FERRY Wadi Halfa (Sudan) to Aswan (Egypt)
We travelled together with two South Africans with a 4x4, while Mirjam and I travel on two motorcycles. Also two other bikers where there.
Prices below are based on that; we left Wadi heading north on the 10th of October 2012.
5,5 Sudaneese pounds is roughly 1 USD
6,0 Egyptian pounds is roughly 1 USD
We quickly bumped into Magdi, a famous guy in the village and a well known fixer.
Nice guy, friendly and professional. Ask around in town and he’ll pop up.
MAGDI BOSHARA phone: 0121730885 or 0905568968 NUBATIA51[AT]yahoo[DOT]com
Hotel: we stayed at the Cancan or something, not bad for 13 USD for a two person room.
Internet: There is one internet café in town, but it is very slow. Skype not possible. 3 pounds an hour.
He charged us:
40 USD per person for the ferry ticket
43 USD per bike for transporting it on a separate barge
10 USD for something at customs
12 USD for something else
30 USD for his services and some minor payments at customs
For the people with the car:
Same as above, excluding the bike fees and fixer fee but extra:
40 USD for his services and some minor payments at customs
6 USD for something else
300 USD for transporting the car on the same barge as above.
We arrived on a Monday, and on Tuesday we had to race to port because all paperwork was ready and customs wanted to check the vehicles. After that, we loaded the bikes on the barge.
We had to pay some people at the barge about 3 USD per person for helping out.
Tuktuk back to town was 6 Sudaneese pounds, and it took 3 people.
The day later we had to load the car, and get ourselves on the ferry.
The captain made trouble and wanted to unload the bikes; he got an offer for a load of camels which was more profitable. We couldn’t load the car in time, Magdi offered to drive the car on after we’ve left.
This felt very bad; we really freaked our but Magdi stayed super professional and in the end he promised us everything would be fine. (Which it did; he did a great job in securing the car on the barge and everything)
Magdi really seems a good guy you can trust and he delivered as promised…. Not easy in this part of the world.
He really guides you all the way onto the boat and makes sure you’re okay.
THE FERRY ITSELF
You can for stuff on board in Sudaneese and Egyptian pounds, but also change USD in the 1st class restaurant.
If you can get a hold of a cabin, you’ll pay around 26USD per person. Only 2p-cabins on board, don’t expect anything fancy or clean. (normally cabins are not available anymore, but you can be lucky with a cancellation)
The thing is built for 250 passengers, but 660 get on…..
Take as little as possible, and keep al valuables with you. It is full of lovely Sudaneese people, but you’ll never know.
Dinner is included in your ticket price, but that is in the 2nd class restaurant. The food seemed okay, but it is crowded there. Get to the 1st class restaurant, where it is nice and quiet and you’ll have to pay 5 pounds to get an upgrade to 1st class food. Nothing fancy, but you do get a spoon with your food then! ;-).
Ask for Achmed; a huge Egyptian who speaks good English and Spanish and is in charge of quality or something; wonderful bloke who will help you out with anything. Say ‘Hi’ to him from us.
During the day everybody is below decks for the aircon, at night the upper decks get crowded and you simply cannot walk there. It does get quite cold, wish we took our mattresses (as you lay on the metal) and sleeping bags. Then you can sleep nicely there, but make sure you don’t need a run to the toilet at night!
In the morning, you go to the same restaurant again for a breakfast (10 pounds) and relax.
Drinks are available on board (2,5 pounds for water or a soda, 2 pounds for coffee/tea) but supplies are limited; stock up on water early in the evening so you’ll have enough for the morning too.
When boarding the boat they’ll take your passport… and amazingly, they’ll find you the next day and give it back to you ~with the entry stamp in it.
There are two fixers we’ve met, Mohamed Abouda and ‘Kamal’.
Kamal is a taxi driver and a bit of a weird guy. He was very eager to do business with us, and got quite angry with us when we chose Mohamed. He kept on chasing us and asking us for business, a bit desperate and not professional at all. We really did not like him and would NEVER work with this guy!
Mohamed is a really professional guy who has a sailing boat business to; he’s used to tourists and knows exactly what you want.
