The rest of the group are still enjoying time out and are galavanting somewhere in Italy and they will let you know when they are back.
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
We landed at Oliver Tambo Airport Thursday 28 July and spent some quality time with our kids in Pretoria.. We were very surprised when we were rewarded with trophies and a bottle of champaign by our daugter for finishing our trip. Rudi was awarded as 'Admiral Bak' and myself 'Lady of the backseat'. It is amazing that it took us 54riding days to get to Cairo and only 8hrs flying time back...
The rest of the group are still enjoying time out and are galavanting somewhere in Italy and they will let you know when they are back.
Thanks for all your best wishes, support and warm welcome back to Ladybrand. We will get pictures sorted and will show those who want to see them...
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
21 JULY 2011
Doug, Charl, Rudi, Adri, Cheryl & I had booked for a day of snorkelling on the coral reefs in the Red Sea. Mike decided to do his own thing whereas Roger & Jo-Anne decided that they did not want to spend another day at Magawish but rather continue going north up the Red Sea coast.
We bordered a well set up boat from the jetty on the beach in front of the hotel. The diving company Colona Divers are Swedish owned & run a very good operation. The cost was about R280 per person which included 8 hours on the boat & snorkelling equipment plus an additional R38 for lunch on the boat. Although I am not a diver, to me this was very cheap for what turned out to be the most amazing experience. After about an hour out to sea the boat stopped at a small submerged coral island. We anchored next to another diving boat & very soon there were 7 boats anchored together (4 facing one way and the other 3 in the opposite direction). There were only about 15 of us on our boat of which only a few were divers, the rest of us were to snorkel. We had 2 instructors who showed us where to snorkel and to be of assistance if needed. The sea was warm, very clear with no current and stunning corals and fish. It was a whole new experience for me. For the others who are experienced at snorkelling, they said that the coral reef and the fish were the best they had ever experienced. After more than an hour in the water we boarded the boat & had an enjoyable Egyptian lunch. We then continued swimming until we moved to another coral reef.
Although we did not think that it was possible, the second reef was even more spectacular than the first. It was just like swimming in a fish tank full of the most beautiful corals and fish. Reluctantly we had to board once again as the boat had to return to shore. This brought to an end to what was the best day of our trip through Africa. Cheryl who cannot swim put on a life jacket, and with the help of Adri and myself, we coaxed her to put on goggles so that she could experience this beautiful underwater world. Cheryl was amazed at what was under the water and couldn’t stop thanking us for having given her such an amazing experience.
Although the resort Magawish was very commercial, the time spent there was made very worthwhile by our wonderful experience of the coral reefs.
22 July 2011
The Gisa Piramids and Sphinx
Transport between the Piramids
Warehouses where we left vehicles for shippingPorto Sonka
The next day we left Hurghada & drove north up the Red Sea coast. We planned to drive about 220kms so that we could spend one more night on the Red Sea before heading inland to Cairo & the end of our African trip. Rudi & Adri went ahead and by lunch time had found a fish restaurant in a small harbour at Porto Sokno. Cheryl and I were only too happy to join them as the drive from Hurghada was boring - either driving past many apartments & hotels or driving through flat uninteresting desert. I think that the drive was the most boring of the entire trip, so to stop off for a lunch of beer, wine and fish was the best. The harbour was an oasis amongst rows of completed & partially completed buildings which all looked the same and blocked out the view of the sea. Many buildings are half completed as construction has been halted because of the political uncertainty in Egypt.
The lunch turned out to be the best we have had on the trip, especially the fish dish of bouillabaisses which is served in a pot over an open flame and contains a variety of fish and shell fish. Rudi said that it was the best meal he had ever had. As a result he insisted on having a photo taken of himself with the chef and the kitchen staff!
