27 - 29 December 2007 -
ferry arrived in Aswan, Egypt at around 9h00, however, we only managed
to get off at around 11h00 - still don't know what the holdup was all
about. We cycled the 20km into Aswan and what a culture shock after a
month in Sudan!!! Suddenly there were bus loads of tourists, large
passenger liners lying 4 deep on the Nile, hotels, stalls, curio shops,
etc. You also have to bargain hard for anything from toilet paper to
The first thing on our
minds were to find a hotel with a hot shower and then off to have a
beer!! We stayed at the Nubian Oasis Hotel which was cheap but
central for 3 days before we eventually left for Edfu.
30 December – Aswan - Edfu
it was 30 December and many Stellas later that we got on the road to
Edfu, a good tarmac road. What a difference from our previous cycling
days. Green crops everywhere, sugar cane plantations, corn, etc. We
cycled close to the palm lined Nile and had excellent views more or less the
entire day. From Aswan it was one endless village and we were hardly
ever on an open road. Halfway the police decided to escort us and
followed us all the way to Edfu. Once there, we asked directions to a
cheap hotel and once again we were escorted, this time with sirens and
31 December – 2 January
2008 Edfu - Luxor - 122km
last day of 2007, I can't believe that I have been on the road for 9
months and another good day on the road. We still followed the Nile and
managed to escape the police escort this time. We reached Luxor just as
the sun was setting. We missed the campsite and thought that it was on
the other side of the river, so we took a ferry boat across to the West
bank just to find out that it was actually on the Eastern side where
came from. So another ferry boat ride across the river and by that time
we gave up on the campsite and took a cheap hostel, the New Everest
Hotel, which I'm sure refers to the stairs that one has to climb.
stayed in Luxor for 3 days and enjoyed all the tourist attractions in
the area, including the Temple of Luxor, Temple of Karnak and the Valley
of the Kings
3 January – Luxor – Qena – 72km
left Luxor for Qena, a 70km ride with numerous police road blocks. We
managed to escape all the convoys and reached Qena quite early, found a
hotel and walked the streets to find local food, all reasonably
priced (no tourists around here)
4 January – Qena – 84km
Qena we turned away from the Nile and headed for the Red Sea. Ernest was
not feeling too well - must have been the local cuisine.
So after about 84km we reached a small village with a police
checkpoint and some shops, so we camped just off the road which
was a bit noisy with all the traffic.
5 January – Safaga – 84km
next day was another 84km to Safaga. The scenery was quite dramatic as
it is a mountain desert, and by the time we reached Safaga the wind was
nearly gale force. so we headed for the nearest cheap hotel and
thought it may be better in the morning, but definitely not.
6 January – Safaga – Hurghada – 64km
the time we left, the wind nearly blew me off my bike. What a battle! I
lost my sense of humor and swore I was going to take a bus to Cairo
(like where am I going to get a bus?) At last we reached Hurghada,
which was only 64km away. What a nightmare, 1000's of tourist resorts,
one as ugly as the other, so we cycled on to the old part of town and
found a cheap hotel for about R55.00 for the room. Ernest is definitely
better as he is enjoying the local Stella beers again.
7 -8 January - Hurghada
There was very
little to do in Hurghada other than scuba-diving, and with the weather
being cold and windy all we could do was eat and drink (and that's
exactly what we did). Ernest was still not feeling well so we stayed
and extra day and only left on 9 January.
9 January - Hurghada -
Desert Camp - 106km
The wind was not as bad as
previous days so we managed to do 106km before we setting up camp in the
desert again. The sun sets early and it is dark by 18h00, so there is
not much cycling time, specially if a person leaves as late as we do.
10 January - Desert
Camp - Ras Gharib - 52km
carried on to Ras Gharib in gale fore wind again, it was only 52km
to this town, but I'd had enough for the day. We found another cheap
hotel which was clean and warm, and that's all we needed.
11 January - Ras Gharib
- Desert Camp - 72km
We battled into
the wind again. After 72km we'd had enough and found a large sand dune
as shelter from the wind. However, everything still got full of sand,
the tent, sleeping bag and food!!!
12 January - Desert
Camp - Zafarana - 40km
From there it was
only approximately 38km to Zafarana, which is not really a village, more
like a truck stop. I could not believe that the wind was even stronger
than the previous days, I truly did not believe it was possible!! I
complained like hell, Ernest never said a word, he just had his head
down and peddled on with me in his wake moaning non-stop (don't think he
even heard me).
