Tag Archives: Egypt

Our Transafrican Adventure in numbers: four nomads, one Land Rover …. aaaand …

37,521

kilometres alltogether

This might sound a lot ... Actually the distance northern Germany - Cape Town as the crow flies is way shorter than those 37.521 kilometres. But as we zig-zagged through the Balkans and Africa according to our daily feelings and never followed a fixed route, it was of course way longer.

A bridge in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

At Cape Agulhas in South Africa.

"There are no roads in Sudan", somebody said to us ... they were actually quite good in most places!

Above Fish River Canyon in Namibia.

34,600

kilometres in the Land Rover

And we still love driving in the Landy. From our point of view it was quite comfortable and we enjoyed driving quite a lot as we spent most of the time talking, singing, listening to audiobooks together and at the same time interesting people and landscapes passed by our windows. Sometimes the road traffic was challenging - before we started the trip we had imagined the road conditions being more challenging.

Driving a Land Rover is great fun!

And there's a lot to see next to the roads!

 
 

2,921

kilometres in rental cars

It was strange to drive a "small" rental car after having driven so many kilometres in the Land Rover. It felt like our bums were scratching on the tar actually! Still, if you ship home your Landy, you will definitely  either have to wait without a car or use a rental.

Is it a CAR?

Really!?

905

likes for our Facebook site during the trip

We have never been too much after "Likes" on Facebook but still they were a way people could tell us that they were interested in what we wrote and pictured. This made us happy, we have to admit!

384

days on the road

... and we could have gone on!

290

days spent in Africa

... were definitely NOT enough! Africa is absolutely gripping! It is like a virus you cannot be cured from!

160    

nights spent on campsites

Campsites in Africa vary a lot. You can get everything from being in the absolute wilderness (Okavango Delta) and having a private ablution block, barbeque et cetera in Namibia or South Africa. You will almost never have a German-style campsite (GOOD!). Sometimes we also camped next to restaurants, lodges, in the courtyard of hotels.

Our camp on a farm-campsite in Namibia ("Mesosaurus Camp"). A bit like in the wilderness.

But you do have campsites with your own "house" with all kinds of personal facilities ...

... like a kitchen ...

... and a veranda with a view.

 

Our camp in the Okavango Delta ... no fences and loads of animals. So, elephants, hippos, gazelle, lions and whatever else pass through the camp, mostly at night! Never go to the toilet at night! At least we didn't!

 

127

nights spent in private households (in 21 different households ranging from a 1500 year-old mountain-village-farmhouse in Ethiopia to a big house directly below Table Mountain in South Africa or a Beach House directly at the Indian Ocean)

This we had not imagined. Completely unknown people contacted us before and during the trip to invite us into their homes, just because they found our blog on the internet and somehow must have liked us or at least found us interesting enough to invite us. This actually shows the immense support, blogs and Facebook can provide for any traveller. We also feel that it was a good decision to blog in English, as that way we could reach more and international people. The friendliness and hospitality we were approached with was unimaginably touching. We wish that Europeans and Germans especially were as nice to strangers as Africans and people on the Balkans were to us.

In most cases we felt like being family members from abroad.

Especially with the van der Merwes in Namibia on their small farm "Eisgaubib".

In the Tigrinyan mountain village Zik'allay - Anouk's favorite place in Ethiopia.

In here - the kitchen - people from the same family have lived for the last 1500 years. For now, it is our bedroom.

106,36

Euros spent per day

This sounds a lot and probably it is. We had saved up for years for the trip and had 125€ per day. Still, we did not wild camp too often (as we could probably have done) ... and we have to admit that we did give us treats with good food and restaurants quite often. For sure, this sum could be way cheaper. Also, from what we have heard and read, East Africa is not the cheapest overland destination. So, also the area of the world you travel in definitely affects the daily budget a lot.

Yes, we do spend quite a lot money on good food. Here it is fresh Barracuda for Christmas in Kenya.

Lobster in Tanzania ... 8€ for 1,5 kilograms!

97,71

kilometres per day on average

Nearly one hundred kilometres per day might sound a lot on average, but it actually is not. This includes all the autobahn-kilometres and those on very good roads we easily put behind us in Europe and southern Africa ... It also includes the stretches, we just drove through non-stop (like from the Ethiopian-Kenyan border to Nairobi). We had many lazy days during our trip where we did not move a wheel at all!

94

days spent in Europe

Europe is wonderful and there is so much to discover. Period!

The old monks' rooms and monasteries in the cliffs at Meteora in Greece - an absolutely magical place!

Lake Koman ferry in Albania.

71

nights in hotels, B&Bs, hostels and holiday flats

As I said, this could easily be reduced. We just needed that every now and then to relax, recover and enjoy.

A family room at a lodge in Namibia.

And a hostel room (yes, this is no mistake ... this really is a room in a hostel) in Girokastër in Albania. The kids thought the house was haunted!

18

foreign countries visited

The original plan was to visit more countries on the way, but we did not want to "tick" countries but wanted to travel. This is where our route(s) took us.

16

nights spent wild camping

We love wild camping and we were surprised how easy and wonderful wild camping can be. Absolute highlights in this sense were Greece and Sudan. Still, there are countries, where camping in the wilderness for us was not an option, such as Ethiopia, where nearly every square meter is inhabited and we didn't like the feeling of being openly watched by tens of persons all the time.

A wildcamp in the Sahara desert in Sudan ... absolutely safe but (nice) people (and camels) will find you in the morning and try to trade with you.

Our wild camp at the (nudist) beach in Lefkhada in Greece. A wonderful place!

15,15

€ per night on average

Prices for accomodation vary considerably from country to country and region to region. The Balkans were cheap and good, whereas East Africa was quite expensive. Some campsites in southern Africa were completely for free for people driving a car licensed from overseas.

12,8

average fuel consumption in liters

Not much different compared to the consumtion we have recorded during other overland trips in Europe.

7

nights spent at family member's houses

... at the beginning and end of the trip.

6

things that broke (both water pumps, front prop shaft, central locking right rear passenger door, double shocker keep, Foxwing awning)

We had expected more things to break. And due to heat, dust and road conditions, we constantly expected more to happen. Maybe the small number of things that broke was due to using a relatively new, well maintenanced car and constant maintenance on the road (i.e. service every 5000 to 10000 km and directly before the trip). We think it is worth buying quality products intead of going for cheap options.