There was a huge apartment block across the road from the restaurant and as we were all in a very relaxed mood after our meal, beer and wine, we decided that we would book into this huge hotel. Unfortunately we discovered that although there were 90 rooms in the hotel, the other 2,000 rooms were privately owned apartments. Due to the fact that it was a long week-end in Egypt the Red Sea resorts were full of people from Cairo, all the hotel rooms were taken by Egyptians. When we asked about other hotels in the area we were told that they would also be full. Despondently we left, not looking forward to a long hot search for other accommodation. Rudi then came up with a brain wave he told the management of this resort that in South Africa, where apartments adjoined hotels, they were often let out when the hotel was full. To our relief the manager said that he could arrange an apartment for us which is a well furnished 3 bedroom apartment.
The complex is huge, with 14 swimming pools, numerous restaurants and shops. The whole complex is entirely owned by Moslem Egyptians. T was that the bars and restaurants only served soft drinks! Needless to say, we crossed the road for a swim in the Red Sea and returned to the same fish restaurant. Yes you guessed correctly, Rudi once again had bouillabaisses!
23 July 2011
We set off after breakfast on the last travelling day of our East London / Ladybrand Africa trip to Cairo. It felt both good and sad that this was the final stretch.
We soon turned inland on a new toll road which took us through the desert to Cairo. I was concerned about the traffic in Cairo, especially towing a trailer, how we would find the President Hotel on Zamaleck Island, which is an island formed by the Nile river splitting in two. The hotel had been found by Roger and Jo-Anne who had arrived in Cairo the day before. Our GPS could not pick up the hotel but did pick up the island. As the GPS kept telling us to turn left or right onto a road which was under the bridge over which we were travelling, we crossed over the Nile many times! Fortunately as it was a Saturday & in the middle of a long week-end due to Egypt’s Independence Day or first revolution of 1952, so there was not too much traffic. We eventually arrived safely at the hotel and the end of our destination.
That evening we all caught 2 taxis to the Holiday Inn to meet the East London car guys for the last time as they were due to fly to Italy the following day. We had our fist experience of the extremely heavy traffic in Cairo which resulted in a short trip taking well over an hour! Nevertheless it was a good experience and enabled us to see Cairo at night. Due to the heat of the day, the city comes alive at night – there were people and cars everywhere.
We eventually arrived at the Holiday Inn and had our last meal with the East London car guys. The company was good, but the food and price of drinks was not so good. We eventually said our good-byes and arrived back at our hotel after mid night.
After a leisurely day at the hotel & on Zamaleck Island, which is lovely part of Cairo, with tree lined narrow streets which are surrounded by small shops & restaurants. That evening we met with Waguih Guindy, who Adri had arranged to assist us with the shipping of the cars, trailer & bikes back to East London. After our bad experience in Wadi Halfa & Aswan, we expected the worst. The East London car guys had also told us that it had taken them 3 days to complete their paper work & drive their cars onto a ship to take the cars from Alexandria to Venice - 31 forms per car! Waguig was however professional & said that he would deal with all the paper work. All we had to do was have a letter authorising him to act on our behalf. This letter & a verification of the driver’s passport had to be done at the South African Embassy (in my case at the British Embassy). We would then drive the cars & bikes to his warehouse where they would load them onto a container. We were all very relieved to hear how simple the process would be.
After the meeting we had supper at a very nice Italian restaurant next to the hotel.
The day was spent with the guys going to the Embassies while the girls repacked the trailer for the last time. As in Nairobi it was once again proved that it is better to travel through Africa on a South African passport. The guys had their paperwork done in no time at the South African Embassy and did not have to pay. The British Embassy was however different. After waiting for nearly two hours for the consular section to open, I had to pay the equivalent of R550 for them to sign the one letter, which was already typed in Arabic,and to verify the copy of my passport. While the first letter was being signed by a British official, an announcement came across the intercom to say that some senior British official would like to meet immediately with some of the staff- this included the person I was dealing with! She gave me the one letter & said that as she had to attend this meeting I would have to come back the next day for the copy of my passport. When I said that as the consular section is only open to the public for a few hours each day surely there should be no meetings at these times. I was curtly told that there are notices stating that they can take 24 hours to complete requests like mine. That was that!
We then all met back at the hotel and drove the cars and bikes out to the warehouse where the container would be. After some time of re-organising the cars and trailer to insure that they would fit into the containers we said farewell to the cars, trailer and bikes. It was a relief to leave them there, but at the same time with some anxiety about what could happen to them over the next few weeks - especially as none of them are insured!
