Day 10: Dahab – Nuweiba: A Relaxing Last Day in Egypt
Monday May 30, 2011, 86 km (54 miles) – Total so far: 1,021 km (634 miles)
I had a great breakfast overlooking the sea in the morning sun. It was brilliant to sit here and relax in the sun with just the sound of the sea to break the silence. I was very reluctant to leave in the morning and wished I had an extra day to rest and relax here, it really was a great spot. My reluctance to leave this backpacker’s oasis meant it was 11am before I was able to pull away from Dahab’s charms and hit the road to Nuweiba.
The road to Nuweiba, similarly to yesterday, was one long climb of about 50km followed by a swift descent and some flat cycling by the coast. It was steeper in places which gave the legs a good test and meant I was using my lowest gear for the first time on this tour. At the base of one of these climbs a bedouin in a pick-up truck pulled up beside me. He offered to put the bike in the back and give me a lift to Nuweiba for no cost. He said I would give up after 10km climbing in this heat. I ensured him I would be ok and he gave me a bottle of water before wishing me the best of luck. I encountered some great gestures like this in my journey through the Sinai peninsula. Several bedouin had pulled up to make sure I was ok on some of the desert stretches and offered me a lift if I needed it. It was good to know that even though I was alone out here that help was never too far away and I appreciated the fact that some of the bedouin were looking out for me on these desolate stretches.
The rest of the climb was fairly uneventful. I sprinted past 2 government funded bedouin camps near the top of the climb to avoid any pesky children but otherwise there was very little on this stretch of road. Just after reaching the 1000km mark I arrived at the top of the climb. Soon enough I was flying down the opposite side down a great descent through a steep valley. The whole road was lined with signs like “Check your brakes now”, “Use Low Gear” and of course “Slow down”. After a brilliant descent speeding through the valley I turned off the road to visit Nuweiba Port (About 12km before Nuweiba itself.)
I don’t like to say this about any town but Nuweiba Port was a bit of a dive. There wasn’t too much around except run down hotels and cafes and people loitering around the rubbish strewn streets with nothing to do. I headed to the office of AB Maritime who run the reliably unreliable ferry service from Nuweiba Port to Aqaba in Jordan. I was hoping to take this ferry tomorrow which would mean that I wouldn’t have to cycle the 15km of Israeli territory. If I had visited Israel it would mean that in the future I could not visit Syria,Lebanon,Sudan or Iran due to the passport stamp. For this reason I decided I had to take the ferry instead. There are 2 AB Maritime ferries that make the crossing, a fast ferry which is supposed to take one hour and a slow ferry which is supposed to take 3 hours. Both ferries though are well known for having massive delays. The slow ferry can occassionally take over 10 hours to make the crossing and apparently has taken 3 days in the past! Obviously I was hoping to take the fast ferry instead.
Arriving at the window of AB Maritime I asked about the fast ferry. The employee there said the slow ferry would be leaving at 3pm tomorrow but his response for the fast ferry was “Maybe it will come tomorrow, maybe not”. Egyptian customer service at it’s finest! With this valuable information in hand I got back on the bike and cycled the 12km to Nuweiba itself hoping to spend the night near the beach there rather than in an expensive run down hotel in the port.
Once at the beachfront in Nuweiba I found the place completely deserted. I knew the Sinai peninsula had very low tourist numbers at the moment but this was eerily quiet. Many of the camps/restaurants by the beach seemed to be shut down and nearly all were empty. In my entire walk along the beachfront I passed one group of 3 Egyptian tourists (which I shared a quick cup of tea with) and one American tourist, that was it for the entire strip of beach! I ended up in the same camp as the American guy. My home for the night was a nice beach hut, for Â€4 including breakfast it was pretty good. After a good meal I spent the rest of the night chatting to the American guy who was training to be a pastor back home and the Sudanese guy working at the camp. It was a great evening just spent talking and relaxing on the cushions overlooking the beach.