The Sinai Peninsula has a bad reputation. The Asian part of Egypt has been the site of terror attacks against tourists in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The 2011 Egyptian Revolution—and the overthrow of authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak—and the 2013 coup d’état against elected President Mohamed Morsi, led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, have brought unrest and the advance of radical Islamic groups to the peninsula. The travel advisories are alarming, but a closer look reveals that, nowadays, most of the violence is directed at government installations in North Sinai, close to the Gaza Strip. In South Sinai, the roads linking the coastal resorts of Nuweiba, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh, along with the eastern section up to St.Catherine Monastery, are under security forces’ control, with regular police checkpoints and patrols.

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Pierre crossing paths and exchanging his last Jordanian dinars (JOD) for Egyptian pounds (EGP) with a truck driver waiting to board the ferry to Aqaba. Nuweiba, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.

It is not knowing where and how much we would be allowed to ride in the Arab Republic of Egypt that we boarded the midnight ferry from Aqaba, Jordan to Nuweiba, across the Gulf of Aqaba. The 3:00 AM landing in Egypt was made easy by our personal police escort off the boat and through security and immigration procedures. The agent allowed us to snooze inside the terminal until daybreak, at which time we rode ten kilometres to our destination: Habiba Village. Part social experiment, part innovative solution, the project has many elements aiming at helping the local Bedouin community—listed as a host on Warm Showers website, it is important to clarify where the altruistic hosting ends and Habiba Beach Lodge starts, to avoid unhappy surprises upon check-out!

  • Habiba Camp, headquarters for the multi faceted Habiba Village project. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Maged and his wife Lorena are the founders of Habiba. Desert quinoa? Really? South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Maged showing some volunteers inside the Learning Center how to spin cotton. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Children built these bird house at Habiba Learning Center. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Organic veggies growing in hot desert. A miracle? South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Good-looking Swiss chard on its way to Dahab weekly market. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • More goodies on its way to the market. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Traditional Bedouin flat bread is prepared. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Brunch sourced from the farm: bread, cheese, jam, and "foul", the tasty broad bean stew. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Miracles have to start somewhere! South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Volunteers from Cairo help build a straw and adobe new Learning center. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Preparing the cob. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Muscle strenght is required. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Building can be fun too! South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Bon Appétit! South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.

Habiba Organic Farm Slideshow

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Children enjoying the beach on Labour Day week-end. The shore here needs daily cleaning from trash coming from boats sailing the Gulf of Aqaba: plastic cups, ice cream wrappers, pop cans, etc. Nuweiba, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.

We sensed quickly that the Bedouins of Egypt do not enjoy status and reverence from their fellow citizens as we have witnessed throughout Jordan. While in the small Hashemite Kingdom we were made aware of millions of dinars given to a tribe, by the government, as compensation for loss of grazing land after the construction of a highway south of Amman. Here, the army bulldozed Bedouin-run campgrounds to sell plots to hotel developers. Transplants from the Nile Delta region will reflect to us a national distrust and contempt towards the desert-dwelling Bedouins.

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Selma has many memories of traveling up into the Sinai mountains for most of the summers and coming back down to the coast, goats and camels in tow. A special woman, her parents were from two different tribes, Muzeina and Tarabin, which is almost unheard of in the traditional life of Sinai Bedouins. Even more unique, she divorced her no-good husband. That takes balls. She now has built a concrete house for her children and herself but adds “these walls make us sick, we were much healthier when we lived in tents!”. Nuweiba, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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Egypt has been hit hard by the drop in tourists visiting the country. Make that the region. Nuweiba, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.

From Nuweiba we were tempted by the mountain road cutting west across the peninsula, to St. Catherine Monastery and Mt.Sinai (2285m)—where Moses allegedly received the Ten Commandments—, but a quick chat with the police made us revisit that option. We would be OK until the monastery, but forbidden to ride onward through Wadi Feiran to the Gulf Of Suez. So we rode south instead.

The road from Nuweiba is a bizarrely quiet 4-lane highway arising to 800 metres and slowly descending to the beach resort of Dahab, the clear Gulf of Aqaba contrasting sharply with the parched desert. Low-key and relaxed compared to Sharm el-Sheikh, we were told, Dahab is still astounding. Bikini tops are everyday wear for tall European women, enjoying skinny lattes and cinnamon buns at the German Bakery while discussing their pets’ lives! It’s a gear change and we don’t mind…and stay for six nights. One of the reasons for the lengthy stopover is our eagerness to meet Warm Showers hosts Isa and Youri Olsen with whom we have been corresponding for some time. They are taking an extended break from their bikes and the road in the diving mecca. When we finally meet it is a joining of kindred spirits and the conversation flows and soothes.

