WILD AFRICAN QUEST – 18
31 January – 4 February 2020
The Ancient Egyptians buried their dead on the west bank of the Nile as that is where the sun went to lay its head at night. Following the path of the sun across the sky, Morgan decided to go via the West Bank border which was said by most to be the quieter and better option.
Arriving just after 3pm he found several tourist buses ahead and after 1 hour he had barely moved. It took 5 hours to get through the border and customs clearance and with very little fuel in the tank and nowhere to stay for miles; he had very little options on where to stay.
“Okay so I’m nearly cleared to go. I haven’t got enough fuel to go anywhere, so they are telling me I can’t sleep in the grounds I will have to leave.” The border officials asked him to leave the compound, so he landed up camping outside the wall of the border office for the rest of the night.
“I pitched my tent against the wall and did not get much sleep due to all the trucks coming and going. I managed to get fuel from a cafeteria owner inside the border, nice chat, and he even took it from his car. The border officials have an open check book to rip us off; they just kept adding more money!!!! Paid to drive into border post for myself and bike, paid inside for the same, paid again for the same on exiting!!! Paid for carnet, paid for photocopy, paid for temporary license disc, paid for immigration.
Despite the lack of sleep, I was up and on the road early and got to watch the magnificent sun rise from its slumber across the desert. This country s a total change from Sudan, people are great, cops are great, cafeterias and coffee shops are nice and clean etc. There is a lot of farming along the Nile, big water pivots, irrigation canals etc; they certainly use the water to their benefit. Surprisingly I did not see any big scale farming on the Sudan side.”
Compared to Sudan, Egypt is in anything BUT its embryonic stage of tourism. They have a lot to offer and they know it. This is the land of the great pyramids, tombs and temples and a festinating history that attracts around 9 million people each year. Tourists sites are like honey pots attracting thousands of tourists who buzz around like bees along with the opportunistic salesmen and street vendors try to hustle you for a quick sale.
Morgan snuck into Luxor temple early before the throngs of tourist buses arrived and got to see this magnificent temple in its early morning splendour. Dating to 1400BCE it is often called the “The World’s Largest Outdoor Museum.” Dedicated to the triad gods, Amun Mut and Khonsu and in ancient times, the temple complex was connected to neighbouring temple Karnak, by a long avenue lined by sphinxes. The entrance to the temple is flanked by two massive stone sculptures of Ramesses II, along with one lone twenty-five metre pink granite obelisk. 3600 years after it was erected, it was given to France by Muhammad Ali Pasha, Ruler of Ottoman Egypt in exchange for a French mechanical clock. The Obelisk now stands at the bottom of the Champs Elysées.
From there, Morgan hightailed across to the Valley of the Kings, staring point of Kings, Queens and family starting in their journey to the afterlife. 63 magnificent royal tombs are dug into the dry desert sand and craggy rocks surfaces.
Of course, arriving there means you have to run the tourist gauntlet and learn to keep your calm with the local vendors and incessant persistent hagglers. The entry ticket gives you access to 3 tombs out of 8, and then you can pay extra to see other tombs if you wish. The tombs on Morgan’s list were KV 2 and KV 11 (those of Ramesses III and IV and then also KV 14, that of Twosret, which was later reused by Setnakhte.
Sadly though, spending more time in the Valley as last on the list. It was with great surprise that Morgan discovered his visa was only valid for a total of 7 days, which considering how much time it would take to get the bike packed for shipping meant that he would run out of time. An early morning visit to the Luxor Visa office saw them digging their heels in and refusing an extension which left him in a tricky spot. Head straight to Alexandria and try to get the bike on an early ship or pay an exist visa fine of 100 Egyptian pounds. He took the decision to head to Alexandria.
“Well it was with great relief when I managed to get onto the outer desert road, caught the cops by surprise at the first two road blocks as they were napping and missed me. It was a solid ride on a duel carriage way for over 700 km, I stretched my bikes legs a bit and she took to the bit and strided out. If anyone needs a pat on the back it’s the bike, other than the small piston hiccup, it went faultlessly and even preformed with a damaged piston.
I can honestly say that it was a relief to get into 5 o clock traffic in Alexandria knowing that the African continent traverse is finished. The bravado of doing the second leg alone had its ups and downs, I think in hindsight it would have been better to have a wingman. Keeping all the day to day frustrations to oneself eventually gets to you and you want to panel someone, luckily I managed to control that however you feel embarrassed by been rude to the street hustlers etc.
Thanks to each one you who have followed Glen and myself through half of Africa and had the dogged persistence to follow me the rest of the way, in a strange way it was comforting to know that you guys were all out there. A big thanks and kisses to Debs who has been a mountain of information and support with the blogging and keeping tabs on me, thanks Debra!
And my Katie who has had the joy of loving my two children!! And ensuring there is money in the bank, thanks hon!! The question you all wondering about, am I continuing through Europe, below is a tab for donations. Please click and follow the link…”
But if Morgan thought his hassles were over it was time to think again as they were once again about to begin.
“Presently the first ship will be in Alexandria on the 09/02. This will take the bike to Soleneo, a port just down from Naples. However it takes up to 7 days to get there as it stops at various ports enroute. I cannot go with the vessel and need to fly! Which poses the problem – I don’t want to hang around in Egypt for 15 days and my visa is expiring. It also costs the same amount of money to send the bike back to South Africa, so I’m thinking the Europe leg we will fight another day.
But, there is currently a vessel in the port and IF can get the bike on it today, we are on for Europe. I am now outside the front door of the freight company.”
When Morgan finally got into the shipping company, his heart sank when he learned that his Carnet was due to expire the next day. For those unfamiliar with the term, a Carnet is an international customs and temporary export-import document which allows you to take non perishable goods across borders and in this case, his bike. That meant a fine and further delays. The problem arose at the Egyptian border who issued the Carnet for a shorter period than the visa validity and as everything is in Arabic, it was not something he could pick up.
“Okay so this is it people, I will be returning to the mother country, the quickest I can get my bike to Italy will be 15 days, so that’s never going to work, so the bike will be crated and sent to Durban in a part container package… I have endured police clearances, passport clearances, custom inspections, hassles, paperwork and fines. I have removed all fuel from the bike, disconnected the battery, taped all wires up, removed rear view mirrors, taken the main fuses out and kissed her goodbye.
So I will see you all soon, Europe we will fight another day.
Post by Debra Bouwer