Tuesday 15th April

Al Bardi, Libya – Cairo, Egypt

Another windy night meant little sleep but awoke early to make it to Libyan border for 0745.  Slim Jim jumped out to do his work, and 10 – 15 minutes later, he emerged triumphant that we were through.  We said our goodbyes, and wished Amjed all the best.  He was a very good guide, and a pleasure to have in the Land Rover.  It must have been a boring trip for him, as we hot footed it through his country.

With the Libyan’s behind us, we headed to the Egyptian side of the border, thinking it will all be nice and civilised. How wrong….

The passport control side of things was easy enough as we filled in more forms and showed our Egyptian visa’s to the passport dude, he confessed that the visa we had was a new one for him, but seemed impressed, so waved us on.  It was then onto the customs, and police part of the border area.  This is where all uniforms stopped, and we had to start guessing who actually worked for the government, and who actually pretended to work there.  We thought we had picked wisely and went along with the instructions of one particular gentleman, he was actually a tout, but in hindsight you actually need these guy’s, as without them, it is very difficult to know what is going on!!

As we didn’t have any Egyptian £’s, the first thing to do was to change some money with this guy, to enable us to pay for the ‘formalities’.  The rate wasn’t great, but we didn’t really have a choice, as we couldn’t do it in Libya.  We then went to the carnet office to get that sorted out.  As we walked in, the offices resembled something akin to a torture prison, with people lying around, general looking thoroughly pissed off.  We wandered past these people, into a random office, following our fixer chap.  A quick ‘speedy boarding’ fee was paid, and enormous gentleman, wearing track suit bottoms, and a jumper which looked like a kind of unwanted Christmas present, filled in the necessary. Nick headed off to pay a customs charge, while Andy finished off formalities with Christmas jumper.  From there we headed to get some liability insurance, something you need to get at the border of every country.  This involved going to a completely unmarked building, entering it, knocking on a random door which turned out to be some guy’s office/bedroom/kitchen.   We heard some groans and we entered, at this point it was roughly 9am.  As we wandered in, we were immediately struck by a rather unpleasant sweat and stale cigarette aroma.  The guy looked a little pissed off, to be woken up, and was still in his sleeping gear, with his clothes hanging around the desk.  After some rapidly spoken Arabic, we were handing over more money, and we had our insurance, brilliant!!    We said goodbye to the insurance guy, and let him crawl back into his bed, as we headed to the police building to get our police pass and Egyptian number plates.

This involved a quick sweetener, which was a small amount of Egyptian £’s along with a banana.  This part was quite straight forward, and 2 hours after starting on the Libyan side, we were off on the road to Cairo.

We laughed for a good couple of km’s about the what had just happened at the border, and particularly as it wasn’t what we expected at all.  There didn’t seem to be anyone in charge, or anyone who was in the least bit straight, regarding bribes!!

As we headed East, we started to have the old ‘altenator’ problem again.  If we stopped we had to bump start the vehicle again, which filled us with glee, but after a debate of a couple of seconds, we agreed that the best thing to do, was get to Cairo, so we pushed on to get the 600km done and dusted.

As we past El Alamain, we stopped to look at the Commonwealth War Cemetry.  This is where, in 1942, Montgomery led the 8th Army to victory against Rommel, in the fight for control of the Suez canal.  We wandered through the thousands of graves of soldiers from Scotland, England, New Zealand, South Africa, and many other commonwealth countries, and were very humbled by the sacrifice these guys had made in their early 20’s.

El Alamein
El Alamein

It was at this point we started to head South again, as for the last couple of thousand km’s we had been going East the whole time.  So with the sun to our right, we headed to Cairo. 

We had read about what a nightmare it was to drive and navigate in Cairo, so as we reached the outskirts, we had a quick break to reconnect the horn, and for Nick, who was on navigation duties to ready himself. 

We headed into Cairo and the traffic started build, and quite quickly Andy got into the local mode of driving, which involved very heavy use of the horn and an aggressive style.  Progress was slow, and as we passed the Pyramids dusk began to fall.  We were heading for two budget hotels, which we had heard off.  As we drove further in, it was then that even more electric’s began to fail.  The horn, the indicator’s and the spotlights all stopped working, leaving us with only dim headlights and side lights. Andy also started to get a slightly tense, as driving in the dark in Cairo, with very little instruments working, was not high on his ‘list of things to do before your 30’.

Then as we were in the fast lane approaching a three lane bridge on the up ramp, the Land Rover eventually died….  The fuel pump no longer had enough power to pump fuel to the engine, so we just stopped.  With a whole orchestra of horns going behind us, we pushed the vehicle across three lanes of traffic, with the help of a local chap onto a slightly quieter street.

