There was an interesting interval when they needed to see the chassis number on the vehicle; fortunately they knew exactly where it was so a quick turn of the front wheels duly exposed the number. Then they needed to see the engine number, neither we nor they knew where that was so a length of wire was strung around the engine and sealed with an official lead seal duly stamped. We assumed this was to ensure we did not sell the engine whilst in
Having fitted the new plates and duly armed with our new Egyptian driving licence and our correctly stamped passport and carnet we entered
Our armed escort spent the night in the same place and we were soon to get used to having them around even though the personalities changed daily the old blue Chevrolet pick-up was never going to be far away. We spent 30 magical days touring around
On the first day our lunch stop saw us at Marsa Matruh on the Mediterranean coast and we had the opportunity to shop to our hearts content in the various small shops and enjoy a hot meat pie baked by the friendly local butcher. The afternoon saw us continue our journey across the flat, barren landscape to
The next morning was interesting, our police escort vehicle had a flat tyre and they had no spare or the means to remove the wheel, it also had water pouring out of the radiator but that was the least of their problems. With our group’s help the wheel was removed and the vehicle left on a jack. Clearly they were not going to be with us for a while, so we continued our journey to
The second mirage was to follow quite soon, as we entered Greater Cairo and trying to get around a chaotic roundabout there on our right was the Pyramid of Kheops, unbelievable and a tantalising glimpse of what was to follow over the next few days. Not wishing to oversell themselves our campsite was described as “alongside a polluted open sewer and infested by rats and wild dogs”; here we were to spend the next 5 nights. Still it could have been worse and life was just about tolerable even if the mosquitoes did bite with a vengeance. Over the next few days we would spend hours at the
With some sadness, and itching bites, we said goodbye to
After a short drive, the next day, we were in the black desert, then the crystal desert, and finally the white desert, where we ventured off road and camped wild. The desert sunset was quite spectacular as was the clear black sky that revealed the universe in all its glory. Wild camping off road is not without risk, we followed some local guides to a safe spot and apart from generating clouds of white sand we were fortunate not to have any problems. The following days would see us at Oasis Dakhla and Oasis Kharga where our night’s campsite varied from a Bedouin settlement to the car park of a 2000 year old burial ground.
In every village you go, no matter how quiet it appears, if we stop there is soon a gaggle of youngsters all asking our name and where we are from? In one village we stopped for some fruit and as always the children arrived, one boy aged about 10 years old had a smart fairly new bike and we asked him his name. “Mohammed” he said in reply and he asked if we wanted to buy any of his souvenirs, mainly hand made baskets etc. As we were looking a young girl about 4 years old arrived with a nice basket. We asked the price and she looked at Mohammed, “Ten” he said. So I asked her and she said “Hamsa”, that’s the Arabic for five. She followed me to our camper and I paid her ten after all, she then went back down the road and gave Mohammed the money. I think that young man will go places.
The real delight for me came the as we were crossing the desert towards Oasis Kharga, a solar eclipse. Perfect in
However our journey had to continue and we progressed through a series of Police and Army checkpoints, which had become a regular feature with our vehicle numbers always being recorded, towards
After two exhausting days our journey was to continue to
Another tourist convoy took us south of the Tropic of Cancer to
In Port Safaga, having duly filled up with diesel, we stopped at a small campsite situated right on the beach. After a days rest we felt fit to face the journey north to
The following morning we went through the tunnel under the Suez Canal and left Africa and entered
Our campsite near St Katherine’s was the local football pitch, which put paid to a local match, but again another Fiat based vehicle suffered from dirty diesel and was left with another vehicle in the baking Sinai desert. Trying to tow a 3500kg vehicle even with a bigger motorhome was not going to be easy and was abandoned when the tow vehicle constantly overheated. As we prepared to leave St Katherine’s the next morning the “broken down” vehicle appeared having had its diesel pumped cleaned and another electrical problem resolved. The tourist police were helpful but this camper faced a long and lonely night in the desert if it was not for the assistance offered by one of our group. We heard a few days later of a lone Dutch motorhomer who was found in the same place who, having stopped, died sat at the wheel.