Border Procedures Abu Simbel – Wadi Halfa

There are two possible ways to cross the border between Egypt and Sudan: one is the long ferry that still runs between Aswan and Wadi Halfa, the other is the "newly opened" road to Sudan which includes a short ferry.

We took the road and short ferry!

We decided to take a fixer for the border procedure although it is also possible to do that on your own (here are detailed descriptions on how to do that: by "Abseitsreisen" (in German) and Omar Mansour on the HUBB (English)).
Our fixer for the Egyptian side, Kamal Muawad, has a very good reputation with overlanders.

This are his contact details:
phone: 0100 5322669 and 01221393492
mail: kamalaswanegy@yahoo.com
Another fixer we met at the "Eskaleh Nubian Ecolodge" (see below) and who was recommended to us by other travelers was Mohamed Abouda (phone: 012/25111968 and 097/2301698 and 097/2306568). He seemed to be very professional and helped us with travel tips and contact persons.

In Aswan, it is important to go to the traffic court (together with the fixer) where it is checked whether there are any traffic tickets which still have to be paid for. If you don't have their stamp in your passport and you try to go through the border, you will be sent back to Aswan at the Egyptian border checkpoint.

The visa for Sudan are easy to get in Aswan at the Sudanese consulate general
Consulate General of the Republic of Sudan
El Sadat Rd. - El Khazzah Rd. (close to the Al Rudwan Mosque)
Aswan
phone: 0972307231
GPS coordinates N 24° 05.5176', E 032° 88.3164'
You don't need a fixer here, but he can speed up the process and maybe help extending the visa validity (costs US$50 for a family).
For the visa application process you will need:
- two passport photos
- a photocopy of your passport
- your passport
- the filled in visa application form (you will get it at the consulate); in the form they ask for other valid visa you have, so I figured out that it might help to have the visa for Ethiopia before applying for the Sudan visa (they are easy to get in Cairo at the Ethiopian Embassy, Consular Section, 21 Sheikh Mohamed El Ghazali Street, Dokki; takes one working day; US$60 for one month/single entry and US$70 for three months/double entry).
We also had an invitation letter to Sudan, which is not mandatory, but also may help speeding up the process.
Usually the Sudanese visa take about three working days (in our case it was just two), for Americans they can take up to two weeks as the details have to be sent to Khartoum and processed there.
The price for the Sudan visa in Aswan is US$50 each (instead of about US$110 in Cairo). Usually, you get one month, our visa are valid for two months (due to what we do not know).

If you need a "taxi" in Aswan, call Mohammed Sayed (tel.: 0122 4421767 and 0114 2748889), he will not be more expensive than a taxi, but more reliable, speaks good English and is well informed about what overlanders might need.

 
 

A good place to stay for overlanders is the Nubian house "Adam Home Overland Camp", where you can camp for around 70EL (about 8€) for a car and two adults.
Adam Home Overland Camp
tel.: 0122 442 1767,
mail: adamhome.camp@facebook.com,
GPS coordinates: N 24°10.135' E032°51.971'
Adam Home it is a great place at the west bank of the Nile (a bit run down at the moment, though, due to health issues of the owner and the impact of less tourism). They can also organise dinners at private Nubian homes and sailing and motor boat tours on the Nile.

 

We avoided the police convoy and went through the desert alone.

 

From Aswan to Abu Simbel there is a police-convoy going daily at 4 and 11 o'clock in the morning which starts at the obelisk in Aswan (if you want to use the convoy, be there one hour in advance) and will speed through the desert at roundabout 130km/h (from what we have heard) - accidents have occured. We did not want to use this convoy and simply went to the police/military checkpoint at 10:30 in the morning. Nobody spoke English, they checked the car registration and driver's ID and off we went all alone through the desert. It is a 290km drive and there are petrol stations on the way. I would fuel up in Aswan still, as not all petrol stations have electricity and fuel all the time!
We went to Abu Simbel one day in advance as we wanted to visit the temples and you cannot go to the Abu Simbel temples and cross the border on the same day as the border is only open between 9 o'clock and 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

 

The Ramses Temple at night.