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Enjoying a hot desert highway all to ourselves! Somewhere between Nuweiba and Dahab, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.

Isa mentions a bike traveller coming from Suez. “He called last night, I could not hear him properly, I think he is from Denmark and spent the night in prison”, she summarized. When Anselm rolled in we were intrigued and learned he was German, had cycled from South Africa and, yesterday, had been stopped by the police for using his phone (camera) near the Suez Canal. The Egyptian police’s wary attitude towards cameras is legendary, double that in sensitive zones like borders, military installations and, I guess, the Suez Canal!

He had been held at a police station—not a prison—, where is cameras, computer and hard drives had been thoroughly inspected, until 1:00 AM when he was put on a bus to Sharm el-Sheikh. Arriving at dawn, he had hopped on his bike and rode the 100 kilometres to Dahab, with a story to tell! Going in opposite directions we exchanged info, tips and gear before parting, Isa and Youri staying put for a hot summer by the sea.

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Riding by Isa and Youri’s rented house on our way out of Dahab. South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.

The stretch of road between Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh is more of the same: 4-lane, quiet, solitary, two police checkpoints, dry and hot. At night, as we were waiting for the mercury to go down before entering our 2-man sauna, we noticed a dozen green-lit eyes staring at us in the dark. Wanting to make sure the stares did not belong to a family of hungry leopards, Pierre picked up his machete and courage and investigated further. “It’s a bunch of foxes! Look at them! They are climbing and jumping up the rocky ledges.” A Google search later, we discovered they were Blanford’s foxes, found in the mountainous regions of the Middle East, from Afghanistan to the Sinai. So cute!

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One of the buses used in terror attacks of days passed? Between Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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Convoys of white vans ferrying divers to prime sites along the coast, navy blue police pick-up trucks and large trucks make the bulk of traffic on the desolate road. This Sudanese truck driver stops to offer two welcomed litres of water and a couple of bananas. “See you in Karthoum!” Between Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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As we were trying to photograph the mosque at a small roadside settlement, Khaled sent a nice “welcome” our way. -Come! We drink tea at my house and you can meet the lady. -No, thank you. But do you know why there are so many dead camels around here? -Camels? I have camels at my house. Come! Between Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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As the desert got increasingly littered with garbage, old and new, we started to notice an unusual amount of dead dromedary camels by the road. Could it be? Khaled confirmed our fears— “they eat plastic and die”. It made me so angry, such unnecessary suffering! We have learned since that half, 50%, one in two, la moitié, of camels roaming the region meet the same painful end. Grrrrr! Between Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.

Once in Sharm el-Sheikh, the resort was exactly what we were warned about: big and glitzy. We rode around in circles, like dogs looking for the most comfortable position and settled at the Mexican Bar: air-con, cold beer, Wi-Fi connection and nice people. This is when Pierre shared his latest musings. It had been confirmed, after conflicted reports, that the ferry between Sharm and Hurghada, on the Western Red Sea shore, was not to resume its interrupted service anytime soon. We had to head north along the Suez Gulf to the city of Suez and—why not—to Cairo. Maybe it was the unattractive 550 kilometres of brown desert that were lying in front of our tires, or maybe it was the headwind coupled with heavy traffic we could expect en route, and surely the prospect of being harassed by the police did not help, but my partner was thinking we should take a bus to Suez. My answer was along the lines of “there is nothing for us on bikes between Suez and Cairo so let’s bus all the way to Cairo and find you a dentist ASAP.” At the end of April, as we were enjoying our dinner inside our concrete room at the Bedouin Garden Village in Aqaba, Jordan, I saw my partner leave his seat and go over to the mirror. He “smiled” at himself and we both saw it: he had bitten on his chopstick and broke one of his front tooth right off! Poor guy needed some repair.

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The desert is transformed as we approach the Red Sea Riviera. Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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Loaning our bikes as we wait for the night bus to Cairo. Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.

Our first stop, upon disembarking from a night bus on Cairo’s Tahrir Square—thus touching African soil for the first time—, was at the Mugamma Building—home of 18,000 drowsy bureaucrats—to extend the one-month visas we had bought in Nuweiba. After 36 hours and 3 trips we pushed our way to window number 39 and retrieved our newly adorned passports.