MOHAMED ABOUDA mobile: 012 25111968 or 010 11181151 tel: 097 2301698 or 097 2306568 nilfeluka[AT]hotmail[DOT]com
He took us straight from the boat into the customs office where we had to sign some paper stating we would pay the fees involved in the process. Then he arranged transport (taxi, 15 pounds p.p.) to the hotel (St. George, ‘with the pool on the roof’ for 9 USD p.p.p.n with breakfast and with fast free Wifi in the rooms. Good enough to Skype with video and we’ve uploaded around 1GB per 24 hrs.)
You’ll get your shower and something to eat, relax a bit and Mohamed comes back later or something to discuss the vehicles.
He will answer all your questions, also touristy stuff. He offers to take you on the nile etc. on a sailboat as this is his business too; can’t blame him! ;-)
It took a few days for us to get the vehicles as the barge was delayed a bit…. And the thing is not very fast anyhow. Mohamed calls the captain every day and updates you on the progress.
We got the vehicles off the barge AND out of customs in one day; not bad.
First, you pay Mohamed some money for a lot of small expenses:
- 270 pounds per bike for insurance , document fee for the police, costs of hiring an engineer to check the bikes, and some other small stuff. (FYI: Just the insurance is around 100 pounds per bike, but for a car it is 180 or something)
- 30 pounds per person for the taxi , for the whole day.
- 3 copies of your carnet, 3 of your passport and one of your visa+stamp (free copies in the hotel!)
We drove to some police-thing where he buys some docs, you fill in your name and sign something. Then off to the harbour.
Off the barge was not easy, as the bikes were inside and had to be hauled out of the barge by hand. Took us about an hour, and we tipped the guys 80 pounds for 4 bikes and the car. We thought it was a bit stupid, because 8 people wanted a tip while 3 helped… The captain got a few bucks too, but I forgot how much.
The guy is not the friendliest bloke around, and we named him ‘The Carnet-Sniffer’. When you’re there, you’ll see what we mean :-P.
The engineer comes to your vehicle and checks the VIN number and makes you sign a doc. In the customs office, you sit up straight and answer some questions, give some copies, put a signature down… and wait. You pay 522 pounds to this bloke for the temporary import, and he stamps your Carnet and gives it a validity of ONE MONTH FROM YOUR DATE OF ENTRY according the stamp in your passport.
After this is done, Mohamed leaves to town to buy your insurance and get your licence plates.
When he comes back, you put the plates on and drive out. Mohamed might give the customs guys at the gate a few pounds ‘to speed up the process’ and you’re off!
Back in the hotel, you pay Mohamed ‘whatever you think is reasonable’. He did a great job for us, so we paid him 20USD each for the bikes and 30USD for the car. If you’re by yourself I’d pay a bit more, but with a group with 5 vehicles the process is easier for him too we thought…
Be careful in Egypt, a lot of people try to squeeze cash from you and people are not as nice as in Sudan! You really have to watch yourself and your money. We filled up for 64 pounds, gave 100 and they don’t want to give your change. Just don’t accept it, I got every pound in the end. (6 USD tip is a huge amount in this country, especially when it is not voluntarily!)
Summary of Costs: Person and bike: 140 USD @ Sudan + 165 USD @ Egypt all inclusive besides the hotel and food/drinks.
The Fixers: We can really recommend both Magdi and Mohamed; value for money!
The ferry: an experience of a lifetime! (although, if there would be a road I’d take it!)
For both sides: contact the guys upfront so they’ll know you’re coming.
Be in town a few days before the ferry leaves (Mondays from Aswna, Wednesdays from Wadi Halfa) so your vehicle might leave before you!
Aswan: Mohamed can arrange a BRAND NEW carnet for you for around 500 EURO’s!!!!! Any nationality, no deposits needed! Contact him for further details.
Relax; I was very nervous about the whole thing because we never use fixers at borders and I hate it to give away control. Those guys really helped out!
If you head north: Enjoy your last days in Sudan with the Sudaneese people; you’ll miss them in Egypt!
If you head south: Don’t worry, in Sudan people are fantastic and don’t hassle you all day!