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					                                                                          Camping: the longest time spent camping between the Oases was two
                                                                          nights. The ground was either loose sand or hard rock, neither suitable
                                                                          for using tent pegs, and a self-supporting tent is probably the best
                                                                          option. It got cold at night but not below freezing. Camping in the
                                                                          desert was tranquil and unlike the oases there was no problem with
                                                                          insects or other animals.
                                                                          Supplies: between the oasis there are few reliable options for obtaining
                                                                          water and food. It would be sensible to carry enough food at least for
                                                                          the whole of each section. There are ambulance stations and military
                     Touring Department                                   checkpoints which can be approached in an emergency and for water.
                                                                          They may invite you stay for tea, a meal or even to sleep the night on


                       Egypt                                              the floor. Accepting this hospitality is not the same as relying on it. I
                                                                          started each section with 8 litres of liquid, which was more than
                                                                          enough taking into account the time of year.
                                                                          Cycling on the road: the road surface is good, although occasionally
                                                                          covered in sand for short stretches. Traffic is light but even in the
                                                                          quieter southern sections there was rarely more than an hour between
                                                                          vehicles. Some stopped to ask if water or food was needed. Most of
                                                                          the drivers hooted, flashed their lights or waved, expecting some form
                                                                          of acknowledgement. There are military checkpoints along the route
This information sheet contains details of tour tours, one in 1989 and    where each vehicle is stopped and foreigners may have to produce a
called ‘Easy Egypt’. The second was undertaken in 2005 and                passport. Dogs were not a problem.
describes a route from Luxor to Cairo via the Western Desert Oases.
                                                                          Hurghada > Luxor: independent travel was not permitted and the bike
                                                                          had to be put on a bus. A charge was made for the bike and a ticket
Egypt: Luxor to Cairo via the Western Desert                              provided. Baksheesh for the conductor was also expected.
Oases                                                                     Luxor > Kharga: N25 25', E30 33': Police information was that
Route Luxor, Kharga, Dakhla, Ferafra, Bahriyya, Cairo.                    Independent travel is not permitted, although it is allowed from Kharga
                                                                          to Luxor, and that anyone attempting the route would be turned round
General Description: when reading the following please take into          at the first checkpoint. Two Dutch cyclists claimed to have done the
account that I have completed the route only once in January 2005.        route in December 2004 and passed through each checkpoint without
The prevailing wind is NW, strongest in the afternoon dying down after    incident, meeting only the usual Egyptian courtesy.
dark, so it pays to make an early start in the day. Expect to be
pedalling into the wind for most of the route. For this reason the ride   There is a new road between Luxor and Kharga with a good surface,
from Cairo to Luxor would be an easier option. There are hotels/guest     which is not shown on some maps. I chose to take the bus from Luxor
houses in each of the Oases, for which there is plenty of information     to Kharga, which runs 4 times a week: Sat/Tues 07:00, Sun/Wed 13:00
available in the various guidebooks.

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as of Jan 2005. A charge was made for the bike although no ticket was         2. ‘Easy Egypt’
supplied.
The individual sections between oases:
                                                                              A leisurely holiday for the only slightly adventurous cyclist, by
Kharga > Dakhla(Mut) (N25 30', E28 59'): 120 miles;11hours cycling            Sheila and Noel Simpson
time; 2 days. Stayed at the ElNaghoumhot Hotel in Mut and would
highly recommend it.                                                          For our first tour outside of Europe we chose a package deal to Egypt
                                                                              for the first two weeks in February, 1989.
Dakhla > Farafra (N27 04', E27 59'): 173 miles; 3 days. 18 hours
cycling time; Day one had a very strong wind which slowed progress
                                                                              It isn't easy to find a cheap deal for cyclists as most tours include
to 6-7mph. The sand in the air was painful and got everywhere.
                                                                              expensive coach trips. We travelled with Hayes & Jarvis on a Dan Air,
Presumably this type of weather could happen on any day.
                                                                              Friday evening flight direct to Luxor (the centre for Upper Egypt
Ferafra > Bahriyya (N28 21', E28 52'): 115 miles, .2 days; 12.5 hours         sightseeing) with a 15 kg baggage allowance and B & B in a medium-
cycling time. A number of tourist-carrying 4WD's from Cairo. Two rest         range hotel (budget by European standards) for £299 each.
houses on the route sell tea & water biscuits.
                                                                              For this we also had the services of the H & J representative for on-
Bahrayya > Cairo: 220 miles (360km), ambulance station at 80 miles,
                                                                              the-spot advice. However, the same deal is available from Enterprise,
others at approximately 50km intervals from there to Cairo. There is a
                                                                              flying with Monarch Airlines on a Tuesday with a 20 kg allowance and
rest house/cafe at N2920', E29 40' - approximately the halfway point,
                                                                              we shall use this next time. (Bear in mind that Worldwide insurance
selling the usual tea & water biscuits, no cooked food. Approximately
15km afterwards the road turns eastward and there was a tailwind from         cover is more expensive than European).
there to Giza and the foot of the pyramids. From Giza to downtown
Cairo is city all the way and typically takes an hour depending on the        Living in Egypt is very cheap with full restaurant meals available for
traffic.                                                                      under a pound sterling, and sandwiches in the street costing a few
                                                                              pence. You have to be prepared to bargain (with a smile) when buying
Despite the warnings, cycling in Cairo isn't a route to certain death if it   anything however - a good policy is to go to the local tourist office to
is taken with caution and you are prepared to get off and use the             ask official rates and ask any Europeans who look as if they've been
pavement when appropriate. That said, it isn't something to do more           there more than a few days before you try to buy anything.
than you have to. There is a tendency for vehicles to turn right, off the
main road, ignoring the fact that a cycle is in the way.                      The Guide Book "Egypt and the Sudan: A Travel Survival Kit” by Scott
It may be preferable to book into a hotel in Giza for the night and set       Wayne, published by Lonely Planet, covers everything (except cycling)
off for Cairo in the early morning. In most Middle Eastern cities Friday      and we would have been lost without it.
is the quietest day on the roads.
                                                                              A study of "Get by in Arabic" the BBC six week language course
Cairo back to Luxor: there are regular buses and trains, including a          comprising booklet and two tapes greatly added to my enjoyment and
sleeper, running between the two cities.                                      confidence when in country districts - though English is widely spoken.
John P Bushby,
                                                                              No map seemed particularly good - the sketch maps in the above
jbushby@bigfoot.com                                                           guide book are as good as any.