That evening the biker team met for the last time at a very nice pub on Zamaleck Island. We were in a very festive mood & enjoyed telling many stories related to the trip. We also toasted ourselves as we believe that it has been a great achievement to reach Cairo in “one piece”
Roger, Jo-Anne, Rudi, Adri, Cheryl & I all got up early & took a taxi to the pyramids & sphinx at Giza. Each couple went on a horse & cart which took us around the pyramids. It was certainly worth seeing them.
Doug flew out to Rhodes via Athens, Jo-Anne & Roger flew out to Palermo via Rome. Tomorrow Cheryl & I fly out to Palermo to meet up with Roger & Jo-Anne and Rudi & Adri fly back to Johannesburg. Charl & Mike are still undecided but will probably also fly back to South Africa within the next few days.
This is therefore the official end to our amazing trip. We have enjoyed Egypt & Cairo, but the general view is that our two favourite countries are Ethiopia & Tanzania, but having said that, we all have good memories of all the other countries. The trip has been both challenging & fun, but we all feel that we have now had enough & it is time to go home.
Once we are back in South Africa we will all give a brief summary of the high lights of our trip.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Red Sea onto Cairo
Our trip is nearing the end. Our goal is only 417km’s away. We spent the last 2 days snorkelling in the Red Sea at a resort called Magawish. The resort was filled with East Europeans who could speak very little, if any English, the service was not that great and we had to walk miles to our cottages in 40degrees Celsius.
The only plus was that the resort was close to one of the most awesome coral garden reefs anyone could ever wish to see. Thanks to Charl and Doug we all booked onto a yacht to take us diving the day after we arrived. What an awesome experience that was! It was well worth every penny we spent. It was a pity that Roger and Jo-Anne did not join us , they decided that one night at Magawish Resort was enough and moved on towards Cairo and spent some time on their own.
Rudi and I have been snorkelling in the Seychelles’, Maldives, Comores, Mauritius and Mozambique but nothing could surpass what we have experienced in the Red Sea. The visibility was approximately30m with crystal clear aquamarine blue waters that made it possible to see all the way down. You did not need bottles; we saw Moray Eel, Blue Spotted Sting Rays, Parrots, Dorado’s, Queen fish and all the aquarium fish you could wish for. It was like swimming in an overfull fish tank. The variety of fish just never stopped. The coral gardens just never ended. Pink, red, blue, yellow green, white, black, you name it and it was all there. These dives were certainly the highlight of our trip. Cheryl became very brave and had a swim and a peep into the Red Sea.
After 2 nights at Magawish Resort we moved on along the coast. What a surprise we had with the development on the coast between Burghada and Cairo. It is one mega compartment development after the next. Almost worse than in Dubai! Rudi and I found a little seafood restaurant at Porto Sokhono Yacht Club and we stopped, had a beer and met up with Cheryl and Ian, We decided to have lunch, Ian mentioned earlier that he wanted some fresh fish and what better place than at the Yacht Club. Rudi subsequently proclaimed that he had ‘the best meal of his life’, a freshly made bouillabaisse soup! While eating we decided that we are not going any further and booked into a huge complex across the road from the yacht club. It was only another 150km to Cairo and we were not in a rush, we went for our last swim in the Red Sea at the compartments private beach and went back for another meal at Rudi’s favourite spot. The resort we stayed in was mainly for Egyptians and it was quite an experience to see how they do things in private time. The ‘Villa’ we booked in was just vacated by Egyptians and we were all in awe seeing the filth that they left behind. Tins, take away papers, cigarette buds, all were just thrown on the apartments floors. When we asked the manager about it he commented ‘ sorry this is how the Egyptians do it’. When we booked out we left the place in pristine condition.
The complex had 14 swimming pools and was filled with kids and women swimming in their full clothing outfits, longs sleeves, dresses, head gear, the works, while the men where happily getting cool in costumes. This is a culture that we probably will never understand. What were also quite shocking are the eating habits and overweight people. They definitely are not following a healthy lifestyle. men, women and children alike.
