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Friday, March 4, 2011

All Aboard

Despite the horrors recounted by other travelers the 18 hour ferry ride from Sudan into Egypt was relatively mundane and almost pleasant. It was the bureaucracy that was painful. For some reason the only way you can cross from Sudan into Egypt is by sailing up Lake Nasser to the port town of Aswan. There are roads crossing between the two countries, but no border posts. Everyone and everything must go by barge. Crazy? Beyond crazy. And the kicker is that you cannot travel on the same barge as your car (and are usually forced to relinquish your keys). And…the ferry only leaves once a week! So in order to get to Egypt from Sudan you need to arrive in Wadi Halfa Sunday or Monday (to load your car, apparently the car ferry takes 3-4 days). You’ve no other options than to hang out in the dusty border town until Wednesday when you check in at the ferry terminal at 11:00 am for a ship that finally sets sail around 6:30 pm; the next 18 hours are spent sailing up the Nile. If you’re lucky (and we were) you car will be waiting for you at Aswan. If you’re not so lucky you get to wait in Aswan until it does. We’ve heard some grizzly accounts of travelers stuck in Aswan wondering where there car is…for days on end.

We docked around 9:00 am. By the time we cleared customs with the necessary paperwork stamped and filed, the standard Egyptian slimeball ‘tax’ extracted and doled out to the various ‘officials’ and ‘helpers’ it was 4:00 pm Thursday afternoon: a 4 day border crossing, our longest yet.

But we’re here and loving it so far.

My love,

PS: If you’re en route to Egypt via Wadi Halfa and come across an Egyptian ‘fixer’ named Kamel beware. 

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