Cape to Cairo 2010

A Motorcycle Diary

Archive for the ‘Cape to Cairo 2010’ Category

24 August 2010 (Day 56)

24 Aug

We have now officially joined the Cape to Cairo Club!

Dale got to Cairo today and then it was all about getting that iconic photo of the bikes at the pyramids and starting the process of getting the customs paperwork and bike crating completed.

Cairo is an ancient, massive, heaving and vibrant city. Like many old cities of this nature, It is both beautiful and terrible at the same time and getting around on the bike is something of a suicide run. The bikes have now been handed to the shipping agents, paperwork completed and should arrive back in SA next week.

We have spent our last night in Cairo having dinner with family and friends followed by a night time sail in a feluka on the Nile, a great way to cap a fantastic trip.

Our final mileage is 14,590km meaning that we have managed to raise a total of over R300,000 for the charity, Ma Afrikka Tikkun. This number is in excess of our original R250k target and we are overwhelmed by the personal and charitable support that our journey has received from so many people and companies that have been behind us all of the way.

The opportunity to have undertaken this trip has been an incredible gift from the people in our lives that picked up family and work responsibilities in our absence for which we are both truly grateful. The trip is now sadly complete and my final reflection is that the wonderful, the terrible, the beautiful, the squalor, the wondrous, the disgusting, the achievements, the disappointments and the magnificence have finally weaved themselves together to form a diverse tapestry of deep meaning, memories, places and people that will remain with us for the rest of our lives.

Thank you again to our families, friends and colleagues alike for the support over these last 2 months, this trip would not have been the same without the knowledge that so many people were following us on the blog and pushing us ever northward with their positive thoughts and comments.

Rui and Dale, Cairo, Egypt, 24 August 2010.


Our Total Ride…


Cairo at Last. The trip was not complete without this photo.


Note the Egyptian plates on the Bikes. My plate says “Aswan, 16”.


Pyramids of Giza


Local posers who charge for you to take a pic of them. I snuck this one in.


The majestic Sphinx.

Dale and I with the pyramids in the background.


More Pyramids of Giza.

Rui fooling around.


Sphinx close up.


Dale contemplating the greater meanings of the Universe.

Pyramids of Giza

Rui and the Sphinx.

Dale with the 3 pyramids of Giza in the background.

Egyptian tourist police patrols.


Getting ready for crating and flying back home.


Family dinner on the Nile.

Vibrant Cairo traffic that never settles down.


23 August (Day 55)

23 Aug

I left Luxor at 05h30 this morning with the intention of going to Hurghada to get some diving in for the day however, by the time I got there,it was already 11am and figured that by the time I found a hotel, got checked in and unpacked there would probably not be enough time left for a dive and therefore took a spur of the moment decision to press on to Cairo today.

Dale will either be leaving Luxor tomorrow and heading directly to Cairo or will get to Hurghada tonight for the night in order to shorten the 800km ride to Cairo tomorrow. In the interim he is spending the morning exploring the sites of Luxor.

My spur of the moment decision was a good one and a bad one. Good because it suited my goal oriented personality that was (after 2 months on the road) shouting, “enough already, just get there now”! and bad, because fatigue set in by 2pm and then I hit peak Cairo traffic at 3pm and took me another 2 hours to fight through to get to the hotel.

Cairo drivers are like nothing I have ever seen before. Where 2 lanes exist on a road, they will create 4. Indicators are obviously optional extras when they purchase their cars as they weave between these 4 lanes haphazardly without any regard for other drivers. Hooters on the other hand are obviously legal essentials because they don’t ever stop honking at each other!! I saw 3 bumper bashings and 2 serious accidents in the space of the 2 hours whilst trying to get to the hotel.

On arrival at the Hilton after being on the road for nearly 12 hours, my bike was overheating, I was drenched in perspiration and when the security guard said “hey you, you cant park there”, well, to say that this poor man unfortunately got the brunt of a very long, hot, sweaty and frustrating day is probably the understatement of the century!! For what its worth, I did go back and apologise later.

