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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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  #1  
Old 1 Feb 2002
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Saudi Versus Egypt

I'm travelling across Africa (top to bottom) in a few months with my wife and kids in a Land Rover. Does anyone have any advice on whether to go via Egypt or Saudi coming from Turkey / Syria / Jordan? Also if we go via Saudi, does anyone know of ferries from Saudi across to the Horn of Africa - (Ethiopia etc). Any advice on routes / visas / carnets / ferries would be very helpful. Thanks.

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Old 1 Feb 2002
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Sorry to rain on your parade, but you will be highly unlikely to get a transit visa for Saudi Arabia. They generally only issue them to residents or citizens of the countries either side.

Also, you will absolutely not get one at this time of the year. Between the Holy Month of Ramadan (which was November - December 2001) and the Haj Pilgrimage to Mecca & Medina (due around February 21st or so) , the Saudi Authorities DO NOT issue transit visas to non-Muslims. No ifs, no buts, that is the way it is.

I would knock the Holy Kingdom off your itinerary straight away. Good luck with the rest of your journey.

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Old 1 Feb 2002
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Thanks for the info Jon. Given what Jon has said, does anyone have any advice about shipping from Aquaba down the Red Sea to Ethiopia - or is travelling through Egypt and Sudan not as difficult as I think it is?

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Old 1 Feb 2002
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Egypt and Sudan are both possible - friends of mine went from Sheffield to Malawi (where they are working) via Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, with three small kids. (You can't drive through south Sudan, but the north is fine). It takes a while to sort out your visas for Sudan - up to 6 weeks - so if this is going to be your route, which would be a great one, I'd get going on these visas sooner rather than later.
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Old 1 Feb 2002
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Thanks SDHEG1. Are your friends in Malawi willing to offer any advice / encouragement etc. My kids are 10, 8 and 7 years old so if they're prepared to swap advice via email that would be brilliant. It would also go a long way towards reassuring my very keen but concerned wife. She's keen to go but one of my daughters has insulin dependent diabetes so reassurance about the practicalities of the route in large buckets - if appropriate - is needed.

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Old 1 Feb 2002
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There's an almost daily ferry from Aqaba, Jordan to Nweiba, Egypt.

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  #7  
Old 5 Feb 2002
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I learnt this one the hard way in 99 so hopefully this will help.

Transit visa's for Saudi are only available in countries which border the kingdom. I tried for 2 weeks in Amman without any luck in June/July and got nowhere - even after enlisting the help of the British Consulat and the South African Embassy. "The Haj" or not it's complete touch and go although getting a visa in Khartoum to do the trip in reverse doesn't seem as hard.

We ended up in Egypt and tried for visa's for Sudan - at that time British passport holders had zero chance of getting on. We met a Scottish guy who had been waiting 3 weeks. Rule number one for this route is NEVER LEAVE HOME WITH OUT A VISA FOR SUDAN! The ferry to Wadi Halfa is expense £1500 (mates did it two months ago) but costs can be reduced by sharing the journey with other vehicles. Ferry takes cars and people. Sudan is an awesome country to visit - one of the friendliest I've been to in Africa although can be frustrating with all the rules and regulations.

On the bright side there is an Italian shipping company called Linea Messena which operates a multi stop route to South Africa stopping at all the ports on the East African coast. You're esiest entry point to Ethiopia would be through Djibouti (best avoided in July as it's unbearablly humid and hot). From Ethiopia downwards it's a walk in the park.

You can enter Ethiopia from Sudan. No problems vith visa's but the roads either side are appauling in the wet season - Jun to Aug. The Ethiopian side from Gedaref to Gondar is the worst bit as there are often other vehicles stuck and blocking the entire road.

If you end up in Egypt and want to ship from there you can locate "Mohammed Mosielle" shipping and airline agent in Suez. He arranged for a ship to get the vehicle through to Djibouti - US$1400 which is as expensive as the Wadi Halfa ferry. His office is about 500m from the Saudi Consulate on the side of the Suez Canal.

I'm not aware of any ferries from Suez to Sudan other than one which stops at Jedah and you can't board it without a Saudi - even if you're not getting off.

Hope this helps. Feel free to contact me on mike@drift-forward.com is you need any other info.
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