Jordan     Sudan


10/11/06 - 11/13/06

We found Egypt to be a land of contrasts. Dahab whetted our appetite with relaxing environs and great diving. Luxor and Cairo have the ancient sites and persistent souvenir salesmen to prove it. The Western Desert has...sand. For me, Egypt was friendlier than I expected. Not to say it was friendly - Egypt is without question the hassle capital of our travels. But it is survivable and few people were truly antagonistic or rude - just persistent.

The sites of Egypt are exactly what you've seen all your life in the pictures... but maybe a little smaller in real life. The temples, pyramids and tombs are truly amazing, but some of the magic is lost once you've seen them in person.

Dahab and the Red Sea

I don't care what the maps say, Dahab is not part of Egypt. It is not a small city on Egypt's Red Sea coast. It is a small island in the Indian Ocean. This town is just a great place to relax and play in the waters of the Red Sea. We spent over a week and could easily have stayed a while longer had the "real" Egypt not been calling.
In between banana split breakfasts and ice cream float lunches, we managed to get some wonderful scuba diving in.

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After an 18 hour bus ride, Luxor was our true entry point to Egyptian culture. Luxor is the high point of Egyptian hassling. You can't walk 10 feet in some areas without 4 people hang on you trying to take your money in one way or another. But you can understand why when you see the dozens and dozens of Nile cruise ships parked out front carrying thousands of travelers through on quick-stop trips.
Fortunately, the sites of Luxor adequately compensate. In our three days here, we bicycled out to a couple temples and the Valley of the Kings in the West Bank, saw Luxor and Karnak temples and ate a LOT of McDonalds.

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The stories I'd heard from other travelers about Cairo had me scared to death of Egypt. After Luxor, though, Cairo was a piece of cake. We spent nearly a week seeing the sites and getting ready to join up with our Safari truck. 'Getting ready' meant finding all kinds of shopping malls and niche shops for camping gear. Nothing teaches you about a culture more than seeing what they fill their shopping malls with. I picked up a great pair of "Deisel" hightop shoes...

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Western Desert and Return to Luxor

Our new home is a 16 ton bright yellow converted mini-semi truck with seats for 24 daring travelers. Our first stop: the Western Desert. After seeing alot of sand in Morocco and Jordan, though, don't really understand why anyone would come here.. There's a couple oases with small towns, but it is just not that interesting or photogenic. The tour leaders agreed and we headed for Luxor a bit ahead of schedule. In Luxor, we saw the valleys of Queens and Nobles that we missed on our first pass.

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Edfu, Aswan, Abu Simbel and Felucca Cruise

On the way to Aswan, we stopped at the nearly complete temple at Edfu. I think it is my favorite temple in Egypt. In Aswan, we took a two night felucca trip down the Nile. Not much to do on a felucca but sleep, read, paint, pillowfight and do yoga. The next day, we woke up at 3:30am to meet the armed convoy to the temples at Abu Simbel.

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Ferry to Sudan

We've been working for over a month to get into Sudan. The ferry across Lake Nasser leaves tomorrow afternoon and we STILL don't know if we have a visa to get on board.

We spent the morning at the Sudanese consulate and did receive our visa, but too late to purchase a ticket for the ferry (visa required to even buy the ticket). So after a Mission Impossible style attempt to board the death-barge illegally, we went back to Cairo and caught a plane straight to Karthoum.