When the front propshaft started making funny noises, we used it for educational purposes immediately. We got it fixed within 48 hrs! In Africa!

On the way to Ol Doinyo Lengai in Kenya, the keep of the double shock absorbers broke. The village blacksmith easily fixed it at a very considerably price.

6

malaria tests

Malaria felt like a constant threat, especially thinking of the kids. We now think that we might have overrated Malaria, but are also 100% sure that being on the safe side healthwise never is a bad thing to do. Malaria tests and medication in Africa is relatively cheap (for us Europeans with hard currency at least) and doctors know more how to treat Malaria than our doctors sometimes as they are constantly exposed to the problem.

3

uncomfortable situations

Actually, two of these happened in northern Africa. Juliane had two situations where she felt uncomfortably approached by men, in Egypt and Sudan. But there is a big difference between cities like Cairo and Khartoum and small villages. We felt absolutely safe and extremely politely treated in the villages. Mischa would have had no problem of leaving Juliane and the two girls behind there for a while. The third incident was a misunderstanding with customs officials at a checkpoint in Ethiopia about 200km away from the Ethiopian-Kenyan border. We drove on without being allowed to (which we could not figure out because of unclear signs), people stopped us, came running at us in uniforms waving weapons and made us go back behind a piece of rope across the street . While reversing, Mischa bumped into a concrete pillar on the road and went mad.

 

This barber stole a kiss from Juliane while Mischa and the girls were in the same room. Juliane didn't want to tell Mischa right away as she feared he would go wild ...

 

3

times servicing the Land Rover

As we said before, service is the key to everything staying in good shape car-wise!

 

First service at "JBK" in Athens - the Greek Land Rover "horse whisperers".

 

2

speeding tickets

Mischa got his first two speeding tickets in Africa. His first two EVER! ... on two successive days. And he was speeding!

Quite beautiful actually! BUT I DON'T drive a LANDCRUISER!

1

car breakdown

Only one time our car broke down completely ... on a major crossroads in Arusha, Tanzania, when the president was visiting the city. ... 2 km away from a Land Rover garage ... It took 45 minutes from the time the Landy broke down to have the car towed to the garage. ... And the manager of the garage took us home with him for the night. The next day everything was fixed again.

1

visitor from Germany

Mischa's mother visited us in Ethiopia, which was absolutely great. It was a brave thing to do for a lady of 67 who had never been to Africa before!

Bajaj outing with Oma Babs.

And she brought Swiss cheese - a rare thing in southern Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia ... worth its weight in gold almost!

0

bribes

We never pay bribes as the next travellers have to pay even higher prices. Also, we never give "gifts" for services that are not special. Whenever people really do things for us, we pay a fair price, though! We don't want to support a "bribe and beg" mentality, but want to make people start their own initiatives to make a living and support their families. When people are ill and sick, we sometimes go and buy food for them or give some medication.

0

punctures

... good tyres pay off! BF Goodrich Mud Terrain KM2! Never change a winning team!

 
 

0

robberies

... even though people could have robbed us easily. Was it luck? We don't know! We nearly always felt safe!

0

abductions

... see above!

0

days in prison

... see above! Although we were absolutely happy to be out of Ethiopia, as the traffic there is an absolute mess (Mischa would love to drive again in Cairo and Khartoum, but NOT in Ethiopia) and pedestrians don't know how to cope with modern road traffic. There are hundreds of people on the road, cattle, sheep and goats everywhere ... at night, people even sleep on the road. If you injure or kill somebody in an accident, you have to expect being lynched by the mob or will be put into prison for seven years. Even the embassies advise people to leave the country immediately after a fatal accident with a local person.

...

countless

new friends, experiences, things we learned

That's why we love traveling so much! There is nothing more to say!

Our kids make friends easily everywhere. Here in Namibia with Max and Irmgard.

The Calders in South Africa.

At the friday prayer in Omdurman in Sudan.

In "Anouk's mountain village" Zik'allay in Ethiopia.

Games in Kenya ...

... and in Ethiopia.

Farm friends in Namibia.

... with their wonderful parents.

Juliane and Zeinab in Cairo.

With Sam Watson in Cairo.

With Mohammed ("Mo") of "Adam Home Overland Camp" in Aswan.

... more friends in Khartoum, Sudan.

With Tyseer on a boat trip in Khartoum.

And with Sheikh Mohammad Mubarak and Tyseer in Khartoum.

With Chief Mkwawa and his family in Iringa, Tanzania.

With Ian, the manager of the Land Rover garage in Arusha.

With our travel friends "Six en Piste" from France who are now travelling in South America.

Lars - a wonderful family father, friend and Land Rover mechanic with a most wonderful family - in Nairobi.

... and so many many more! We miss you guys! Dearly!

Why many people don’t go on extended travel

Why actually do so few people from the "western World" travel the world overland long term?

During a long "kitchen party" together with another German overland-family we discussed this question.

 

We love long kitchen parties ... not just before a long day of traveling!

 

Especially in industrial nations many people are extremely focused on consumerism and competition. Long term travel is nearly always connected to a long-term withdrawal from the competition with colleagues at work, which can even lead to a jobwise "powerloss". The jobwise position can most surely not be kept during a long term travel. Earning money in the "normal" way most of the times also doesn't work, so people can't consume the products advertisements make us believe we need as life-essentials.

Fearing these two aspects deeply combined with a general and all-embracing angst concerning the "dangerous world out there" is the basic reason why so many of the citizens of the so-called "Western World" do not go out to take a personal look at the rest of our globe.

But it is also the simple fear of "being singled out because of being different" that stops people from going on a long term travel, as everybody knows that every single bit of "differentness" from the "norms" can lead to social isolation - in spite of the fact that we base our governments, cultures, job-culture and circle of friends on democratic systems stating that everybody is appreciated, approved and recognized in their otherness.

By many members of the so-called "upper classes" and the "educated classes", for example, the overland traveller is being looked down upon from the safari-cars as being somewhat inferior and being some kind of "left-wing-progressive camper rucksack tourist" who is not able to afford "proper travel".

 

This is real luxury: a warm night, a blazing fire, good food and drink, nice company ... and all "homemade".

