Border Crossing : Egypt - Sudan (6 July 2009)

Aswan, Egypt crossing to Wadi Halfa, Sudan

Paper work

V5 - car logbook


Release form from Traffic Police


Visas - We had applied for visas in Cairo

Exit Costs from Egypt

EP4 for 2 customs stamps

Entry Costs to Sudan

US$100 - US$40 per person for registration and entry (plus US$10 for fixer per passport)

US$45 - Vehicle registration & customs with fixer payment included (unable to ascertain border costs)

Time to cross

Aswan - 45 minutes process, 7 hours waiting

Wadi Halfa - 1 hour process, 7 hours waiting


We woke up early to finish packing Sully in the coolest part of the day at 6am.  We topped up our water , our fuel had already been done the previous week but not having gone very far at all in her decided that the tanks could be considered full then finally checked tyre pressures and all the nuts and bolts.  All secure.  Nervous tension was building a little as it always does on border crossing days but we promised each other as we always do on these days, to try and keep calm and not to argue (at least with each other) if at all possible.

Amy and Paul had already left to get to the port have and by 9am we thought that we would make tracks.  Mark and Jason were coming seperately from their hotel.  We initially went the wrong way towards the dam wall which would have taken us over the Higher Dam wall but at a cost of EP20 each and the delay of Sully being put through a scanner, so we decided to turn back and to follow the route that Mr Salah had given us pass the traffic police office and down the left of the dam.  As a result we arrived a little later than planned (only 15 minutes) but in any event had to sit for another 30 minutes or so before Mr Salah arriveda_DSCN0296 .  He sits in a little office with a wooden door and sliding wooden window in front of the station.  A diplomatic cancellation had resulted in the freeing up of two 1st class cabins which he offered to ourselves and Amy and Paul - Mark and Jason had pre-booked theirs.  We grabbed at them relieved that we would have somewhere cool to rest (it is airconditioned) and a bed (as opposed to sleeping out on the deck).  We didn't know it at that time but on boarding the ferry a bit later we were immeasurably gratefully that we had them.  If you can splash out the extra EP168 each for the cabin, don't hesitate, do it.  Our passenger tickets were issued which includes a voucher for 1 meal on board and then the waiting began in ernest.

It was eventually noon before we were given clearance to drive Sully into port authority to begin the customs process.  First step: just past the entrance gates on the left is passenger security.  We handed our passenger tickets through the fence and they were stamped to allow us to proceed.  A customs officer (rank: arsehole) came by and asked us to open our doors and proceeded to demand that we empty everything (including all the boxes and fixtures like fridges) to carry them to the scanner about 50metres away so that they could be scanned.  As he couldn't speak English he had called a bloke over (more about him later) to translate. On hearing that the officer wanted everything out, I proceeded to work myself up in a rage and refused point blank to do it.  I heard the tranlater whisper "Wait," to me so backed off from my demands to call Mr Salah immediately to help out.  The major walked away and the translator said to just take 5 or 6 bags through the scanner to appease the other customs officers present who had heard the commotion but not the content.  This is Africa, we did it and then came back to Sully but which time Mr Salah was there.  A new customs officer had arrived.  He walked around Sully and tapped the gas bottles attached to the back.  He asked what they were and we told him, "Gas for cooking."  He started to say that we had to hand them in (no gas allowed on the ferry) so as smoothly as anything Trevor told him they were empty.  Now you may remember that in Jordan we had them filled and they were literally bursting at the seams but nothing was going to stop us getting on the ferry, so we lied.  The mindless and needless bureaucracy that we we have seen on our travels means that we are far more likely to not tell the whole truth to officials any more - what they don't know doesn't hurt them.  On the other hand, we are sensible and intelligent enough to know when we must tell the truth (although in this case, it's debatable!). 

Anyway, Step 2: it was time to buy a ticket for Sully.  The Nile Navigation office is on the opposite side of the road to the baggage scanner and in the upstairs office of a building next to the fire engine.  Look for a green sign on the front of the building.  Once this ticket is purchased (EP2002) retain the top original as without this you won't be able to take the car off the ferry on the other side - or so we were told but that wasn't the case for us as we didn't need to show it at all.  I guess, just hang on to it just in case.....

Step 3: Then over to the Customs Building opposite.  Enter the double doors on your right and along with said ferry receipt, carnet, Traffic Police Release and owner's passport, walk behind the counter on the left into the Customs Office (an actual office with a desk and a person!).  Papers are stamped and a fee of EP25 paid.  If you ask for a receipt, you will get one for EP22.  I think the difference goes to AIDS Support in Egypt or the Orphaned Child's Fund.

With the carnet and owner's passport stamped out, it's back to the car for Customs to search the vehicle where Mr Salah was patiently waiting.  Following the earlier show-down, I was dreading this.  The officer (a different one) asked Trevor to open the back door; we waited with trepidation and saw his eyes widen at the number of boxes in the back along with all the other paraphernalia.  As he couldn't speak English, Mr Salah was translating for us.  He turned to me and said, "the officer says thank you for your co-operation," as he slammed the back door closed. We could only smile!

Step 4: We then took our passports back into the Customs building, filled in an exit card, paid the EP4 for the 2 stamps and then over to the desk where passports are stamped at the Immigration Desk.  We drove Sully down towards the ferry a_DSCN0298 a_P1030874 (Photo2: Amy Johns) and left her on there whilst we walked back up the hill to register ourselves as passengers (another process of 1.5hrs waiting in a queue with passports and ferry tickets).  Finally we went back to Sully, collected our luggage for the crossing and the wait in Wadi Halfa (which we were told, Insha'Allah, would be 1 day) and boarded the ferry at 2pm with the instructions that we would be called to put Sully on the barge once it had been loaded.  4 hours down, 3 to go,

Mark and Jason were called and loaded their bikes.  Here's Jason doing some of his stuff... the deck next to the hold is about 50cm wide and the drop into the hold 3.5m!!!!


Finally the bikes were on and secured. a_P1030885  a_P1030887 a_P1030918 (Photos: Amy Johns)

Then it was our turn, or rather should I say Trevor's because this required balls of steel!  The video was taken by Amy from the ferry - thanks, Amy, we'll have this to show our grandchildren :o)

You need to note that by our turn, the barge is nearly fully loaded and is 30-40cm below the level of the dock now.  We used the sand ladders to try and ease on but the support under the right hand one (a roll of canvas) wasn't good enough for the 3.5 ton load.  It meant that the right hand sand ladder got bent and resulted in a great bit in the video when Mark and one of the desk hands tries to straighten it.

The video is large so if you have a slow internet connection, you probably wouldn't want to try and view it.