We left the bustle, the dirt and mayhem of Cairo on the 21st March and headed south to Aswan. The journey was approximately 1000km and our speed was slow, around 70-80kmph which in a way is good on our fuel consumption as the massive diesel shortage in Egypt continues. We have just enough to get to Aswan with a full tank and 80L on the roof however to fill up on route would be good….
Having left the Pyramids late on Thursday afternoon we found the road to the Nile and then headed south towards Beni Suef on the west side of the river. This part of Cairo was equally mad, filthy with rubbish dumped everywhere, stinking of rotting animals (one being a horse and several donkeys tossed into small rivers connecting to Nile) and had road bumps every 400 metres! On the other hand though, every Egyptian was so friendly, helpful and constantly ‘Welcomed’ us to their country. The experience was a good one and we enjoyed the camaraderie. However we were running late in the day and it was getting dark and we had not booked a place for the evening. We attempted to camp but it was still just too dense with people so we decided to push through to Beni Suef eventually finding two rooms at El Bakry with the help of three young lads on one motorbike showing us the way and stopping the traffic so we could go the wrong way on a one way street! We were not put off by the hotel power cut as we were all relieved to stop, eat and sleep. After an awful last night in Cairo due to a pneumatic drill going mad until 4am outside our mosquito infested room both Nic and I promptly passed out.
The next morning we woke to a sandy filled sky and sand dust everywhere.
We left the hotel late again (11am) and headed to the west of the Nile only to end up, by mistake, on the east side. Fortunate for us the road on the east of the Nile a much more pleasurable experience, with less traffic, hardly any bumps and a constant speed as opposed to the stop start on the west side. Our plan was to visit some friends Sib and Nic made 5 years earlier in a small village just north west of El Minya. We crossed the Nile from east to west at Beni Mazaar on a small vehicle ferry which as we arrived at the river edge was just leaving but as it saw our two cars it came back for us! There was barely space for one car on the ferry let alone two! However after they moved a horse and cart to another tiny spot on the ferry they managed to squeeze us on. I was sure our rear wheels were hanging over the edge and thought ‘heck what if we sink’! We didn’t and we had a great experience climbing through the car windows to stand on the bonnet and roof. Luckily Nic spotted a petrol station with diesel or the tanker that was filling up the station. The guys were great and let us push in front of the large queue and fill up both cars – 65L for EP80 which is approximately 10 pounds! Mad prices.
That evening we camped just 40km south east of El Minya in the desert. That was a good spot and Lily was just desperate to get out after being couped up for most of the day. She enjoyed the next hour playing in the sand, throwing sand in mummy’s face and being chased whilst Nic set up camp. For me the spot was pretty perfect apart from not being far enough away from the main road. There were no toilets or showers so a hole in the ground and no shower (only baby wipes) had to make do. Both cars have shovels strapped to the roof racks for bush camp toilets however both bolts seemed to have seized up so we were not able to use them. It didn’t matter as Nic popped off twice behind a small sand heap : ).
We left early the next day as we had another huge drive to Luxor. 400km takes an awful long time to achieve when you have road bumps and are only going 70kmph. Lily however was very good but we did give her some freedom in the back of the car. We eventually arrive at the only campsite in Luxor which quite honestly was a dump and I cannot remember the name. All I remember was it was next to a cemetery, a night club and a million mosques all going off at 4.30am for what seemed like forever. Sleeping there wasn’t great. We stayed for 3 nights in Luxor. The best part was Karnak and the evening sound and light show and walking along the Nile watching the sunset.
We left Luxor for the 220km drive to Aswan our final destination in Egypt. It was boiling hot outside (and inside the car). At 37 degrees, Nic decided not to use the air con as it wasted fuel (why I didn’t say anything I do not know). However, Sib said you wasted more fuel with the windows open. Who knows. Just use air con if you have it. We were completely exhausted, sweaty and irritable when we arrived at the Orchida St George Hotel Aswan on the 26th March but thank fully the hotel had wonderful air con in the rooms and we all recuperated….