manager of the Movenpick
and can give us a nice price. So here we are. In surroundings we are more
used to. Air-conditioning, hot and cold water, TV everything. Renee is
in bed and I went to the campsite to pack up. We will leave the tent until
tomorrow. Hopefully Renee recovers overnight, if not I will call the doctor.
We have booked in for two nights (Nice price of 80 USD instead of listed
as 150 USD).
18th May 99
|Co-ords||N 29 59 36.2
E 31 07 31.6
Another terrible night. No dogs or early morning singers but Renee up and down with diarrhea and vomiting. I will call for the Doctor. First a call to Europ Assist (Insurance) to check. All OK, the hotel can send a doctor. Then to extend the stay until Friday. Renee must recover. I also had some hassles so will also get something if I can.
The doctor came at about 10 and told Renee she is too thin. He gave her a good check-up prodding and probing and causing a few winces. Finally giving both of us some pills and eating instructions. He will check in tomorrow just to see. Europ Assist will refund 300Epounds less the excess.
Renee stayed in the room all day catching up on sleep. She is still very weak. I went to see the carpet man to thank him for his help. In the end he needed my help to fix his Fax and Telephone. Turned out to be a blown fuse. I then went to pack the tent. The guy there helped which was great. They were very concerned about Renee. I hope she will recover today.
This evening we went off for a dinner at the restaurant. Buffet is easy
for Renee because she can pick what she wants. Not that she ate much. I
took advantage of the pool this afternoon. So letís see tomorrow. Today
a rest day. Hopefully no vomiting or diarrhea.
19th May 99
|Co-ords||N 29 59 36.2
E 31 07 31.6
Renee feeling a little better. Got up and had toast for breakfast. I went to clean out the car. It becomes such a mess inside but hard not to let. Need a time every now and then.
I took the hotel bus into town this afternoon with 3 aims. Firstly to find the Nile Navigation Co. at Ramses station. I found it, well at least I think so, all the signs in Arabic. Everyone I asked said it was. It was closed.
Secondly to find a Barclays Bank we had seen on our first day. It must have moved.
Thirdly to send some emails. This worked fine. One hour at 16Epounds. Sent update and mail to Robin and Betsy. There was a big queue and I had to wait about 30min to get on. Itís at the Nile Hilton.
Did not do too much else. Cairo is filthy and dusty but I suppose can be fairly exciting. I just did not have time. I took the hotel bus back to Giza.
Surprise, Surprise Ė Robin and Silvia phoned to see how we are. Itís
really nice to hear from someone.
20th May 99
|Co-ords||N 29 59 36.2
E 31 07 31.6
Renee is up and feeling loads better. We got a fax from Mom and Dad, which was very nice. I donít like to worry her too much, I just hope she knows that at the first sign of trouble we leave.
Today Pyramids. Nasser took us up and dropped us off. Entrance is 20Epounds. No words can really say what it is like. Awesome. You know they are big but boy oh boy they are big Ė just in your face. We walked along the dunes for the famous 3 in 1 view.
All day you are refusing camel rides, horse rides, postcards etc. In the end you feel as if you are being rude. Balls to that. I was sniffing just looking at the horses, I couldnít imagine getting on one, I think camels would be the same.
We also went inside a pyramid, Cheprenís one. A really small passage down and then up. Quite a tight fit. The chamber inside is about 10m x 3m with the sarcophagus at one end. Of course it is all empty by now, everything stolen (or in museums which is the same thing).
Then the Sphinx. Also quite impressive but not as much as I thought. It is quite hidden and not as imposing as the pyramids.
We met some Dutch people on the way back to the hotel. They were camping were we had started out and had also latched (or got hitched) onto Nasser. They are headed to Sinai. Still canít find anyone going south.
The morning was hard work on Renee so we went back to the hotel for a swim and a siesta. This evening we went to the Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids (33 Epounds). Itís quite good because you see them all lit up. I like it with the stars in the background and these huge things dark in front of you. The lights are a bit American but I did enjoy it.
We got another surprise today. Rick Langdon called. Wow it is nice to hear from these people. Anyhow we got him on the job of looking for shipping companies. Nice guy. Weíll have to look him up next time we are in the USA.
21st May 99
|Co-ords||N 29 59 36.2
E 31 07 31.6
|Fuel||44 L 46 865.1 km
and 20 L from reserve at same km
A day to get moving again. 5 days rest and we have to be fit. Nasser gave us a good route out of Cairo, though we did mess up somewhere (not in town thank goodness) but got to where we aimed.
The Nile really is the lifeblood of the country. Acres of crops line it. It must be spectacular from the sky. We headed for the Red Sea once again crossing deserts. I must admit I am still weary of the dust and heat. We visited the Christian monastery of St Paul, which is still active. Itís not at all like those in Spain, not even the priests look the same.
We arrived at Hurghada at about 4:30pm and found a hotel. Did a bit of bargaining and got the rate down to 70Epounds. I am not interested in supreme budget crap, which are normally filthy dirty, anymore. So who cares.
Had a very, very nice dinner at a restaurant nearby, a swim in the Red
Sea and now to bed. A good night sleep awaits and further South tomorrow.
22nd May 99
|Co-ords||N 27 15 35
E 33 49 16.3
|Fuel||53 L 47 310.6km|
We met a massive roadblock on the road west. This point we were not allowed to cross on our own, we had to travel by military convoy. This convoy was made up of all the tourist transport, buses mainly. We were the only private car. The convoy had to be followed all the way to Luxor about 220km.
