Aswan to Wadi Halfa Ferry: Sudan Visa, Ferry Tickets and Travel Advice.
Visa - Tickets - Accommodation
First, you need the Sudan visa. Not the easiest of visas to obtain, you might think, especially for a British passport holder but in Aswan it could not have been easier. Details correct as of November 2015. Location of the Sudan consulate is now at: N 24.055176, E 32.883164 - follow the corniche south, past the Nubian Museum, past the Aswan Stadium then about 10 more minutes on foot. On the left you will see a very thin minaret of a mosque, about 50m off the main road. Behind the mosque a bit to the left, you will find the consulate. Opening hours: 9-12ish. closed wednesday, friday, may be saturday too Requirements: 2photos, 1copy of passport, 50US$, even for Brits..and finger prints. Applied sunday, told to pick up tuesday... valid for 2 months. Chinese, German and Czech passport holders all obtained visa like this. NOTE: US passport holder refused visa without a letter from his embassy. 50 bucks NOT refunded.
The all important Sudan visa
The ferry is going just weekly - Sunday. Tickets can only be bought on presentation of Sudanese visa at the NILE VALLEY NAVIGATION TICKET OFFICE N24.0989948, E32.8997954
Ferry ticket is 375LE for 1st class. 225LE for second class aka deck class. (not the 307LE as reported on a number of blogs and no dealings with well documented pain in the ass ticket guy, just a very helpful lady). On the sunday morning, take the 8am train to the port, 2LE. A departure tax is due at the port of 40LE and 2LE imigration stamp. On the boat in the evening, get your Sudan entry stamp. And then in the morning before you get off get your Sudanese travel permit from the officials who board the boat. And at some point within 3 days you must register with the Police (I did mine in Dongola). You can walk into town from the port cca 30 minutes.
But, if you don't wanna take the ferry, the road border is now open, mini van runs between Aswan and Wadi Halfa, daily (except friday) from near the train station in Aswan to Wadi Halfa. There are a few ticket offices on the road from the train station towards El Nile. Cost for locals is 150LE. Foreigner price is 200. Bargain hard, then walk off and suddenly the price is 150LE. Duration, so I am told by Sudanese guy at the hostel is 4 hours. The road goes to Abu Simbel, then vehicles go on a barge and continue on the other side of the lake. The bus option is very time consuming cos of customs for all the locals. Take the ferry and enjoy it. It's an awesome trip.
Cairo - Dahab Hostel probably the best place to stay in Cairo. Right near Talaat Harb sq. Old colonial building with roops on the top floor and courtyard open to the skies. Basic rooms with shared bathrooms.
Aswan - YHA dorm room 21LE near the station almost behind the ferry ticket office, 1 street further inland. Travelers given different rooms from the locals. Women have different rooms. Wash rooms separate too. Get a room on the back as the street side is noisy. Basic. Wifi in the small common room. Small breakfast given. Bread, cheese, jam. No tea or coffee. Tap water is drinkable. Great hot water showers. No air con - problem I think in summer. Many other options in town. 65LE for single rooms, 75LE+ for doubles.
Wadi-Halfa - Al Neel Hotel. coming from the port, just before town, head across the piste to the right. Ultra basic 4 bed dorms for 20SDP per person. Super friendly. GPS location: N 21.7922932 E 31.3422227
Dongola - 'S'hotel, a newly opened GH, wedged between the Lord and Haifa hotels, near the market. English speaking, helpful boss. GPS location: N 19.1761959 E 30.4766475 (google maps is marked wrong... its the street to the west, 1 block left)
Home Sweet Home - this is the type of room that you get in Wadi Halfa and much of Sudan. I shared this room with 2 Sudanese guys, one snored and the other left his phone on all night, which beeped periodically. I added to the symphony by farting. At least I did not have to share my bed with any 'thing', no bugs or fleas.
Since the introduction of the bus route to Sudan, the ferry is now only carrying 100 passengers and not the normal 800. I could not imagine 800 and all the extra cargo. Temperatures in late November, pleasurable. I had the whole bench, 2m long to lie on. I was expecting to be trashed after the trip but arrived feeling fresh even after 24 hours on board. A guy from the hostel kept buying me tea, a group of 4 invited me to share their dinner and when I offered to get them tea they declined. After all the agro I witnessed at the port cos they were being swindled by the Egyptian porters, the trip was quiet. I wrote an e post card, finishing with the words, 'Sudan is gonna be awesome', and so far, up until Khartoum when this post is being finalised, it surely has been.