We left for Cairo at about 10am on Saturday morning and were getting more and more excited as the kilo’s clicked by. The highway started to get busier and all along the road you saw statues, pots and walk ways.
We eventually entered Cairo at 12h00, expecting the traffic to be bad but were pleasantly surprised by how little traffic there was on a Saturday afternoon. There were, however, one apartment block after another, not such a pretty sight because they are very derelict and neglected.
JoAnne and Roger already secured us a place at the President Hotel on the Zamalec Island. We all are grateful for God’s grace, that He has looked after us and brought us safely to our final destination.
Now it is time to get the vehicles and bikes to the shipping company and then we all go our different directions, Ian, Cheryl, Roger, Jo and Doug are off to Italy, Rudi and I are flying back to a very cold SA according to Weather24 and Charl and Mike are still deciding what to do.
The view into the Red Sea from the Magawish Resort
Diving from the yachts
Our rooms in the 'desert'
200 clicks to go!!!!!!
Desert on the left and Red Sea on the right... awesome ride
Chef and staff at Porto Sokhono Yacht Clun
Porto Sokhono Resort
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Ferry ride over to Valley of the Kings
Never ending negotiations
Horse and Cart in Luxor
Entrance to the Temple of \Luxor
The road from \luxor to the Red Sea
When you run out of firelighters use local Egyptian Gin
19 July 2011
As there are many historical sites to see in Luxor & as our hotel (the Ibertol Hotel) which overlooks the Nile is very luxurious, we all decided that we needed to spend an extra day in Luxor. I think that we are becoming a bit soft & that our camping days for this trip are over! Certainly at the prices we are paying for our accommodation it does not make sense to camp.
After a very good breakfast on the patio we all decided to take a ferry across the Nile to the west bank where we hired a taxi to take us to the Valley of the Kings. This is where many of the kings had tombs built into a valley of high limestone cliffs. The drive &then walk to the tombs was through very harsh & arid mountains. Although there are many tombs, we decided to see only three. Although they have been partially defaced over the years they were still very impressive considering that they have been there since thousands of years BC - quite mind boggling.
After that our guide / driver took us to a factory which makes many of the curios out of stone etc. Needless to say we all ended up buying & although probably over paid, it was still an enjoyable experience. After that we visited the temple of Deir El- Bahari which is the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Although impressive, with views back over the green Nile valley, It was disappointing as we could not enter the inner temple.
We then went via the Colossi of Memnon before catching the ferry back to the hotel & having a well deserved swim & drink at the hotel swimming pool, which is in a barge which is on the Nile in front of the hotel. Doug, Charl & Mike then toured the Karnak Temple north of Luxor whereas the rest of us visited the Luxor Temple. Both were very impressive & ended a busy tourist day for all of us. What makes things tiring is that from the moment you step outside the hotel you are hassled by Egyptians trying to sell you something - it really gets to you big time, & can make a pleasant experience become unpleasant.
We also have given the English credit for their terms of “gypo guts” & “how to gypo work” as we have experienced these while being in Egypt! Luxor however is a beautiful city with tree lined streets along the Nile & beautifully decorated horse & carriages for transport. We have really enjoyed our stay here.
After an enjoyable meal at the hotel we all retired early. Unfortunately we have just discovered that 2 gas bottles have been stolen off the trailer which was parked across the road from the hotel. Tomorrow we drive about 260 kms to our destination of Hurghada on the Red Sea.
20 July 2011
Hurghada on the Red Sea
We all agreed that as the trip to Hurgada was only about 260kms on tar that we would leave Luxor at our own time. Rudi & Adri left first but had to turn back to Luxor a few times as the trailer’s shock absorber that Rudi had secured to his BMW kept coming loose. With a little help from wire Rudi secured it & they were on their way. They were followed by Mike, Charl & Doug, but they also did not get too far as Doug had a puncture due to a nail in the tyre. Roger & Jo left next with Cheryl & I bringing up the rear after enjoying a leisurely breakfast.
