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Old 30 Nov 2012
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Ferry Damietta - Iskenderum

After 6 days being taken kind of hostage in the Port of Damietta we have left Egypt. As mentioned before the local agent KADMAR had the Egyptian police to seize the SISA ferry on 22nd November. The reasons were financial disputes between the ship owner and his local agent.
Only after having completed most of the customs formalities for our car the passengers were told that the departure would be postponed. So we had to wait in a nearby hotel; of course on our own cost. On 24th we were asked to proceed with the car to the ferry. Cars and trucks parked next to the ferry. There we were waiting for almost all day. The ferry was heavily secured by the police, nobody was allowed to enter or to leave it. In the evening we were informed that departure would be further delayed. All cars and trucks had to move to a nearby parking lot, nobody could leave the port even if we did not yet pass Egyptian immigration. The next 2 days we were camping on this parking lot, on a tarmac covered by quite some layers of mud consisting of soil, oil, salt and some other unknown chemicals with an acid smell. There were absolutely no supply or ablution facilities available. We were happy to find some water with one of the local agents in the port. We had an emergency ration left from crossing Sudan and additionally we were invited by a lot of truck drivers waiting for the same ferry. After 2 days of intense discussions between SISA and the Egyptians at least the passengers were allowed to board the ferry. SISA offered us a cabin free of cost; they signed responsible for all meals. Definitely SISA took a great effort to compensate the passengers at least as much as they could. The local agent Kadmar simply disappeared. Finally, on 28th SISA and Kadmar came to an agreement, in the evening the ferry left Damietta for Turkey.

We were told that SISA suspended all collaboration with Kadmar with immediate effect. They claim to have a new local agent. This absolutely needs to be checked by any potential traveller before making any payment to Kadmar. Additionally it seems to be unclear weather or not SISA will really continue the service to Damietta as they have recently opened an alternative service to Haifa. SISA in Iskenderun may provide information on the current situation. In addition to the ship Niossos Rhodos the ferry Aqua Herkules plies between Damietta and Mersin. It departs approx. every 6 days, takes 29 h and costs 225 US$ pp (you have to take a cabin) and 400 US$ for a car, handling fee 50 US$. The local agent is Polaris Shipping in Damietta.

SISA charged us the following fees for Damietta – Iskenderun: Car US$ 460, seat US$ 130 pp, handling fee local agent (Kadmar) US$ 50, storage fees in the port US$ 50 (2 days).

Kind regards

Monika & Martin
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Old 30 Nov 2012
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Sudan - Egypt: Fixers help you through the jungle of bureaucracy

Departure Sudan, Wadi Halfa: Mazar (+249 122 380 740, mashansharti@yahoo.com) was asked by us to organize all the bookings for the ferry and to proceed with all departure formalities. We already started this process beforehand in Khartoum through him and his brother Madhir. Upon arrival in Wadi Halfa Mazar confirmed the bookings, the day before departure the car was loaded on the barge and on the day of departure all remaining customs- and departure formalities were completed. We did not have to care for anything. His overall prize was US$ 400 for 1 car, 1 cabin, his fees and other expenditures, and he totally cared about us during the whole stay in Wadi Halfa. Everything went smoothly, was completely stress-free and we highly can recommend his services.

Arrival Egypt, Aswan: Upon departure in Wadi Halfa we contacted Kamal (+20 1005322669) in Aswan. On arrival he was waiting for us at the port. He did job-sharing with one of his colleagues (Mohamed); one of them organized everything with customs (carnet) and the unloading of the car (it was on a separate barge), the other one arranged everything with police and the new number plates. 3h later everything for us and 2 fellow travellers with motor bikes was arranged…And this on a Tuesday afternoon, the beginning of the Egypt weekend. We highly can recommend this team for its services as well!
Fees Fixer: 20 - 25 US$ for bikes, 30 US$ for car; to negotiate. Customs fees, etc. E£ 830.

Departure Egypt, Damietta: Based on recommendations in different blogs we engaged Eslam (+20 1289220002, eslam-elshamaa@yahoo.com) as a fixer. Unfortunately we cannot confirm the positive feedback he received by many overlanders. Eslam is based in Port Said about 1hour’s drive from Damietta. As the ferry departs from Damietta, Eslam was not personally engaged in handling the custom facilities. Instead he uses local agents in Damietta to do this: we met Ahmed and Ibrahim for this purpose. Eslam personally limits his interventions to telefone calls. Ibrahim doesn’t speak any English and Ahmed just a few words. The first day Eslam organised with the police in Port Said a kind of clearance that none of us was involved in any criminal act. Afterwards we moved together to Damietta to purchase our tickets with the local agent Kadmar. At this occasion he presented Ibrahim as his local agent. He promised to be present the next day in order to accomplish police and custom formalities. Then he left for Damietta and was never seen again. Ibrahim and later a second agent, Ahmed, followed up customs and police issues. Communications with both of them was extremely difficult due to their non-existent or limited knowledge of English; information on the process could not really be exchanged. E. g. this led to situation where we were left in front of the closed office of Kadmar in the middle of the night without any warm clothing. We were waiting for hours for one of the fixers to arrive because they never respected any appointments or called us to amend them. On the 2nd day Monika was physically attacked by Ibrahim when she took his custom documents. With Ahmed there was a continuous and extremely tiresome discussion on additional payments to him because of certain failures of Eslam and his exceptional services. On the phone Eslam repeatedly promised to solve these problems with the agents, if he was available on phone at all and if he did not reject the calls. The time we finally had our car on the ferry we came to know that contrary to any promise Ahmed did not have the Carnet with him. Suddenly he claimed that he never received the document from Kadmar where we deposited it some days ago. Martin personally had to bypass the police checkpoints at the port to get the Carnet. Finally this led to the situation that we have our Carnet back, nevertheless it was just minutes before the ferry left we discovered that our fixers did even not get it stamped. Finally we left Egypt without stamp.
For all of you in need of such experiences or all those who don’t believe anything: Eslam charges 1500 E£ fort the whole process, it seems independently of the result.

Kind regards

Monika & Martin
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damietta, eslam, fixer, iskenderun, wadi halfa

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