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Sahara Travel ForumTopics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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At least one well-organized paramilitaric robbergroup (deep black cloth to the head, camouflage clothes, MG on the bonnet and rear). From Sudan\Tchad pushing their outrages in the Gilf Kebir region and have us 2 cars stolen. They had no spoons with them. 2 Toyo pickup with 15 armed men on it have on 26.1. at 8 bells robbed a bush taxi and a Discovery with everything in it. The Egypts sweep under the carpet.
Now, unfortunately, on foot walking greetings from Egypt
From other sources I've heared that it was a self-drive group backed up by some Baharya operator. There are some big gaps in the story, most notable the apparent lack of an escorting officer, and their failure to report the incident to egyptian authorities. For the time being take the report with a pinch of salt, it could even be that the cars were confiscated by the egyptian military, and the story is built for an insurance claim.
I'm heading to Cairo this coming friday, will try to find out more.
The story from a source in bahrya oasis that they were a self drive group and the rubbers took 2 cars only and there was no military escort with them.
Why the rubbers didn’t take the 4 cars? And the story says 2 cars engine wouldn’t start
Why they didn’t take the tires, in the desert sand tires are very precious and important.
Also, how we know they where at 8 bells? It’s possible they were deep inside Sudan and exposed themselves?
This is a reply I have received from an Egyptian operator.
IMO some of the 'our PoVs' raised are debatable (obviously the Egyptian driver disappered fast) or contradictory ('camping in the open to hid from military') or already answered (Egyptian car was said to be a banger), but they are there observations after all.
My obs: If the Germans were on the Sand Sheet south of the border they asked for it even if it is an unprecedented event. If they were north, much less so though I doubt a permit or the presence of an officer would have made much difference. In my experience the 'officer' is without comms or arms and changes into civvies to enjoy a fortnight out of the barracks and some good tucker.
So I suppose the true location of he robbery would be of interest.
fyi, in Germany and maybe elsewhere in Europe (but not in the UK) it is possible to get near-normal priced motor insurance with theft cover for 'Europe and Mediterranean' countries. Egypt is Med, Sudan is not...
We would like to clarify the truth concerning the*robberies* took place in the 8 bells , let us advice you the real fact as following :
Two German people lost their deal with their arranging desert safari company, they refused their conditions & prices, that was after the travel agent issued the permits of their trip so they return back the original permits but they kept the copies*with them.
They made another deal with an Egyptian driver ( xxxxx xxxxx ) *, this deal to help them to enter the desert with their own 2 cars &*the driver car without any permits [or] Guide as well as the policeman ( officer ) without passing any military check points.
Their trip*was to the Gilf EL Kabir , while they were on their direction to the 8*Bills*, they sat up their camp in the middle of open desert ( Salama Sand Sheet ) in the Egypt -Sudan Boarders.
It was very very early morning on 26/01/2008 - 15 Sudanese armed men wear deep black cloths*covered to the head* ( camouflage *clothes ) ridding 02* Toyota* pick up cars - crossing this area of the desert , they saw*their *un hidden camp which was with just 03 normal peoples *, they took the two Germans' cars & leave for the Egyptian car**as it was in a bad condition ( as they informed*) *& left them after they took all their equipment's - money , then they returned back to their direction to Sudan *with an easy way.
Our points* of* view regarding this* strange robbery* as following :
-**Great gaps of this strange*story is missed , but if we agree with the German people in what they said please note the following :-
- they entered the deep desert ( un legal* boarders ) without any permits as well as security ( policeman)**or at least the guide to show them the safety ways in the desert.
- they sat up their camp on an open area , although* we know very well that we should camp*beside*any mountain or shelter . But because they want to disappear *from the military *check points*& the driver*doesn't the professional person, they didn't find any places except this place.
- we really surprised that the German people made their tourism police report in Cairo although that any one in their* situation will*go fast to any police point to help them , that means**that they* didn't care about any thing except the insurance of the cars ?????
- Also we wonder why the robbers take the German cars & leave the Egyptian car & why the driver is disappeared after this incident.
