June 25, 2024

A slow day towards the Western Desert

We left Aswan at about 8am looking forward to tackling the last part of the journey to Alexandria through the Western Desert in Egypt. Not many tourists dwindle off the main tourist route that stretches down next to the Nile from Cairo to Aswan, which is exactly the reason why we wanted to avoid it. This however meant that we had to put the Motomias (and ourselves) through a final challenge as we had about 1 800 km to cover in only four days.

Here is a map of the route through the Western Desert:

Desert map
We started off in high spirits, very glad to be back on the road. We decided to travel all along the West bank of the Nile towards Luxor where we will turn West onto the Western Desert road and we were aiming to reach the first oasis. We progressed slowly as the road winded up the West bank and in some parts the road was untarred, which slowed us down even more. By 12h00 I started to get frustrated as we have only covered about 100km. At one stage we decided to take one of the roads to the West with signing “Western Desert” on in the hope that it would take us into the desert, but this only led to us wasting another hour as we got lost in a tiny village and had to be escorted back to the main road by a friendly local in a pickup truck.

To try and speed up the journey we moved back across the Nile to the East Bank until we reached Esna. It went okay, but the road was quite busy and it was impossible to go over 60km/ph. In Esna we were looking for fuel, but all the petrol stations were closed. The locals directed us to a stall with petrol cans to buy off the black market, but after about 10 minutes negotiating about the price we still couldn’t reach an agreement (language difficulties being the biggest problem) so we decided to head on towards Luxor.

In the end we had to add another 40km detour past the Western Desert turnoff to get fuel in Luxor, but it was all worthwhile. Finally we entered the road less travelled and the desert opened up before us. For most part of the road there was absolutely nothing, extremely desolate. About 100km down this road towards Baghdad when the sun started to set we pulled off the road to set up camp behind a small hill.

Camp for the night

It was one of the coldest nights to date and we were freezing in the tent. Even daytime temperatures here in the desert are very cold and we had to put on layers of jerseys underneath our bike jackets. Before we went to bed, we examined our progress – we did only 300km today – eish! We relooked all other alternatives and routes but none really looked good.

Here Francois is working out the route on the GPS…

Recalculating the route
We decided to sleep on it and set off early tomorrow to reach Al Kharga Oasis from where the route splits into two – left going further into the desert and right taking us back to the Nile… a tough choice to make!

The final challenge for our Motomias, still looking good!

Final challenge for the Motomia

3 thoughts on “A slow day towards the Western Desert

  1. Dit lyk eensaam en afgelee, amper scary om te dink mens ry alleen deur ‘n woestyn. Julle het baue deursettingsvermoe. Luv. V1x

  2. Sjoe ja julle was braaf, maar alles eindig goed nê! Jul het jul laaste vernuf ingespan. Voorspoed! Groete uit ‘n baie warm Kaap. Ons kry warm en julle kry koud.

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