We had been discussing all day what we thought was wrong with the electric’s, but had come to no real conclusion.  We thought the alternator was knackered, but with no battery warning light showing, there must have been another fault.  There was nothing else to do but change the alternator at the side of the street, so 30 minutes later we had done it, a quick push start and we were off, morale suddenly went back through the roof, after the slight dip, and we were off to find that cheap hotel!!  What a day!

4925 miles

Wednesday 16th April


An early start saw us waiting outside the British Embassy, to get out letter’s of introduction that are required to get a visa for Sudan.  A quick check in security and we were in, it is just like a large post office back home, lots of useless information on the walls, and staff who are generally unhelpful.  To get the letter of introduction took about 30 minutes and cost £35.  The letter wasn’t even on headed paper, and in a long  way said nothing.  If anyone is planning a similar trip, don’t bother with it, just ask us nicely, and we will let you have a copy of ours!!

With the letter in hand we went to the Sudanese embassy, which was a whole different story, effectively resembled a back street coffee shop.  Some forms, and a payment of $100 and the visa will be ready at 10am the next morning.

That afternoon we headed to the Pyramids of Giza, which are on the outskirts of Cairo.  We jumped in a taxi and spent an hour sitting in heavy traffic to get there.  As we approached the gate area, the taxi was swamped by numerous tout’s trying to sell us tickets to get into the pyramid complex.  They were actually very aggressive, managing to stop the taxi, and try to come in the car with us.  With Nick in the front shouting expletives at them, and Andy in the back holding both doors shut, we managed to get into the complex.

Our taxi stayed around for the return trip, which was handy as he knew where to take us back to, when we had forgotten the Arabic name of our street…..

The pyramids are an incredible feat of engineering, and were great to see.  We went inside the larger of the two pyramids and managed to make our way right through into the burial chamber, through very steep narrow steps, and shafts.

We joined the tourist masses, who are bussed in everyday from their hotels, and walked round the Sphinx which is to the rear of the pyramids.  This is a lot smaller than you think, but is still very impressive.

In the evening we headed out to sample some of the Cairo nightlife.  Grabbed some food, and wandered round a few bars, but with nothing much happening, headed back to the hotel.

Pyramids - Nick
Pyramids - Andy
Steps down the inside of pyramid
Traffic 'police' with Tulip Hotel in Background
Obligatory shot
Tourist Trap

Thursday 17th April


Back at the Sudanese coffee shop at 10 to pick up the visa’s, then into a taxi to get to the Ethiopian Embassy.

About an one and a half hours later and two taxi rides, we find ourselves standing outside the right place.  The embassy had moved twice in the last year, and we had managed to do a tour of it’s former addresses!! 

We were pleasantly surprised by the embassy, and the staff were very friendly.  A quick form and $30 we were told we could collect our visas on Sunday.  Andy explained that we were planning to leave Cairo the next morning and please please could he do it now, and 1hr later we had them.  Great!!

Grabbed another cab after lunch to take us to train station to see if we could sort out the ferry ticket from Aswan to Sudan. Nearly punched the agressive taxi driver who tried to overcharge us (about 4 times the amount) and didn't like our attitude when we told him that was all he was getting. The ferry office proved equally useless and told us to call Mr Salah in Aswan who will sort us out (which I am sure he will be sure to charge a suitable fee for). Decided to get the surprisingly clean and efficient Metro back into town to avoid further conflict.

The afternoon was spent in the Egyptian Museum, which is an enormous building.  It is quite a good idea to see this, as it gives you an overview of all thirty dynasties of the Egyptian past.  With some incredible artefacts,  that date back to 2600 BC, still in good condition, it was well worth the visit.  We got a guide who seemed to know his stuff, and spent a couple of hours there.  Managed to have a look at Tutankhamun’s golden death mask, and see the entire contents of his tomb.  He was obviously a bit a of a dude, as he had more ‘bling’ than BA Baracus!!

After resting our mind from the historical information overload, we headed to the 4* Shepherds Hotel in town where we planted ourselves in the foyer with laptops and utilised the free service for a good part of the evening to catch up with home with no hassle or even a requirement to buy an overpriced drink.

Meat truck
Beaten by Pharoahs
Andy walking like an Egyptian
Aswan Ferry office...useless!!

