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Egypt April 19th to May 6th (1 Viewer)

Reader

Well-known member
This was an incredible trip all over Egypt, full of highs and lows.

I started at Sharm El Sheikh, where I met my companion for the trip (Mary Megalli). Mary has lived in Egypt since 1963 (apart from a ten year stint back in the States) and knows the country and language well. This was essential to a good trip as there were many obstacles in our way if you didn't know both.

We started at Sharm then drove the long 600km drive to her place in the Ayn Sokhna region of Egypt 100km south of Suez). A couple of days there then down to Safaga for a day then over to Luxor for two days. From there it was off to Aswan for two days then over to 50km south of Marsa Alam (West bank of Red Sea, for three days. Back to Ayn Sokhna for two days then the long drive to St Katherine's Monastery, Sinai for one day before the final two days in Sharm.

If anyone is thinking of driving around Egypt, or wants to be driven around Egypt I would highly recommend Mary. She is 72 years old but with the zest of a much younger woman and she just loves travelling around Egypt looking at the birds. She can be contacted on [email protected]

I have now placed my trip report on my web site. If you don't want to read it you can just click onto the links to the photos. The report can be found here. Just look for the Egypt report.
http://www.coventrybirder.co.uk/main pages/tripreports.htm

I have done a trip report plus a page of tips based on my experiences whilst I was over there. There is also a page with all the birds seen, and where seen.

Here are a few photos to be going along with. They are of:
Striated Heron, Little Bittern, Sooty Gull, Spur-winged Plover and Pied Kingfisher.

John
 

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Reader

Well-known member
A few more images from Egypt.

Wryneck, Red throated Pipit, Clamerous Reed Warbler, Bee-eater & house Crow.

John
 

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Rich Bonser

Well-known member
Interesting hints and tips section http://www.coventrybirder.co.uk/Egypt Tips.htm. I appreciate that some people like to be chauffeur driven and have things sorted out for them etc, but I think you've gone a bit far saying 'first of all if anyone is thinking of driving around Egypt that doesn’t speak Arabic I would think twice about doing it'. I would not want stuff like this to put independently minded birders off visiting this excellent and dramatically under-recorded country.

It always seems trickier to navigate around places when not driving; I have driven in Egypt on three separate trips - Cairo included, right down to Abu Simbel in the south and east to Sharm - and have never had issues with lack of English signs/getting lost. Admittedly the bureaucracy can be a bit tiring, but it's not too bad even for somebody like me who can only say hello and thankyou in Arabic.

Loved the start of your trip write-up - a real schoolboy error picking up the wrong bag! I couldn't imagine my reaction if I or anyone I was with had done that... luckily Mary was more accomodating than me or my usual travelling companions. I think you'd have been picked up 18 days later...;)

Try and get down to Abu Simbel next time. Also, security has apparently got a bit heavier down on the section of the Red Sea towards Shalatein - by all accounts you need an Egyptian national with you (Ross at Wadi Lahami can sort this out for you), and then a further policeman sits in your car while you're skirting around the town looking for those Lappet-faced Vulture.

Cheers
Rich
 

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deboo

.............
Thanks John, for a very informative report..shall be dipping into it over the next few years, as I plan a trip to Egypt in the not too distant future....well, for my 50th I reckon. Thanks for the links and tips.

ta

dave...
 

Steve

Surfing
Staff member
United Kingdom
Gents I have put it down to being a boring tuesday evening,and we are moving on.

thanks
 

Reader

Well-known member
First of all Rich I never like being chauffeured around. This was the first time that this has happened to me in my life. Everyone that knows me knows I drive everywhere. After all I have been a professional driver for most of my life. Just ask Steve Lister about me and my driving.

I also always plan my itineraries but on this occasion the only reason I went with Mary was because she could guarantee the food I eat as I have a low immune system. Because of that she offered to take me around Egypt after I had changed my mind about going because of the food hygiene problems over there.

Most of the time I drift abroad on my own, hire a car and drive myself to various sites. Being a passenger doesn't change my perspective. I still see dangers and obstacles that are before us and I think I can be objective to what impact they can have on drivers.

I am certainly not trying to put people off but am being realistic about the situation. Things have changed a bit over there since the revolution but there are things that do need taking into account and I don't think I have been OTT about them.

We were going to go to Abu Simbel but because of things that went wrong we had to abandon that part of the itinerary. Mary's car breaking down on the first day didn't help as it meant we lost the use of a 4x4 and that knocked back our itinerary. We also had problems with the hire car that added further costs to Mary so that by the time we reached Ross we just could not justify the 30 dollars the Egyptian guide wanted to go with us to Shalatein because we had overspent on the budget by then. The 200 dollars we had agreed upon to hire Ross' Zodiac to go around the Hamata Islands prior to trying to go to Shalatein put paid to any extras but was well worth it as it was a real adrenalin rush as well as giving me some fabulous Osprey photography.