After settling down and having my first beer, it dawned on me that the trip was now complete!! It has come with a strange calmness that is fulfilling from an achievement perspective, deep in a “gifts gained” perspective, and empty in an “its all over” perspective. The following days will no doubt bring all of these feelings together into a meaningful perspective that I will be able to properly digest.

Tomorrow is all about starting to deal with those wonderful customs people again as we now need to get the bikes crated and packed for their flight back to SA.

Road to Hurghada.

More Luxor sites.


22 August (Day 54)

22 Aug

…And the saga continued. After 6 trips back and forth between the licensing department, the traffic office and the port, we finally managed to get the bikes out at 14h30. This unfortunately did not leave me with enough daylight to get to Hurghada 500km away and therefore we are spending the night in Luxor and I will head to Hurghada early tomorrow morning.

The fixer we used in Aswan was a Mr Mohammed Abouda. Whilst Mohammed speaks good English and sells himself well, his contacts in customs leaves a lot to be desired. The alternative fixer, a guy called Kamal (fondly referred to as Camel by us) speaks very little English however definitely has the right connections in the right place and therefore, if I was to do this again, I would probably go with Camel even though he does not fill you with much confidence on meeting.


Sunset over the Nile in Luxor.

Luxor temple

and again.

more Luxor.

Hieroglyphics that have been incredibly preserved.


21 August (Day 53)

21 Aug

Well its not like the frustration of today was not to be expected!! We went down to the port at 09h00 to collect our bikes only to sit around until 14h00 and not leave with bikes. The only thing we got done was to unload the bikes and get our carnets stamped…THATS IT!!! This took 5 hours and tomorrow we have to go back to do more paperwork and pray to G_d that we get to leave with our bikes. We have essentially been stuck without much progress for a week now and it is beginning to drive us insane!!!

It seems that Bureaucracy in this Northern part of Africa has been taken to a whole new level because what takes 30 minutes at most border posts through Africa can take 2 to 4 days in this part of the world and the problem is exacerbated if you arrive on a Friday and doubly so if you arrive during the month of Ramadan. The bureaucratic process seems to work only if there is a fixer involved and even so, if the fixer has not greased the palms of the proper customs people, then the process of clearing the bike through customs is one single long exercise in patience and frustration. The custom officials argue endlessly in Arabic with the fixer and nothing but shouting at each other takes place for hours on end.

If it wasn’t for the fact that you need these people and that they hold this very small amount of power that affects our lives detrimentally, I think that Agatha Christie would be able to follow up with a sequel, death on the Nile 2!!

Assuming that we successfully get our bikes out of customs tomorrow, then I will be heading for Hurghada and Dale will be heading for Luxor. I want to dive and Dale would like to see more of the archaeological stuff. We will either meet up in Cairo on Tuesday alternatively, Dale will come to Hurghada on Monday night and we will do the last leg of our journey into Cairo together.

No pics today as all we saw was the interior of a customs office!!!!


20 August (Day 52)

20 Aug

Today is Friday and the equivalent of the Western world’s Sunday in this part of the world and therefore there is no ability to do anything regarding getting the bikes out of customs. As a result, it is a day of rest and Andreas, Dale and I elected to rent a Faluka (Nile Sail boat) and cruise the water for a few hours and to see some of the local archaeological sites.

This turned out to be a brilliant idea as we got to see some incredible Egyptian tombs and hieroglyphs, got an opportunity to swim in the Nile and just generally relax in an awesome environment.

We concluded the day with ice cream at the Movenpick hotel and after Dale left, Andreas promptly hustled me into a few games of pool at which he thoroughly thrashed me but not until after we had consumed one or two Stellas!! It was an early night after that!


Our Captain of the good Faluka, Aruba.


View of the Aswan tombs from the water.


At the tombs of Aswan.


View over the Nile and Aswan.

Tombs of Aswan.

At the tombs of Aswan.


Inside the Tombs.

Inside the tombs.

Inside the tombs.


