CAIRO, EGYPT (28 March 2018) — It was raining hard at Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris as we boarded the Air Egypt flight to Cairo but I was excited to be heading south to warmer climates and unknown adventures. Boarding completed quickly and the plane began taxiing towards takeoff with the prayer for travelers playing over the inflight entertainment system.
This was my first time on an Egypt Air flight and I found it to be quite comfortable apart from the no-alcohol service. I settled in and chose to watch one of the Arabic films with English subtitles as a mental transition from european to north african cultures. I had made a mistake in my calculations and thought the flight would be only two-and-a-half hours, but quickly realized it was going to be four and had a brief moment of regret about choosing an airline that didn’t serve alcohol.
The anticipation of arrival in Cairo soon had me on a natural high, and I anxiously watched the flight’s progress on the interactive map display, as we made our way over the Mediterranean. A bit of frustration when the pilot made the announcement that we were going to have to circle around because a sand storm was effecting the Cairo airport. Suddenly the little plane icon on the map started to move away from Cairo and the kilometers-to-arrival counter was showing an increasing distance instead of a decreasing one. I watched the plane icon intently over the next half-an-hour or so, as it kept moving closer only to turn back away again. I wondered how long we could do this for before we would run out of gas.
After what seemed like ages, but was actually less than an hour, we were given the go-ahead to start the approach for landing, and it seemed like there was a collective sigh of relief from the entire flight — passengers and crew — as we fastened our seat belts, stowed our tray tables and returned our seats to the upright position to prepare for landing…
ABOUT THE EXPEDITION
JoMarie Fecci, of USnomads, sets off on an independent scouting trip across Egypt and Sudan in preparation for an up-coming Sahara expedition. Driving locally-sourced Toyotas and working with small local teams in each region, she will traverse a winding route that jumps off from key points along the Nile as far south as Khartoum, where the Blue and White Niles meet. During the journey she will visit a series of UNESCO world heritage sites focused on the ancient civilizations that occupied the region and meet with local communities. The primary goal of this mission is to assess terrain, security, driving conditions, logistical concerns and approximate timeframes for future travel.
WHERE WE ARE
The Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. With the Mediterranean sea on its northern border, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, and the Red Sea to the east and south, it occupies a geo-strategic location connecting Europe, Asia and Africa. It has land borders with Gaza and Israel to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Islam is the official religion and Arabic the official language. Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab world, with over 95 million inhabitants. Most of the population lives near the banks of the Nile River, in an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of the country’s territory, are sparsely inhabited. Considered a cradle of civilization, Egypt emerged as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC and iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy.