The Nile Trial 2009
26th January - 9th February 2009
The Nile Trial - Route Survey July 2008
It's July and the daytime temperature is over 40 degrees here in Luxor on the edge of the Nile. It will be much cooler when the Nile-Trial brings us here from Carthage next February making this event a perfect escape from the cold of a European winter.
As we drink a beer or two in a shaded corner of the Old Winter Palace hotel perhaps it's a good time to think back over the route that has brought us here.
Most recent in our minds is two days in the frenzy of Cairo. Our time there was spent meeting with the Automobile and Touring Club of Egypt. At an excellent dinner hosted for us by Ramzy Zaklama of the ATCE he was able to tell us of his and the club's enthusiasm for the event. It is obvious that everything is being done to make the rally welcome on its Egyptian leg.
As we criss-crossed the city from meeting to meeting we quickly learned the driving techniques required to survive but suspect that Nile-Trial competitors will not be sorry that our direct route into and away from our hotel close to the great Pyramids of Giza avoids the city centre. Fortunately rally departure day from Cairo will be on Friday, a non-work day in Egypt, when the roads are very much quieter than normal. After 30kms the city suddenly ends and once more we were on the open road to our lunch halt at a remarkable Monastery nestling in the rugged landscape.
Casting our minds further back it was over two weeks ago when we arrived in Tunis after the ferry crossing from Marseilles. Entering Tunisia much easier than we remember from previous events here with the formalities being quickly completed during the voyage.
Once in Tunisia the next three days were spent bringing together our plans for the Carthage start and on via Kairouan to the Libyan border locating the best roads to challenge the rally minded while offering an easier option for those who might want a gentler approach.
Then came our day to enter Libya. Kim spent a week in Libya earlier in the year but this was our first time arriving by car. With excellent local help we soon had a couple of paperwork anomalies sorted and were on the road with our new number plates attached to the first overnight in Sabratha.
Sabratha, like Leptis Magna, is one of many remarkable historic sites the event will visit, where there will be plenty of time to explore and marvel at what the ancient civilisations created in this part of North Africa.
Onward via Benghazi towards Tobruk and the region where so many famous battles were fought during World War II. Time to reflect in the remarkable dignity of the beautifully maintained Knightsbridge Cemetery near Tobruk.
On a practical note be warned that Libyan drivers are fast and unpredictable. It is not unusual to encounter oncoming traffic on a dual carriageway, and other similar antics, but the standard of alertness seems high and it's a comfort to know that in this alcohol free country the other driver will not be under the influence, and.... relish the fact that petrol is currently 35-40 pence a GALLON. Without fail the Libyan people we met were friendly and courteous without any inclination to hassle or bother us. Enjoy your Libyan motoring experience.
Finally we reached Egypt to be greeted by new friends bearing essential supplies…. a cool-box full of ice-cold beer.
Not too far to go on the first day in Egypt before reaching Marsa Matrouh and the opportunity of a rest and a cool beer in the comfortable seaside hotel or perhaps a visit to Rommel's bunker for those that wish to extend the WWII theme. Next day as we approached Alexandria and the well presented WWII museum of El-Alemein we conjure pictures of John Mills and Sylvia Syms in Ice Cold in Alex.
Our second Egyptian day ends where our notes began as we found ourselves in a Cairo traffic jam but with the windscreen view filled by the majestic sight of the Pyramids. We were just making a comparison to the M25 when a small gap opened infront and we were off again. There is nothing to compare with driving in Cairo.
There will be a rest day in Cairo with time to catch up on the laundry or to carry out a little car maintenance. Maybe a visit to the Pyramids or perhaps the Cairo Museum that is bursting with antiquities... the choice will be yours.
Next day it is back to business with a spectacular restart and photo opportunity beside the great Pyramids. This day will end beside the Red Sea before our route returns inland to Luxor, The Valley of the Kings and the romance of the Nile.
We still have another couple of days work to do before completing the route survey and returning to England but it looks as though the Nile-Trial will be a great adventure.