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I want to share some tips and information on this journey. It has taken us roughly 2 months to get from Turkey to Sudan, simply because of various changes in ferry and route options due to the current situation in Egypt and Sinai. The title says from Turkey because this is where we ended up because we wanted to take the ferry to Port Said, but this route is suspended. I am sure a lot of this information will be out of date soon, but for the people currently navigating this route, I hope some the information here can save you some time. I am explaining the route we have taken based on the options and information available to us at the time. I am not claiming this is the cheapest or most optimal route.
TURKEY – GREECE – ISRAEL:
Since the ferry service to Port Said got suspended, we were stuck in Istanbul. The first option we choose was to get to Israel as an alternative entry point into Egypt. The service we took was run by Rosenfeld Shipping in Haifa. To book the ticket you can phone or email Alicia:
The ship departs from Lavrio just 45min drive from Athens. The price for the car was 700 euro, and 300 euro per person. The ship was ALIOS and had plenty of cabins for passengers. They cannot guarantee you a place in advance as truck drivers get preference. The Haifa port fees are 1300 shekel and 400 shekel for some admin fee towards Rosenfeld.
You need car insurance for Israel in order to release your car from customs. Our ship arrived on a Friday and the insurance company is closed on this day. You can park the car for free (leave the port) and return Sunday morning with insurance.
In order to release the car you need to:
(1) Get the shipping order from Rosenfeld (pay 400 shekel). You will have to leave your car in customs and exit the port. They are on the second floor on the building facing the port entry/exit ramp.
(2) Take the shipping paperwork to the insurance company, and get someone in the queue to fill out the Hebrew form. You will have to pay the insurance fee at the bank next to apool. The company details:
3 Habankim Street (just around the corner from Rosenfeld).
(3) Now go back to customs (you have to go back into the port following the proper procedures).
ISRAEL – JORDAN:
There is nothing complicated here. Drive to Eilat and use the Eilat/Aqaba crossing to enter Jordan. You can ask them to stamp on a green paper instead of in your passport if you are concerned about your Sudan VISA application. You will also get your Carnet stamped if you have one.
JORDAN – EGYPT:
This is where the fun starts. If you have a 4x4 vehicle (or anything that resembles one such as a pickup or truck) you cannot use the Aqaba – Nuweiba ferry to enter Sinai. (This same problem exists for the Israel / Taba crossing). The point is no such vehicle is allowed to enter Sinai at all and your only option is to ship it to mainland Egypt or another country on the African coast for which you can find a ship (such as Kenya and Sudan).
There is a shipping route operated by Kawar shipping company from Aqaba to Ain Sokhna in Egypt. However, this is a container ship, so your car must fit into a standard container (you can wikipedia the sizes – check for the door clearance which is lower than the inside).
The cost of the shipping is $1500 USD and this excludes the Egypt side. (The Egypt side is discussed below).
The process in Jordan is pretty simple but there are two big catches.
(1) When your car entered Jordan you ask for a green paper which is your driving permit. On the back it has entries which traffic police can use if you commit any traffic offences. Now pay attention here as we almost missed our boat: This driving permit needs a clearance stamp which is required only by the container shipping process, and this stamp can only be obtained in Amman. Feel free to fight this and feel free to take the paper to the passenger ferry terminal and negotiate with the customs officials – you are wasting your time – we have already tried. However, Nidal from Kawar now knows how to get the stamp and he has sent it to Amman for us and got it back in 1 day. Without this stamp the containers customs agency will not process your shipping request. End of story.
(2) If you plan to leave the country before your car you may likely end up with a problem regarding your Carnet (Triptique as I think they call it – and I then simply say tripticket). The customs officials are not happy giving you an exit stamp if your car has not left the country. We managed to get this exit stamp but the clearance agency had to fight for 2 hours with customs. You may or may not be as lucky. It may be safer to leave your departure until after the car if you want the exit stamp – although I understand it is not critical to have it if you have an entry stamp in the next country.
The customs clearance agency is one floor above KAWAR in the same building. The manager is called Nazem. He managed to get the Carnet exit stamp for us in the end.
Nazem, Mobile: 0798225562 (Nidal knows this guy well).
The container will arrive in Ain Sokhna port. This is a really tiny port dealing only with containers (no passengers). The port is missing some facilities such as a traffic department. This means that the import procedure cannot actually be done at Ain Sokhna, and must be completed in Suez.
This was a very expensive operation for us so first here are the costs:
On the Egypt side you have to pay a port and storage fee of about £150 and a shipping admin fee to get the shipping order which will cost you an additional £100. (The port fee may be less as we got it very unlucky and had to leave our car for a week during Eid festival in Egypt). The importing/customs costs (apparently) was 2400 Egyptian Pounds and the commission asked by all the parties involved was 2000 Egyptian Pounds which roughly totals £430.
I manage to find a fixer (no it is definitely impossible to do without unless you speak Arabic and have a week of time to waste at a port facility in the middle of the desert). The guy is called Ibrahim, he is really efficient and works really hard but there is a catch – he only speaks Arabic. I met Ibrahim through a port agent company called Pilship. The guy at Pilship (also called Ibrahim) can speak good English so he acted as translator. I suggest you get an Egyptian SIM with plenty of credit before you start this release procedure. Unless you have a trustworthy Arabic contact in Egypt, I think it would be safer to work through English Ibrahim from Pilship.
Like in Haifa you need the shipping order first. The actual shipping company operating the ship was MSC so you have to go to the MSC office shown in the map. You can get a taxi from Cairo to Ain Sokhna but make sure you arrange the whole process in advance so they expect your arrival. You will get the car on day two in Suez, but you will sleep in Suez at the end of day one at the Green Hotel next to the Suez port gate (this will be organised by English Ibrahim).
(1) Phone English Ibrahim and make sure he expects you and that we has Ibrahim fixer available
(2) Take a taxi to Ain Sohkna and arrive by 9:00.
(3) Go to the MSC office on the map above and get your shipping order. English Ibrahim from Pilship is in the office next to MSC. He will arrange for you to meet fixer Ibrahim there. Fixer Ibrahim will take you to the port and bank to start the process.
(4) By the end of the day if all was successful you will have to drive the car under temporary customs clearance (with a customs official) to Suez 40km north.
(5) You leave the car at Suez and check into the hotel. The next morning you will go through actual customs clearence and get your plates at the Suez port.
NOTE ON SECURITY:
It was unable to enter the port and this meant that Ibrahim managed the car retrieval without me! I was unhappy about this, but timing did not allow me to get police clearance to enter the port. This is definitely possible, at least in Ain Sokhna port, but good luck trying to negotiate this. Also, when you arrive in Suez again the same issue (however this is late night and there is no way Ibrahim is going to start some lengthy procedure to get you port clearance just to park the car – the police office is closed at that time). They will not allow you in and you have to hand the car and keys to a random customs official outside the port, and go check into the hotel. I was too exhausted to care at this stage, but in the end nothing was stolen.
NOTE ON CARNET:
The customs officials at Sokhna messed up my Carnet. I have no idea if this was deliberate or just stupidity. Instead of stamping on one page only, they also remove 3 other pages! I only notices this later as the removed pages was hidden behind the stamped one. You will have to make this very clear to English Ibrahim to insure fixer Ibrahim prevents this from happening at customs before you leave Sokhna for Suez.
By about 12am I got the car and plates and I quickly fixed them with some wires and head back to Cairo before curfew.
EGYPT – SUDAN:
We used the Aswan – Wadi Halfa crossing and this is easy. The current information available seems correct. We have used Kamal as the Egypt side fixer and Mazar on the Sudan side. They each charge a $50 fee but they are super quick and worth every penny.
We got our Sudan VISAS in Aswan – this is super easy and you do not need any letter of intro from your embassy as is required if you do it from Cairo. Just a note of warning – if you have an American passport be prepared for problems as one of our friends had to turn back and take a flight to Ethiopia because of VISA refusal. Kamal suggested that this was actually unusual as he got some Americans through some weeks ago, but the process is more painful and apparently requires a tourist agent in Khartoum getting involved.
Aswan Fixer Egypt: Kamal
Email: email@example.com (checked weekly only)
Just one observation re insurance in Israel. Israel is often available on green card insurance (despite the fact it is in no way, shape or form in Europe...) So if you think you may travel via Israel and are getting green card insurance for the European leg of your journey then make sure Israel is included. It will save you $100 on standalone insurance. They are very familiar with the green card at borders.
Thanks for an excellent post, Flotter! This helps a lot!
Just one follow-up question: Does all this mean that the Sudanese consulate in Aswan and the immigration in Wadi Halfa did not care about the carnet being stamped in I. or the Jordanian entry stamp at the Aqaba border post? That would be very good news?
Did the ferry between Aswan and Wadi Halfa run regularly and on time? We have not had threads on this recently.
