How are we getting to Egypt?!
It’s been over a month since my first proper update about our Cork to Cape town adventure. Since then we have been to a crazy amount of countries and have had a lot of memorable adventures. We spent about 10 days in Slovenia and 10 days in Croatia then travelled on through Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and finally Greece where we are now. I promise to write a proper update about all those places soon but for now I want to fill you in on our current predicament.
It turns out getting to Egypt without flying is seriously difficult. Not just like a ‘small pain in the head” difficult, but more down towards the impossible end on the ‘scale of difficulty’. So many people we have met have asked how we plan to get to Egypt so I thought I would use this post to update you on all our options and ideas (or lack there of).
Why didn’t you go via Spain and Morocco?
The answer to this one is simple. While going down through Spain and across to Morocco is indeed the most direct and easiest way to get to Africa from Europe, it still leaves one very big problem in our way; Libya. Not only is is extremely difficult to get a visa and not the safest place in the world to travel in. but Libyan Authorities demand you have $1,000 in cash upon entering. This is not something we would ever like to do so from the very beginning this route was ruled out.
Why can’t you go overland?
What route exactly are you thinking when you ask this question?! I’m so sick of hearing this question from traveler we meet on the road as it seems everyone that asks it is not too familiar with geography in the Middle East. While going through countries like Israel, Jordan and even the Lebanon would not be too much trouble, there is the *slight* issue of either Iraq or Syria lying in our way. As both are obvious no-go zones, travelling overland to Egypt is out.
Why don’t you just fly?
The entire premise of this 9 month overland adventure from Cork to Cape Town is to NOT FLY. No flights. No airports. No planes. Any other method of transport is fine, be it boats, trains, cars, bikes, ships or buses. Just no flights. If we do resort to flying, I want to be confident that I have tired all other options and this is the only solution. Right now I would rather swim from Crete to Alexandria than resort to taking a flight from Athens.
What are your current options?
All our current options involve getting on board a cargo ship. If I said I have spent hours and hours researching this, I would be lying. It has been more like days and days and days, hour after hour, night after night, emailing cargo ship companies, reading blog posts of people who have already taken similar journeys and tracking cargo ship vessels to see which ones might be going our direction.
Sadly our chosen route form Greece or Turkey to Egypt isn’t working out as you will see from the email replied below!
We are currently in Greece and ideally would like to go straight from here to Egypt. We were supposed to go to Inflow Travel Summit in Turkey but it just got cancelled so any plans of travel in Istanbul and around Turkey have now been cancelled. it’s also getting cold in Europe and neither of us packed any winter clothes so we are very keen to get to warmer climates as soon as possible.
We found a ship that can take us to Cyprus from Athens, but as there are no onwards ships from Cyprus to Egypt, this is not much good.
We also found a cargo ship that accepts passengers between Athens and Haifa in Israel. This is a definite option but we can only commit to this 3 day voyage if we are 100% convinced that our passports will not be stamped upon arrival in Israel. Why? Countries like Sudan (a big part of our itinerary) won’t let you in if you have a passport stamp from Israel. MASSIVE PROBLEM. Even if we don’t get a stamp, we are also concerned that our entry stamp into Egypt will very obviously be at the border with Israel. This could also prove to be a problem, but right now is looks to be OUR ONLY OPTION.
Our other option is to get a cargo ship from Izmir in Turkey to Alexandria in Egypt. This is our number one preference, however we are having trouble getting through to the shipping company. We’ve done our research and know they accept passengers and know the exact dates the ship will leave Izmir. We are still awaiting a response from them to know if we can get a ride on board the ship going this route. If we can do this route, our plan would be to get a boat from Crete to Rhodes then get a ferry from there to Turkey. <—–This route no longer accepts passengers.
Finally: The way these cargo ships work is slightly complicated. While some do accept passengers, they only do so the they have free/empty passenger cabins. First preference is given to truck drivers, so we have been told that we will only know if we can have a cabin or not the day the ship is supposed to depart. Considering these ships only depart once a week, this means we could be waiting in some very crappy port city for way longer than we would like. Like I said, travelling overland is DIFFICULT!
If ALL this fails, we are looking into persuading a lovely Greek Sailor in Crete to take two novice sailors on board and to sail to either Turkey to Egypt with us. We’re not fussy.
Do you have any suggestions? Any words of wisdom or maybe shipping contacts? Leave a comment!
Just catching up on our adventures? Read these posts!