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 I am sure a lot of this information will be out of date soon, but for the people currently navigating this route, I hope some the information here can save you some time.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:
A.Rosenfeld Shipping Ltd.
T +972 4 8613 671
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.
MAP: GOOGLE MAPS HAIFA
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).
MAP: GOOGLE MAPS AQABA
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.
Ibrahim (Pilship) – Mobile: 01223960452
Ibrahim (Sokhna Fixer) – Mobile: +201011555605
MAP: GOOGLE MAPS SOKHNA
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
(checked weekly only)
Wadi Halfa Fixer Sudan: Mazar