I did not use my carnet in Israel. Based on earlier research I do not think it is needed. My carnet actually lists Israel as 'not allowed' which is convenient, but I am sure this is not important for Sudan. Also, I saw that today Mazar (Sudan fixer) folds and staples all the previous pages before he heads to customs so I would guess they may not care about travel history based on this. However you passport must be clear of anything Israel. Note that the customs officer will have to put something in your passport, and you may have to negotiate what is acceptible for you. He offered a triangle stamp with no Hebrew, but I convinced him to only write clearance number in with his signature. Perhaps the triangle stamp would have been even better.
Anyways we got our Sudan visa. You get a 5min face to face with the Sudanese ambassador in Aswan at the embassy, but he did not ask any questions on travel history. The point is that for the Sudan Visa application they do not know you travel by car, so I guess the route conversation is less likely anyways.
Aswan ferry and barge operates weekly. The ferry departs Sundays at 17:00, but the barge depends on when it is full. We are still waiting for the barge after 5 days, but we have confirmation that it left. They should arrive tomorrow.
Last year we arrived in Wadi Halfa with two barges, one took a day longer than the other to clear because of bad weather. Nevertheless, Mazar did a great job and was as quick as was possible. Since we did not like the hostels in Wadi Halfa too much we spent only one night there and headed - while waiting for the other cars to clear the port - for a nice area behind some dunes to the left of the road to Khartoum (I think it was at kilometer 896), which still was a mere 20 minutes back to the port to "collect" the others the next day.
One week after Flotter took the ferry from aqaba to sokhna we also arrived in aqaba and wanted to try to do the same thing. We have a vw t3 syncro and wanted to cover that we are 4x4 and cross to Egypt by nuweiba. But we wanted to check the other options.
Actually we also found an other solution to this problem.
Kawar company in aqaba in Jordan has a service to transfer your car to Port Sudan. Their English is not that good but there are two people who can speak English rather good and they are happy to translate you everything. All the paperwork was done for us within 2 hours of time. After that we put our car in the harbor ready to put on the ship (takes another 3 hour). They calculate the price for the car as followed: length x width x height x 35 USD. (They do NOT check the measurements of the car, they trust you on your honesty...)
It takes about 3 days to ship the car from aqaba to port sudan. As a person you can not be on the ship, but you can easily take the bus to amman and find a flight (about 250 euro pp) from amman to Khartoum. Each day there is a bus from Khartoum to port sudan that leaves at 6.00am. It costs about 145 Sudanese pound and takes about 12h. If you have the time it is better to arrange your travel permit in Khartoum (much easier than Port Sudan).
If you arrive in Port Sudan you have to contact IMA shipping company. Ask a riksja to bring you to the headquarter/main building of Zain. If you go then the first street to your left you are after 50m at the office of IMA. I have the gps coordinates, but for the moment not with me...
Make sure you do NOT put anything of the following words on your bill of lading: 'in transit to ethiopia' or 'cargo'.
But make sure there is: 'tourist' and 'trip' and 'travelling with own vehicle'
We had a phone call from IMA, the shipping company in Sudan, who explained us that it is impossible to import a used car into Sudan. The only solution he said is to put it as 'in transit to'. We had no choice as the car was already on the ship and we were at the airport.
On this way it meant we could not drive the car our own in Sudan. After 8 days of negotiating the only solution left was to go from Port Sudan directly to the border of Ethiopia with a custom security guy in the back of our car.
We even had to pay for the security guy we didn't want but we had no choice... So visiting Sudan was not possible for us...
Despite all the mess we had I still believe it is possible to cross this traject on a good way with relative good costs.
- shipping price: 35 usd/m3
- costs clearing agent: 0 euro, for free (for us??)
- custom Sudan: 250 euro
- custom Sudan: 30 euro
- insurance Sudan: 75 euro
But you have to make sure there is no 'transit' on your bill of lading. It would also be very good you contact IMA before you ship the car so they can make themselves ready.
Mr Hamdan, boss of IMA, speaks good English: 00249912341119
Mr Hamdallah, clearing agent of IMA: 00249912371418
Mr Hayder, office guy of IMA: 00249912998238
On this way they even do not want to stamp your carnet so you do not have problems with israelic stamps or anything.
There was still one big disappointment: when we got the car back, everything was turned upside down. All of our stuff were searched and researched. They even did not try to clean the things and the whole car was a mess! Also a lot of things were stolen. No big things or very valuable stuff, but all of them very small things, but it is not so nice to get your car back on this way... So be prepared and make sure you have a packing list and all of your valuable stuff with you.
We are now in Ethiopia, our internet availability is not that good, but if somebody wants additional information or gps coordinates of any of all the places, you can always email me. I know one dutch couple who will try this way in a week, if anybody else will do this, keep me updated. I'm curious, both the shipping company's (kawar and IMA) told us several times that we were the very first people who put a car on the ship like this.
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