 

From the perspective of the so-called "lower classes" long term travelers are viewed as "posh tourists who can afford constant vacation" ... We have met members of all occupational groups on our travels: from bus driver to university professor and from nurse to medical doctor or teacher.

People who do long term travel have to accept that for the "system", they have now thoroughly become "strange" and even "suspicious" persons.

Fundamentalists? ...

Terrorists? ...

... or just culturally interested, aware and respectful?!

To just give one example here from entering the USA, please read the following conversation between a traveler and US-customs: "Why did you travel to the Middle East?" ... "I didn't!" ... "Your passport states that you have recently been to Egypt!" ... "Ah, but that is Africa, isn't it!?" ... For government bodies and system followers it is unimaginable that people travel to Egypt or Sudan out of pure personal cultural interest, so everybody suggests terrorist motives these days.

When in Rome do as the Romans do!

Deep in conversation without a shared language!

For families with young children the situation with long-term travel is even more difficult, because everybody assumes that because their kids have been out of the school system, they will miss out on subject matters and thus will have less good starting positions on the jobwise competition-sprint.

 

Travel school can look quite "traditional"

 

Because schools have been "invented" by countries to recruit young talents for industry and economy, caring parents assume that their offspring will become disadvantaged because of long-term travel. Educational failure as the result of long-term travel! We are clear that schools have always been and today especially are very intensively controlled by the industry and do not focus on education from and for the child - why else still subjects such as music, arts and P.E. are the "Cinderellas" of school subjects at ALL schools from state to private!? In this context it by the way is quite enthralling that the internationally famous "PISA-study", which compares different school systems in different countries, is being financed and controlled by the international industry and economy.

Alongside the educational aspect quite a few people assume that "travel-children" might become "asocial monsters" because they allegedly lack contact to peers.

There are many opportunities for social interactions when traveling!

Everybody loves playing games!

One of our former colleagues postulated before we left home that all travel-children she had met until then had social adaptive difficulties and were eventually unhappy because of that.

Additionally, parents fear illnesses and diseases and because of that don't travel. Africa in itself is life-endangering! But with the help of good means of communication when traveling, vaccinations, medication, intensive planning, good travel-insurance and consulting specialist medical doctors it is possible to reduce those risks considerably. The long-term-traveler from industrial nations is anyway privileged, as he can always "pull out the trump-card" of a hard currency in the case of any medical problem and immediately be treated in a good private hospital ... even in Africa ... and in opposition to the local population which is not able to afford any good medical care of this kind!

When hearing of our travel plans, people accused us of being egoistic because we decided on traveling long-term instead of asking our kids (which, by the way we did and thus they were the major force to change the continent we planned to travel to).

 

Our kids just love Africa ... and decided to come back here because in Germany they missed the warmth of the people!

 

Everybody reading this might be ask themselves who exactly is the most egoistic, the parent who goes to work nine to five seven days a week to earn enough money for consumerism and then when they are traveling stay at a club for two weeks and send their children to the club's child care for most of the day to be able to play tennis, go running et cetera ... or the parents who invest time in family and children and "even" do without earning a wage for a long period of time.

Time with their parents is what young kids really need!

Child labor or sharing responsibilities?!

One thing that includes all the aspects described above for parents and their children alike are the media, the true "opium of the people", which are used to create a fear that makes people seek refuge in investing and saving money, over-insurance, travel-reluctance and at the same time is soothing, tranquilizing and satisfying addictions. The media-reports are the "modern sea monsters" that once used to be painted on maps at Columbus' times to instil fear in the too adventurous and restrict trade and navigatory knowledge to a small circle of insiders. People are not supposed to go out and explore on their own because they then would start to question the reports, prejudices and news and would realize that the all-encompassing fear homespun by bestseller-negative-news, half-truths and lies is completely made-up and unnecessary. People would maybe then discover that Muslims can be quite nice or African policemen not always corrupt ... the power to control and navigate people using fear would be gone then! Fairly dangerous!

It is intended and piloted by economy, politics and media that the Germans, Europeans, "Westerners" do not travel to far away lands because of this fear and in case they travel abroad in spite of that, then at a max they should travel to "safe trade partners". The "precious Euros or Dollars" are please to be spent in the domestic economy zone and rather not travel as a form of private foreign aid to Africa! And if Africa is the destination, please only book via overpriced European travel agencies so that a substantial part of that money can be skimmed at home instead of traveling individually without any pree-bookings!

...

But what is the real situation like during a long term travel concerning the aspects and concepts above?

Traveling definitely is an absolute "eye opener"! Apart from many learning experiences on the more intellectual side the most essential new experience caused by travel is to learn how to get rid of your fears. These fears eliminate themselves in any case when people realize that the "world outside" is not as bad as the media make us think it is.

For us it was for example quite scary at the beginning to wild-camp somewhere in the Sudanese desert because due to one-sided media cover, Sudan is considered an "absolutely dangerous country".

 

A wild camp in the Sudanese Sahara ... very relaxing and deeply touching instead of being dangerous!

 

We have finally camped wild regularly in Sudan and have felt very very safe, safer actually than in other places in Africa or even Europe!

An intensive openness concerning new situations is something that "just happens anyway" when you are traveling outside of your comfort zone and cultural sphere.

At the same time one learns to restrain oneself on the bare essentials.

 

Everything has to fit into the "small" Land Rover ... bare necessities of life!

 

With that, you automatically leave the consumerist-competition and instead of consuming "things" one indulges in deep, intensive human encounters ... traveling definitely also is making a move to a more social being. Once people asked us whether it is not boring not to build, create, construct something for one complete year ... our answer was and still is, "We do exactly that: we establish new ties and relations and stabilize those within the family, with the partner and with our children.

...

But what about the problem areas concerning children and education as stated above?

While traveling we have witnessed how our children "naturally" learned a foreign language, English, without any teacher in the traditional sense and without any learning material.

Natural learning: hatching turtles (science)

... zoology ...

... geology, mineralogy ...

... and gardening.

Furthermore, our two daughters were allowed to find out about their limits, could test themselves and by that find a different "inner ease of mind". Definitely, our children have become more culturally aware and also more cosmopolitan and open minded.

 
 

Life in the open in combination with more attention by the parents (who don't have to go to work) and simply more time gives the chance to include the children in many ways in travel planning, navigation, cooking, car-maintenance et cetera.