 

In Abu Simbel, you can camp near the temples on the main car park near the Tourist Police building or ask at one of the hotels.

 

The "Eskaleh Nubian Ecolodge"

 

We took a room at "Eskaleh Nubian Ecolodge", a Nubian style ecohotel with extremely helpful people, a wonderful atmosphere, great food, beer and wine. "Eskaleh" is locally owned and very professionally run, the rooms are very clean and the complete house is beautifully decorated. Some of their food is based on homegrown products from their own farm.
Eskaleh Nubian Ecolodge
phone: 0122 3680521 and 097 3401 288,
mail: info@eskaleh.net;
GPS coordinates: N 22° 20'47'', E 031°37'7'';
rooms 70€ - 80€ incl. breakfast (children under 6 are free of charge), they also do lunch and dinner.
For overlanders who would like to sleep in their cars, it is also possible here (at what rate we do not know, but this rate will surely not be over the top!).

 

Squeezed in between trucks, cars and people.

 

The car ferry leaves directly from Abu Simbel (the meeting point usually is at the Bank Cairo) and it takes about 1 hour.

 
 

From the port on the other side of Lake Nasser to the border post between Egypt and Sudan it is a drive of about 35km.

The Egyptian fixer will go with you on the ferry, to the border and will do all the bureaucratic processes together with you on the Egyptian side.
The border opens at 9:00 o'clock in the morning and they open and close the gate for each car separately.
After entering, we had to drive to the customs, who wanted to scan every bag (!) and also check the car. At borders, we always try to take control of the procedures instead of letting others search our Land Rover. The kids stay inside the car and are allowed to watch a video on the i-Pad and Juliane brings the bags to the scanner while I show the officials every box and locker ("Do you want to see this?" ... "May I show you that?"). During the process, we are always friendly, but also very slow because generally, there is only one scanner and there are other people waiting, too - sometimes the officials will give up and let us go. They also wanted to see the boxes on the roof rack, and as they are "heavy" (which they are not!), the officer had to come up with me while I showed him what was inside the boxes. Funnily, the other customs officers made fun of him shaking the car while he was on top.
After that I insisted on being allowed to park the Land Rover in the shadow because of the kids.
After customs, also the offices of the traffic police and the immigration had to be provided with bureaucratic work and finally, we were allowed to leave Egypt.
Our "fixer", Kamal Muawad, did a good job and we could certainly recommend him. The only thing we had to do was a lot of waiting (we had some tea with truck drivers, lunch and several conversations with passers by while he did his job).
For our first days in Sudan, Kamal also supported us with 2150 Sudanese Pounds, as there is no Bank in Wadi Halfa (the exchange rate was 9,18 to the € instead of the black-market-rate of 11,30 in Khartoum but certainly better than the official exchange rate which is around 7 pounds per €).

After you have passed the gate on the Egyptian side, the Sudanese gate is reached after about 100m.

For the Sudanese side, you might need another fixer. We chose to take Magdi Boshara,
contact details:
Magdi Boshara
phone: 0121730885 and 0122262060
mailNUBATIA51@YAHOO.COM,
because he simply offered us a cheaper price of US$420 (instead of US$500 from Mazar Mahir, who also has a good reputation on the HUBB; contact details: Mazar Mahir, phone:, +249122380740 and +249911075226)
mail: mazarhalfa@gmail.com).
On the Sudanese side you go to the "arrivals hall" where you have to fill in three forms with your personal details (the entry card, the document for the "Alien Registration Department" (So, you are officially registered ALIENS now!) and one document for the security police). For the "Alien Registration Department", you need one passport photocopy and a passport photo.
We were also centrally registered to Khartoum, so would not have to register somewhere else on our way through Sudan unless we would stay longer than one month. Cameras don't seem to have to be registered any more (do not take photos of checkpoints, all police and army buildings, post offices, bridges, powerlines et cetera!)!
After endless three hours of waiting in the arrivals hall, the car was inspected (5 minutes, just looking into it, asking some questions whether we had beer) and we were free to leave.

The complete procedure at the border took us 5 hours and 20 minutes (not including ferry and driving to the border post) and it was extremely friendly on both sides, but especially so on the Sudanese side.

