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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Old 20 Jul 2009
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Egypt-Sudan Border Crossing.

I know there are some older ones on here, but thought I would give a recent one.

Also, most people seem to pay a bit extra for the services of 'Mr Saleh,' on the Egypt side, and 'Magdi,' on the Sud side - which we didn't, so this is a DIY version. We crossed last week, and found it all a bit of a hassle, so thought I would post a walkthrough here, to help anyone following the same way who wants to do it themselves too.

1. Arrive in Aswan city and and find a hotel, the port is around 20k south, over the high dam, and the two old dams. The boat leaves on Monday, so getting in on a Sat or a Sun is a good idea, to give yourself plenty of time. Our boat officially left at 9 AM, but pulled out of the port at 7 PM. This is quite normal - you ask what time the ferry leaves, and most people laugh and tell you 'when it leaves.'

2. Go to 'traffic court.' (10 EP - 1GBP)

This is to attest that you haven't broken any rules, or had an accident. It sounds grand, but it is really just a broken down old building with no sign on, where you show your Egyptian Licence and V5, and sign a piece of paper, and they give you a receipt for the 'traffic police.' (Directions - coming from Aswan to the Dam, take the left before the blue petrol station (there's only the one) and follow the road down past the 'insurance hospital.' It is just behind the hospital. If in doubt, just keep asking for the 'mushtashfa ta'min (insurance hospital.))

3. Go to 'traffic police.' (0 EP - 0 GBP)

The traffic police is more dificult to find. Go back into Aswan City, and just keep asking for 'Shurta Muroor.' Everyone knows where it is. Take your plates off, and hand them, together with your Egyptian licence and the reciept from the 'traffic court,' to whatever police officer you can get the attention of through the scrum. He will give you the all important bit of paper you need to buy a ticket for the ferry.

4. Go to the port, buy ticket. (305 EP per person deck class - 30 GBP)

The ticket office is a little hole in a concrete pillbox 50 metres to the left of the port gates. There are two ticket salespeople, a very helpful man, who speaks beautiful Fusha, and great English, and a woman who is a complete cowbag and only grunts. The scrum to get to the window is typical Egypt, and resulted in 3 fist fights in the two hours I was waiting. If you fancy avoiding it, you can buy tickets from an office near the Tourist Information building in town. They are the same price, but they also sell cabin tickets there, for an extra 90 EP per person. The cabins are air conned, and comfortable, but you don't get the experience of sleeping with the best part of 500 Sudanese people on the deck. They are an awesome people, and well worth saving the money to sit up and chat and smoke with them.

4. Buy ticket for bike. (190 EP - 19 GBP)

Enter customs, go straight through and take the footgate on the right at the end. Go to the big building in front, and take the alley between that and the smaller building to its right, up the stairs and into the top office. You will probably get people telling you that you can't do this, but they won't stamp your carnet without having the ticket that you get here. Ignore them.

5. Sudan Customs. Carnet Stamp. (20 EP - 2 GBP)

We missed this and had to reenter illegally. It is in an unmarked door on your left past the stairs as you walk into the Customs building. There are some overlanders stickers on the door, but no sign saying what it is. When we arrived, the guy was sleeping, and took nearly two hours to find. Present the V5, passport, carnet and your newly acquired tickets, and there you go - Carnet stamp, done.

6. Exit Stamps. (25 piastres each person - 0.025 GBP)

Go out of the carnet room and go left into the exit stamp scum. Go first to the table on the left, to get a 'fiche,' or 'bitaaqa,' which is a card you write all your details on and get stamped at the window to the left of the table. The stamper will ask for bakshish, we gave 50 piastres and he seemed mollified. With this card and your passports, go to the busiest window, and get your exit stamp. Leave the hellhouse smiling like a madman and clutching your ticket to get out of Egypt!

7. Roll down towards the boat, and get 'registered.' (0 EP - 0 GBP)

On your left as you go through the first set of gates towards your waiting boat will be a line of people at a portacabin - they are waiting for 'tasjil,' or registration. Hand over all the bits of paper you have collected, and they will check all your tickets are in order, and, er..register you. They will ask for bakshish, but are easy to rebuff.

Well done. Roll down the slope, park your bike on the barge, and get on the ferry - find yourself a good place to sleep and guard it. Up against a bulkhead, right by the edge of the deck is best, as it means you don't get people stepping on you while you sleep. We did this, under the life rafts, which also gave us some sun shade.

Hope this helps, sorry about any typos, I'm tapping away on a proper lame keyboard, and can't be bothered to correct it!

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Old 20 Jul 2009
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Sudan side

With your ferry ticket, you get two meal vouchers - use them - the food is a lot better than you would expect.

1. Present your passports to immigration. (0 GBP)

During the crossing, go to immigration, which is one flight of stairs down from the second class scoffhouse. If you can't find it, ask for 'maktab jawaaz.' You get a filthy thermometer poked in your ear, and hand your passport over. That's it. No cash, and no hassle.

2. Pick passports up. (0 GBP)

When the boat arrives in Halfa, somwhere in between 14 hours and 27 hours after leaving Aswan, you must go to the first class scoffhouse to receive your passports. There is an interview with an immigration officer, who wants to know the purpose of your visit, and where you are going. A good standard answer is 'Blue Nile Sailing Club in Khartoum, and then Ethiopia.' (Naadi Niil al Azraaq wa baada dhalik, ethioobia.)

3. Get off boat and get bus to terminal.

The bus is free, but you have to fight for it. Survival of the fittest, nice guys stand waiting in the sun.

4. Go through customs.

A cursory search, followed by slapping of pink stickers on everything is all you face, before walking out to get a taxi to the town. It might cost as much as 5 SUD for foreigners, but locals seem to pay around 2, so bargaining is worthwhile.

5. Register. (35 US$)

More registration, and another stamp in your passport. The registration office is on the main drag, near all the really bone locandas that you have no alternative to. Just ask for 'tasjiil' again, and everyone knows where it is.

6. Wait.

You vehicle will be arriving at some point in the next 24 hours. Just keep going back to the port and checking. When it comes, they dock at one of two possible points, and will probably want to take their cargo off first. This makes the boat sit higher in the water, and makes it harder for disembarking. Argue enough and they'll give you the benefit of the argument. Now you 'simply' have to ride down the wet wooden plank they give you, and you are officially in Sudan. Enjoy.

All together, the border cost a bit more than 100 GBP for two people and a bike, which isn't too bad, until you remember that you bought your visa back in Cairo, and that already set you back 200$!

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Old 20 Jul 2009
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Excellent info Birdy.
I'm hoping to do the same trip in a 4x4 in around 4-5 years, so all info is good info for me.
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Old 14 Oct 2009
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fantastic info Birdy, thanks. will be hitting that border in about 2 months with any luck and this is gold. cheers
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Old 14 Jan 2010
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Good stuff Birdy. Can I just clarify a few things, please?

The traffic court, traffic police, and ferry tickets stuff, can that be done on the Saturday or Sunday? Do they mind that you drive 20km from Aswan to the port with a license or plates? I assume there is no need to pre-book tickets.

When you say the tourist information center in "town", do you mean Aswan or is does the port consist of a rather large town as well?

With buying the ticket for you bike, was that just space on the vehicle ferry? Would it be the same for 4x4's?

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