Rui Cooling off for a swim in the Nile after a long trek up the hill to see the tombs.


Andreas chilling out.

Beautiful Nile scenery.


and some of its inhabitants.


After a week of Wadi Halfa, this is like paradise!


Dale relaxing on board.


More Locals!

The Nile, the desert and Aswan.


19 August (Day 51)

19 Aug

Notwithstanding my comment about the night of 14 August being a low point from an accommodation point of view..scratch that, nothing touches the ferry!! The cabins, although thankfully air-conditioned, achieved a whole new level of disgusting (think lice, gnats, fleas, bedbugs and unwashed linen) and as for the toilets and basins that were overflowing with puke and and human excrement by 05h00…you get the picture!!

We arrived in Aswan at about 10h30 and what was to become one of many ”wait around for a few hours” commenced as we did not get off the boat until 12h00 and didn’t get out of the port until 14h30 albeit without bikes as they had not arrived in Aswan yet.

Although the idea of sitting around waiting for a few more days was one that I was not looking forward to, the fact that this is happening in a first world environment certainly helps. We checked into the Isis corniche hotel which is situated right on the water, has aircon, a pool and cold beer…luxury that we haven’t seen since we left Khartoum (barring the beer) so the fact that we have to wait around has certainly been made all the more bearable.

Dinner was a local Egyptian restaurant where the menu included peculiarities like grilled chicken and herpes and stuffed pigeon..both of which we decided to give a miss on. During the month of Ramadan everything closes at about midday but then re-opens after sunset and is busy and vibrant until the early hours of the morning. Egypt is like a sanctuary after the Sudan and Ethiopia and the feeling that the end is now very near, (notwithstanding the infamous bureaucracy that we still have to deal with to get the bikes) is extremely uplifting.


Sunrise over Lake Nasser.


Fellow early morning travellers.


..and a few more.


Arrival in Aswan at last.


..AT LAST!!!!


Some very very happy boys (L to R..Andreas, Rudy, Marcus, Dale)!!

The views from our rooms at the Isis Corniche Hotel.


17 August (Day 49)

17 Aug

And another day in purgatory…except, this is more like hell’s second cousin!!

Our big activity for today was to load our bikes on a barge that will leave separately from the ferry that we take on Wednesday..I must say that the idea of not having Katie nearby is causing some anxiety as I am uncertain of the kind of treatment that the bikes will get from the barge operators. Unfortunately it is not possible to put the bikes on the passenger ferry and it is not possible for us to go on the barge with the bikes..tried that too!!

1 more day of sitting around sweating, eating, sleeping and waiting!


Bikes being loaded onto the Barge.


Marcus with his KLR650 that has done 70,000km thus far.


16 August (Day 48)

16 Aug

Sitting it out in Wadi Halfa,Sudan, is like spending 3 days in a Sauna with nothing but your thumbs to twiddle…There is NOTHING to do here except eat, sleep and sit in a steel container that has been converted into an internet cafe that exacerbates the heat.

There are a few places to eat in Wadi Halfa but really only one that looks “semi trustable”. We spend a lot of our time hanging around there like bar flies (except this is no bar..have I mentioned that I would give my left arm for a cold beer?) because I cant stipulate this enough..there is NOTHING to do here but wait!!!

Wadi Halfa at the very least becomes a little interesting within the 2 days before the ferry departure because the town fills up with overland travellers getting onto the ferry to Egypt. We have met a few fellow travellers yesterday and today which make the days more bearable to get through. Marcus, a Canadian that is making his way around the world on a Kawasaki KLR650 has now been on the road for 13 months, has traversed 70,000km through North and South America and is completing Africa on a similar route we have taken these last 2 months. His 13 months make us look like novices!! We have also met another South African and a German travelling in 4×4’s heading in the same direction as us. It is interesting but in swapping stories it seems that we have been either a day behind or ahead of each other for the last 6 weeks yet the first time we have met Marcus,Rudy and Andrea is in Wadi Halfa.

