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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
Wadi Halfa is a very famous town in Overlanding circles. For decades it has been the only land border crossing from Egypt to Sudan, and for decades it has been one of the hardest on the entire content, if not the entire world.
I don’t have a Carnet De Passage for my Jeep, which is an International Customs document that many people have said is absolutely 100% mandatory to drive Around Africa. Until now I’ve managed without, though for sure Egypt is a no-go without one, and I have never found a way around.
A few weeks ago I got in contact with a fixer on the border who organized me one issued by the Motoring Club of Egypt. Meeting him at the border has put me on a timeline for these last weeks, which is a strange thing for me.
After a few nights wild camping around the Wadi Halfa area still in Sudan I move to the border early one morning, and find myself immediately waiting. The officials here do not speak a word of English, and flatly refuse to help me in any way. I had been told this border is impossible without a fixer, and it seems true enough.
With the help of a fixer for a very small USD $5 fee Immigration and Customs are willing to stamp everything fill out all the forms, while I wait in a local coffee shop chatting to truck drivers and locals.
Everything on the Sudanese side is done in about two hours, and I move off, through very large gates into the Egypt border zone, where the real madness begins. My fixer meets me as planned, and he begins the process that turns into without a doubt the most insane and paperwork intensive border of my life.
This is the 54th country in the world I have driven a foreign-plated vehicle into, and it stands out as by far the most bureaucratic, convoluted and difficult.
Over the next five hours my fixer works tirelessly, first getting me a visa for $25 USD, and then moving onto all the car paperwork. For the first time in my life I’m issued a local driving license (all in Arabic) and in another first the Jeep even gets local license plates (again in Arabic). I must buy local insurance (even though mine clearly says it’s valid for Egypt….) and of course pay fees and the rest along the way.
I have never paid for a fixer in my life, and while I’m usually determined not to, I simply can’t fathom how this border could even be attempted without one. The lunacy and convoluted steps seems utterly alien, and everything is written and spoken in Arabic so I don’t have even the slightest chance like I have in the past with Spanish, French and Portuguese.
When all is said and done I pay right on $90USD to enter Egypt with the Jeep (plus the $25USD for the one month visa for me), also making Egypt the most expensive country to drive into on the continent.
On top of that I pay $500USD for the Carnet De Passage issued by the Egypt Motoring club (Which is a mere fraction of what I would have paid to get a ‘real’ one from a motoring authority elsewhere in the world)
I drive into Egypt full of expectation. This is country number 35 for me in Africa, and I’m getting very, very close to the end of the road after three full years.
For more details on how to drive into Egypt WITHOUT a prior Carnet, including the contact details for Kamal and a full price breakdown, checkout http://wikioverland.org/Egypt (I will update the info soon, I promise..)