Mechanics and car maintenance ...

... help is always needed!

The great majority of contacts kids establish to other traveling children, adults and Africans of all ages are not rational but highly flexible and creative, especially when it comes to language(s)! At the same time even very young children learn a natural media competence by communicating with family and friends at home using emails, Facebook, Skype and the such.

 

Even "old school letters" reach us sometimes!

 

Believe it or not: our kids so far have not become "asocial monsters" - quite the contrary is true!

 
 

Ill or sick our kids were probaly not more than they would have been had we stayed at home. It is only more inconvenient when you are traveling! Our two daughters had gastro-intestinal problems (Anouk once and Sóley twice), tonsillitis (Anouk once and Sóley twice) and an ear infection (Anouk once). That was "it"! Still, we nearly always had the fear for malaria at the back of our necks even though all of us were on antimalarials.

...

Still, extended travel is not a "universal remedy" just as any "prenatal musical character coining" of all children using Mozart without taking into account the mother's favourite music is! Certainly, we don't want to persuade anybody and we also don't want to be fundamentalist in this direction! Those who love traveling will love long term travel and will profit from that and will experience great benefits in their children. Even the people you meet on the road will benefit from these encounters! On the long run travel will establish more mutual understanding! In addition to that long-term travel enables you to spend relaxed and intensive, sometimes challenging time together as a family and escape the competition about power and consumerism for a while! Certainly, after such a travel one has changed many points of view in many different fields!

For sure, we don't want to give the impression here that everybody HAS TO TRAVEL! There are many ways of living and what we do is just one of them! With this blog post we try to discuss why the majority of people in "our world" might fear long term travel! ... and we want to provide "food for thought"!

 
 

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€

From Cairo to Abu Simbel

After Cairo, we wanted to spend some days at the Red Sea relaxing on the beach. The kids loved the beach and playground right outside our room ... we had itchy feet as Upper Egypt and Sudan were waiting.

 

The route we wanted to take through the mountains was forbidden for tourists ... not safe!

 
 

Rizeiky Camp in Luxor ... the first overlanders wie meet - only half of the seats are booked.

 

Traveling through Egypt, we are impressed by the large number of historical sights we can experience nearly without any other tourists. Everywhere there are signs stating that taking photos inside the buildings is forbidden and everywhere the tourist police check all people entering the sights. Still, one can always take the camera inside ... just to be tempted by "guides" to take photos in the most breathtakingly impressive places. As we withstood this temptation, some sights are not represented in this post ... even though we felt the emotional roller coaster! We will keep it in our memories and hearts.

The Valley of the Kings is deserted ... another magical place!

Egyptian dimensions!

"Adam Home Overland Camp" in Aswan is a wonderful place facing the Nile and the city of Aswan on the opposite river bank. Samy and Mohammad help in any imaginable way and life here is relaxed and quiet.

 
 

Kids on motorbikes ... no license needed!

Naturally chilled fresh water free and everywhere next to the roads.

 

Dinner at a Nubian house.

 

Upper Egypt is dominated by Nubian culture and people who are extremely open and welcoming and look down on an ancient history.

A Falukah trip to Elephantine Island

 
 

Petroglyphs

 
 

Feuerhand Fairytale

During the shipping of our Land Rover from Pireias to Alexandria our beloved Feuerhand petrol lamp was stolen (apart from toilet paar and tissues the only thing that was stolen ... RoRo shipping is not so bad after all!). We tried to find a new petrol lamp on our way through Egypt, but it simply was too "old school" for Egypt. But then, in some Nubian house in a village near Aswan, an old woman had an old unused lamp she was willing to sell. After some polishing this lamp showed its true identity: it is a Feuerhand petrol lamp, made in Germany some time between 1949 and 1989. Everything is possible in Africa - you only have to think positive! We can't wait until the lamp tells more stories when bushcamping.

Before

... and after.

And then the day came when we had to say "Goodbye!" again. We had a great time with Samy and Mohammed and his family. Thanks for everything!

From Aswan to Abu Simbel we experience our first drive through the Sahara desert. In the North, we went through stony desert with mountains but here now the countryside is flat and sandy ... just like we had imagined. We drive during the midday heat through a landscape full of secret "lakes" ... even the road ahead seems to be flooded like the "Hellerpad" connecting our school with the island's village during a storm tide. Do we see flamingoes there in the far distance? An oasis with camels and palm trees? ... But everything vanishes when we come nearer and no mud-stripes decorate our Land Rover, the fifth family member. What remains is a deep fascination for this barren ecosystem ... and a lot of looking forward to Sudan!

 

We avoided the police convoy and went through the desert alone ... Abu Simbel!

 

The "Eskaleh Nubian Ecolodge"

The "Eskaleh Nubian Ecolodge" is a charming place, wonderfully decorated, professionally run and full of positive energy. Some food and ingrediences are home grown on site in the small eco farm and the owners and staff are extremely warm, welcoming and willing to help the weary traveller. Overlanders are welcome to camp on the premises.

And then came the absolute highlight of this travel so far

the Abu Simbel Temples

Sometimes, things which are bad for Egypt can be good for us: we had the temples of Ramses and Nefertiti all to ourselves. Completely! What an impressive site ... words simply cannot describe the dimensions and spirit of this place ... truly magical!

The light show was like a fairytale of The Thousand and One Nights told under 1.000.000 stars. Unforgettable!

The Ramses Temple!

Anouk holding the key to the Ramses Temple in her hands - the Egyptian key of life.

The Ramses Temple at night.

The Nefertiti Temple at night.