13 January - Zafarana -
Desert Camp - 84km
It was with great
reluctance that I got on the bike again, but the day held a surprise
both in meeting up with Tour D'Afrique along the way (flying down the
road with a tail wind). Wimpy, Errol and Thor, from our 2005 tour were
still with the "Tour", and it was great to see them again. The other
surprise was that as soon as we reached Sukhna and turned onto the new
highway, we had a tail wind!!! We carried on for a few more km and
camped in the desert, hoping that the wind direction will not change
during the night.
14 -20 January - Desert
Camp - Cairo - 130km
The next morning the
wind was still behind us and we quickly packed up and got on the road
before it decided to change direction. So we reached Cairo after about
130km in rush hour traffic!!! We ducked and dived and eventually
reached downtown in one piece. It was getting quite late so we took the
first cheap hotel and after a shower it was off for a beer, which Ernest
rightly deserved on reaching one of his first goals.
We stayed in Cairo
an entire week of which we spend the first two days trying to get visas
for Europe but without any luck. Then we tried to extend our Egyptian
visas which was also not as easy as it sounded, and after many filling
in of forms we were told it will take 10 days!!!
So the next few days
we spent visiting all the well known sights around Cairo including the
Great Pyramids of Giza, the Stepped Pyramid south of Cairo, as well as
the well known Bent- and Red Pyramids. As no one can leave Cairo
without visiting the Cairo Museum we spent an entire morning wondering
around the museum and one can only stare at amazement at all the
items recovered from Tutankhamun's tomb. Then it was off to our
favorite drinking hole where a beer is only 7 pounds and it comes with a
plate of hot fuul and some salad.
21 January - Cairo -
Desert Camp - 122km
It was time to leave Cairo
behind as we were starting to get itchy feet. Just getting out of Cairo
took two hours, but then we were on a toll road which is nice and wide
with a good shoulder to cycle on. We headed north towards Alexandria
and after about 120km we camped at the roadside in the vicinity of an
unknown town. It actually started raining in the night, who can believe
it ever rains in the desert, although this part of Egypt is not so much
desert as we were approaching the Mediterranean. There is also a lot
of agricultural activity in that part. Along the way were many pigeon
lofts, as grilled pigeon is a local speciality and one can find it on
most local menus.
22 January - 97km
23 - 25 January -
Alexandria - 42km
The next day was a short
ride into Alexandria so we left quite late. We even saw a McDonald's
along the way and just had to stop for a cup of coffee. Ernest's
stove was playing up and I was out of gas so we had no coffee that
morning. On entering Alexandria we found a large shopping center and
could even find gas for the stove.
Alexandria is quite
a large city on the Mediterranean coast, formerly home to one of the
wonders of the ancient world, a 120m high light house, built by
Alexander the Great. There is however no sign of it today except for a
few terracotta lamps in the local museum. The traffic in Alexandria is
no better than in Cairo and it is half impossible to cross the road on
foot and even more difficult on a bike.
As Alexandria is a
very laid back city we stayed and stayed and did not do much other than
eating and drinking, what a hell of a life!!!!
took the express train back to Cairo to fetch our visa extensions (which
we eventually received after threatening to camp in the corridors of the
27 - 30 January -
A vicious storm picked up
and the wind blew at over 30 miles per hour, accompanied by lashing
rain, so Ernest and myself stayed put and waited out the storm, day
after day the storm continued without any sign of abating. We cleaned
and oiled our bikes (let me rephrase that: Ernest cleaned the bikes),
we repacked our bags, read books and watched the same movies on TV over
and over again. One day we took the express train to Cairo to fetch our
visa extensions, and were back again that same night (the train covers
the 250 + km in under 3 hours).
1 February Alexandria -
Baltim - 140km
The stormy weather cleared
and we could be on our way. We took the coastal road East in the
direction of Port Said and cycled 140km on a very flat road with a tail
wind!!! At last!!! The road passed over the Nile delta with mostly
farmlands along the canals. We reached Baltim in good time, a
predominantly holiday resort in summer, but now deserted with not a soul
in sight. We found a hotel, the room was a bit dusty and one could see
the hotel has not been in use for a while.
2 February Baltim -
Port Said - 136km
The weather was still good
and the breeze still in the same direction so we were keen to get going
and it was once again a pleasant day's riding into Port Said, again
However, we only arrived
after sunset, stopped for tea too often and took the first available
accommodation. It was a bit too pricey for our pockets.
3 - 4 February - Port
We moved on to the Youth
Hostel and at 40 pounds for the two of us (including breakfast) it was
more to our liking. We wondered along the Cornice and watched the large
cargo ships and tankers move through the Suez Canal, quite a sight.
Ernest has always been fascinated by ships so we stayed another day just
to watch the giant ships going in and out the canal.
