general middle east info
the following is from a mail i sent to friends a while ago. the info is current as per end 1999/early 2000. obviously in the current climate, many things might be different in this region,
following is info that might be useful for your continued journey from kenya (in no particular order):
+in nairobbery, stay at the upper hill campsite.
+ethiopia is beautiful, but there is no way your 1972 r75/5 would make the isiolo to moyale road or anything north of addis ababa...
+i flew my bike from cairo to addis ababa. it took 5 days to get it out of the airport in cairo. addis was easy. a dutch bloke had a nightmare getting his bike out of cairo airport, but he had no carnet. with one, it just takes time...
+make sure all the numbers on the bike (chassis, engine, number plate) are the same as on the carnet and the vehicle reg. doc. if not, good night! it would be impounded indefinitely.
+ in cairo you will need an agent to clear customs. no need to organise one in advance... they will find you when you arrive. find someone who speaks a mediocum of english. set a preliminary price (bargain very very hard), and don't pay anything upfront. pay him little by little, with the majority coming when you drive the bike out of the customs compound. you will need lots of patience, but i also found that when all else failed, doing a basil fawlty worked too.
+ the egypitians will rent you number plates (x2) which you must attach.
if you want to see the sights of southern egypt, take the train to aswan and luxor.
+you then have 2 choices: drive to israel and take a ferry from haifa to piraeus in greece OR from the sinai peninsula take a ferry from neiweba to aqaba in jordan (jordan does not require a carnet, nor does turkey. syria does, but people coming from turkey were paying 40 dollars for the pleasure of not using one). once you have been to israel you are a person non grata in syria and lebanon.
+ you must get your syrian visa in cairo. as far as i know, there is no possibility of getting it in jordan.
+when on the sinai peninsula, go to dahab and eat a choclate thickshake and a fruit/icecream platter at the shark bay restaurant. totally jummy.
+cairo is shit, jerusalem is something different, israelis are annoying, petra is a must, amman is nothing special, syrians are superb, damascus is a great city, turkey is good.
+insurance: if they want you to have some, somebody will sell you it at the border.