We are on a roundtrip through Africa and have just left Egypt, one of the most difficult countries in Africa for Overlanders, not because of the people, but because of beraucracy. We made some interesting experiences with the ferries from Wadi Halfa to Aswan und from Port Said to Mersin, we woul like to share with you. Maybe we can help to avoid further bad experiences…
If possible, try to ship around Egypt, fly over oder drive around! You will have much less stress, hassel and save a lot of money. In the beginning we also thought: "It can't be so bad…", but we were badly wrong. We paid more in Egypt to get our car into and out of the country than for all other 15 countries we visited together and lost almost one month of our time for travelling. Maybe we just had bad luck…
Of course you have the White and Black Desert and the Pyramides to visit and those sights are really beautiful (we don't want to miss), but since you have so much troubles, we after all would do these sight seeings with an organized tour of 2 weeks instead of overlanding.
If you are travelling the eastroute south to north, you also have the possibilty of shipping the car via container from Port Sudan to Mersin or Istanbul. The shipment takes around 25 days and a 40 foot high cube container for two cars including all costs (stuffing, lashing, clearance, customs etc.) in Port Sudan and Turkey costs about 4'500 USD (normal 20 foot container probably around half the price). We found a really reliable agent in Port Sudan, who immediately answered our request, really friendly and fast service, we definitely would recommend:
Shipping Agent Port Sudan:
Darka Shipping Agencies & Stevedoring
E.Mail : email@example.com
Welcome to the Darka Sudan web site
Here are the details for the ferries in Egypt:
Ferry Wadi Halfa – Aswan
If you like to make your own experience with the egyptien buraucracy and Langsamkeit, you defenitely should have enough time and patience. Scedules are not made to be kept!
Good experiences we made with our "fixer" Mazar in Wadi Halfa. We would recommend to ask for assistance, because all forms are in arabic and on your own you will need days to do all the paperwork. You should contact him in advance, because he will tell you when exactly to be in Wadi Halfa.
Fixer in Wadi Halfa:
Mazar Mahir: +249122380740, firstname.lastname@example.org
Really bad experiences we made with our "fixer" on the egyptien side in Aswan, Mohamed Abouda. He asked a fee of 50 USD and some extra small money for taxi etc. instead of the usual 30 USD and wasn't even able to read a Carnet or to fill in the forms correctly. In the end another "fixer" named Kamal did all the paperwork for us, for free! Mohamed was just lying the whole time, not informing us about a progress and even shouting at us if we asked for a better service. In the beginning Kamal doesn't seem to be very nice, but in fact he is and also competent, fast and reliable. Our tip...hands off from Mohamed!
Fixer in Aswan:
The ferry itself is an experience: you feel like on a refugee boat. If you don't manage to book a "first class"-cabin in advance with Mazar you stay with at least 500 Sudanese on deck of the ship/ferry in the sun, no shade, no water and you can be lucky if you find one square meter for sleeping on the dirty floor in the night. In total we had to wait 3 days in Wadi Halfa for the ferry (which was ok) and 8 days in Aswan for our car which arrived with a separate barge (unfortunately with broken engine).
All the paperwork on the egyptien side with customs, egyptien number plates etc. took 2 ½ days of it. We had to pay the following costs:
Fixer Wadi Halfa: 30 USD
Ferry, without cabin (2 persons, 1 car of 5.95 m length): 400 USD
Customs Sudan: 0 USD
Customs Egypt: 150 USD
Fixer Aswan: 50 USD
Storage for the car at customs in Aswan: 20 USD
Hotel und waiting costs in Aswan (8 days): ca. 500 USD
A good an cheap Hotel in Aswan to wait for the car is the St. George hotel close to the Nile (25 USD per double room)
Ferry Port Said – Mersin
For no reason you pay three times the price for the ferry from Port Said to Mersin than vice versa. It's the same "shit" as the other ferry. After paying the money, the agent Naggar Shipping doesn't feel responsible any more. Nobody informed us, nobody took care of anything. But let's tell the whole story:
While we enjoyed the beauties of the White Desert (it's really awsome!), we got the call from Naggar Shipping that we should immediately come to Port Said to catch the ferry that leaves within the next 3 days. We rushed to the Pyramides in Kairo and to Port Said to be told on arrival that the ferry is only leaving on Sunday. We had to pay all costs and fees immediately of course, but customs should only be done one day before leaving. That was ok with us, because you have to pay a separate storage fee of about 15 USD per day for the car once the customs clearance is done and the car is parked in the customs area. After clearance (not beforehand!) the agent told us straight away the ferry would just leave on Monday. We played this "game" the following days, every day we get the message "maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow". But not Naggar contacted us, we had to call every day or to pass by to ask if we shall check out of the hotel or not. We waited for 10 days in Port Said before leaving the country on board of "Appolonia".
You even can't do any trips or plan your days, because nobody is telling you about the schedule or informing you correctly. It wouldn't be a problem if you have plenty of time and if the ferry wouldn't be so expensive, but the ferry from Port Said to Mersin is one of the most expensive in the world! It therefore seems to be normal to ask at least for a little service…
We complained about the service and were just told we should take our car and leave, if we are not satisfied. We couldn't do anything anymore (like driving to Alexandria to ship via container), because we had the customs service already done, the Carnet stamped and the egyptian number plates returned, otherwise we would have been pressed to do all the import procedure again. After all we got totally disappointed as we got to know, that "Apollonia" was anchoring in front of Port Said harbour since one week and waiting. You can see it, but can't get to it!
Europe on the eastroute, since the borders of Lybia and the Sinai are closed and container shipping from Alexandria is even more expensive. We paid the following costs for the ferry:
Clearing Agent Port Said: 130 USD
Fixer Port Said: 75 USD
Ferry incl. cabin (2 persons, 1 car of 5.95m length): 1050 USD (800 USD car and driver, 250 USD cabin/second person)
Customs Egypt: 250 USD
Storage costs for the car at customs: after long negotiation 60 USD for 8 days
Hotel and waiting costs in Port Said (10 days): 350 USD
A good hotel to wait in Port Said is the "De la Post"-Hotel near the harbour and Naggar Shipping (about 18 USD the double room).
For those ones, who like hassel and have enough patience the contact details of the only shipping agent in Port Said:
Clearing Agent Port Said:
Naggar Shipping, 8 Palastin Street, Elmesageria Building 4th Floor
Nabil (Agent): +201001237988
Mohamed (Coordinator): +201091665695
GPS-Coordinates: N 31'15.642, E 032'18.692
(It's in the same building as Redmar Shipping agency, third floor)
Fixer Port Said:
We hope we can help some of you with our informations about these two ferries. It's a pitty that you get such a bad impression about a beautiful country like Egypt with a lot of friendly and wonderful people and great sights just because of such a bad service of two agencies. Our bad experiences will change our travel plans for the future for sure. Egypt – never ever again!
Fabio and Anne