First of all, let me explain exactly what Overlanding is;
Overlanding is a form of self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the emphasis is on the journey itself. The travels are often for extended lengths of time and can span many countries or even whole continents.
Overlanding can regularly be confused with off-roading. But they are two completely different things.
Off-roading normally takes place on a dedicated site, full of steep hills and deep bogs. The idea is to get from point A to point B whilst testing out every bit of your vehicles capability. Getting stuck is all part of the fun and a bit of damage is often softened with a beer down the pub at the end of the day.
Overlanding on the other hand will take you over every sort of terrain you can imagine, from perfectly smooth motorway to rough unpaved roads or even no roads at all. However tackling a steep hill which resembles a wall is not the primary objective when overlanding, you are traveling with what is essentially your home and you have to take care of it.
After a stressful few days in the port, completing paperwork, gaining permits and attaching our Egyptian licence plates, we were finally on the road and ready to begin our adventure. The sun was setting as we left the port and it was already time to break overlanding rule number 1: never drive at night.
Places to camp around Alexandria are not easy to come across, so we were forced to head 250km to Al Sorat Farm just south of Cairo.
Driving on European roads couldn’t have prepared us for the journey ahead.
At a total length of 7.4m there is a lot to keep an eye on and in Egypt the road rules are rather different to what we are used to in Europe. For instance, A 3 lane motorway has 7 lanes of traffic. Think of the gap between cars parked in Sainsbury’s carpark, then add 100kph. It’s not for the faint hearted.
We arrived at our camp, a little shaken but in one piece. Here we would spend a few days giving everything a reshuffle, setting up some sort of routine and visiting a few of the tourist attractions.
The battleship as we call the trailer began life as a Sankey MKIII Wide Track. From a paper drawing to completed project took a little over 7 months. It now contains: A Kitchen, Water tank, Diesel tank, 12V Power, 240V power, plenty of storage and our roof top tent.
From Cairo we headed to the East coast and down to Hurgada where we spent a night and took the opportunity for some snorkelling in the Red Sea. The roads were fast, in good condition and very quiet. It was a nice break from what we had experienced on our way from Alexandria.
Back inland to our next stop; Luxor, where we made a visit to the valley of the kings to learn about the ancient Egyptian history. It’s really incredible how the structures are so well preserved even after 4000 years.
We spent the next day’s heading south to Abu Simble, where we would cross the Nile and proceed to the Sudanese Border. We were late arriving at the boat, but the boat was also late arriving to the port, so luckily we got on. It was a tight fit but they managed to squeeze us in.
This was our first border crossing and I’m glad to say everything went smoothly. We used fixers to exit Egypt and also enter Sudan. Fixers work at the borders and are there to help you with all the necessary paperwork.
Our first night in Sudan was spent in a dusty carpark in Wadi Halfa. We can’t always be picky about where we stay especially if we want to abide by our number 1 rule and no more driving at night.
Up to now we haven’t done any wild camping. We were advised against it in Egypt by many different sources as well as the locals and the police. However, here in Sudan, now that the situation has reached a level of calm, it is safe to do so.
We took the opportunity to head off the beaten track and find some beautiful wild camp spots in the desert surrounded by small rocky mountains and sand dunes.
The northern half of Sudan is nearly all desert so we cracked on making our way south to the capital Khartoum, where we needed to get our visas for Ethiopia. The diesel in Sudan costs approximately £3 for a full 60L tank. It’s even cheaper if you buy it on the black market but it’s often dirty so best avoided.
As we headed south from Khartoum to the Ethiopian border, the roads progressively got worse. It was a long drive so we stayed half way at Al Qadarif, again in a dusty carpark on the outside town. From here to the Ethiopian border was 130km. It took 5 hours, at an average speed of 26kph. The road was awful, potholes were over a meter deep and big enough to fit the Defender and trailer completely inside.
We finally made it to the border where I am desperately trying to find some wifi to publish this article before our next internet blackout.