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  #1  
Old 18 Oct 2008
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Egypt - western desert loop, possible by normal car?

Hello all,

I'm currently travelling from Turkey to Syria and Jordan in a 28 years old (but good condition) Mercedes W123 Diesel. After Jordan I go to Egypt. In Egypt I really would like to do the 'western desert loop'.

How are the road conditions there? Is it all tarmac? And is the road easy to follow (I have no GPS or whatsoever). Does it make a difference in what direction you drive this western desert loop?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

- LostTraveller
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  #2  
Old 18 Oct 2008
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Absolutely, the desert loop is arguably one of the best roads in Egypt (good condition / little traffic). The only issue is that for the Fayum / Assiut stretch the police may insist on an escort. That was the case some years ago, I'm not sure what is the situation now - I have read reports of people being able to negotiate away this requirement at some checkpoints.
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  #3  
Old 18 Oct 2008
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Doesn't make a lot of difference which way you go and as Andrasz says, it all good tarmac.
The part through the oases is easy enough, the problem is how to complete the circle, if you want to, in the east.

You can go from Cairo to Bahariya, then Farafra, Dhakla, Kharga and on the road south from Kharga to Baris is a good road to Luxor. This is all straightforward.
Or you can go from Kharga to Assiut.

Then it gets difficult, not because of the roads but because of the Police and convoy system.
If you wanted to do a full circle from Cairo to Cairo you'd go through the oases to Luxor and then return via the coast and Hurghada for easiest, Luxor to Hurghada is the only time you'd use the convoy.

If you went from Luxor to Aswan you'd need to use it, and back again.
In the north, Cairo to Alexandria, Mersa Matruh, Siwa and back is all good roads, no convoy. But Siwa to Bahariya you need a 4x4.
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Old 18 Oct 2008
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A little clarification my and Marks' post, as the different routes can be a bit confusing:

From Cairo via Bahariya, Farafra, Dakha to Kharga is straight forward, one road only. From Kharga you have two options:

1) You can go north towards Assiut. There is a recent desert road that runs along the west bank of the Nile from Assiut to Cairo via Fayum. I was referring to this one in my post, it joins in to the Kharga - Assiut road about 10kms from Assiut city. Of course you have the option to go along the Nile valley road (convoys only), or the other desert road that runs along the eastern bank of the Nile. From what I've heared, no escort on some sectors of it, but these things change monthly.

2) You can go south to Baris (in the Kharga depression) from where a good road leads to Armant, south of Luxor. The rules for this road keep changing, sometimes free to use, sometimes closed altogether, sometimes only permitted from Kharga to Armant, but not the other way. (don't ask why...) As Mark said, from Luxor you have the option of going north along the Nile to Cairo (eventually reaching Assiut and chosing any of the three options in 1)), or going out to the Red Sea coast via Qena. All options out of Luxor involve mandatory convoys and escorts.
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  #5  
Old 18 Oct 2008
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andras - there is a new road from Aswan to Luxor way over on the west side of the Nile, yes? Even with my car, Egyptian plates, my Egyptian driving licence and car licence plus Arabic speaking passengers - they wouldn't let me through in January this year, even when I offered to have a Police escort.
Later, tried the Assiut Fayoum road, again no luck. Told me to use a different road. I stuck it out for some time and was passed up the ladder, but still refused.
Maybe they just didn't like the look of me.

One other quick thing slightly off topic. There's a guy coming up from Ethiopia and now entering Sudan.
He seems to think he can get through the border into Egypt by driving through the "new" border crossing and passing Abu Simbel.
Any news if it is open?
I've asked him where he's heard this.
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Old 19 Oct 2008
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Originally Posted by onlyMark View Post
andras - there is a new road from Aswan to Luxor way over on the west side of the Nile, yes? Even with my car, Egyptian plates, my Egyptian driving licence and car licence plus Arabic speaking passengers - they wouldn't let me through in January this year, even when I offered to have a Police escort.
Never expect any logic in Egypt, especially when it comes to dealing with officialdom...

