This morning at 10:30am the Dragoman pre-departure meeting took place where I’ve met my fellow travelers. During the first part of the tour from Cairo (Egypt) to Khartoum (Sudan) we will be travelling in a group of 10 people. There will be approx. 8 more people joining in Gondar (Ethiopia) and in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). The ages of my fellow travelers reach from an American student who just finished university to a retired banker from the UK. His name is Chris and you also might want to follow his blog called The whingeing Banker. In general the group is quite “old” since the trip from Cairo to Nairobi is not so fancy and popular among very young people in their 20ties such as Southern Africa or the Cusco area in Peru. Probably it is because of the lack of partying locations in the middle of the Sudanese desert. Most of my fellow travelers are quite experienced and have done extensive travels before. There is for instance a Polish guy on my tour who has the mission to travel to all countries of the world. He is now living in Canada and working as a real estate agent. He was even on the phone today because some of his clients called him while traveling.
During the pre-departure meeting I’ve learned that the previous tour from Istanbul to Cairo was cancelled due to the conditions in Syria. The drivers Tom from Australia and Daniel from Ecuador were driving the truck all the way down to Cairo without any passengers. They told that driving through Syria was pretty scary and they did it in one day. Regarding Sudan they said that we will be fine since we are not going to the conflict areas in the West and South and the places we will be going are very peaceful and quite.
Tom, our tour leader, also handed us out an itinerary. Interesting to notice is that the part in Egypt is pretty much planed and we will be mostly travel civilized and stay in hostels but as soon as we hit into Sudan it will be only bush camping and travel on a more flexible route which will change with the local circumstances. Bush camping means no facilities such as a shower, toilet and so. We all will start smelling interestingly at some point in time.
The remaining group meeting was pretty straight forward: showing of passports, showing of the health insurance and the related emergency number and paying the kitty money amounting 470 USD. The kitty is a joint fund which will pay for hostels, entries to sights included in the tour and purchasing food on local markets to prepare meals while camping. The kitty payment will fluctuate as local prices do. So in the end we might get either a refund of unused money or we need to through in additional money if needed.
The rest of the day I was hanging around in the area of the hotel. In the evening we went out for a group dinner were we got to know each other a bit better. We will be spending 2.5 months together so we need to go along well. Actually about half of the people on the tour to Nairobi will continue the tour all the way down to Cape Town.
Now we hang out at the hotel lobby where there is free WiFi. My room mate just came down and told me that she has just killed the third cockroach in our room…