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                                                                            Cycling is the best way to get around Luxor and the sites on its
The list of injections needed before you travel is impressive – be          opposite, west, bank and it's possible to spend a week here just
prepared to start them well in advance of your journey as some don't        looking around.
mix. We had everything advised by Scott Wayne including gamma               There appear to be no traffic laws but vehicles (mainly horse carriages
gobulin for hepatitis (as we would be buying food outside the major         and donkey carts in town) give a wide berth when overtaking - it's the
international hotels) and a course of malaria tablets (as we planned to     ones overtaking oncoming traffic you have to watch out for. All motor
visit Aswan near the Sudan border). We did wonder beforehand - but          vehicles honk incessantly so you aren't likely to be taken by surprise
they were all worth it.                                                     by them. A bicycle bell would have been useful as if you don't honk,
                                                                            ring or hiss at pedestrians they don't look for you.
The Egyptians are a very friendly people and I judged we were safer in
Egypt than most parts of Britain - and everyone I spoke to agreed. Be       We cycled north to the temple at Dendara. There are some cheap
prepared for hassle though and a lack of privacy. Luxor is a tourist        hotels at nearby Qena if you don’t fancy that length of journey.
village, the inhabitants want to sell you things and they are very good-    Then we cycled south down to Aswan, a 220km two day trip staying
humoured and persuasive about it - you need to be very good-                overnight at the Almedina Hotel in Edfu (there is a Nile bridge here
humoured and firm!                                                          despite what most maps say) with a tail wind. (For the first time our 66
                                                                            and 72 single gears were regretted).
The staff of the Windsor Hotel in Luxor were marvellous. We kept our
bikes under the stairs - though stealing is not a great problem in Egypt
- and came and went as we pleased (in Crete we lost our hotel room          The first day I wore longs, it being an Islamic country – but caused so
when we went off touring!). The hotel was a bit noisy with tour groups      much of a stir in country districts that I judged skin shorts couldn't be
coming and going and it would have cost little to transfer to a quieter     any worse, and they weren't. Shouting hello and waving a thousand
one - but the Windsor has beer and wine and Egypt is an Islamic             times a day and being prepared to aim your bike at (or rap on the
country!                                                                    knuckles with your pump) any child who gets silly (only a few but they
                                                                            could be dangerous) all done with a smile, of course, seems to work.
Most on our flight went to one of the top international hotels and took     The biggest problem was finding a quiet spot for a wee. We had no
the standard coach tours and we discovered at the end of our stay that      fears of breaking down - there was always some old taxi van around
this type of holiday had given them no appreciation whatsoever of the       which would have been pleased to pick us up or send help for a few
country or its people. In fact our fellow travellers on the return flight   pence. The west bank road is pretty quiet but the east bank is busy in
didn't seem to have enjoyed themselves at all, whereas the                  places. We weren't sure if the west road south of Edfu existed and as
independent travellers we met in budget hotels and cheap cafes were         the majority of maps voted against it, then so did we.
all having the time of their lives.
There doesn't seem to be any age limit - we met a French family with        Aswan is a more relaxing place than Luxor with the locals mainly
their young daughter astride the carrier of her mother's hired bike on      concerned with selling to each other in the exciting and exotic bazaar.
the way to the Valley of the Kings and a sixty-odd year old German          The remains on the west bank here are a walking job - or a camel. A
lady who had been travelling solo for the last ten                          spectacular half day ride is over the old (English) Aswan dam and back
years - plus a lot in between.                                              over the new (High) dam. Most people take the bus to Abu Simbel but
                                                                            we saved it for another year.


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We returned by train to Luxor and discovered it's best to register your
bike in advance as the registration office was closed when we wanted
to travel. On the advice of a newly-made friend from Alexandria we put
our bikes behind some seats in our (quite spacious) carriage. The
ticket inspector fined us one Egyptian pound (under 25p) and let us
register on the train (four Egyptian pounds). The price for the 220km
journey was under one pound sterling each for second class travel.
The disadvantage was that the windows were too dirty to see out. We
could have travelled by bus, also carrying the bikes, for the equivalent
of 75p and we were assured the view was better. We'll do that next
year coming back from the Red Sea - something else we've saved for
our return!

We don't recommend Southern Egypt any later in the year for anyone
except salamanders.

SH/JMH/26.7.89




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