January 16th – 21st 2014 Aswan, Egypt
Driven distance on January 16th – 21st 2014: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 86’940km (54’020 miles)
After the first two days without any special activities, besides of course going to the Mac Donald’s :-) since a really long time, which is by the way located very nicely directly at the Nile, we drove in a “microbus” about 200km (120 miles) to Abu Simbel, where there are some famous cave temples. They were moved completely about 40 years ago with huge efforts from their original location onto a higher position to safe them from the increasing water level of the Lake Nasser dam! The immense statues of the emperor Ramses II decorated the entrance to the main temple. On the inside were impressive rock carvings that partially still contained good visible paintings. The somewhat smaller temple besides it is dedicated to the wife Nefertaki. Unique is at the moment also, that, due to the political situation, we could enjoy those incredible sights all alone without any other tourist!
After we were back in Aswan we paid a visit to the Philae temple which lies on an island and is dedicated to the goddess Isis. Also this temple was relocated due to the Nasser dam. Another thing that shouldn’t be missed, or is at the moment hard to avoid :-), is a ride with a feluka, a local sailboat. We got offered a ride or almost being pulled on the boat ;-) numerous times a day, every day, since it doesn’t have so many tourists at the moment due to the political situation. Also the horse wagon guys and the souvenir sellers are trying desperately to find customers.
January 22nd 2014 Aswan – Luxor, Egypt
Driven distance on January 22nd 2014: 260km (160 miles)
Driven distance total: 87’200km (54’180 miles)
Both Landrovers (from the English couple and us) actually made it across the lake :-). As happy as we were, was also Landy and even Scrat to see each other again. Our agent Kamal picked us up at 7.30 AM to go with us to the port. The whole procedure still took until the early afternoon. And there it was, the Landrover with temporary Egyptian license plates :-). Even though it was already a bit late, we decided to drive the same day to Luxor. We had the choice between the speed bump covered road along the Nile and the absolutely straight quick road across the desert. At the first police checkpoint along the desert road we got stuck for 20 minutes. Finally let the friendly police us and the English couple go along this road, which is normally closed for tourists. Nevertheless we arrived in Luxor after it got dark!
January 23rd 2014 Luxor, Egypt
Driven distance on January 23rd 2014: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 87’200km (54’180 miles)
Also in Luxor there would tons of things to see. We reduced our sightseeing program to the Karnak temple and the mummification museum since we only had one day time. First we had to cross the Nile in a boat since we camped in a small lodge on the western shore of the river. The Karnak temple was indeed truly remarkable. The area full of decorated huge columns especially impressed us. It really is impressive in what good shape the ruins still are. We were quite shocked by the countless tourists that were here! Busloads full of Russians in short skirts or hot pants :-) were arriving at the same time as we did and we first were completely irritated by all those tourists :-). Also the mummification museum was interesting. We got to know how the bodies were prepared and bandaged. And the mummified not only human bodies, but also those of crocodiles, cats and other animals! Also the colorful decorated coffins of the Pharaohs were impressive. Afterwards we strolled around in the city, visited the souks and got driven around by a hors wagon :-).
January 24th 2014 Luxor – Hurghada, Egypt
Driven distance on January 24th 2014: 310km (190 miles)
Driven distance total: 87’510km (54’380 miles)
And now let’s go to the red sea coast, to the famous touristy beach destination Hurghada! The hilly desert landscape was far away from being boring!
First we tried in Hurghada to find without success the car ferry to Sharm-El-Sheikh! Out of order! This would have saved us 800km (500 miles) of driving!
In Hurghada we stayed at the 5-star-resort Marriott since there aren’t many tourists around! Our room (including balcony, kitchen and living room) cost only 45 dollars when booked over the Internet. They greeted us friendly with a glass of juice at the reception, even though we currently look more like homeless tramps ;-).
January 25th 2014 Hurghada – Ai Sukhna, Egypt
Driven distance on January 25th 2014: 290km (180 miles)
Driven distance total: 87’800km (54’560 miles)
We continued North along the Red Sea coast. The coast between Hurghada and Ai Sukhna is mainly populated by the oil and gas industry and in the sea one can see several offshore drilling stations. We also became the badly smelling pollution from those companies in our noses L. But as closer we got to Ai Sukhna, as more developed was it and as more buildings and resort became visible. Giant resorts are in line along the coast. Local people from Cairo mainly populate those resorts and vacation homes. Also our hotel, which we booked over the Internet, is rarely visited by tourists. We felt in this resort almost like in a village itself. Many resort are still under construction, and others look like they are closed for a long time..