The drive was interesting with many contrasts. The first 65 kms was on a road in between the Nile & a canal. Although busy, the road was attractive as it was lined with beautiful & vibrant bougainvilleas. We then turned east & drove straight through the Eastern desert to the Red Sea. The desert started off being sandy, but soon descended through very rocky mountains, eventually returning to sand at the Red Sea.
We then drove about 50 kms next to the Red Sea through this sandy desert on a new double road. It became immediately evident that we were in tourist country as we passed many holiday developments. We eventually arrived at our resort, Magawish Swiss Inn Resort, which had been recommended by the other East London car guys who had stayed there a few days earlier. Doug negotiated that we pay 45Euros per person for lunch, dinner, bed & breakfast. As a result we decided to stay longer than one night. We soon however realised that this resort is geared for the masses. Although far from full there are many East Europeans staying at the resort. After lunch in a huge dining room we were given our room keys, but not given help to find our rooms or help with our luggage. It was very hot & as the resort is so big with chalets scattered over a large area, tempers ran high! Once we had eventually found our rooms we spent the rest of the afternoon around the pool & trying to consume our monies worth in drinks. This actually proved quite difficult as we discovered that the free drinks had to be drinks from Egypt. The beer is good but they pour it into very small glasses, the wine is also good, but usually with no ice. The spirits are undrinkable! Although the gin bottle looks like Gordons gin & the wisky looks like Johnnie Walker Red Lable, they taste completely different: the gin is Gordoons Special Cairo gin & the whisky John Azores Red Label!! Now we know how they manage to stop South Africans from drinking too much. After dinner none of us could drink any more local drinks, so we all went to bed early!
18 -19 July 2011
Aswan on to Luxor
We have been spending some time in Aswan in anticipation of our vehicles arriving. No news on Friday or Saturday, eventually on Sunday morning the guys were contacted and fetched to go to the harbour to retrieve their vehicles and do the carne’s, licence plates, insurance and road tax. The 8 guys, our 6 and Jo and Andrew from Europe who we met on the Wadi Halfa ferry, had to squeeze into 2 taxis of whom 1 broke on the way to Aswan harbour which is approximately 20km from Aswan town. Almost all cars in Aswan are either Peogeot’s 404, 405’s or Fiats. No wonder carne’s cost so much, entering from the North it is 800percent of vehicle value unlike from the South which is only 200percent. The guys arrived at the harbour only to realise that the captain and staff of the ferry disappeared without off loading the vehicles. Apparently the captain was upset because he never received the extra US100 that Ali, the Sudanese runner was given. To top this all offloading ramps were missing and the 8 guys had to make a ‘Boere, Belgium and British’ plan to move the vehicles off the boat.
After hours of battling in the hot Egyptian sun they eventually got all 4 bikes and 4 vehicles from the barge, apparently the barge was empty except for our vehicles so why ‘extra’s’ for assurance of loading were charged only Ali will know. To top all this, the Egyptian police informed our team that they only work from 10am – 2pm and they must come back Monday to do paper work. This meant another night in Aswan, a day that could have been spent either in Luxor or on the Red Sea.
While the guys were sweating out organizing the vehicles the girls went shopping or rather bargaining in the Aswan market. Although we loved Aswan, Hanan and her team at Philea Hotel, the harassment by the Egyptian men started to get to us. They blatantly made comments and passes at us while their own wife’s were at home with barely enough space to peep or breath through their head gear.
We spent the rest of the day packing and met up with the younger crowd from London and Belgium for a couple of beers and some wine at our hotel reminiscing about the day, the guys about the day’s adventure of making plans to get vehicles off the barge and girls about being ripped off and some of the Egyptian men that are real perverts. We had a nice meal at Si Haad restaurant on the Nile and went to bed.
Monday morning we all waited for Kimal to contact us. The men were fetched, once again with Peogot 504’s and at about 11am we finally received our stamped carne’s, Egyptian number plates and importation documentation. All vehicles arrived back at the hotel around 2pm with their Egyptian number plates. We packed and left for Luxor.
