One recurring feature which seems to dominate a journey of this nature is the uncertainty of where exactly each day will end. When not required to camp out, we frequently find ourselves settling for the night in some quite hideous establishments, which could claim only a very loose association with the hospitality industry. Occasionally however, we stumble upon an affordable and surprisingly excellent hotel in the centre of Luxor, boasting rooftop views of the captivating River Nile. This good fortune was particularly well timed, given that our patience with Egypt was starting to wear a little thin.
After negotiating what is arguably the most unpleasant stretch of tarmac on which a bicycle could possibly be ridden (the Cairo ring road), we made a return to some hot and dry kilometres through the Eastern Desert along the Red Sea Coast; a stretch of coastline which is clearly of particular importance to the Egyptian authorities. An abrupt 6am wake-up call from our chosen camp spot, courtesy of the Egyptian Army, prompted an escort to the nearest barracks and set the tone for the week. The various military checkpoints during the days that followed hardly eased our anxiety, and didn’t exactly provide the warm welcome we’d hoped for. What’s more, the enduring and exhausting battles with the schemers and scammers at almost every junction of our daily routine made a swift exit south seem like the best outcome for all parties.
On a more positive note, a particularly boisterous tailwind helped deliver us to Luxor, which has provided not only a top-notch vista and an interesting saunter around the Valley of the Kings, but also a much needed haven to escape the chaos before the next onset.