Crossing Sudan to Egypt, no ferry needed!





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  1. #1
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    Default Crossing Sudan to Egypt, no ferry needed!

    In May 2017, I read a short post on the HUBB about someone crossing up the west side of the Nile, along 500km of new, tar road with no facilities. It didn't really have too much other information except timings, so I saved it for later. "Later" ended up being 1 to 2 days before we wanted to cross: nothing like forward planning!
    It just shows how easy trans-continental trips are becoming: no long, uncertain ferry crossings to Aswan, no fixers needing pre-arranging, not even the short ferry hop to Abu Simbel is necessary, unless you want to.

    So here are the details for the ARGEEN BORDER CROSSING. The road there from Dongola isn't properly indicated on T4A, typing Argeen on Google brings up a settlement South of the crossing, as a vague indicator, but OSM shows it more or less correctly.

    As we weren't sure if it was a legal crossing for tourists we had enough fuel to go up and return if necessary.

    You can get there directly from Dongola or weave about to include some more sights as we did:

    From Dongola we drove up the east bank of the Nile to Kerma and looked at the Western Defuffa and the small but informative museum.



    We continued 74km north to Delgo and took a car ferry to the western bank. (Actually drove 86km, got fuel and turned back for 8km).
    There's also a fuel station in the village where the ferry docks, opposite Delgo, but can't say whether they always have fuel. It's also marked on OSM, but not T4A.

    There are 2 car ferries indicated in T4A and the actual crossing was between the two. I suspect the (dis)embarkation moves a little depending on the flow and height of the river, though I'm not sure. It's always the one with people hanging around and a pop-up restaurant-cafe, the locals can direct you.

    Didn't wait too long for the ferry (the crew were eating a late lunch) and we crossed the Nile from east to west in 5 minutes, cost 40 Sudanese pounds (less than US$2 at our black market exchange rate)


    From here we drove 1.5 hours north to Soleb. This isn't a road, it's just straight across the desert, rather stony and sometimes firm sand. There are lots of tracks, which you can follow a bit, but there isn't one that goes from the ferry to Soleb directly. The chequered, 'you have reached your destination' flag on our GPS ' gave our general course.
    We arrived just as the sun was starting to set. It's a very evocative, ruined temple and at that time of day just picture perfect.


    While wandering the site, we were greeted by Hamid, the owner of the guesthouse right behind us, who insisted we camp in his yard. The washing water was a bit brown for our taste, but the squat toilets beautifully clean. We ate dinner with them and tried to converse without a common language, which was actually very interesting, especially when he got his old passports, visas and photos out for where he had worked in the past, it seemed like on archaeological digs.



    From Soleb it's 2.5 hours to the border, perfect tar after the first 500m of track from the village to the tar. We arrived at 10.30am.
    To be told there was a power cut, which wouldn't be working until 2pm at the earliest! They have a generator, but no fuel for it. Uff. (I wondered whether to offer to siphon off some of our diesel for them?!)

    At 2.10pm we were indeed back in business (how do they know the power will come back then?!) and it took 2.5 hours to exit Sudan.
    We had to pay 100 Sudanese pounds for a fixer we didn't want, at a price we didn't want to pay, but there is actually no way round him. And then they even forgot to stamp the carnet! (And we only noticed on the Egyptian side).

    We changed our Sudanese pounds for Egyptian pounds and US dollars on the Sudanese side, for a good black market rate. There are no ATMS. On the Egyptian side there is a bank but it was closed, so can't say if you can change there (and you wouldn't really want the official rate for Sudanese pounds anyway)

    We thought at this point we would be sleeping on the border, if they operate like at Wadi Halfa, but we quickly discovered they are open 24 hours!

    The whole process took 4.5 hours. The Egyptians were incredibly friendly, surprisingly more so than the Sudanese officials, even though not many spoke any English. While everything was time-consuming, we didn't have the feeling we were being ripped off (maybe only on the fixer fees).

    Our fixer spoke pretty good English and took us wherever we needed to be in person and the rest of the time we sat in the cafe and waited for him to get everything done.
    No need to worry about pre-arranging a fixer for the Egyptian side, you're actually assigned one when you arrive! Unless you speak Arabic, you won't get through without one, just add in the cost to your budget.

    Costs at Argeen border as follows.
    They seem to be very slightly higher than the Wadi Halfa ones listed here in April 2017, but you save in not needing a ferry: https://www.rinushartsuijker.com/sin...South-to-North

    Sudan side, exit (Sudanese pounds)
    160 Processing fees (80pp)
    200 government fee
    200 customs fee
    100 fixer for carnet stamp
    = 660 SDP (ca. 31 USD at our black market rate of 21.4)

    Egyptian side, entry (Egyptian pounds)
    200 Entry fees (60pp and 80 for the car)
    60 Health Check - hold a thermometer next to your forehead (30pp)
    522 carnet stamp
    180 insurance
    130 car safety check
    110 plates and photocopies
    150 fixer fees
    = 1352 EGP (ca. 67,52 USD)

    As we've never done the Wadi Halfa crossing, we can't make a comparison of the 2 borders, but Argeen might be slightly less hassle than Wadi Halfa, on account of not needing to take a ferry.
    Without the power cut, everything would have been really smooth, if long.
    And we got to see the Soleb temple and meet Hamid, both a bonus in our opinions.

    The border post is of industrial size, it's not the backwater rope barrier and paper ledger we may have imagined. It looks like they might be gearing up to make this an important crossing in the future.
    For now it's only private cars (didn't actually see any) and Cairo-Khartoum buses going through. Trucks still use the ferry from Abu Simbel in order to drop off their products at the Wadi Halfa market.

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