Insofar as the mileage of our trip is concerned, the original estimate when adding the various routes showed it to be 12,750km, however, we still have approximately 1300km to do until Cairo and my bike speedometre is already reading 13,033km travelled since Cape Town. Grindrod Bank have very kindly agreed to cover the additional mileage with their donation to MaAfrikka Tikkun of R10 per kilometre.


Fellow travellers on the road.


15 August (Day 47)

15 Aug

Last night was definitely a low point when it comes to accommodation. Whilst camping on the banks of the Nile sounds quaint etc etc, in this heat it is anything but. By 9pm we decided to go to sleep just so that we could get the boredom and heat of the night over and done with, however, by 11pm, I had perspired enough to drench the sleeping bag I was lying on and eventually resorted to the drastic measure of cutting a very large sunroof into my tent with a Stanley knife just to get some air and a bit of a breeze into the tent. Sleeping outside on the floor was a no-go due to massive spiders and scorpions (not my favourite) so alas, my camping days are now over..I am not losing any sleep over this!!!

We had unfortunately not been able to find any bottled water yesterday so by morning we were both quite dehydrated and so anxious to get back on the road that the camp and bikes were packed and ready to go by 5.30am and we rode the first 45minutes in the dark. The upside was that it was cool and we got to Abri before 7am where we found water and fuel and had breakfast on the side of the road.

We made Wadi Halfa by 10am and whilst I had very low expectations from an accommodation point of view, there is a new Hotel in town called the Cleopatra. To be clear, this is no 5 star accommodation, in fact 1 star would be a compliment however a lot better than expected, I suppose that is the benefit of arriving with low expectations. The rooms have 3 beds, tiled floors but communal bathrooms which are dingy but liveable for 3 nights.

VERY excited about getting into Egypt as there is now only 9 days left of our trip and we are both feeling the weariness and missing family.


On the road to Wadi Halfa.

On the road to Wadi Halfa, hot desert road!


The bustling Metropolis of Wadi Halfa!!


The NEW Cleopatra Hotel!


Alternatively, the Kilopatra..the architect had big dreams for this place!!!


So hot that it is cooler to pull the beds into the courtyard to sleep.


Looks okay, cant properly describe the stench coming out of these things though!!


14 August (Day 46)

14 Aug

Last night was so unbearably hot again that we convinced the hotel to put the beds outside the rooms so that we could sleep outdoors. We were the only guests in the hotel so they agreed..what a difference that made!!

We left Karima at 6.30am for a short run through the desert to Dongola. There is a new tar road that connects Karima to Dongola so the 200km was done in under 2 hours. On arrival in Dongola, we found that our hotel of choice, the Haifa was full, the airport hotel was too and the Lord hotel was just too ghastly to even contemplate….mud floors, hole in the ground for a toilet with a stench coming out of it that was enough to make one wretch. As a result we have pressed on and have elected to camp alongside the Nile near a village called Delgo.

It is currently Ramadan so the shops all close by midday and the locals spend the day sleeping waiting for sunset when they will be able to eat.

The heat is unbearable, the water of the Nile so brown and warm that its hardly a suitable solution for dealing with the heat and so we sit and wait! We are now essentially only biding time waiting for the ferry into Egypt which only leaves on Wednesday. I hate to say it, but we are going to press onto the quaint metropolis of Wadi Halfa tomorrow as it beats sitting around on the banks of the Nile baking. What we have heard about Wadi Halfa is that one wants to spend as little time there as possible because it is supposedly a dive of note. The hotels follow suit and we have even heard stories of guys pitching their tents inside the hotel rooms just so that they don’t have to touch anything in the rooms themselves…at this stage, I am willing to go there for nothing else but an operational ceiling fan, holding thumbs!


Natural air-conditioning.


Early morning desert run.


Why a dip in the Nile is not all that appealing!!


Camp Nile..Not my favourite!!


Local in Delgo waiting for sunset.


Interesting guys having a very animated discussion.


Really happy and helpful kid.

Dinner at Camp Nile…Tuna, Corn and baked beans..Don’t ask!!!

Sunset over the Nile.