At first glance Cairo had no charm. A closer look downtown revealed sumptuous architecture, less than a hundred years old, combining European styles with local influences. It’s just that everything in the area is covered with a layer of brownish-grey soot! Marble cornices, wrought-iron balustrades and dark wood shutters all go unnoticed. The dust even shows up on the foreheads of proudly pious Cairenes, brownish-grey zebibah, Cairo’s own brand of prayer bump.

In the Egyptian capital we celebrated Janick’s birthday, visited Coptic Cairo fuelled by sugar cane juice, and discovered kushari—a carbo-loading dish made with two types of pasta, rice, lentils and garbanzo beans, served with a thick tomato sauce, fried onions and vinegar—all the while looking for a dentist Pierre could trust. When elected and deposed ex president Mohamed Morsi was sentenced to death by an Egyptian court on May 16th we put our ears to the cable to detect any unrest. The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 took place in this neighbourhood, this is where things often brew over first but, except for one fist fight and the police flexing its muscles by shutting down a quadrilateral section of businesses one night, Cairo mostly remained the free flowing chaos that it usually is.

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From a grimy room on Talaat Harb Street we have front row seats on the perpetual human dance of downtown Cairo. Families line up at El Abd Patisserie for a mango ice cream, shop keepers vie for customers, taxi drivers honk to announce their availability, well into the night. Cairo Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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And bread is delivered by cyclists with nerves of steel! Cairo Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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The Nile is 6,853 kms long and is considered the world’s longest river. Egyptian civilization and Sudanese kingdoms have flourished because of it. 6th October Bridge, Cairo Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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Cairo Tower is a famous landmark. Built from 1954 to 1961, the story goes that then President Nasser used 6 million dollars gifted by the USA—in an attempt to “encourage” him and his government to buy United-Statesian weapons—to fund the construction of the tower! Gezira Island, Cairo Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria was allegedly established by Saint Mark in the 1st century. Egypt was a Christian country from the 4th to the 6th century, until it was invaded by Muslim Arabs in 639. Saint Virgin Mary’s Church is built above a Roman fortress and is known as the Hanging Church. The mosaic represents Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus coming to Cairo to escape Herod.  Coptic Cairo, Cairo Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.

Finding a trustworthy dentist in Cairo became time-consuming and frustrating, so Pierre started to look at Hurghada, Egypt’s dental tourism capital. The concrete beach resort on the Western Red Sea was the terminal of the Sharm el-Sheikh ferry until 2005 when it stopped running. The rumour in 2015 is that a new ship is just about to start again, next month, or maybe the one after that 😉 Anyway we decided to pretend we had taken the elusive boat after all and bought bus tickets to Hurghada. Sharm el-Sheikh to Hurghada in two bus rides: no sea sickness and includes Cairo as a bonus, and the pyramids. DOH! The pyramids, almost forgot about them! So, before removing a thick layer of soot from our Brooks saddles and riding to Cairo’s bus terminal, we headed to the fabled Giza Necropolis and—like millions of people for 4,500 years—had our minds blown away. How did they build these things? Really!

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“Hey Sir! You want to ride camel? Horse, Lady? It’s a big site, you won’t have time to see everything! I’ll be here if you change your mind. You want Pepsi? It’s cold!” Pyramid of Khafre, Giza Necropolis, Giza Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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The Great Sphinx, the largest monolith statue in the world, and Menkaure’s Pyramis have been puzzling the world for 4,500 years! Giza Necropolis, Giza Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.
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Reward at the end of a long day ferrying tourists between the Giza pyramids. Giza City, Giza Governorate, Arab Republic of Egypt.


And a River runs through it! (Aswan, Egypt - KM 11,555)
Coast to coast! (Aqaba, Jordan - KM 10,870)


  1. Were you braving the streets of Cairo on your bikes, or is that just too suicidal? And what would have been the prospects for riding the coastline down to Hurghada?

    • Hello Steve! How are you?
      Cairo was not as agressive as one could expect. There is a lot of people on the road but if flows pretty well, until it doesn’t! Chance would have it that we arrived on a Friday morning and left on a Friday morning, which is the equivalent of Sunday morning in Catholic countries, so wide streets empty.
      The coast line was nice for a while, narrow and scenic and then it opened up on a flat brown desert. At police check points we were not even asked for our passports and we know of two cyclists (one Turk and one German) who cycled here just last month so it’s all open! Cheers! J+P

  2. Saad Alexan

    Excellent photos, & comments, thank you for sharing!
    Keep up the good work.

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