Aswan to Wadi Halfa by Ferry
Trip Start Jul 26, 2010
60Trip End Oct 31, 2010
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I, Andre, Left the hotel with the other South Africans at 9am and headed for the Aswan port after stopping in town to meet up with an Italian also loading that day. We had been advised by Mr Salah to only send one of us to the port, as we would have to pay for extra entrance permits for the additional people.
We arrived at the gates around 9:30 and started the process of getting an entrance permit. A long two hours later of standing in the sun I finally phoned Mr Salah in front of the guards who were adamant they did not speak English
After our "Fixer" had a few words with the police inside the port we were allowed to enter without any searching of the vehicles. This was also unfortunately the end of our no bribe run. At this point we were still optimistic about getting the vehicles loaded before lunch, and enjoying a nice beer by the pool. So the small “tip” was paid to the police, and on we went.
The fixer then showed us from building to building getting all the paper work done, from buying the ticket for Corrie to getting the Carnet stamped. Things truly run on a different basis of time in Africa, and every little thing took forever. After sitting in the main man's office for over half an hour with him chatting to our fixer and his friends he finally took the carnets and processed them. This took him only 10 min to do all three.
This was just after 1pm and we were still discussing if we needed to organise a taxi for later that afternoon or take the train into town. Luckily we organised a taxi to wait for us until we were done.
At 1:30 we were Quay side and eagerly waiting to load the vehicles. We then told our fixer to get lost as he started to indicate that some money might have to come his way for any further “help”. This was after he had been sitting in an office for the last hour doing nothing about trying to get the vehicles loaded. So off we went to try find someone who could help. Every person we chatted to, from the Captain of the barge to the loading manager told us that we could load in 1,5 hours. Not bad we thought.
This same process of being told that we could load in 1,5 hours repeated itself from 2pm till 9pm. As you can imagine this can become quite frustrating!
We had hoped to be back at the hotel around lunch time, and had not organised any food. I managed to find a tin of sweet corn in the back, and smashed that in my face while trying my luck at a bit of fishing. Unfortunately no luck.
At 9pm, we were finally able to load the vehicles, which took all of 40min. Luckily the taxi was still waiting, and we headed back to the hotel, very over life and a pretty good tan for our efforts
We caught a van to the port with the other South Africans at 8am. We then inadvertently jumped the queue for entry to the port, much to the dismay of the disgruntled locals, sometimes we are clueless but this time was a little more acting involved to get to the front of the queue. We went through customs and passport control without any hiccups.
We found our way to our cabins. They were old and dilapidated, but had an air con. The upgrade we had gone for to “First Class” would soon be called the best extra R200 we ever spent. This was after we went and saw the 2nd class accommodation which was either a cramped bench inside or a spot in the 45 degree heat on the deck.
We watched the chaos outside as the mainly Sudanese passengers loaded everything from fridges to gravel on board. The first thing we noticed on the ferry, even as we were waiting to depart, was the change in atmosphere. The Sudanese people came up and said hello and smiled as opposed to the Egyptians who did the same thing, but then tried to sell you the shirt off their child’s back
Eventually at around 6pm the ferry left, but this was in line with expectations.
We arrived at Wadi Halfa at around lunch time and made our way through a fixer to the “Kilopatra” (possibly a typo but who knows in these regions), it is a very basic dormitory establishment with some running water. We spent the day avoiding the heat with minimal success and nothing else to do in the dust bowl of a town.
We went out to dinner in the local eating square and were treated to a good vibe and reasonable food of some fresh fish, out the Nile, and a bit of goat, which was all very welcome after some dodgy dishes on the ferry.
We had been told that the vehicle usually arrives the day after the ferry but could take up to three days to unload and clear customs. To our delight our fixer was there upon our return from dinner and told us that the ferry had arrived and the captain wished us to unload our vehicle that night, ready for customs the following day. It all sounded too good to be true and unfortunately it was. Andre arrived back an hour later, after a visit to the port, explaining that the gate keeper would not allow them admittance. So we licked our wounds and tried to get some sleep under a rather inadequate but perseverant fan.