The Nile is the life blood of Egypt, all of Egypt’s fertile land surrounds it, 90% of the population lives along its banks. Without the Nile there would be no Egypt.
In Cairo it first felt that people were becoming detached from the river – perhaps slowly turing into London; where people may not see the river for weeks upon end. But at night in Cairo, it was still the place for young and older to take in its charm.
According to our map there were two roads South down the nile, a Red main road and a smaller yellow road. I thought we were on the red road main road, but it was slow going travelling through many small towns with endless road humps – but the view of the Nile ever so often made it worth while. We found that camping off the more desert (yellow) road on the East to be easier.
Most of the towns leading to Luxor were off limits to westerners until earlier this year, there are no police convoys any more (but we did manage to pick up on local police vehicle who wanted to “escort” us the 5km off their patch). The feeling in the markets near Sahog, etc etc was certainly different to previous times when shopping for food (where we generally had been left to our own devises). By the end of one little trip to the market, we had about 15 kids watching our every move and all the traders telling us that there products were the best. We also become aware of how technology has now matured so much that we encountered a roll reversal! In the past it would be the tourist taking the pictures of the locals, but today, with camera’s on mobile phones we were the subject – slightly off putting when your trying to buy onions to know that you picture is being “bluetoothed” all down the street! The people were kind as ever – when somebody tried to over charge us by a couple of Egyptian pounds children came running to us with the “correct change”.
Local life on the Nile, most people where intreagued by us (still couldn’t point us in the right direction of the main road mind!)
The smoke is from small furnaces making mud bricks for building
EEEEEEh–0ooor EEEEh- Orrrr Will someone please oil the donkey!
While amazingly interesting what we thought to be the “Red Road” was getting very slow – we eventually drove west and found the big dual carriageway in the desert which was actually the red route. While it would get us to Luxor, we were glad that we had been travelling on the wrong road – there is generally nothing on Egyptian desert roads.
This camp meant driving through very soft lime, which covered the car in more dust! Lucky we had the windows open (Not!)
The Pyramids where spectacular, but Karnak Temple in Luxor blew us all away, the colours and detail after thousands of years was simply stunning – so far the best “old columns” in the whole trip. While Luxor is known as the hassle capital of Egypt, cycling around seemed to be the easiest option to avoid the continual offers of taxi / horse drawn carriages – it was also great to get some fresh Nile air in our lungs and get away from the hundreds of floating hotels.
Valley of the Kings
All the way down the Nile we had been eyeing up potential camping spots next to the river – but due to the high population we knew we would get little sleep. Once we crossed into Aswan county the houses and the people changed – we were now in Nubia, getting into Africa proper. Finding a slither of land between the road and the river the local farmer was happy for us to stay and left us to our own devises – bliss.
Arriving in Aswan we had an appointment with Mr Sala about our reservation on the boat to Sudan. Mr Sala’s office had turned into “overlanders” central meeting the same people we had met in Cairo. Due to no ferries on Eid the previous week there were lots of people wanting to get to Sudan. People travel on the ferry on Monday then the vehicles travel on barges, which take at least a day longer. 28 European vehicles wanted to get to Sudan, which meant there would be two barges.
In Cairo we hadn’t manged to extend our vehicle license, the offices where slowly closing for Eid and we were told to come back in a week (when we wanted to be much further South) this meant that we had to get to Aswan a week before the ferry as all our licenses had run out. While in the traffic police trying to sort some of this out we were directed to a Mr Samir, who we thought would show us where the customs building was. In the end we were taken to his house with the offer of tea and to meet his family – the paper work could wait until tomorrow!
The next day, half the paperwork was sorted, but even better, we had become part of Samirs family. Spending the evenings with Johnny playing backgammon in Cafe Palestine until the early hours, eating some amazing home cooked food and going to the Nile for picnics along with the ever present English / Arabic lessons! Interestingly the family, like many others all the way down the Nile are Coptic Christian, not Muslim; once again we were shown the true diversity of the country. I am writing this in our last night in Egypt at there house – we are all sad to be leaving it really has felt like home.
Some of our Egyptian family in Aswan
Life in Aswan was good and gave us all time to reflect upon Egypt and look forwad to Sudan – somewhere I have been wanting to travel to for the last 9 years or so…
Egypt Key Facts;
Solar installations; Military installations, police check points, homes, advertising boards, mobile phone masts and some domestic – the most I expect to see on the whole trip (combination of wealth and sun)
Mileage; Lots (I will work it out)
Vehicles; From Landcruiser ’60 heaven in Siwa, to the classic VW camper van minibuses in Cairo, Peugot 504, 404 estate taxis everywhere and Chevolet (Isuzu) pick-ups full up with crates of Tomatoes
Cost of Fuel
Mainly tea – but some strong coffee, completely different to Libya, similar to Turkish coffee served in short glass with lots of sugar and sediment
Ful, Falafel, “meat dogs”, beans stew, Aubergine all slight variations across the country. Great Bread!
Halib bis drink (don’t eat the grain it apparently makes you sweat smell badly)