5 February - Port Said
- Ismailia - 87km
We left Port Said for
Ismailia, a beautiful sunny day and cycled along (still with a slight
breeze from behind) and opted to stay in Ismailia as Suez was still more
than a 100km away and camping along the road was not that easy as the
land is being farmed intensively (with lots of people around).
6 February Ismailia -
Zuez - 115km
We left Ismailia early,
which was not all that difficult, as the room must have been one of the
most filthy rooms in Egypt so far (it has not seen a broom or cloth for
many a year). The custom is also not to change bed sheets regularly!!
We were on the road before 9h00 and the streets were therefore still
very quite, people sleep very late and most business seems to be done
after sunset. We tried to cycle along the canal but there was a police
road block and they would not let allow us on the canal road, so it was
back to the highway and on to Suez were we stayed in another cheapy but
this time slightly more clean. We took another walk along the canal and
then off to the local (and only) pub for a beer. As a women I feel very
odd going into these places as the customers are all men, and being the
only women in these places it is no surprise that everyone stares
at you. (Hasn't put me off yet).
7 February - Suez
As both Ernest and
myself were still down with a cold we spent the day watching
more ships passing through the canal and stocked up with some
flu tablets and anti-inflammatories for Ernest's knee, which is
also playing up (I think we're just packing up).
8 February -
Suez - Desert Camp - 113km
We left Suez for
Sinai via a tunnel that runs underneath the canal and then
cycled along the Sinai coast for about 115km, a truly beautiful
stretch and even more so with a tail wind! It seems that we're
not the only ones thinking so, as there are loads of new resorts
being constructed along the coast. We cycled on until close to
sunset, and then camped a couple of k's off the road past the
village of Ras Sudr.
9 February -
Desert Camp - Desert Camp - 130km
day and even more beautiful than the previous. Spectacular
mountain scenery on the left and the Red Sea on the right, so we
peddled happily along, stopping ever so often for some tea (we
really into our tea these days). We carried on until the road
left the coast and soon reached the turnoff for St Katherines,
where we set up camp not too far from the Monastery at the foot
of Mt Sinai.
10 February -
Desert Camp - St Katherines - 106km
St Katherine is
located 1570 m above sea level, so the 106 k's from the
coast was just about all uphill. We hardly noticed it as the
scenery was so unusual with the mountains changing color from
white, red, blue, black and purple. We cycled past Ferrin
Oasis, with (as can be expected) loads of palm trees and only
reached St Katherine after sunset. It was freezing cold by the
time we pulled into Fox camp, and pitched our tents as quickly
as possible. Ernest still made some food but I refused to
leave the tent and sleeping bag.
11 February - St
We waited till the
sun warmed the air before we surfaced at around 09h30. We lazed
around all day, and in the evening we sat in a large Beduin tent
in the camp where they make a fire (amazingly warm inside).
12 February - St
On the 12th we
decided to be a bit more active, but we first had to defrost so
it was already midday by the time we started up Mt Sinai. A
beautiful walk up the mountain with stunning scenery of the
surrounding mountains and we only got back at around 16h00 and
joined the others in the tent where there was already a fire
13 February - St
Katherines - Desert Camp - 91km
It was time to
pack up and seek a warmer place, it was so cold that there was
even some ice on the tent in the morning (way, way too cold for
me). Once again it was 12h00 before we actually left and it was
a fairly hilly ride heading for the East coast. We only cycled
about 90km before it was time to camp again, but at least
by then it was already much warmer.
14 February -
Desert Cape - Dahab - 45km
Today was a very
short and very downhill ride into Dahab. What a nice surprise.
Dahab is a smallish town on the Gulf of Aquaba, and much warmer
than the mountainous interior of Sinai. The place also has a
real holiday feel to it with a blue blue sea, palm
trees, waterside restaurants, and lots of cheap accommodation.
We found a room for 30 Egyptian pounds (with hot showers)
practically on the beach, and the upstairs bar next door has
"happy hour" from 4 to 7 (it seems we picked a good spot). So
we stayed a few days enjoying the warmer weather, snorkeling,
reading, eating in a selection of the many waterfront
restaurants, and just lazing about.
19 February -
Dahab - Nuweiba - 82km
We lazed about in
Dahab as though we had nothing to do. By the 19th the
wind picked up again and that meant it was time to move on. So
we packed up and headed for Nuweiba. Not as easy as it sounds,
it was uphill and against the wind, but we have the time, so we
struggled on and it was after dark when we eventually arrived in
Nuweiba. We went to the first camp we found which was Dolphin
Camp, an excellent camp right on the beach, a real paradise.
Nuweiba must be as
close to paradise as one can get, so we lazed around some more
before we took the ferry to Aqaba.