On Her Bike: Hello Egypt!

Egypt is one of the toughest border crossings in the world they say, and from my experience I agree, it was the most difficult border I've ever crossed.

The bureaucracy is so frustrating and it is really hard to get your head around all the procedures – all the officers to see, all the paperwork to fill out and all the fees to pay, even now I'm not sure what really happened on that border.

But 10 hours later…I was in! Although 10 hours seemed to be a long time to spend at the border, the fact is this was the best-case scenario.

Some of the travellers I know had to leave their bikes for 3 to 14 days at the border before they got all their paperwork right.

There are a few options for entry into Egypt – you can send your bike on a ship to Alexandria or fly it to Cairo but the only option for not being separated from your bike is to enter via the Sinai Peninsula which is still a bit unstable.

But overlanders with vehicles, in most cases, are allowed to enter Sinai these days. Crossing into Sinai from Israel is like winning the lottery, hardly anyone gets in at the Taba border but coming in on the ferry from Jordan is another story.

I caught a ferry across the Red Sea from Aqaba in Jordan and had no major problems with entering Egypt or riding through Sinai... but there were lots of rules to follow.

The ferry ride took about 3 hours at a cost of $150 – so it's quite pricey and the timing is quite awkward too.

The ferry leaves from Jordan at 3am and arrives at Nuweiba in Egypt at 6am. So after a sleepless night you're straight into these intense border procedures, but there is a bright side to it all - because there was a lot of waiting time, I could have a few naps on the chair in the waiting room.

And after 10 hours I was finally rewarded with Sinai’s stunning landscapes. The coast is fenced by mountains, turning it into a very picturesque landscape.

I was way too tired to continue riding that day and after a couple of police checks I finally reached Dahab – one of the best places to chill in Egypt!

Dahab is a former fisherman’s village which is these days a cool little town with great vibes and one of the best spots in the world for windsurfing, scuba diving and kite surfing. There are no 5 star resorts but lots of budget hotels and apartments.

Everyone is super relaxed there and there is no other place in Egypt like Dahab.

After a couple of weeks off and a little holiday with visiting family and friends I was ready for the next challenge: crossing the Sinai.

At that time, I wasn't really sure if it was possible to cross the Sinai to the Suez Tunnel to get to the mainland. For many years in this area it was prohibited for tourists to travel with their own vehicles.

Another procedure I wasn't aware of was the police escort. For about 450 km, from one police checkpoint to the next I was escorted by police cars, they were just handing me over every 50 km. I'm not sure if this procedure applies to all travellers or just solo travellers but it was quite an entertaining day.

All the police men were very friendly and they provided great company for the whole trip. And at the end of the day when I finally was escorted through the Suez Tunnel, I felt so relieved.

I’d made it to Africa.

Finally, in Cairo!

I’ve been to busy cities with regards to traffic. But Cairo jumped right to the top of the list. It’s bad!!!

And unfortunately the pyramids are right in the middle of the city so - if you want to see them - you’ll have to put up with the traffic.

Once in front of the long awaited for pyramids I had to confess that I had thought they were a little bit… bigger.

No disappointments though, they’re still impressive and it’s mind-blowing how they were able to build them 5000 years ago!

The White Desert

Around 600km from Cairo, down south, there’s the White Desert. Oh my goodness... it's just something else.

This desert is packed with white eroded rocks that take the exact shape of ice. The first irrational thoughts you have are: what the hell is ice doing in the middle of the desert?

I have never seen anythinglike this before. Have a look:

Further south, I stopped at the old village of El Qasr.

It’s said to be the oldest, continuously inhabited and the best-preserved settlement of its type in Dakhla. It was really worth seeing.

The village is like a labyrinth, you can’t even ride your motorbike there because the streets are too narrow!

My last stop in Egypt was Asfhan, a very famous cruise along the Nile.

You can do it in a proper ferry or you can do it on a felucca, a kind of sailing boat. I had to go with the felucca, of course!

I only went on it for a day trip just for the experience... and I must say it was a very peaceful cruise.

There was no wind that day so we were moving really slowly but it was definitely worth it.

Time to say goodbye!

My extended visa finally ended and I had to rush to leave the country.

But seriously two months wasn't nearly enough to see everything I’d wanted to see. 

There’s so much history and so many incredible landscapes, the deserts are stunning and the coast is magic, there’s lots of ancient attractions and so many great modern ones. 

Regardless of the difficulties at the border Egypt turned out to be simply amazing.

See the other stories about On Her Bike here

 

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