Egypt – our impressions after 25 days in the country

Whenever we told anybody that we would do Transafrica, most people were very negative when it came to traveling to and through Egypt. When I tried to find out about Howard to ship the Land Rover to Egypt and called an Austrian ferry agent, he downright accused me of being suicidal and irresponsible because I planned to travel with wife and kids ... and hung up before I could even reply.
Certainly, the media reports in Europe being quite negative about Egypt and Muslim countries in general (from my point of view) added their part so that we expected to only transit Egypt. Instead, we spent nearly four weeks there and enjoyed every minute of it.
The question is which country today really is "safe"! I think none is 100%! If you use your common sense, are an open, humble and friendly person and follow instructions from locals, police and military, you will most certainly enjoy Egypt to a degree not imagined beforehand! All the people we met were very helpful. I remember the guy at the Eskaleh lodge in Abu Simbel who left his workplace just to go with us to the hospital to translate for us when our youngest daughter was ill with tonsillitis and when I asked him what I could do for him, he just replied "Take care of your kid, make sure that she recovers!". Whenever we needed a taxi, we could always ask a policeman who made sure that we would not have to wait for even five minutes and also helped negotiating prices.
Certainly, Egyptian street merchants and shop assistants can be a bit annoying, but if you are friendly and joke with them, you will begin to enjoy the many conversations you suddenly have. It is important to understand that they simply have no other chance than to be as straightforward as possible to earn their little money. As the number of tourists has dropped to less than 25% of what it was before, many people are without any income and unemployed. Also, there is a fierce competition about all remaining jobs in Egypt at the moment - in a country without social security, unemployment benefits and public health insurance.
Traveling in Egypt is not problematic at all! Due to the fact that there are so few tourists traveling to and in the country, independent travel is more than easy. You will always find hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses or places to camp for one night and certainly would never have to book in advance. If you book through a company, a large portion of the money you spend on the travel ends up in Europe and not with the people in the country, so we prefer to shop, fuel up, accomodate et cetera as locally as possible to spend the money where it is needed and help supporting jobs.
The traffic is something I had to adapt to and it certainly was good that I had the chance to observe it before joining in myself. It appears that there are no rules and in a way that is true: traffic lights are scarce, there is no right of way and any speed limits are only there it seems to keep the roadsign industry alive. But almost everybody is friendly and will adapt to the movements you make with your car. It is important not to be shy but follow your plans and you will see that you will become part of the secret choreography of Egyptian traffic easily.
Police and military checkpoints also are no problem at all. We always drive with the windows down, take off our sunglasses and take time to chat with police and military. They are always friendly and helpful. Most of them don't understand English but are very happy if tourists try to chat with them and make their day less boring.
It is really sad that at the moment, it is not possible to spend time in the Egyptian (and Sudanese!) desert or on Sinai (at least if you use a 4x4 car) but still there is so very much to explore and see, as Egypt has most diverse landscapes, cultures and historical sights.
We will definitely come back!

Finally, a big "Thank You!" goes to the Zuidberg family, Sam Watson and Jacqui Belcher for their friendship, patience and understanding and for taking care of our first steps in Egypt.

Farewell to Cairo

 

A cruise with a Falukha on the Nile is an absolute "must"! It is impressive how fast the city noises vanish and then there is only wind and water.

 

Having the car back, this obviously means that our "itchy feet" need a cure and we have to be back on the road again!

So, we tried to make as much of the last few days in this "terrible beauty" of a city. Here are some impressions ...

Public transport - Nile or Amazon?

 

Our captain ...

 
 

It was a wonderful sunset cruise ... oh how we do love to travel!

 

The Pyramids of Gizeh is something that everybody "knows" from their history books at school. Standing right in front of them is so very dwarfing and certainly puts the impressive technological and scientifical development and knowledge of the old Egyptians in its right position! ... all this was constructed at a time when Europe still was full of savages clad in animal skins. What a magical place!

As Egypt is suffering under a 75% decrease of tourists at the moment, this enables you to be more or less on your own discovering this only remaining of the ancient seven wonders of the world.

 
 
 
 

If you are doing Transafrica, you've got to take some pictures with the car in front of the pyramids ...

Great: no tourists and no roads ...

 

The Sphinx ... as equally great as the pyramids but slightly smaller than expected!

 
 

A ship aged over 4000 years old ... what a beautiful vessel!

 
 

An impressed Sóley in the minaret of the El Ghawri Mosque.

 

We don't know what's wrong here, but usually it's the parents who try to "make" their kids go to museums, churches et cetera ... Sóley makes us go to mosque after mosque and apparently is deeply touched ...

A view on Cairo from the minaret.

A beautiful ceiling.

Ancient ivory inlay work ... Anouk loves it and hates that animals had to die for this at the same time.

 

The minaret from below.

 
 

Indulging in Lebanese food with fellow Land Rover owner Sam Watson.

 

Before coming to Cairo, Sam was one of the great people who had helped us in planning our Transafrican adventure. We were invited to stay at his home, our kids loved the atmosphere of a flat with a multitude of interesting things to discover in every corner and on every shelf ... and impressively, nothing has been damaged by them.

After having spent about a week together, we feel like we leave a friend behind. It's great that we have at least two travel plans together, Sam!

 

The good ol' times!

 

Distant relatives.

 

Haha! Don't eat raw fish in Egypt!!! Thanks for the Sushi-Farewell, Sam!

 
 

Bye bye Mr. Sam Sandrover ... we will miss you ... but meet again so soon!

 

The roads that took us down south to the Red Sea coast were in unexpectedly good condition. Still, I had to drive in darkness for about 1,5 hours ("Don't do it!", says the German Foreign Ministry in its travel advice).

The countryside is rocky, dusty and smells of petrol.

Shipping Cars from Greece to Egypt – Part Two

For everybody who did not read Pt. One, here ist the link!

 

Thanks for doing a great job, Nermien (not in the photo), Salah, Fatih and all the other people at CFS in Alexandria!

Our new Egyptian license plates.

 

For everybody who did not read Part One, here is the link ...

As it is not possible to go on the same ship the car is on as a passenger, the only way to get to Egypt is by plane. Flying to Egypt (Cairo) is not that expensive ... we paid 179€ per adult and 168€ per child (i.e. 694€ for the family alltogether; 20kg luggage + hand luggage). This is the travel agency in Athens we did the booking with:

Joy Tours (Mairi Stathopoulou, stathopoulou@joytours.gr)
162 Patission Str.
11257 Athens
Tel.: (+30)2108620103, 2130002250
Fax: (+30)2108628717
Mail: info@joytours.gr
Web: www.joytours.gr

After having arrived in Egypt, we now had to start the procedures in Alexandria with our customs broker and, thus, had to go there in person.

The trip from Cairo to Alexandria can easily be done by train (also very cheap). Morning trains leave at 6:00 and 8:00 in Cairo and take about three hours (as there are more trains, it is even possible to go back and forth within one day to save extra hotel costs). The cost is about 45EL (back only 30 EL). Even the 2nd class is quite convenient. We were the only tourists on the train. It is always important to be in Alexandria as early in the morning as possible as offices open at 9 o'clock in the morning and close at one!