After leaving the Sudanese side of the border, we gave Magdi a lift to his home, where we would stay for one night with his family. We also went to Wadi Halfa with him to get Sudanese sim cards (Zain company, price: SDG25 for the sim card, SDG10 for phoning and SDG10 for one week of a data flat rate). At Magdi's house we had dinner together and breakfast the next morning as well.
It was great to start our time in Sudan like that because it gave us the chance to ask many questions concerning our route, dos and no-dos at cetera. Also, it was simply nice to stay with a Sudanese family. Magdi is very warm and welcoming, really seems to like his job and wanted to make everything as easy and relaxed for us as possible. We would always highly recommend him!

The big question on the net concerning this border seems to be "A fixer or no fixer!?". For us, having one was on the one hand very convenient - who knows how long it would have taken us without a fixer if with one it already took over 5 hours. On the other hand, we think that - especially in times of nearly no tourism and nearly no overlanders passing this border - paying for the services of a fixer also helps supporting families. Being a fixer is nothing smirky, negative or illegal, but it is a proper job people need a license for and are educated for by the customs. From what we heard from other overlanders, this border crossing seems to be the only one a fixer might be needed.

Sudanese Visa
visa costs US$50 each
fixer US$50 paid for two adults and two kids, i.e.US$12,50 per person
total costs US$250 / 220,00€

Border Egypt - Sudan
total cost Egyptian side (incl. fixer) 1640EL (i.e. 192,13€) includes all costs and ferry
total cost Sudanese side (incl. fixer) US$420 includes all costs (and in our case one night at Magdi's home, dinner and lunch and help with the sim cards)
total costs US$640 / 557,00€

4 thoughts on “Border Procedures Abu Simbel – Wadi Halfa

  1. Sam

    Thank you for this post.
    Did it cost money to drive the newly opened road? Or is that what the$480 was for?

    Reply
    1. Juliane und Mischa Post author

      I think that was included in the roundabout 190€ we paid the fixer on the Egyptian side.

      Reply
  2. Bjorn

    As I’m planning to follow in your footsteps in about a year, this information is extremely valuable to me, so thanks a lot!

    I look forward to reading about your adventures in Sudan! I think you’ll find the people there even more friendly and helpfull then in Egypt.

    Thanks again and enjoy your travels!

    Reply
  3. Thomas

    Dear 4-wheel nomads,
    this is Thomas from ‘abseitsreisen’
    Thanks for sharing your experience in detail.
    Unfortunately I have the strong suspicion that there is still something going on with that fixer thing on this particular border. They do their work and the ‘known’ ones have a reputation for being helpful and friendly. Offering their help – that’s ok. It’s an offer, you can take it or not. Just as an additional info and to help everybody to compare, especially for those who are on a tight budget:
    EGYPT: Two times we passed the borderprocess to leave Egypt with a vehicle in summer 2015. (Borderposts Taba and Nuweiba on Sinai). Both times we paid around 50 EGP (~6€) for all the process to exit Egypt. This southern Egypt borderpost has kind of a funny but official entrance fee that should adds up to ~40€ for 4 persons and a car.
    The so called ‘short ferry’ was 450EGP (~50€) for a 9t truck. Smaler cars should be cheaper.
    The road was free.
    So the costs for leaving Egypt including the ferry should be somewhere around 100€ without a fixer.
    SUDAN: Not including Visa (50us$ p.p), not including the registration/photopermit (380 or ~500SDG p.p., depending if you do it on you own or have it done), entering Sudan at the border from Ethiopia, we had total costs of 55 SDG (~5€).
    So official costs (without Sudanese Visa and Registration) I would expect somewhat around 105€ for both sides.
    IMPORTANT: We haven’t done it this way personally. I calculated according to what we had been charged on other borderposts entering Sudan and leaving Egypt.
    I’m not sure wether you included visa and that expensive sudanese registration in your 557€ or not. It sounds quite a lot to me.
    Anyhow, that border was the hardest nut to crack. So look forward to the otherones, it’s getting easier.
    Have a good time in Ethiopia
    Thomas

    Reply

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