Friday 18th April

Cairo - Luxor

Got an early start to beat the traffic out of Cairo only to realise that Friday is a holiday so no such problems. Eventually found guy to pay to let us out of the parking space. Andy had to use some well trained 'persuasion'

techniques (part of Aldi management training we think) to prevent the guy from charging us double what the meter said (a recurring theme).

With tempers fuelled, we headed out of Cairo to see if we could knock over the harrassers outside the pyramids as a parting gift to the city. Nick had other idea though. With a burst water main ahead, the traffic was slowing to avoid the large puddle. Nick knew the Landy could handle such obstacles so cruised down the empty lanes ahead without much thought for the speed he was doing...

The subsequent bow wave produced from the Landy was a sight Cairo will never have seen (and won't again). We were both wet as there was no time to close the windows. However, the various vehicles next to us were swamped (especially the clapped out Lada taxi who I think we capsized). Realising the error of his ways, Nick make a sharp getaway, but not before one of the persuing wet vehicles got in front of us to try and force us off the road. Luckily, he knew the winch on our bumper would get the better of him so he headed off as we snuck in behind a bus to slipstream any further onslaught.

A quick pit stop at the Pyramids for a photo opportunity with the Landy was slightly scuppered as they wouldn't let the vehicle in to the grounds with the gas bottle, but happy for us to hang out by perimeter fence. We were then gladly leaving Cairo to head south towards Luxor. We followed the Nile valley for an hour or so before cutting across to the newly built Desert Highway which speeded up progress for a while before it finished and we were back to the river and the endless speed bumps and police checks.


As darkness fell, we decided to take our lives into our own hands and continue for the next hour or so to make sure we reached Luxor. The Egyptian driving technique in the dark is to leave their lights off and then blind you with full beam flashes just as they approach. This makes for tricky driving conditions when combined with donkeys, cyclists and tractors all using carrot vision too.

We eventually realised we had arrived at Luxor but on the wrong side of the river from the campsite we were aiming for. With heads feeling very blurry, we checked into the first hotel we saw (Nile Valley Hotel) which was great and cheap too. Had dinner of rooftop restaurant overlooking the pool with friendly staff and beer on tap...a world away from what we had left in the morning.

5414 miles

Random volcanic rocks next to desert highway
Nile valley

Saturday 19th April


Spent morning chilling by the pool to celebrate our first day of nothing since arriving in Africa. Hid Landy keys so we couldn't take it anywhere then got public ferry over Nile to Luxor town for a quick scmooze around the shops. Not sure why we bothered as it was more hassle with everyone offering a good price for a t-shirt, haircut, taxi or private ferry back across the water. After lunch the hotel reception got hold of the local auto-electrician who came along and sourced and tidied up the various loose cables that had been giving us jip. No problems with the starter motor as we first feared (but we could be proved wrong again!).

Soaked up the dying rays of the sun next to the pool with a cheeky beer...could get used to this!

Hotel pool
Hotel pool by night

Sunday 20th April


Early start to head out to Valley of the Kings via the Temple of Hatshepsut. Joined the tourist masses as heat soared even at 8am. Saw some amazing tombs including that of Tutenkhamoun but overwhelming heat as the masses flood through. Headed to Reizeiky campsite in Luxor to chill by small pool before heading into town to get a sheet for the rooftent (not 'love nest' as you funny f$%kers in Scotland insist on calling it!) and Andy succombed to an Egyptian cotton shirt. After doing a much needed clothes wash we checked out the sunset over the Nile but avoided a romantic felucca cruise as would get the locals talking!!

Back at the campsite, chatted to an American couple who have been driving around Europe in a camper for past 8 years. Nice guys and told us we had just missed a couple a few days ahead of us doing the same trip. We were beginning to think we were the only ones having seen no one yet en route.

Statue things!
Blending in with tourists!
Sweating it out in Valley of Kings
Tombed out
Temple of Hatshepsut
Nile sunset
Washing time
so friendly here!

Monday 21st April

Luxor - Hurghada

Early rise to join the 8am police convoy which is supposed to be mandatory for this road. Sadly missed the start of it as the roads in town were jammed up but managed to catch up after 5 mins. Very funny watching a fleet of over 100 tourist buses speeding along roads passing groups of armed police who have put on their best outfits and even hold their rifles the right way up when their seniors drive past. Got a fair bit of interest from the whordes as we pulled in for a break which boosted morale.

Four hours later, we arrived in Hurghada and immediately found Hedkandi bar for lunch and drinks. Very chilled place on beach and got chatting to promoter (Bob) and barman who pointed us in the right direction for some decent accomodation in town. Found the Tranquila Appartments for our own studio in the centre of town for a great price...after heavy negotiation!! Caught some rays at the Ministry of Sound beach before heading out to cruise the local establishments. Turns out Monday is not so busy as everyone lives for the epic weekends. Lots of Russians here whose holidays are subsidised by the Egyptian government apparently.

5695 miles

Convoy of buses
In amongst convoy
Andy opens new Hurghada branch
Hedkandi crew (Bob in pink)
Obligatory self portrait
Beach bar

Tuesday 22nd April


Woke up in a sweat due to first hangovers in a while and the electricity being cut stopped any air con working. Headed along to Colonna Watersports to check out the kite surfing conditions. Spoke to cool chick Jessie who runs the place and told us we were out of luck with the wind as there was none expected until the weekend...gutted!! Went wakeboarding to soften the blow and strained muscles that hadn't been used in a while. Inquired into scuba diving for tomorrow but boat was full...maybe Thursday.

Headed back via the numerous car workshops on outskirts of town to fix our spare alternator before heading into Sudan. Just needed the bushes replaced and met a great guy at a garage who took us round to the spares shop down a back street in town which was rammed with all the spares we could ever need (we already have a box full of them though) so the job was sorted and our new friend left happy with a couple of cigarettes that we have now bought to act as a very useful sweetener in such times.

We have narrowed the Egyptians English language book to;

Welcome, my friend.

Where are you from?

Please to meet you.

No problem (in response to 'How much?')

First time in Hurghada?

You look for Russian tcheuch tcheuch?

After checking e-mails at Costa Coffee we repeated activities from the night before deciding that the best way to avoid entry payments to Hard Rock Cafe was to say we had just started working as diving instructors at Colonna Watersports with Jessie. Name dropping worked a treat and the moeny saved was promptly used behind the bar! Turns out that Tuesday was ladies night and they all drank for free. Very amusing watching old drunk Russian ladies trying to dance!!

Andy up
Nick down
Nick getting air
Still waiting...
Colonna Beach

Wednesday 23rd April


Very lazy morning as still no wind so headed back to beach for lunch and chatted to some other kite surfers in same predicament. Very frustrating and forecast predicts great wind at the weekend but unfortunately we have to catch a ferry to Sudan. Make decision to leave tourist trap of Hurghada tomorrow to save cash and get back into the 'overlanding vibe'.

Best dinner so far at Moby Dick's restaurant with fighting cats as an accompaniment before updating site at Costa where they appear to charge over £10 for a slice of cake but happily let you sit there on free wi-fi with no need to buy anything!

Still calm

Thursday 24th April

Hurghada – Luxor

We checked out of the apartment and received our deposit back after some much needed prompting which we are now experts at. Having spotted the briefest glimpse of wind, we thought we should give the kite surfing one last try so dropped into a kite surfing centre at Safaga which was run by an English guy and very professionally set up. Once again we were told the wind was going to kick in at the same time that our ferry to Sudan was due.

We picked up moral by convincing ourselves that there will be plenty more opportunities later on so cranked up the tunes and headed back across the desert to Luxor without a police convoy and a record temperature of 50ºc noted in the landy. The pool back at Reizeiky Camp was welcomed and even the locals were complaining of the heat.

We had passed an overland truck in the opposite direction earlier in the day and one of its members had stayed behind at the campsite for some down time. Tim was a 26 year old Australian who was doing the Middle East for past 5 weeks so had some interesting stories about the group dynamic on the truck which made us feel better about our mission.

Was good to be back camping in the landy (which we still need to find a name for) as we cooked dinner with some beers from the bar in the campsite with Tim.

5899 miles


Friday 25th April


Maintenance day. After the hottest night so far in the roof tent, we headed along to the Karnak Temple in Luxor for our last dose of Pharoahs. Despite the pretty impressive obelisks and pylons, we could only handle an hour of the soaring heat before the pool at campsite lured us back for a much needed swim before spending a few hours working on the Land Rover to prepare for Sudan.

We spotted a small crack on one of the suspension supports onto the chassis which requires a small weld when we find someone. Otherwise, it was the usual alternator issues and topping up the oil before we were good to go again.

Headed into town to pick up some supplies and then we dined on some great food at Reizeiky Camp who produced a feast for us. This was followed by assisting Tim in depleting his excessive vodka supply which ensured a better night sleep.

Karnak Temple
Karnak Temple
Karnak Temple
One for the sponsors!!
Pool in background at Rezeiky

Saturday 26th April

Luxor – Aswan

Another sleepless night in the sweltering heat meant the 6am wake up call from the neighbouring mosque was not so bad and enabled us to join the 7am police convoy to Aswan in plenty of time. The road provided great views of the various boats on the Nile which distracted us from the hangovers from last nights vodka.