Finally in Alexandria, we took a taxi from the main station to the customs broker's ("fixer") office (Consolidated Freight Service (CFS), Nermien Mamish, nermien_mamish@cfsegypt.com,125, Hurreya Ave., El Radwan Bldg., Bab-Sherk, Alexandria - Egypt., Tel : 002 03 3914671 /2 / 4, Fax : 002 03 3914679 , Mobile : 002 0122 240 4884, Web: www.cfsegypt.com, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cfsegypt).

We went off with Fathi El Said, one of Nermien's colleagues (mail: import1@cfsegypt.com, tel.: 0100 3919333) and first

went to the Immigration Department in Alexandria. There our passports were stamped and signed by an official stating that we were really within Egypt as all private persons shipping cars to Egypt have to be present when the car is freed out of customs.

... and second, we had to go to the Document Verification Department to sign a statement to give the customs brokers power of attourney to be allowed to act on our behalf.

The following documents we had to leave with the customs brokers:
- passport
- Carnet de Passages
- national car registration
- bill of loading

All the rest of the clearance procedures after that is done by the customs brokers who contact you via mail or mobile phone to keep you updated or if they need you to be present in Alexandria. We went back to Cairo.

In our case, the ship did not arrive as expected (it took six days to reach Alexandria, the shipping agency stated three to six days). As the name of the ship is on the bill of loading, you can use "AIS" to track the ship (see http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ ).

Finally, we had to come back to Alexandria on the second working day after the ship had docked in Alexandria and had to present ourselves to customs. The team at CFS then started the customs procedures on that very day so that we could get the Land Rover back the following day, within three working days after docking as promised by Nermien Mamish. A bit problematic was the fact that we had to leave so much gear in the cars, because they have to officially be empty. One should definitely not leave any money, food or medication in the car. Money and medication can easily be taken on the plane. We blocked the rear door to make stealing more difficult ... and only one petrol lamp was stolen.

On the day we got out the car, the VIN and engine numbers were checked, we got the Egyptian registration and license plates, got two 6kg fire extinguishers (mandatory even if you have some already), had to pay for port storage (paid for by CFS), show up at customs and - after about three hours of going here and there, sitting and drinking tea - I was able to drive out of the port, fuel up (at 0,22€ per litre!) and do the first 200 and something kilometres of our Transafrica trip.

The English family were not as lucky as we are because all Landcruisers have to be checked not only by police, customs and traffic department, but also by the military who have the power to decide and even reject cars which then could even mean that they would have to be shipped back to where they came from. This is due to the fact that recently a lot of Landcruisers have been car-jacked and used for terrorist purposes. In the best case, this means a delay of another three to ten days.

For the complete process it is absolutely necessary to have a mobile phone with an Egyptian number. We got local Sim cards at a vodafone shop for 41EL (500 min without data; 141EL for 500 min with 7,5GB data). Make sure that your phone is not Sim-locked before traveling to Egypt!

For going to all customs, police and other offices, I would advise everybody to dress properly (i.e. long trousers, proper shoes and shirt) and be able to greet and say thank you et cetera in Arabic. Mutual respect can speed up the process as well, I am sure!

We would highly recommend taking a "fixer" (i.e. customs broker or freight forwarder) unless you speak fluent Arabic and exactly know all the procedures. Nermien Mamish, Fathi El Said and their team did a great job and their speed (three working days) impressed even expats who have been living here in Egypt for decades! We highly recommend them!

Of course, the team at CSF can also arrange shipping cars in the opposite direction!

 

Costs:

customs broker Greece 30,00 €  
port storage Pireias 6,47 € i.e. 3,24 € per day
costs Minoan 116,85 €  
shipping costs 309,00 €  
customs broker Egypt 870,00 €  
port costs Alexandria (storage et cetera) 79,03 € 658,00 EL
costs shipping 1.411,35 €  
flights 694,00 €  
train tickets 12,61 € 105,00 EL
costs including flights and trains 2.117,96 €  

 

Egypt … First Impressions: Cairo, “the victorious”

 

القاهرة

 
 
 

What exactly were our expectations of Egypt? The only "background" we had before coming here was based on our history lessons at school (20 years ago), on what the current media in Europe state about the security and political situation in the country, and on the touristy picture with diving, Hurghada and harassment of female European tourists by Egyptian men. All in all, this image was rather square till negative!

Our arrival in Cairo is unexpectedly quiet and unagitated: we arrive at a nearly deserted airport, all the people we meet are extremely friendly and our luggage is not checked by anybody (not at all!).

During the taxi ride to our friend's place in New Cairo, we experience the Egyptian traffic for the first time. The roads are cramped-full of cars, everything is very fast and accompanied by a cacophony of car horns which has no equal. Ghost drivers are rather normal, any speed limits are adjusted to the current circumstances, scratches and dents in cars are not stressing anybody. Still, it seems that traffic-aggressivity only seems to play a rather minor part, if any at all. Everything is based on some kind of secret and mysterious choreography, cars are navigated by sight and ears, and honking is communication instead of it being a way to express irritation and anger. How will we succeed here in this traffic-chaos when we have our Land Rover back!?

 
 

On our first afternoon excursion to the basar Khan en-Khalili in the old quarters of Cairo, apparently the largest basar in the complete Middle East (I thought we were in Africa?) we wander mightily impressed through the labyrinth of small and even smaller lanes, the kid's eyes getting bigger and bigger being so very impressed by the wonders of 1001 nights around them.

 
 

We are amazed that the majority of the people around us are Egyptians and not tourists. Of course, we are constantly being approached by dealers and bargainers waiting for customers in front of their shops. However, they are friendly and polite without any exception and their "intrusiveness" is more than comprehensible in a country in which rather suddenly 75% of all tourists have stopped away. Every hard-earned Egyptian Pound secures the survival of families ... for another day, for how long howsoever! But after a "No, Thanks!" from us, the reaction nearly always is "Welcome to Egypt!".

 
 

In the café which for sure did not look so much different in the old Ottoman times, we indulge in fresh mango juice, coffee, houmous, falafel and delicious deserts - we don't miss alcohol at all!