The first 80km was like a race with everyone going as fast as they can. This stretched the convoy out. Predictably there was a rest point with caféís where the police changed over. The rest was not too fast but the convoy has right of way down the Nile which is quite busy with local traffic. Lots of dodging in and out but we all arrived safely. We were lucky that we had arrived at the road block point when we did or we would have had to wait a few hours for the next one.
At Luxor we found another nice hotel 75Epounds. It has aircon and TV. The aircon is vital as it is 45deg, humid and dusty. We went for a walk for lunch (chicken and chips) and did not last long. Too hot, way over 40 degrees C. Back to hotel for a swim and siesta.
At 6 we went out to look at Luxor Temple. Quite spectacular, built by Ramses II and has loads of hieroglyphics. Also lots of tourists, it is much cooler in the evening but still very warm. Afterwards I had a haircut. Not too bad but at 10 Epounds a bit more than the locals pay I bet.
Out to supper. Chicken and chips again Ė I feel that this must be fairly healthy, after all they are not killed days before and are very well grilled. Renee is still getting stomach cramps, not too often or sever but weíll keep a watch. The car is going OK. The shudder at 110 is getting worse, will have to have a look at Aswan.
Tomorrow to see the king. Tutenkhamen
23rd May 99
|Co-ords||N 25 42 21.4
E 32 38 36.2
A day of good news and great things to see. Just finished our GPS updates for Rick. Will get them sent off from Aswan.
This morning we drove to the Valley of the Kings. Wow. There is a bridge 7km South of Luxor that is new and is not on the map. Easy to find. The car ferry no longer runs, or was not at the time and had not for a while because it was well beached and very rusted.
The Valley of the Kings is really amazing. You first run the gauntlet of hawkers (did not buy anything) and then have to face the heat of the sun. You are supposed to buy your entrance tickets at the Mammon colossus as you enter the area but this is not signposted at all. This is also I suppose because no-one does it in their own cars, all in buses and taxis who just know. Anyway the man at the entrance did us a Ďfavourí and sold us tickets. 20Epounds each to visit 3 tombs. We did not visit Tutís because it is 40Epounds each extra.
We saw three really great tombs. You can enter any 3 with the ticket so pick carefully. Of course you can buy more tickets if you like. We saw 1,2 and 3 of which 2 was great because we were the only ones in it. The guard gave us some bread and hot cheese (cheese coated in chili). He gave us a torch and let us crawl in under the sarcophagus. It was really amazing. The colours inside and the pictures are over 3000 years old but still so good. The third one had to be opened for us but we were followed in by another group. The guard also showed us around. He showed us a side chamber full of bones. Not sure if it was people or animals.
It was very, very hot, over 45deg in the valley. We then went to Hatshepsutís temple and took photos from outside. Didnít have the energy to walk around.
Went back to Luxor for lunch, which we had at Mensa restaurant. Not bad. We had tahinia and Bab Ganusg (sesame seed paste and eggplant and garlic) which were very good. The manager stood over us waving the flies away which was nice of him. Back to the hotel for a swim and a siesta.
This afternoon we went off to the convoy police to find out where to go to join the convoy to Aswan. A bit of confusing info but we did find out in the end. There are 3 a day at 7, 11 and 3pm, we will try to take the 11am one and visit the Karnak temple before.
We also visited the YMCA and local camp ground so that we could look for other overlanders. The good news is that we talked to both owners and the YMCA guy had met two South Africans coming north who had made it with no problems. Also the other guy had met people who had done it. Good news.
Tomorrow we go see.
24th May 99
|Co-ords||N 25 42 21.4
E 32 38 36.2
|Fuel||30.31 L 47 919.8km
and 194.7 L into reserve tanks
A day of surprises. Firstly we visited the temple of Karnak. A huge place still being restored but has lots of things to see. It is on 100 acres so bloody hard work to walk around in the heat. We went early but still drank lots. It was busy even early. It was the first time we had to pay for parking 5Epounds.
At 11 we went to the convoy meeting point. By 11:15 we were the only car there so the police decided it was going to be just us. We set off with a police car in the front and the rear. A bit odd. Halfway we changed escort and got only one police car. This time though we had a policeman with us too. He was the officer in charge and a very nice guy. He is well travelled and is planning on going to Amsterdam next year. He complained that he could not take his fiancé but Muslim traditions do not allow it.
At Aswan we got a room with an aircon. It is still 43deg and very hot. To be honest though, sleep was not on the agenda. We went to the Nile River Navigation Company, the one that was closed in Cairo and got a major surprise. We had caught up with the Swiss guys and they had purchased an entire barge for 5800Epounds (1700USD). The barge is due to leave tomorrow!!!! Fuck. They are staying at the campground and so we rushed off to meet them and see if we could hitch (and pay) a ride.
They are two very nice guys. They have been in Aswan for 2 weeks arranging this and are only too happy for us to go and pay half. We met them for a beer and (had to buy them at the hotel and sneak them out) to make arrangements. We meet them at 8am to go to the high dam harbour.
Then we had a shitload of things to do. We filled all the jerries and bought water. Poor car is so weighed down. Then we did some food shopping for the boat ride of 22 hours and did an Internet update.
Of course we did not sleep at all. The aircon, while very good, was
damn noisy and the nerves started to play. Sudan, our biggest headache,
handed to us on a plate. Hell. Now I am worrying about our safety.
At least with 2 other guys thatís a bit better. We will most likely travel
together to get through Sudan. Hopefully tomorrow is not a problem and
it all works out. We havenít paid anything yet, letís see.