Right, what’s the status then?
Well, we’re still in Cyprus. The nice guys at Nicosia Customs renewed our papers for bringing the car in and gave us another 6 weeks. But that’s the end of it: after that expires we have to leave.
Mind you, that’s what we’re trying to do – it’s just not that easy.
We’ve been looking into options to get the car (and ourselves) into North / East Africa from Cyprus. We’ve been through a number of shipping agents and they’ve all given us quotes to ship the car in a container to Port Sudan in (surprisingly) Sudan.
By doing this we would avoid the current unrest in Egypt (which looks like it’s about to get even messier) and get round the problem that the only remaining cargo & passenger boat from Turkey to Egypt has recently been cancelled.
Unfortunately, we’ve just been told that the paperwork we have for officially bringing the car into Cyprus is not actually a ‘Temporary Import Approval‘ – it’s actually just an approval to temporarily be able to move the car around the country (???).
Therefore, since it’s not actually been temporarily imported, we can’t actually now export it!
Since the car was brought in from Turkey, the Cypriot government don’t recognise it as actually being here and, therefore, it can only leave the country the same way it came in (and we all know how much fun that was). The Turkish part of the island is not officially recognised by the Cypriots (hence the United Nation patrolled buffer-zone) and is only referred to in official documents (such as our ‘Import Papers’) as ‘…that part of the country that is currently not under the permanent control of the Government of Cyprus…’
So, one way or the other we can’t keep it here, but we can’t take it where we want to go. We need to remove it via the same ‘illegal‘ route through which we entered Cyprus.
Therefore it’s back to Turkey for us and we need to rapidly re-evaluate how we get into Northern Africa from there.
Options are limited, and frustratingly complex….
1) Egypt, with the car: We can’t get the boat that takes passengers & vehicles from Turkey to Port Said, as that has been indefinitely cancelled since President Morsi was removed from office.
2) Land route: We can’t drive round to Egypt from Turkey as the previously accepted route involves Syria (out of the question obviously)
3) Container to Sudan from Turkey: Looked feasible for a while but the sea-freight will take about 25-30 days and it seems there are only 2 ways to get a Visa to enter Sudan (apply in person back in London, which takes 4-6 weeks to get an answer; or apply for one in Cairo while driving through Egypt, where one can usually be granted within just a few days). Obviously we can’t put the car in a container before knowing for certain that we would be able to get Visas and actually collect it, so that process would take about 10 weeks in total.
4) Via Israel: We could get a boat from Turkey or Greece to Haifa in Israel, cross Israel to Jordan, drive down to Eilat, get a ferry across to The Sinai Peninsular in Egypt and then head for Cairo before taking the more established route south to Sudan via Aswan and the Wadi Haifa barges. There are currently security issues in The Sinai, but the biggest issue with this route is probably that The Sudanese have a policy of not allowing anyone into Sudan who has any evidence of having been in Israel in their passports. We can possibly get round the passport issue, but keeping any Israeli stamps off of the Carnet (car paperwork) is more tricky and even if we manage it, we could have a bit of a job explaining how we therefore arrived at the Sudanese border via Jordan and Egypt. We may be able to bluff our way through the border, but it’s a hell of a long (and expensive) way to go if we’re subsequently turned back.
5) Container to South Africa: Resolves most of the visa issues, but means either driving back to Amsterdam / Southampton and then shipping the car from there to Cape Town / Walvis Bay or sticking the car in a container in Turkey, from where it will be sailed back to Southampton then shipped out to Cape Town etc. May end up the most sensible option, but seems like back-tracking a hell of a long way. Would also mean turning our route-planning upside down and arriving in Uganda much later than we had hoped.
6) Container from Turkey to Egypt: If the cargo boat taking passengers isn’t running, maybe we can put the car into a container and ship it in, then fly into Cairo and pick it up? On the up-side this would possibly make it easier to get a Sudanese Visa. On the down-side it means the Carnet for the car will be about £3,000 more expensive than if we could avoid Egypt and we’d still have to pay out for a container & flights for ourselves.
Enquiries are out at the moment.
So far no-one seems to be coming back with much good news, but we’ve got fingers and toes crossed that something will turn up to make either options 3) or 6) possible (and a bit more affordable).
If not, we’ll end up tossing a coin between options 4) & 5).
In the meantime…