Luxor is about 210km further north and we started our journey along the Nile and beautiful bougainvillea plants along the road. Egyptian drivers are not the most well behaved and a few finger signs were thrown at them along the road. Along the210km of road there were many villages, mainly men sitting doing nothing, but then this is not unusual in Egypt. One thing is clear, I now know where the expressions ‘ gippo guts’ and to ‘gippo something’ comes from. Gippo guts from the Egyptian water and to gippo something is to do something perhaps unethical and in the shortest way possible. The British have not been wrong....
We arrived in Luxor after 7pm, booked in at an amazing 4star hotel, Iberotel, arranged by our hostess in Aswan and all excited and ready for the Valley of the Kings, the Luxor Temple and many more sights on Tuesday. Apparently Luxor is the ‘biggest ‘open air’ museum in Egypt.
Hanan and girls to Philea Hotel
Road to Luxor next to the Nile
Finally our Egyptian number plates.....
Monday, 18 July 2011
Enjoying Hotel Philae. The hotel is on the Nile River, all the luxury boats are just standing as apparently tourism only starts in October. Roger’s foot is very sore so Hassan, the hotel owner/manager has taken him to the local hospital for xrays. He has a fissure fracture below his big toe and doc gave a prescription for medicine and because of Hanan’s influence no bill had to be paid. Hanan has been so kind and helpful. Her service is great!
Everyone else went to the market, most shops were closed as it was Friday. The ladies had quite an awful experience. Jo-Anne was invited into a shop by a young man who was selling clothes. He showed a Muslin outfit and started putting it on, while facing you from the front the headpiece was fitted tying it at the back of your head he then does a groin push, whips the top over your clothes and tries to fasten that at the back whilst making his moves. Jo-Anne pulled everything off and ran out of the shop. Cheryl and Adri had a similar experience with the same guy. It is better to shop in groups. Other girls we met have also been sexually harassed.
In the evening we all went on a sail boat around the Nile. There are some beautiful buildings, of which a mosque that was lit up and looked as if it was made of see through shiny rock. We were served Nubian food, fish and lamb with a lovely tomato sauce and rice. They also serve Sesame oil on the side. It was very enjoyable. No news from the runner Kamiel if barge has arrived or in fact left with the vehicles.
The next morning Karmiel let us know that the barge had arrived and that the guys were to meet him at 12.30. Roger went to the barber to have his 6 week old beard removed. The barber also had a twisted nylon string between his hands and mouth like a “woer-woer” and removed hairs from his ears, nose, side of temples, above the eyebrows, this all brought tears to his eyes but he looks a new man. All that for R35.
Rudi, Adri, Ian and Cheryl went to Hotel Isis for a swim. R50 to get in, get a towel and a free drink. Their fridges don’t work so no ice nor cold drinks. Ice is not big in Aswan. Others visited the amazing Nubian Museum. Unesco and partners did an amazing job saving all the historical works from the waters of the Aswan dam.
Karmiel sent a message to meet at 14h30 and then another one not to meet as the barge had not been off loaded. We were to meet next day at 8h45.
We went out to the Seafood Restaurant. Amazing. Can recommend the Dorade, Tapilata, eel and calamari. Doug, Charl and Michael have enjoyed their KFC meals. We are excited to get going to Luxor.
Saturday, 16 July 2011
13 July 2011
Boarding Ferry from Wadi Halfa on Lake Nubia in Sudan which becomes Lake Nasser in Egypt
Our day started with us waiting at our “hotel with no name” for our fixer, Allie, to tell us the procedure for all the East London car guys & ourselves to board the ferry to Aswan in Egypt. In true African style it was a case of “hurry up & wait”. We were all a bit concerned as we knew that if we could not board the ferry that day, we would have to remain in Wadi Halfa for a week before the next ferry left for Aswan. This was not an option as Wadi Halfa must be “the arse hole of the world”! It used to be a pleasant town on the banks of the Nile, but when Egypt built the new dam at Aswan the old town was flooded & a new town developed away from the Nile - surrounded by desert. There is nothing endearing about Wadi Halfa - you cannot even buy toilet paper!
