Updated February 2017
With the current state of Syria and Libya, get between Egypt and Europe by either shipping/air freighting, or by ferry between Greece and Israel via Sinai.
The crossing to Sudan now goes via Abu Simbel, short ferry to Qustul, then a land border. See below. etailed descriptions here and here.
Price of fuel ’90’ octane about 1.3 LE (actually very low-grade fuel, avoid it) 92 octane 1.75 LE Diesel (‘Solar’) 1.1 LE
Costs Inexpensive, until you have to face vehicle immigration fees and the carnet.
Useful languages Arabic, English.
Visas Despite what was announced in 2015 and then quickly withdrawn, for the moment visas are still issued at the border until the electronic visa system gets put in place.
Border formalities With a vehicle border formalities are among the most protracted in Africa, if not the world; it can take many hours, sometimes days if shipping in. Buy insurance and ‘rent’ number plates at the border – sounds simple but it won’t be quick. A carnet is still needed, though some claim a fee of $400 will work.
Last tourist crossing was early 2014 (See this Libya-Egypt crossing from October 2013) Libya is too far gone now.
Ferry service from Turkey; long HUBB discussion. Go to the latest post which in October 2013 suggests there is no ferry at all: you ship your vehicle to Alexandria and fly across.
Egypt to Sudan
A new land border now operates on the east side of the Nile (right), 33km from Wadi Halfa, but this still requires a one-hour crossing of Lake Nasser between Abu Simbel and Qustul (left) and overall seems it’s no quicker, no cheaper nor even open to regular tourists without escorts between Aswan and Abu Simbel. Go to the last page of this thread for the latest. Detailed descriptions here and here.
Northbound it seems you can take a ferry direct to Abu Simbel or try the Qustul land border and shorter ferry crossing.
There’s also talk of another all-land (no ferry) border crossing at Argeen, west of the Nile. Roads exist on both sides of the border and big groups have used it on occasion, but you pay a huge fee to the Egyptian army.
You can get a Sudan visa in Aswan in two days for $50, though possibly not if you’re American or a Brit. Less risk to get them in Cairo.
8 El Sherbiny St,
N 30° 02.4’ E31° 12.7′
2 photos, $100
Sudan visa in Aswan
El Sadat Rd. – El Khazzah Rd. (close to Al Rudwan Mosque), Aswan
N 24.055176, E 32.883164
– two passport photos
– a photocopy of your passport
– the filled in visa application form (you will get it at the consulate); in the form they ask for other valid visa you have, so I figured out that it might help to have the visa for Ethiopia before applying for the Sudan visa (they are easy to get in Cairo). We also had an invitation letter to Sudan, which is not mandatory, but also may help speeding up the process.
Usually the Sudanese visa take about three working days (in our case it was just two), for Americans they can take up to two weeks as the details have to be sent to Khartoum and processed there. The price for the Sudan visa in Aswan is US$50 each (instead of about $10 in Cairo). Usually, you get one month, our visa are valid for two months (due to what we do not know).
Overland via Israel Terrorist activity in the Sinai may have closed access to Israel near Gaza but it’s reported that on the Red Sea (Gulf of Aqaba) the Egyptian border at Taba (near Eilat; Ir and Aqaba; Jd) is open. If not there’s always the option of the ferry from Nuweiba to Aqaba and from there into Israel for a ship from Haifa to southern Europe. South Sinai is certainly open and safe enough at the time of this update.
Desert pistes The monumental aggravation of getting into the country as well as Egypt’s spectacular ancient monuments overshadow the desert and the Egyptian Sahara (‘Western Desert’) is not as easily explored as the other Saharan countries, especially with the restrictions following kidnappings in recent years.
Look at the Michelin map and you’ll find the country almost bare of desert tracks – for a hardcore Saharan this used to be part of the appeal. The rock art of Jebel Uweinat and Gilf Kebir plateau and the Great Sand Sea with its Silica Glass Field all add up to a fascinating tour of this rarely explored corner of the Sahara. Sahara Overland II gave a good overview and see the S-Files for other trip reports from around 2003–4.
Fuel and water reserves must be massive and various permits are required to get off the tarmac. These can take months to acquire and must be done via an accredited travel agent. Then you must hire and provision for a soldier or even a patrol. So, the best way to see this area is with locally hired vehicles and drivers, were it even possible. There are a few agencies that specialise in the Gilf but at this update the region is closed to tourism, certainly beyond the White Desert south of Bahariya.