We decided to split from the convoy as it stopped a second time at Edfu which didn’t seem to bother the police at all. Arriving at Aswan at lunchtime, we drove onwards to check out the ferry port to Sudan and see what we had in store. We drove over the Aswan Dam (originally built 1902) and then the newer High Dam (completed 1971) which were both surrounded by electricity pylons providing much of the country’s power.

Back in town, we found the ferry ticket office and the infamous Mr Salah who controlled the ferry. Seemed a good guy as he told us the prices for the vehicle and that there wouldn’t be any problems which previous overlanders have often encountered. Unfortunately there were no first class ticket cabins left (despite us trying numerous times to book one the previous week) and we would have to go second class which we had been strongly advised against. He then drew us a map to find the local traffic police where we would have to return our temporary license plates.

We found the office with no problems, only to be informed that we needed to go to a different place to receive a stamped bit of paper. Two local kids happily offered to act as guides. However, when they took us via their father’s horse riding business, our suspicion was growing. We eventually stopped in a built up area of town where we met a guy sitting on the street with various bits of paper (no uniform of course!). As he photocopied our temporary Egyptian license, we were about to split as it all didn’t seem right, but then another vehicle turned up with an Irish guy Niall who was being led on the same merry chase.

We all headed into what looked like a council block which turned out to be a form of police station where we think they were checking that we had no traffic offences from our time in Egypt. We received our stamped bit of paper after ½ hour and went back to original police station to hand in plates and receive the next piece of paper required for customs on Monday. They love their bits of paper in Egypt!!

We then cruised the streets to find a welder to fix the chassis and also get another alternator as we were keen to have a working spare before we hit Sudan. The welder we found must have been visited by health & safety the previous week as he ensured that he at least kept his sunglasses on while he did a fairly shabby job on the weld after waving the grinder far too close to our suspension spring.

We drove around a bit more trying to find a recommended hotel but finally succumbed to a second choice once the baksheesh kids let us in the door. A quick nap in the air conditioned room primed us for some dinner overlooking the Nile before a great night sleep in cold air.

6098 miles

Welding workshop
Welder assistant
Local taxi

Sunday 27th April


Headed back to buy our ferry ticket first thing in the morning and it was a much more pleasant experience than we had been expecting as we met the customs official who will meet us at the port tomorrow. A promise has been made that any cabins that become available will be ours...but hopes are not high! Checked in to Keylany hotel which was great price with wi-fi in room and great breakfast on rooftop terrace. Nick updated website/videos as Andy went out for the shopping.

Decided it was time to succumb and so headed out for a chilled 2 hour felucca ride on the Nile. Great way to relax and cool wind on the water helped the chilled atmosphere provided by the captain who was a big Bob Marley fan. He got a better deal than expected though when we returned to shore with no small change to give him despite efforts in nearby shops. As a true Egyptian, he obviously carried no change! A charmless dinner on one of the riverside boats before last minute e-mails back home from comfort of room.

Monday 28th April

Aswan Ferry

Headed to ferry office for 9am to meet customs official (ex-Egyptian SAS) who drove up with Niall in convoy to ferry port. Met other travellers waiting outside gate (English couple Becky & Simon, Norwegian Andre, two French girls and a Japanese couple).

Mr. SAS whisked us through customs which opened just after 11am with the help of a E£50 note and before we knew it we were waiting on the jetty to load our cars onto barge. A celebratory beer courtesy of Niall was well deserved. We loaded the cars onto the barge with no problems and then got a guided tour of the boat with introductions to the captain and chief engineer who spoke good English. With no cabins available, we set up on the deck in the specially sectioned area next to the bridge for western travellers. This ‘diplomatic immunity’ seemed to work throughout the journey! We then used our meal voucher and utilised the first class ‘restaurant’ for a good feed before the crowds gathered.

We settled on deck with our whiskey and coke watching the mayhem below as people kept arriving with more and more cart loads of fridges, cookers, clothes and other mysterious boxes and bags. Once the boat was full and the sun was setting, we remained in port as they then filled up every remaining space of the vehicle barge with more household goods, office furniture and even a large supply of zimmer frames.

Due to an mysterious late arrival of a bunch of Libyans, we didn’t set sail until 0100 by which point sleep was much needed after baking in sun all day. Unfortunately this proved harder than expected and even by finishing the whiskey with the help of the crew members, little sleep was had but the night sky was a fantastic sight.


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