Sóley has been wanting to go to a mosque for ages, so we also include this into our tour even though it has darkened by now. Mischa and Sóley go into the men's part and Juliane and Anouk into the part reserved for women. While we are trying to organise ourselves, Sóley suddenly gets lost ... and an Egyptian lady straightaway brings her back, who seems to be reminding me as a father that I should take care of my children. Juliane asks a young woman in the street to show her how to put on the headscarf properly and on we go! In the men's part it is very quiet and Mischa and Sóley sit down on the carpeted floor next to one of the mighty pillars that support the roof to take in this impressively vast prayer room. There is a peaceful silence around which "sounds" like learning, meditation and philosophical conversation instead of ringing from religious agitation. Juliane at first has problems getting into the women's part because she doesn't have any money on her for the people who take care of the shoes. After a small anteroom they enter a room, half used by men and half by women which is very loud and crowded. In the middle is a cubical cross-barred "thing" at which the people seem to be praying. In spite of that, mothers sit on the floor chatting into their mobile phones with their kids playing around them. One lady hands out sweets to everybody. It is loud, bustling, crowded, there is a lot of gossiping. Back on the way out, Juliane has to stand in line to get her shoes back. When the old guy there finds out that she doesn't have any money to pay him, she is being snarled at by him in Arabic with a gloomy look on his face. Only when she is able to answer in English ("My husband has the money!") the reply is "Ferenji" ("foreigner") and a young man lets her go out.

Without the headscarf Juliane has eye-contact and people on the street address her, pay compliments and want to sell things. But here and there some men go beyond what's acceptable, such as the barber, who tries to steal a kiss from Juliane. But these experiences are rather rare! Wearing a headscarf, Juliane has less eye contacts, is less addressed at ... it is just a bit like a magic hood. She says that it is actually rather relaxed wearing a headscarf, because she can observe more and has to react less to other people.

 

The Muhammad Ali Mosque

 
 

Muhammad Ali Mosque - courtyard

 
 

Muhammad Ali Mosque - courtyard

 

Inside the Muhammad Ali Mosque

Inside the Muhammad Ali Mosque

Inside the Muhammad Ali Mosque

Inside the Muhammad Ali Mosque

During our excursions to different districts, always first by taxi and then on foot, we incidentally experience the Egyptian police as being xtremely friendly and obliging. Sometimes it is a small smile or a friendly "Salam", which regularly conjures a smile on their faces. Everybody seems to be liking our kids.

 
 

In front of the old synagogue of Cairo in direct neighborhood of mosques and ancient churches, we stop and get into a conversation with two policemen. We take photos of each other and the uniform hats are being put on the kids' heads. We drink tea together. Apart from the friendliness of the people we here realize that Egypt is looking down on a long Jewish and Christian tradition in addition to it being a Muslim country.

 

The story goes that this is the place where Moses was found in his basket by the Egyptian princess ... a birthplace of three religions alike.

 

Maybe, the old Egypt was the first country in which Christianity gained a foothold in roundabout 50 A.D. Today, still about 10% of the population are members of the different Christian churches. Open hostility we don't witness anywhere but we only have been here for a very short while!

The view of the city is as diverse as it's inhabitants: there are extremely dirty places and very clean and tidy ones next to each other. Ancient, sometimes ruined buildings alternate with glittering shopping malls which appear to be European. Next to beautifully ornated mosques we see Roman ruins.

 

The entrance gate to the "Lakeview Compound" in New Cairo

 

Life in the "Compound"

Life in the "Compound"

Juliane and Zainab, housemaid and nanny ... and extremely nice!

Group Photo of us travelers and the Zuidberg family (only Bas is missing!).

 

Anouk doing her homework.

 

The people here live tightly packed, or - just like we do at the moment - in the cordoned off and guarded "compound". We notice that a large number of houses remain unfinished, which is because on the one hand, a man has to build a house before he is allowed to marry to show that he is able to provide a home for his future family (otherwise there is no wedding!), and on the other hand nobody here is paying off debts for a house but goes on completing it whenever there is the money for the next steps. People invest in real estate instead of putting the money on the bank.

 
 

Old ... or just a workshop for touristy knick knack?

... would love to go there and find out what this place actually is!

We are captured by the diversity of this city and by the cheerful-friendly slyness of the people. Because of this it is not that terrible that we will have to wait for some more days until we will get our Land Rover out of customs in Alexandria.

 
 

Just a few days away from the “big step” to Africa …

After having taken a holiday-break from traveling between visiting the island of Lefkhada and the Peloponnes during the last two to three weeks, more and more preparation work for the onward journey and the big step to Africa sneeks in. Of course, ahead of traveling to Greece we had gathered all information on the route, visa matters et cetera. Still, now the shipping of our cars to Egypt and the visa for Sudan and Ethiopia have to be concretized and organised. The really great thing about overlanding is that you are supported in that process by many people who before were completely unknown to you.

One of them, Konstantinos, member of the international "Land Rover Family", helps us very energetically to make sure that shipping our cars from Pireias in Greece to Alexandria in Egypt will really work. At the other shore of the Mediterranean, Bas and Herman Zapp do all they can for us with the help of their experiences, personal contacts and local communication. We feel in good hands in this network of overland travelers (and especially in those of other overlanding families)!

 

Our invitation letter for Sudan has arrived!

 

In spite of this help we have to update all pieces of information on the visa for Sudan and Ethiopia and at the same time many emails are going back and forth to get invitation letters for Sudan and Ethiopia which are maybe not absolutely necessary to get the visa, but still can speed up the process immensely.

First German-English camp

Let's winch the kids back home, darling!

Parallel to this extensive organisational work which actually is real fun for Mischa, we meet an English family in Delphi whom we had before only met on the internet but have planned to travel together through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and northern Kenia.

Delphi, another magic place in Greece!

Our first photo of the "new team".

Living and working together in the camp with the Mittons instantly works like a charm and it seems that from the professional and personal background, but also concerning gear and travel preparation we supplement each other greatly. At the same time, we discover many private similarities.

 

Meeting Dominik Schenke who is doing "our" route by bicycle

 

Back in Athens, we spend our last few days on the European continent in a hostel situated directly in the historic district of "Plaka". The touristy bustle on the streets certainly needs getting used to after so many weeks in the countryside, but we can do all the transactions, shopping et cetera that are on our lists and also indulge in wonderful Greek food.

