Four Wheels Around - A Road Trip from the UK to South Africa

In February 2009 we are setting off on the trip of a lifetime from Brighton, E-Sussex, UK to South Africa. Furthermore, we are raising money for the British Red Cross along the way. This blog will cover our preparation until we leave and our adventures whilst we are on the road.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A 24 hour border crossing....

Hello again. Greetings from sunny Egypt! In Dahab on the red Sea coast where we are currently camped up, rumour has it that out of 365 days per year, 300 are windy! I think the story was similar in Aqaba, Jordan where for the 3 days we spent there it was extremly blustery! However, when we finally arrived in Egypt the sea was calm and the wind was minimal! It is beautiful here, gorgeous clear blue sea, blue sky and temperatures around 33 degrees at present!

So to summarise our recent adventures. I last wrote when we had spent a good few hours trying to sneak into the back entrance at Petra. As I explained this failed and the next day we tore our budget to shreds by paying the extortionate entrance fee of GBP 20 for one day at Petra! Needless to say Petra is pretty stunning. Many of the rock cut tombs, some of which date back to Naebatean times are miraculously preserved. It is difficult to justify the high entrance cost as although a beautiful place and supposidly the '8th wonder of the world' it cost so much to get in, I wouldn't really consider paying that much to get in to a museum in the UK let alone in a poorer country where you would imagine costs to be lower. Here are just few piccis from our time in Jordan:

Above, left to right: Roman Ruins in Jerash, swimming or rather floating in the dead sea and pictures from Petra.
Petra to Aqaba:
From Petra we headed South to Aqaba. Aqaba is a strange city. It lies just 2o km from the Saudi Arabia border, from the coast line you can see the town of Eliat in Israel and just 70km across the water lies Egypt. For many reasons security was quite high around the area. We passed a number of check points en route. It was nice to chill out in Aqaba before we made the journey across to Egypt. We got our Egyptian visas, made enquiries into transport across the water and found a Safeway supermarket which was fantanstic. They sold mostly local foods but I found a cheeky cadbreys chocci bar and got very over excited. Especially as it was just a few days before Easter!
The Israel Problem:
We would both have been really keen to visit Israel. We have met a few people who have and given the current issues in Israel it would be a real eye opener to go there and see for ourselves what is going on. Unfortunately some of the Countries that we have yet to visit, namely Sudan, like much of the Middle east will not allow you into the Country with any indication of a visit to israel. There are a number of ways around getting the infamous Israel stamp but for us it was not worth the risk. We have to travel through Sudan. We have no choice it is seemingly the only way to where we want to go! This situation has meant that the ineviatable and obvious route to Egypt from Jordan which is through Israel is a no go for us. Instead we had to get a ridiculously expensive ferry from Aqaba, Jordan to Nuweiba in Egypt. This ferry run by AB Maritime cost $60 per person and $210 per jeep on the slow boat. There is no competition for AB Maritime so we had to go for it. The sailings are throughout the day and we had enquired in advance as to which sailing wouyld be best for us. There is a frequent night time sail which between Alex and I and the other couple we have been travelling with, Jacques and Mandy we came to a consensus that this was the sailing that we wanted to avoid.
The Boat!
We turned up on saturday ready for the 4pm sailing which surprise surprise, didn't exist. The next boat was scheduled to leave at 12 midnight. It was currently 2pm! We decided to make the best of it. We were psyched up and ready for Egypt. We set up camp, cooked ourselves food and waited in line with 1000 other people. We had heard that this service is not reliable. That it is usually delayed and the boats are not particularly nice to travel on.
At midnight....vehicles and people began to board the boat. We were metres away from it when we were kindly informed that as we were high vehicles we had to wait for one more hour and board right at the very end after the millions of coaches.....2 1/2 hours later we get on board. We were not allowed to sleep in the car and it was now 3 am. We dealt with passport control and looked for somewhere to get a few hours kip. The whole boat was strewn with bodies. People were snoring, tannoys were blaring throught the night. Peoples phones were going off. At 5am all around us people started to stir for morning paryer. Some people had the call to prayer on the mobile phones (high tech) and it was also announced over the tannoy. We have been woken frequently by the 5am calling throughout the middle east but this was a new experience!
I woke up to find our quite little spot in the family section of the restaurant was now full of sleeping men. I could see Egypt and even the tug boat pulling us in to port but the staff insisted we had another hour to wait. By this point the boat stank and the toilets were over flowing. It was not pleasant!
The Egyptian border....
When we reached the border things took a turn for the worse. Without going into too much detail there is a discrepency between all our documentation and the chassis number actually on the vehicle. This discrepency has not been picked up on by the previous owner and bearing in the mind the vehicle is 24 years old, this error is pretty long standing. It was only discovered at the nortoriously hard to cross Egyptian border where they check EVERYTHING! It means that all our paper work to date is potentially invalid and does Carol really even exist? Through the skin of our teeth, some gentle persuasion and an MOT certificate charting the correct chassis number, 6 hours, a few tears, and many coffees later remarkably they let us through! We couldn't believe it. Being Easter sunday we couldn't contact any UK departments and be had been regretfully informed by officals that under no circumstances were we crossing the border with the car on that day. We, well Alex refused to give up andwith the help of a lovely Syrian guy called Dodo and the moral support of Mandy and Jacques we managed it. We were elated when we got onto the Egyptian roads, despite only having had 4 hours sleep and a 24 hour long journey from when we arrived at the port in Aqaba we were pretty happy! In an added bonus the costs at the border had worked out at about $250 rather than the $350 we were expecting. These costs included insurance, customs, random bits of unspecified paper work and Egyptian number plates.
We filled up a thirstly Carol for 0.13 GBP per litre and we set off for Dahab. That brings you pretty much up to date. We will probably spend a few more days here. We have a number of things to sort out regarding the paperwork for the car so our time in Egypt may well be longer than expected whilst we wait on amended documents to arrive.
Finally we have arrived in AFRICA!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again - Have finally had time to sit down and catch up on your journey. You are very brave and patient. Have enjoyed the blog and I am learning so much as well. Once again be safe and look forward to following your journey

Jeanne Arnst

15 April 2009 at 20:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the most interesting blogs I've read in a long time about a road trip. I just started a UK road trip website.

If you get around to it, check out my journeys. They are exciting.

5 August 2009 at 23:08  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home