Egypt Notes

I was in Egypt between the 4 of March 2018 and the 03 of April 2018. The information and prices were correct at the time of writing.

For daily distances and a brief description of each day follow this link

Visa
I got my visa at the Egyptian Embassy in London. They were extremely efficient. I paid 20 sterling pounds for a 60 day visa.

On arrival
I started my trip in London Heathrow and I flew Egypt Air because the bike was part of the luggage allowance. I had no issues with the size of the box.

Outsize luggage comes out of a side belt . There is a loud buzzer when the items are coming out so it’s possible to know when your bike is going to appear. My bike arrived OK but the boxed looked as is it had been opened and not very well treated. Luckily there was no damage to the box.

If you have someone picking you up please note they cannot come inside he arrivals hall so make sure you go outside the airport to meet them.

Money
There are ATMs on the arrival hall at the airport and there are ATMs in most towns. I had no problems drawing money out of them with both Visa and Mastercard cards.

Hold onto small change because people usually don’t have small notes.

When paying with a large note it is worth saying loud how much you are giving the shopkeeper, in that way he knows that you know how much you are giving. A couple of times I think I was shortchanged but because I couldn’t say 100% what I had given I didn’t feel I could push it.

Always check the change you are given. A few times, in monuments I was shortchanged but as soon as I pointed it out the correct amount was given without question.

Food and drink
The cheapest available food are falafels. Every village and town has plenty of falafel stalls. Prices for foreigners vary. I have paid between 2 and 4 EGP for half a flat bread with falafel, salad and aubergine. They are very nutritious, filling and very delicious.

Bread is widely available and Egyptians eat it in large amounts. Again the price varies, at an “official” bakery in Aswan where I was given a receipt I got 10 flat breads for 5 EGP. Earlier on the day in the same town I had paid 5 EGP for 5 flat breads.

A handy thing to take on the bike are small boxes of feta cheese which are widely available. And there are nut stalls in most markets, the roasted peanuts were very tasty.

Fruit and vegetable were cheap and plentiful when I was there.

A meal in a nice restaurant can knock you back 150 EGP

You can find bottled water everywhere but if like me you don’t want to leave a trail of plastic bottles behind and I use a filter you can fill up at the police checkpoints on the Red Sea coast and once you are in the Nile Valley there are metal water dispensers everywhere and sometimes big pottery jugs full of water. Egyptians are very particular about the water they drink, places with drinking water will always have a mug available.

Beer is available in some tourist places but is not cheap.

There are coffee houses in towns and villages, they seem to be the domain of men and I didn’t feel comfortable sitting there , other than in Cairo. The coffee they make is Turkish style.

On the road
Egyptian roads are excellent. Good tarmac and very often a hard shoulder. Something to be mindful of are the amount of small sharp wires on the road, the result of burned tyres. Not even my new Marathon Mondial tyres survived without a puncture. Watch out for bits of tyre and wires and try to avoid them.

They have speed bumps at the entrance of every village and as you are getting to a police checkpoint. I found them to be real killers.

I found drivers gave me a fair amount room and never felt unsafe on the road

Police escorts
Except on the first day, I had police escorts pretty much all the way to Abu Simbel. They picked me up at the exit of towns. A couple of times I tried to keep on cycling through the checkpoint pretending not to hear their calls but it didn’t work so in the end I resigned myself to their company and stopped when asked. Generally they were polite and friendly. Sometimes they rode 100 mt behind me, others they would stop and then catch up with me or go ahead and wait for me and yet other times I had the sound of their car engine right in my ear. In my experience, it is pointless arguing because they are getting the orders from above and they don’t have the authority to go away.

I found that the best way to deal with them was to be friendly and good humoured. They will try to get you into the car but I politely and firmly refused. Except once when they refused to allow me to camp in the Checkpoint and insisted on taking me to the next one, I found that they just backed away and resigned themselves to a very slow ride.

Police Checkpoints are good places to refill the water bottles and to get a rest as most of them have some shade. The are also a good place to sleep if you can’t make it to the next town with accommodation. A couple of times they were clearly not happy to have me camping at their checkpoint and I just, nicely, said I wasn’t going anywhere; in those instances a call to their superior yield results and I was given permission to stay. On one occasion I was made really welcomed and offered to share their dinner and breafast.

Personal Safety
Please note what follows is the personal experience of one individual and it does not intend to provide any authoritative account with regards to safety in the coutry or account to recommendation to travel there. We are all different, our attitude to risk and our perception of safety is different too.
Always check your government’s travel advice for Egypt before making your decision.

As a solo older female I never felt unsafe during my time in Egypt. I found people to be generally friendly and keen to ensure that as a foreigner I felt safe.

In tourist destinations they could be persistent in wanting ‘to help’ but a firm and polite refusal with a smile always worked for me and in the couple of occasions when children became too persistent or cheeky, an adult always shooed them away and apologised to me.

Accomodation
Below I have listed where I spent the night at each location and the cost. For the coordinates check here.

Cairo Meramees Hostel – Room in a dom 150 EGP including breakfast
El Sokhna Camped with friends in their Resort
Zafarana Camped in the Sahara Inn Motel terrace – at the police request
Ras Ghareb Amir Palace – 200 EGP without breakfast
Hurghada Masaya Guesthouse – 258 EGP without breakfast, falafel across the road
Zafaga Stayed with friends
Km 85 Camped Police Checkpoint
Qena Basma Hotel – 300 EGP with breakfast
Luxor Stayed with friends
Esna Camped by temple next to police
Idfu Hotel Diamond (Massa in Egyptian) – 200 EGP without breakfast, falafel opposite
Aswan Hathor Hotel – 150 EGP with breakfast
Km 150 Camped in Police Checkpoint
Toshka Camped in Police Checkpoint
Abu Simbel Camped in the grounds of Eskaleh Nubian Ecolodge – 10USD without breakfast