I disagree about the schoolboy error bit about the bag. I have a very unusual holdall and have never seen the likes of it in the seven years I have owned it and yet on this day there was an identical one. When Mary saw them both she was amazed that two bags like mine would ever turn up on the same plane. The other people picked up their bag and didn't realise they had picked up the wrong one until they reached their hotel.

Why you reckon you would have left me behind for 18 days if you were my companion is beyond me. We were staying in Shark Bay. Are you saying you wouldn't bother taking me ten minutes away to pick up a bag. If you are that doesn't say very much about your character.

John

Interesting hints and tips section http://www.coventrybirder.co.uk/Egypt Tips.htm. I appreciate that some people like to be chauffeur driven and have things sorted out for them etc, but I think you've gone a bit far saying 'first of all if anyone is thinking of driving around Egypt that doesn’t speak Arabic I would think twice about doing it'. I would not want stuff like this to put independently minded birders off visiting this excellent and dramatically under-recorded country.

It always seems trickier to navigate around places when not driving; I have driven in Egypt on three separate trips - Cairo included, right down to Abu Simbel in the south and east to Sharm - and have never had issues with lack of English signs/getting lost. Admittedly the bureaucracy can be a bit tiring, but it's not too bad even for somebody like me who can only say hello and thankyou in Arabic.

Loved the start of your trip write-up - a real schoolboy error picking up the wrong bag! I couldn't imagine my reaction if I or anyone I was with had done that... luckily Mary was more accomodating than me or my usual travelling companions. I think you'd have been picked up 18 days later...;)

Try and get down to Abu Simbel next time. Also, security has apparently got a bit heavier down on the section of the Red Sea towards Shalatein - by all accounts you need an Egyptian national with you (Ross at Wadi Lahami can sort this out for you), and then a further policeman sits in your car while you're skirting around the town looking for those Lappet-faced Vulture.

Cheers
Rich
 

Rich Bonser

Well-known member
I also always plan my itineraries but on this occasion the only reason I went with Mary was because she could guarantee the food I eat as I have a low immune system.
Ok, that's fair enough. The last two trips to Egypt I've brought all my food with me from the UK, just purchasing bread and bananas locally.

I am certainly not trying to put people off but am being realistic about the situation. Things have changed a bit over there since the revolution but there are things that do need taking into account and I don't think I have been OTT about them.
My mates, who went in March this year, say that it's much easier to move around the country. They suggested I go again soon, while the lack of convoys etc allow less restricted movement.

as well as giving me some fabulous Osprey photography.
The Ospreys of the mangroves have always showed well for me - the best place I've seen them too.

I disagree about the schoolboy error bit about the bag. I have a very unusual holdall and have never seen the likes of it in the seven years I have owned it and yet on this day there was an identical one.
Guess it must look a bit like this then http://www.folksy.com/items/1371401?

Why you reckon you would have left me behind for 18 days if you were my companion is beyond me. Are you saying you wouldn't bother taking me ten minutes away to pick up a bag. If you are that doesn't say very much about your character.
Sounds like it was a long 10 mins John - eyes on the prize. Schoolboy errors cost time... ;)

But, in all seriousness (and I realise that I can take the p**s a little on this forum), you can ask pretty much anyone who's been on a foreign trip with me and they'll vouch how selfless and hardworking I am in reality. All the kids that I teach would hopefully say the same too!
 

Sandra (Taylor)

Registered User
Supporter
Look forward to reading your report John. I'll print it off to read at leisure. We've been to Egypt probably 5 times - Bob going once on his own - but not travelled the distance you have. The farthest I suppose was to Abu Simbel and Aswan 3 yrs ago by taxi when based in Luxor when the convoy system was operating.

Sandra
 
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Hudwit

No matter what you think you know there's always s
Interesting hints and tips section http://www.coventrybirder.co.uk/Egypt Tips.htm. I appreciate that some people like to be chauffeur driven and have things sorted out for them etc, but I think you've gone a bit far saying 'first of all if anyone is thinking of driving around Egypt that doesn’t speak Arabic I would think twice about doing it'. I would not want stuff like this to put independently minded birders off visiting this excellent and dramatically under-recorded country.

Cheers
Rich

[Quote:
Originally Posted by Reader
I am certainly not trying to put people off but am being realistic about the situation. Things have changed a bit over there since the revolution but there are things that do need taking into account and I don't think I have been OTT about them.[/Quote]

I also think you have been a bit too negative and pessimistic Reader with your comments about travelling around Egypt either being chaufeur driven or driving oneself. You obviously did not realise or notice that being a foreigner actually helps at check points and it is the local inhabitants that usually get stopped and searched at such places. Normally, as a foreigner, they just waive you through. I have been visiting and driving in Egypt (including Cairo) for over 25 years and have had few problems. You soon get use to being overtaken on the inside (and start doing it yourself), the blaring horns, forcing your way into reduced lanes and the lack of lights at night, you just drive a bit more carefully. Many other countries in North Africa and the Middle East such as Turkey are just the same. I find it exhilarating being able to drive without all the rules and regulations we have to follow in this country.

