10. Travel report: Egypt 03.12.2007 - 28.01.2008
Nuweiba - Dahab - Katherin - Suez - Kairo - Lybien Desert - Luxor - Assuan
By ferry across the Red Sea from Jordan to Nuweiba in Egypt is a fast and easy way to cross the border. In Dahab we were meeting Pius,s nephew Andreas. The first days we snorkelled the beautiful reefs admiring the colourful fish and coral. Afterwards cycling right across the rocky Sinai to Catherine Monastery with its biblical thornbush, climbing up Mount Sinai with a great view and experiencing the place where Moses did receive the 10 commandments, then crossing the Suez channel by tunnel (which especially got closed for the motorized traffic just for us 3 cyclists), all this made a good start for Andreas. The last 100 km to Kairo were bad and dangerous for us, having to cycle on the motorway with heavy traffic. But Kairos chaotic traffic was a very enjoyable experience and the city offers a lot to get discovered.
With strong tailwind we started out of Kairo, passing the famous pyramides of Giza. The route through the desert was a good decision, because we were able to ride the bikes without getting escorted by the police, which would not have been possible along the Nile. After one and a half day of backwind and an average speed of 27 km/hr the wind turned and our speed came down to 14 km/hr, (this information for non cyclists, just to show what a big difference it makes from which direction the wind is blowing) and Andreas and Pius had to work hard for the left 1200 km.
Some stretches of the desert are boring, dull and flat. But other parts are very beautiful with hills, valleys, interrresting ironstones, sanddunes, sandseas. Especially the Black Desert with its black hills and the White Desert with its bizarre limestone rock formations are stunning - and the places we camped were dreamlike. And how great did it feel jumping into a hotspring pool in one of the Oasis and washing away all the sand of our body. It also was fantastic to sleep under myriads of sparkling stars, even so the temperature at night fell down to about 0 degrees. During the day it rose up to 25 degrees C. About every 70 - 100 km, at Ambulance Stations (where we always got offered some tea), Trainstations or Checkpoints, we were able to fill up water.
After 17 days of desert we reached the Nile valley, cycling along an irrigation channel with village life to be watched: like donkey charts, donkeys to ride on, donkeys loaded with whatever you can imagine, with farmers working the land by hand, and lots of laughing childeren shouting a friendly hello.
After visiting all the stunning and impressive sights like the Valley of the Kings with the Pharaohs tombs, or Temples of Karnak and Luxor, we asked the police for a permission to cycle individually to Assuan. Our wish was granted, and finally we only were escorted by the police (from Edfu to Assuan) for one day.
Together with Andreas we visited museums and admired the legendary Ramses II temple in Abu Simbel (built in 1274 - 1244 b.c.), which has been saved and moved to a higher place, when the Nasser dam was built. The saying good by to Andreas who is heading torwards home, was not easy, because we really enjoyed spending our time with him, beeing a great companion Now walk around the city, eat Koshari (the very typical egyptian food - a mixture of pasta, rice, lentils, cheackpeas, fried onions, topped with tomatoe sauce), drink Turkish coffee and fresh fruit- and sugarcane juice, chat with locals and travellers to get informations.
The Visa for Sudan and the ticket for the ferry are in our pockets now. So the weekly ferry will take us across the Nasser lake to Wadi Halfa in Sudan on Monday (28.1.08), and an other country we have not visited before is awaiting us.