We meet Anna again and go on a tour through the Turtle Rescue Station.

Aphrodite's Temple

On the 4th October we celebrate Sóley's 3rd birthday ... the programme consists of a visit to the Akropolis and spending time on a playground ... it is impressive for adults and kids alike!

 

At the custom's warehouse in the port of Pireias

 

On monday we drop our cars at the port of Pireias from where they will be shipped to Alexandria in Egypt on Thursday. This day, which has been expected with a lot of excitement, unexpectedly turns out to be rather relaxed one and even reasonable concerning the costs (here are the details concerning the shipping).

Well, and on Wednesday, tomorrow, we will fly to Cairo and will stay at Bas' place, also a new internet-friend who also loves overland travel and plans to do Cairo - Capetown soon as well and who has massively supported us during the last weeks in preparing for te shipping of our cars to Egypt.

Sometime in roundabout one week, we will hopefully be comfortably sitting in our cars traveling along the River Nile to Ethiopia.

Shipping Cars from Greece to Egypt – Part One

 

The other cars do look cool ... but still I'd always go for the Land Rover!

 

Today, we have handed over our car(s) at Pireias port ... this is how we made it:

Long before even the beginning of our trip in July, I had tried several times to reach several Grimaldi offices in Italy, Greece and Turkey. It was always the same procedure: whenever I sent an email, there was no answer, when I phoned them, they told me to send an email ... and then there again was no answer. Finally, after a lot of unnecessary fuss, a friend from Cairo called the Grimaldi office in Egypt (contact details: "Rasha" (export department), phone:+20 3 4863647, email: export@smarina.com), and suddenly, there were answers. Sometimes, Africa is not so bad after all!

Here in Greece, it was again the same situation: we sent emails and nobody replied. Luckily a Greek friend helped us immensely and continuously contacted Grimaldi via email and phone, and suddenly, everything worked. So, I would highly recommend everybody who wants to ship their car to Egypt with Grimaldi, to find persons local to where the Grimaldi office is to help with the communication. 

Handing over the cars ...

The procedure: We had to first go to the customs office at the G2 car terminal in Keratsini. The address (G2 car terminal, Ichtioskala, Keratsini), though, could not be found on our Garmin GPS (if you type it in in Greek letters in Google maps, though, you will find it). Finally arriving there, the customs officials told us that we needed a customs broker and contacted one for us. We had hoped that we would not need one, as we expected an expensive rip-off here, but this recommendation really was a good one: the customs broker that helped us, actually only wanted 30€ per car for his services (we had another offer for 150€ per car, so it is really good to compare prices!).

Here are the contact details: Georgios Kapelas, Akti Ionias 36, Keratsini 18755 (Garmin has this address!), phone: 210 4314886, mail: kapelas@ektelonismoi.gr

They were extremely helpful and all we had to do was sign some papers and wait for about two hours.

The documents needed here were:
- car registration
- passports of the car's owner
- Carnet de Passages (they did not ask for us to bring it in advance but we brought it and it was really important to have it there)

In addition to the 30€ per car for the customs broker, we paid another 6,47€ per car for the port storage of our cars for two days. So, that was 36,47€ instead of over 150€!

After that we brought the cars into the customs warehouse-part of the harbour which is just next doors to the custom's broker's office. There, only the VIN-numbers were checked and we could drop them there and hand over the keys.

We, then could proceed and go to the office of Minoan Lines SA in Pireus who act as Grimaldi agents in Pireus.

This is the address and the name of the lady who helped us there:
Mrs. Xanthi Nannou
Grimaldi Car Carriers &  RoRo Piraeus Agency
MINOAN LINES SA,  As Agents only
Thermopylos 6-10
18545 Piraeus
Τel.     0030 – 210 – 4145720
grimaldi.ccrr.pir@minoan.gr

Everybody there was very helpful and after another hour, we were free to leave. The total costs  were 116,85€ for the service at Minoan Lines and another 309,00€ for the shipping (sea freight: 307,00 € per van; stamp b/l : 2,00€ per shipment; free in: 95,00€ + VAT per van under 3to (over 3to the cost of driving the car up the ship is 235 + VAT))

We did not need any other documents than stated above, but were asked to give our VAT number (i.e. our German/English tax numbers) ... as I did not have it they simply did not add it on the document.

The only other thing that is important is that during all procedures the owners of the car (i.e. us) had to be present.

Fixer in Alexandria:
We don't know what we will have to expect in Alexandria ...
We thought that it might be important to find a customs broker ("fixer") for Alexandria as well. As the prices here vary immensely from fixer to fixer (we even had a ridiculous offer of US$ 5500 per car!) it is good to compare the prices. The customs broker we chose is Nermien Mamish who was recommended to us by Herman Zapp and is highly recommended on the HUBB ("Horizons Unlimited"). We will have to pay 870€ for her services (including all port & traffic charges, plates & receipts; excluding only Carrier DTHC (discharging cost)).
The expected duration of the clearance for the two cars will be 2-3 working days.

These are her contact details:
Nermien Mamish
Managing Partner - MBA,
nermien_mamish@cfsegypt.com
Consolidated Freight Service (CFS).
125, Hurreya Ave.
El Radwan Bldg.
Bab-Sherk
Alexandria - Egypt.
Tel : 002 03 3914671 /2 / 4
Fax : 002 03 3914679 
Mobile : 002 0122 240 4884
Website : www.cfsegypt.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cfsegypt 

Needed documents for entry procedures in Alexandria (we sent them in in advance as scans):
- passport
- Carnet de Passages
- car license (i.e. the car registration documents)
- shipping line BL ("Bill of Loading")

Other documents that might be needed
- visas
- national and international driver's licenses
- vaccinations certificates (yellow fever)
- a list with all spares and tools on board
- a list with all electronic equipment on board (cameras, GPS, sat. phones...etc.) with serial numbers.

...

We have extremely "itchy feet" now and are so much looking forward to finally make the "big step" to Africa, going to Egypt and proceeding down south through Sudan and Ethiopia ...

We just hope that our cars will reach Alexandria unpilfered and undamaged ... Anouk, after me telling her that now the car is going to be shipped to Egypt ALONE, told me that the Land Rover is a family member not to be left alone! ...