Archive for August, 2010

Diving Dahab

stretch of Dahab

Our destination after Cairo was a seaside town, called Dahab, for some solitude away from the truck, rest and relaxation. Dahab is a chilled out town on the Red Sea, catering to backpackers and holiday goers. There are so many tourists here that in spite of it being Ramadan, the restaurants and shops are all still mostly open. The restaurants line the shore, where you can relax on oversized cushions, sip a cool beverage, dine on fresh seafood and smoke a shisha. Dahab is notorious for it’s top-notch snorkeling and diving. Our decision to not dive with Mike and Sarah in Thailand has been eating away at us ever since we said our goodbyes. But since we can now reasonably budget for the last couple months of our travels, we were able to scrounge up the funds to take our PADI Open Water Course in Dahab to become certified scuba divers.

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Truck Awards

Shay, William, Farmer, Ross, Shelagh, Ali, Helen, Stephanie, Brian, Barbara-Jeanne
Jeff, Hiro, Colin, Steve, Becky, Meghan, Eric, Suzanne, Mark, Guy

It brings us great pleasure to present the inaugural edition of the Oasis Overland Cape Town to Cairo Truck Awards! Everyone on this list spent at least part of the past four months with us, striving every day to earn the awards presented here. So let the boasting and toasting begin! Without any further delay, may I present (drum roll please)…

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Milestones: 400 days of travel

Another milestone reached — where do the days go? Our Oasis Overland adventure has ended, and our wanderings are now taking us up through Jordan and Syria. Head over to our Breadcrumb page to see our latest routes.

After 400 days:

Average speed over land: 43.5 km/h
Equivalent time spent in transit: 72 days
Fastest mode of transportation: Train (68 km/h average)
Slowest mode of transportation: On foot (2.1 km/h average)
Kilometres left to go: unknown…

The Great Pyramids of Giza

That's a big pile of rocks
 
Cairo, Egypt: the place is synonymous in many peoples minds with one thing — or perhaps more exactly, three. It is home to the Great Pyramids of Giza, those icons of Ancient Egypt that are now over 4500 years old and still standing. As we drove into the city of Cairo, the peaks of the Great Pyramids could be seen as hazy silhouettes above the skyline of buildings What a sight! They seemed to welcome us, as though driving the length of the African continent had served only to bring us to this moment. It was the end of our journey with Oasis Overland, but only the beginning of our experience in the Middle East, of which Egypt feels more a part. On our first night in Cairo, we had the trip end party at a nearby hotel, and enjoyed Egyptian food and wine along with each other’s company. But it was the morning that we most looked forward to — the only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World awaited us.
 
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Egypt's Western Desert

After nearly four months of driving through Africa, the last leg of our Oasis Overland truck journey had finally arrived. We set out from Luxor after a too-brief visit and headed into Egypt’s Western Desert for four days of travel on our way to Cairo. I have to admit that it was a leg of the journey that I was not too excited about at first. Our time in Aswan and on the felucca had gotten me used to the trappings of civilization again, and I didn’t relish the prospect of heading out into the unrelenting heat of the desert for another stretch of several days. On the other hand, there were a few things to look forward to on the way: we would be driving through the White and Black Deserts, and hopefully getting a few more nights of desert bush camping along the way. This was the home stretch, and Cairo was the ultimate destination, the end of our marathon overland crossing of the African continent. Only one little desert left to cross…

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Really really old

Kom Ombo relief

We got our first glimpse of ancient Egyptian edifices on the ferry from Sudan, as we passed the magnificent Abu Simbel, beautifully lit up, at night. Between Aswan and Luxor (upper Egypt), we have expanded our repertoire by visiting Kom Ombo Temple, Edfu Temple, Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Workers, Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple — all constructed during the Middle and New Kingdoms.

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Sailing on the Nile

After arriving in Egypt via the overnight ferry across Lake Nasser, we spent three very relaxing days in Aswan. Compared to the Sudanese desert and Wadi Halfa, our accommodation in Aswan was pure luxury: our room had A/C, an ensuite washroom with shower, a fridge, clean sheets, good mattresses, a rooftop swimming pool, and even cold beer! On reflection, that description might be misleading to some: if, for example, you’d booked 2 weeks off of work to travel across an ocean and live in high style in Aswan, you would likely have considered the hotel a little shabby, maybe rough around the edges, or just straight up disappointing. But after a week spent camping in the desert in 47¬∫C heat, believe me when I say that it was a palace in our eyes. Welcome to Egypt indeed!

Feeling recovered and somewhat less cooked, we departed Aswan not on the big yellow truck, but on a felucca. For anyone who has never heard of a felucca before, it’s a sailboat, and there are hundreds of them on the Nile in Egypt. We had two boats for our group, each one big enough to hold about 12 people plus a crew of 3. What was in store for us was two days and nights of sailing on the Nile. It was something we’d been looking forward to for some time, but it well exceeded our expectations.

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Photographing the Sudan

Our Sudanese photography permit

Here’s a photo of the wording on the photography permits we had to obtain in the Sudan. They don’t mind if you take pictures of the sand, but pretty much everything else is off limits. Oh, and you’d better only photograph sand that makes the country look good. Or else.

Eloquent
exaggeration

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2009 states this about the Nile confulence in Khartoum:

Arabian poets call it the ‘longest kiss in history’ — which, admittedly, sounds much nicer than ‘confluence’ and does more to convey the import of this river collision. The pale-silt-carrying White Nile, rushing up from Uganda, and the soily Blue Nile, on its way west from Ethiopia, get it on in Khartoum — meeting, flirting for a stretch (their coloured waters flowing together but still visibly separate) before entwining for a monotone future together, watering farmers and pharaohs all the way through Egypt. Take a ferry to rural Tuti Island, in the middle of the city, and look back on the liquid love story.

Our impression was a little different. Haha.

Tourists

Show off

It feels a bit strange to be back in a land of mass tourism. It’s nice to have modern conveniences once again, especially fast internet, but we’re also subject to rip off tourist prices and swarms of inappropriate tourists. We’re still in an Islamic nation where women and men are encouraged to cover their shoulders and knees. However, 95% of the tourists either choose to ignore this or are completely clueless. Check out this dude strolling through Edfu Temple.

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