Did you take any photographs of the Black-winged Pratincole as this is quite an unusual bird in Egypt whilst it is surprising you did not see any Collared Partincole, a common Egyptian migrant and breeding bird in the Delta.

You seem to have missed quite a few birds such as the Avadavats at Crocodile Island and Painted Snipe at Luxor and Aswan (I am surprised that Mohamed Arabi was not able to show you some at Aswan). Usually Scrub Warbler and Sinai Rosefinch are very easy to see at St. Katherine and Palestine Sunbird at Wadi Feiran. I would have expected to see at least 180 to 200 species on an 18 day trip to Egypt in a prime migration period. I note you did not visit Abu Simbel and the Cairo area but I hope that your missing some of the specialities does not put people off from visiting. As Rich has said, I think a bit more intensity would have provided more reward.

By the way your photograph of a Gull-billed Tern appears to be a Whiskered Tern.

H
 

Reader

Well-known member
[Quote:
I also think you have been a bit too negative and pessimistic Reader with your comments about travelling around Egypt either being chaufeur driven or driving oneself. You obviously did not realise or notice that being a foreigner actually helps at check points and it is the local inhabitants that usually get stopped and searched at such places. Normally, as a foreigner, they just waive you through.H

Yes your right that normally foreigners are waived through but there were a few occasions where we were stopped and it was only Mary's understanding of the language that helped us through.

I have been visiting and driving in Egypt (including Cairo) for over 25 years and have had few problems. You soon get use to being overtaken on the inside (and start doing it yourself), the blaring horns, forcing your way into reduced lanes and the lack of lights at night, you just drive a bit more carefully.H

That is the point I am trying to make. Yes you can get used to it but my tips are for the newbie to the country. Not everyone is comfortable with their driving abroad as the likes of you, Rich & me so it would come as a total shock to them. If they were considering Egypt as a place to drive around I think being armed with a little knowledge about the driving conditions and habits would be helpful.

Many other countries in North Africa and the Middle East such as Turkey are just the same. I find it exhilarating being able to drive without all the rules and regulations we have to follow in this country.H

I disagree with you their regarding a couple of countries I have driven around. Morocco (including Marrakesh) and Turkey. I have driven huge distances in both countries and there driving is nowhere near as bad as Egypts is, also you don't come across the restrictions and speed bumps that you do in Egypt. Have you forgotten about all those unmarked, and sometimes illegal, speed bumps. They were everywhere and were a nightmare. Many a time Mary bottomed out on them, even when crawling over them diagonally.

Did you take any photographs of the Black-winged Pratincole as this is quite an unusual bird in Egypt whilst it is surprising you did not see any Collared Partincole, a common Egyptian migrant and breeding bird in the Delta.H

I did take one bad one that has been heavily cropped. Unfortunately once I had my camera working (and that took a long time with my lens problems) the bird had turned away from us. I just managed to get this shot before they both flew away. They were the second ones we saw 10 km north of Marsa Alam. The first one we saw was at Ras Shukeir Sewage Farm and it flew right over our heads but my lens just would not focus. There was no doubting what the bird was with its totally black underwing markings, plus very little red on the base of the bill. I have attached the one poor photo I took of one of the birds.

You seem to have missed quite a few birds such as the Avadavats at Crocodile Island and Painted Snipe at Luxor and Aswan (I am surprised that Mohamed Arabi was not able to show you some at Aswan). Usually Scrub Warbler and Sinai Rosefinch are very easy to see at St. Katherine and Palestine Sunbird at Wadi Feiran. I would have expected to see at least 180 to 200 species on an 18 day trip to Egypt in a prime migration period. I note you did not visit Abu Simbel and the Cairo area but I hope that your missing some of the specialities does not put people off from visiting. As Rich has said, I think a bit more intensity would have provided more reward.H

We looked for the Avadats, and I'm pretty sure we heard one, but they never showed and were on the island for about 4-5 hours. The Painted Snipe Mohammed informed us wouldn't show at this time of the year and said it would be best to come back in the winter. We did try to search them out, and Mary also visited a site on the Nile near the road bridge where she had seen them before, but no luck.

We were told at Wadi Feiran that the birds had gone, although we did give the grounds an extended search just in case but to no avail.

The Sinai Rosefinch just didn't show and to be honest I was totally shattered that day having had no sleep whatsoever at the Fox Camp due to extreme noise and singing throughout most of the night. Something both Mary and I complained about the next morning. I was also hampered with having badly swollen feet and legs which was hampering any long walks, and with Mary's 4x4 off the road we couldn't drive anywhere to search for them. We were planning two nights at the Fox Camp but I couldn't risk having another sleepless night so we moved onto Sharm a day earlier than had been planned.

By the way your photograph of a Gull-billed Tern appears to be a Whiskered Tern.H

Your right. I will change it. I do have shots of Gull Billed Tern but on the ground. I took these flight shots just as all the G.B Terns took off. Trust me to take a photo of the one Whiskered Tern that was amongst them.
 

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Reader

Well-known member
A few more photos

Steppe Buzzard, Blackstart, Crested Lark, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Female Levant Sparrowhawk.

John
 

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