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The way South

August 14th, 2009

With our departure date only weeks away, we thought it was high time we sorted out our route through North Africa.


As some of you will know, travelling abroad by car requires a hideous amount of paperwork. Central to this paperwork is the Carnet, or car passport if you will. This needs to be submitted to the RAC at least a month before setting off and all associated insurance and deposits paid. The cost of the Carnet is based on the number of countries you plan to travel through.


We had planned to travel directly from Libya into Sudan, crossing the sand seas and passing through the stunning desert oasis near Ghadamis, which scythe thought the western-central desert like liquid scars on otherwise never-ending sea of sand dunes…. (cut and paste into web browser)



Stunning no? This would allow us to skip round Egypt, which is unique in its Carnet fee charges and would therefore save us a bundle of cash.


Let me explain. Part of the Carnet charge involves a deposit, which relates to the estimated value of the vehicle you are driving. Most countries require that you hold between 100-150% of the value of the vehicle in an account back home, deposited with the RAC, to be collected in the event that you dump, sell or leave the car abroad.

However, Egypt demands that you hold 800% of the vehicle value. So, math fans, dependant on our cars value being £2000, we would have to leave a deposit of £16,000 in the bank back home.


To put this in perspective, the next highest country on our list is Kenya, which requires a comparatively paltry 150% deposit. Obviously, there are insurance companies who will put up the money in exchange for a large semi-refundable premium, but it still adds up to a lot.


As you can see, we were really keen to avoid Egypt. The only problem is the border between Libya and Sudan has been closed to foreign nationals for some time, one reason being that this route takes you directly into northern Darfur.


So, this week we journeyed into London to visit the Sudanese and Libyan embassies. After a long wait and a short discussion, it became clear that even if we applied to cross the border on charity grounds it would take 3 months for an answer, and even then we would most likely be arrested as soon as we entered Darfur (the safe part).


Having had our first taste of African bureaucracy, we relented and resorted to travel through Egypt. Not all bad, as we will get to see some vast, sand covered Toblerone-esque tourist spots and follow the Nile down to Wadi Haifa.

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