-* In all cases , if the German cars were seen some where in the desert without permits , it would be impounded *by* the boarders police ( legal authorities* of Egypt - Libya - Sudan ) .*
So all of us thinking if the cars really taken,sure *its were impounded by the Sudanese* boards police & they made up this story to get the insurance*of the cars.
but remember, 2 years ago there was another holdup just in the south of Uweinat on the sudanese side, rather brutal
Oh really? I missed that one (I think I was in the region 2 years ago).
TBH, with the state of Darfur I would not be surprised if roaming bands of Janjaweed or whoever take a punt up north in the tourist season.
And as has been the case in Niger, the stealing of tourists' foreign vehicles is no great bother to the local authorities: they want adventure, they got it.
But once theives pick on local cars it gets personal. And the cars in Egypt (TLC 70s, 105s etc) are usually in much better shape than Niger.
The official reaction is that the travelers break the low several times by traveling without an escort and without permits (not sure if they have that or not).
It is not about who owns the cars, it’s about which story to believe and how it could be confirmed!
If they were outside the Egyptian borders then simply the Egyptian authorities really can’t help them.
The where about they had been would be confirmed and reported by a military escort
In an official report to military intelligence which would reach the highest authorities in the government immediately.
I thought the GPS was stolen? Where the coordinates of 8 belles came from?
It is being said that the tourists did not have the right permits or the compulsory military person. I don't see the relevance of either to the story.
When a bunch of bandits approach a camp with the intention of robbing tourists, do they say: "excuse me gentlemen, may I see your permit and who amongst you is the military attache?". Not likely, is it? Paperwork and a young lad are of no help under these conditions.
So from this perspective, having a permit or being accompanied by a military bloke (unarmed and with no comms as Chris has pointed out), makes no difference to the likelihood of being robbed.
Instead we hear:
1) the robbery was probably in Sudan
2) they were there illegally without permits
3) the military bloke wasn't with them.
4) it was an insurance scam
All of which helps to either deny that the event happened or, if it did, to discredit the tourists for being there in the first place. Both of which are helpful to tourist operators who are worried about the flow of customers drying up.
In the event of this being an insurance scam resulting from confiscation of the vehicles, the police are unlikely to take 2 vehicles and leave the party out in the desert. Instead, they are likely to all be taken to the nearest authorities under escourt and referred on from there - as has happened before to parties caught in the Gilf without the correct documents. This could still plausibly have happened since those concerned haven't delivered their story directly - at least not here.
The issue for us as tourists on the forum is simply whether or not the robbery took place. The rest may be interesting but is really irrelevant.
I agree with Richard. But on the other hand this kind of incidents may make obtaining permits in the future even more complicated, or they may just close the area down to tourists completely as they actually can't guarantee safety of tourists and no country wants news about tourists killed in their territory, especially countries like Egypt where tourism brings in a lot of $$$.
Just to explain my reply and to make it more clear:
The point of view / decision of the Egyptian authorities will affect all interested parties including travelers here on the forum.
What I was saying that THEM, the authorities in Egypt doesn’t have any method to monitor what’s happening in this area except through the military escort.
If he was there, it would make difference to them and then their reaction and decision would affect the future travels to the gilf.
Few Notes :
- permits to the gilf are issued as usual as we speak
- there are maybe 10 different tours in the area in the mean time
It’s a complicated / restricted border area with land mines in some spots, so that’s why it’s important for travelers to be there according to an approved route and accompanying escort
Personally im keen not to see the area closed and not to see the business dry up, that’s true.
Also Egypt is my country and im closer to the area of interest, so when I hear some story with some peaces missing I just express a different point of view.
If it’s a true story it’s a matter of time before the next hit, so we will wait and see!
It makes interesting reading for those of us who are going there later this year. But, whatever facts may be argued here and hypotheses made for or against this "incident" being reported accurately or taking place at all, it has not and most likely will never be verified by any other source. That, is unless Mahmoud or Andrasz can get, for instance, the Egyptian driver to give us his side of the story. Or a new incident in that area is reported by another traveller (Mahmoud, I hope it won't be me, but give me your mobile number if you want to be the first to know!)
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