Allie eventually arrived & he assured us that we were booked on the ferry & that the bikes & support vehicles would be on a separate barge which would leave the following morning. We were relieved to hear this & paid Allie the following: accommodation in Wadi Halfa -$35 per room; for the barge to take the cars & bikes to Aswan - $330 per car, $300 for the trailer & $70 per bike; for second class on the ferry - $52 per person. Although a lot of money we were relieved that we would be leaving that afternoon & even if the cars & bikes only arrived on Saturday, it would be better waiting in Aswan rather than Wadi Halfa. Allie said he would come & collect us when it was time to drive to the ferry. When he did come back it was to tell us that we needed to pay an extra $100 for the “captain” to make a plan to fit the bikes in the hold of the barge! They knew & we knew that we had no alternative but to pay more, so we agreed. When I asked Allie if we should pay the extra $100 to the captain, he said we must pay him as he had already paid the captain!! They saw us coming - especially when we discovered other bikers only paid $30 per bike & about $40 for the ferry.
This left a sour taste in our mouths & unfortunately only added to the disappointment about Sudan. As the area we travelled through is mainly desert, it is very dry, hot & windy, but worse still is very dirty & covered with litter. Our good memories of Sudan are our fantastic bush camps, the fruit juices & rest facilities on the side of the road through the desert.
When Allie eventually took us to the ferry it was early afternoon & extremely hot (over 45 degrees). It took us about 3 hours to complete all paper work & fight our way onto the ferry. There is no politeness, everyone, including baggage & cargo handlers just push you out of the way. By the time we were on board we were exhausted, hot & sweaty, but relieved to be on board. Our “accommodation” was on the top deck, which had no shade cover - so we continued to cook. We also had to fight for a spot on the deck as the ferry was full of Sudanese.
We eventually left at about 6.00pm, drank our smuggled liquor sachets (which are terrible), some had the supper made on board, but the rest of us had bully beef etc which Adri had brought on board - you do not want to spend any extra time perched above a filthy long drop! At sunset all the Muslim men came to the top deck where they prayed for some time, which was quite an experience.
During the evening when crossing the Egyptian border, an Egyptian boat pulled alongside & officials bordered to check our passports - another scrum ensued. Soon after that we crossed the Tropic of Cancer & we suddenly realised just how far we had driven up Africa. That night we all tried to sleep on the deck while trying to fight off Sudanese who seemed to always be encroaching on your space.
14 July 2011
Lake Nasser (or the Aswan High Dam) is a lovely piece of water to cruise on as it is clean & the desert & rocks are visible on both sides. Although long it is not very wide. What was very noticeable was the lack of inhabitants on the land & virtually no fishing. We eventually docked at Aswan harbour at about 12.00pm & once again had to fight our way off the ferry & through customs before boarding a bus provided by our fixer, Kamile. The heat was unbearable. As we had heard that Aswan was a tourist friendly & attractive city, we were taken aback when we had to drive for about 20kms through harsh desert before reaching the main city which is on the Nile. The contrast between Wadi Halfa & Aswan is like night & day. Aswan is beautiful with tree lined streets along the Nile with numerous Nile cruising boats moored on the side. Even the people are more friendly, can speak English & to our relief the ATM’s work (we were not able to use one ATM in Sudan - not even in Khartum!).
We booked into the Philae Hotel which overlooks the Nile. We are only paying $40 per room for a very clean room with a shower / bath (with 24 hour running water) & a clean toilet which you can sit on! What luxury.
As we were all filthy & exhausted we all showered & slept. Later on we had a late lunch at a very nice restaurant on the Nile, before meeting the East London car guys who had managed to collect their cars - the barge for their cars had left 2 days earlier.
Aswan is suffering economically due to the lack of tourists which is a direct result of the political turmoil in Egypt. Although this is their tourist season, there are very few tourists around, the hotels are empty & the big Nile cruising boats are moored & going nowhere. It is tough for the people of Aswan, but all are pleased about the political change that has taken place & are looking forward to more democratic reform. They know that tourism will suffer in the short term but are confident that within the next few years will improve. On the one hand this is good for us as we are able to negotiate good deals, but we have to be more alert as the locals will “rip you off to make a quick buck” before you know what has happened!
What a welcome surprise...a view from our rooms...