January 26th 2014 Ai Sukhna – Sharm El Sheik, Egypt
Driven distance on January 26th 2014: 530km (330 miles)
Driven distance total: 88’330km (54’890 miles)
We reached the tunnel which goes underneath the Suez Canal after about an hour drive. There was quite a large presence of military and police around as it was to expect. Before we could use the tunnel, we were searched for 15 minutes to make sure we didn’t wanted to blow up the tunnel. Well, it seems that I look almost like one of the Muslim brotherhood since I didn’t shave for several months ;-).
It didn’t take long until we reached the first military checkpoint, since the Sinai Peninsula is considered critical. There were about 20 vehicles waiting in line at the second checkpoint; estimated waiting time 1 to 2 hours. A police car arrived after 10 minutes and told us that we have to follow them to pass the entire car queue. We didn’t have to stop anywhere and could by-pass all the cars and even the checkpoint itself, on the wrong side of the road! Since we felt quite hungry we stopped for lunch just a few hundred meters (yards) after the checkpoint at a restaurant in the town. Less then a minute later was an armed policeman with a bulletproof west entering the restaurant to ask us what we wanted to do here and if we wouldn’t want to keep on just driving! He agreed that we could eat something and was sitting the entire time besides us on a table. It did indeed feel a bit awkward!! We believe that the police simply don’t want that anything happen to tourists, because it would have terrible consequences to the already hurt tourism industry. In a hurry we ate the chicken and kept moving. From now on we had police escorts for almost the entire way to Sharm-El-Sheikh. Those escorts weren’t driving especially for us, but were rather regular tours where we could/had to follow. We finally reached our destination when it was getting dark, thanks to the repeated waiting at the checkpoints! Now some words to the police escort itself. Shortly before our destination we suddenly had a police car in front and behind us. Traffic regulations aren’t that accurately obtained in Egypt. We were forced to break traffic laws since we were driving in an escort. So let’s go, following the front police car and overtaking a truck in a non-passing zone over double red-marked solid lines, the rear police car following :-).
In Sharm-El-Sheikh we stayed for 35$ (for both, including breakfast) in a 4 star hotel. The quite good occupied hotel was full of quirky Russians that were singing karaoke in the evening ;-)!! The famous Sharm-El-Sheikh is listed very much at the bottom of our „Where-I-want-to-go-on-vacation “ chart list. Zero character, artificial, and full of Russians!
January 27th 2014 Sharm El Sheik – Nuweiba, Egypt
Driven distance on January 27th 2014: 200km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 88’530km (55’010 miles)
The landscape was again very beautiful. Partially it led along the coast, but partially it also went inland across impressive hilly sceneries. We had enough from all the touristy glamour and the fancy resort and looked for a little beach camp with wooden huts near Nuweiba :-). We still preferred our own bed in the Landrover and drove with the car between the huts directly to the beach. We were besides a young Australian guy the only tourists. The beaches are north of Nuweiba full of those cheap beach hut camps. This region was apparently a highly popular spot among hippies and backpackers some time ago. Today most of the camps are closed and look run-down! The current political situation isn’t of course helping to improve this situation.
January 28th 2014 Nuweiba, Egypt
Driven distance on January 28th 2014: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 88’530km (55’010 miles)
Relaxing day at the beach :-). Unfortunately we couldn’t go swimming in the sea, since it was for us “summer tourists” a bit too cold :-).
January 29th 2014 Nuweiba, Egypt – Eilat, Israel
Driven distance on January 29th 2014: 80km (50 miles)
Driven distance total: 88’610km (55’060 miles)
We arrived at the Egyptian border post around 9 AM. First we had to go to customs where we had to give back the Egyptian license plates. The officers were very friendly and got even much more friendly after Stefan answered the question “What is the name of the Egyptian leader” with Al Sisi :-)! Afterwards we went to the passport checking and the car search, which took surprisingly long. But the real search was just ahead of us, in Israel! Luckily we knew from other travellers what to expect. We had to completely empty the car and send our house hold goods (including food, dishes etc.) through the scanner!!! Also the car got search intensly and was sent through a scanner. Also the passport check was rather unusual. They asked several question about our visit to Israel and they of course looked a bit suspicious at our Sudan and Iran visas. They confiscated our passport and ran a special security check. In the mean time we could get the car back and started to put all the things back in. When the immigration lady saw that we still have a lot to do, she let me continue the work and Stefan had to attend a special examination. He had to mention every single country we visited on this trip and every shipping we undertook. The both visits to Iran were marked on the paper with special attention! They also asked specific questions regarding friends and family, as for example the name of the grandfather father’s side! After the 30 minutes investigation were the information being checked for another 30 minutes! All in all we spent 4 hours at the Israeli border post. The most time consuming thing was the unloading and loading of all our stuff!
When we arrived in Eilat, we were amazed how modern, clean and civilized everything is! But this also has its price. The prices for food are at the same level as in Switzerland! We stayed for the night directly at the beach where there were also other campers!