Stage 5, Safaga to Desert Camp
We rolled out early into bright sunshine, a bit of a chill still but you could tell it was going to be a hot one, we were accompanied by Eerin and Gus, all was going well until Naomi had a flat tyre. We stopped so Naomi could fix it and Eerin and Gus carried on, fair play to Naomi, she fixed her puncture on her own and I only helped with a little extra air in the tyre.
Back on the road we set of up the 43k hill, Naomi on the front setting a good pace, we were soon catching and overtaking people, we carried on until we’d caught Eerin and Gus but Naomi was feeling good so we pushed on, we got caught by a small group with about 15k to go before lunch, I left Naomi with them and pushed on, I arrived at lunch about 15mins before Naomi and had finished lunch so I set off with Daniel, a young New Zealander, we set a reasonable pace and with good conversation we soon rattled off the kilometres, we stopped to share a snickers bar with about 15k to go as we’d just started to hit a head wind. We took turns on the front until camp, we arrived after 123k and a monster hill at 1.00pm, well chuffed 😉
Evening saw the usual routine of putting up tents, rider meeting and dinner which as per normal was excellent !!
Highlight of the day was the scenery coming up the climb, so different to the deserts we’ve had for the last few days !!
Only 109k tomorrow and a rest day after that, hopefully I’ll find a tent !!
A mere 109k awaits us today with only 180m climbing all day, pretty much a day off then 😉
The air was slightly warmer than it has been as we set off, the we being Gus, Eerin, Naomi and myself, we’d been warned about kids throwing sticks and stones and had been advised to travel in groups to try and discourage them.
As I said the route was flat but had more interest than normal as we were heading into Qena, a fairly large town that we needed to navigate, basically head for Luxor and follow the red tape. As it turned out it was a fairly simple process and we made it through unscathed. The road out of Qena followed a water course and again was pan flat for about 20k and our lunch stop.
Lunch was excellent and plentiful as normal and our little group was soon heading out for the final 40k to Luxor, the roads were still fairly flat apart from the incessant speed bumps !!
We did however encounter one or two kids throwing stones and trying to hit us with sugar cane sticks, fortunately no one was hurt to badly and we soon made the right turn of the main road and made our way into Luxor and the Rezeiky Camp and Hotel Luxor. We had the option to either camp in the grounds or take a room, Naomi and I took a room, no point making it harder than it already is !!
Laundry sorted, showered and beer quaffed we headed out with Eerin and soon found ourselves on a horse drawn carriage doing the tourist thing round Luxor, we visited markets, papyrus galleries, spice shops and even stopped for lunch while the driver waited outside. Finally we visited Karnak Temple which was lit up and looked great, photos taken we headed back to the hotel for beer a chat and to use the Wi Fi before bed.
The morning saw about 30 of our group heading out on a tour bus to visit The Valley of the Kings, The Valley of the Queens and Al-Deir Al- Bahari Temple, although it was all very interesting and incredible to look at it was also a little frustrating that you couldn’t take photos at the Valley of the Kings or Queens, never the less I brought a guide book so at least I have a reminder !!
Back at the hotel for lunch and oh what a lunch….aubergine and tomato kofta, rice, soup, salad, flat bread and lamb tagen, enough for at least four people but Naomi and I manfully dealt with it !!
Laundry collected, bags reorganised, bikes washed and serviced, photos added to the iPad and blog written….time for the first beer of the day !!
Out for dinner tonight, we have recommendations for good cheap falafel so looking forward to that !!
Our usual crew of Gus, Eerin, Naomi and myself rolled out of camp at about 7.15, we had one other rider with us today, Caroline. Naomi set a fair pace at the front and very soon we’d caught another group consisting of Bridget, Alan, Tessa and Natalie. Bridget organised our little group so we took 2km turns on the front and kept the speed up to about 28km per hour. The kilometres ticked by quickly and with the fairly decent roads we soon arrived at lunch, a great spot on the banks of the Nile, the usual fair, peanut butter, cheese, tomato and loads of fruit 😉
After lunch we were back to our little group of five, following the river through small villages and towns, the scenery ever changing. The sun was getting warm by now and drinking fluid was important and we quickly rattled through the kilometres, with about 20k to go I started to lose the group, I was struggling and finally the group stopped for me, I had an energy bar and stretched, I was worried as I’d eaten loads so couldn’t understand my weakness……then as I wheeled my bike I realised that my brake was locked on, it must have got knocked at lunch which meant I’d cycled 20k with my brake on, no wonder I was knackered !!
Brake fixed I felt strong again and we set off again, we stopped on the bridge over the Nile to take photos before the final 2k to camp, the camp is in a football stadium, it’s a bit dusty and there was a game in progress but we soon got sorted, a good spot in the shade.
Tent up, then soup, photos and blogging next, looking forward to dinner as always !!
On a different note, remember my tent was destroyed by the strong winds and my stupidity, well one of the staff goes home at the end of Egypt so I’m renting his tent for the rest of the trip, $100….bargain !!
Oh well that’ll do for now, 113km tomorrow and flat roads again, I think we’re being lulled into a false sense of security, we’ll be in Sudan in a few days and I’m expecting the conditions to change for the worse !!
113k to Aswan and another rest day, our little group which now consists of Caroline, Gus,Eerin, Naomi and myself were quick of the mark this morning and checked out at 7.00am. Our route took us back over the Nile bridge we’d come over on Stage 7 then turn right and literally follow the Nile to Aswan !
For the most part the route was flat, one or two little hills but nothing serious, we weren’t going fast as there was no pressure to do so, a rest day tomorrow means the opportunity of a hotel, showers, laundry etc 😉
We arrived at lunch as a nine man train having caught Francine and Andy and being caught by Alex and Dora ourselves, lunch was great as usual, yesterday’s bean casserole made a great sandwich filling, especially with peanut butter and cheese 😉
Our little group left lunch and with only 44k to camp we took it steady, the route passed through a few towns and the ever present speed bumps put paid to any normal rhythm ! The weather was warming up by now and we were all glad to get to camp, we set about organising hotels and transport and finally got a mini bus full of people to a hotel recommended in the guide book, we all checked in and arranged to meet later and go for a snack and drinks, it took a while but eventually everyone was finally ready to go 😉
We ended up in a restaurant overlooking the Nile, a great view, cold beer, good food and even better company, on leaving at about 5.30 we all agreed to meet again at 7.00pm and go out to dinner, an authentic Egyptian restaurant, apparently a place that the locals use, can’t wait !!