As for overland crossing at Abu Simbel, I very much doubt it. The only 'official' road crossing to Sudan is along the Red Sea coast, but that is closed to all foreigners (except some african nationals). Possibly he is confusing the Shalatein crossing with Abu Simbel. If he does succeed, it will certainly be a first since Almasy drove down along the Darb el Arbain in 1935...
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Old 19 Oct 2008
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Thanks for the reply, I didn't think I'd missed it opening.
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  #8  
Old 20 Oct 2008
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Two months ago in Asuan we were told that:
- a new road to Sudan is finished
- it will be opened end of this year

I hope so
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  #9  
Old 10 Nov 2012
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How is the situation nowardays with driving the loop through the western desert ? Convoy ? Permits ? Petrol situation ?

greetings from Aswan,
Chris
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Old 10 Nov 2012
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No permits, some convoy, iffy petrol

Hi.
We met a motorcyclist in Bahareya last week who'd come from Luxor around the oasis. He had needed no permits (never have for this as far as I know), had been made to convoy for only short bits, and had struggled to find high octane petrol. Bahareya only had 80 when we were there, luckily for him we were carrying about 800 litres of 92 in the back of our cars.

Just because this was true last week does not guarantee much though.

JT
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Old 10 Nov 2012
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Can I find petrol ( doesnt matter if 80 or 92 octane ) every 370-400km on the way ?
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Old 11 Nov 2012
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Hi Chris,

Generally, the Coop Stations should have either 90 or 92 Octane fuel. The situation is much more difficult for Diesel cars.

In Bahareya, the situation was not good. But if you ask around people can help organizing. The stretch between Bahareya and Dakhla is pretty long (around 500 kilometers including the White Desert). In Farafra, there was only 80 Octane fuel when we came through last week. Dakhla and Kharga were OK. In Dakhla, the Coop station is on the way out to Kharga, in Kharga it is at the entrance coming from Dakhla and before the intersection leading to Baris (and Luxor) to the right.

It might be a bit tight given the distances: Siwa to Bahareya is 420 kilometers, Kharga to Luxor about 350 kilometers, Bahareya to Dakhla 500 kilometers.

Greetings from Aswan
Achim
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  #13  
Old 11 Nov 2012
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Generally my rule on that road at times of known shortages was to try to be self-sufficient till the second oasis beyond the next along the route, and fuel at every opprtunity. This means a self-contained range of around 800 Kms. (Eg. in Cairo fuel till Dakhla, in Baharyia till Kharga, etc.).

It always hepls to call in advance to find out. The phone# of Magdy, the manager of the Misroil station in Dakhla is 020 107344675 (no english, only arabic).
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  #14  
Old 11 Nov 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by achim-in-jordan View Post
Hi Chris,

Generally, the Coop Stations should have either 90 or 92 Octane fuel. The situation is much more difficult for Diesel cars.

In Bahareya, the situation was not good. But if you ask around people can help organizing. The stretch between Bahareya and Dakhla is pretty long (around 500 kilometers including the White Desert). In Farafra, there was only 80 Octane fuel when we came through last week. Dakhla and Kharga were OK. In Dakhla, the Coop station is on the way out to Kharga, in Kharga it is at the entrance coming from Dakhla and before the intersection leading to Baris (and Luxor) to the right.

It might be a bit tight given the distances: Siwa to Bahareya is 420 kilometers, Kharga to Luxor about 350 kilometers, Bahareya to Dakhla 500 kilometers.

Greetings from Aswan
Achim
Achim

Much more difficult for diesel cars- we have about a range of 450km in our tuk tuk and are going to be trying to do this road next week. Should we be investing in an extra fuel tank? and are is there anywhere that definitely should sell diesel?

Thanks

Nick
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  #15  
Old 11 Nov 2012
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Nick,

I suggest you get one or two of the big plastic 25l oil cans or 30l pesticide cans that have a well sealing cap, re-used ones are being sold on markets for next to nothing. For diesel they are perfectly fine, just make sure that you rinse them well with a litre or two of petrol before use. A length of plastic hose aso comes handy to decant fuel rather than having to handle the heavy jerries. I guess with an extra two cans you should be able to double your range.

If you get into difficulties, if you have a hose with you you can always bargain with a passing truck for 5-10 litres of diesel. My experience is that a 100% premium is the usual going rate, which at current Egyptian diesel prices is not very much... Typically for that premium you will also find someone with a couple of full 200l drums in their back yard very quickly in Baharyia or Dakhla. Farafra can be genuinely difficult sometimes.
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