Alicia and I only had one week in Egypt (because someone had to go back home to study for the LSATs, WHATEVER) and we needed to catch the ferry to Jordan at the end of the week, so instead of taking the traditional tourist route from Cairo down to Luxor and Aswan we caught a bus to Hurghada, a beach town on the Red Sea.
The beach was full of Russian tourists (language practice!), but the town itself was really nice and had a lot of delicious and cheap food.
From Hurghada we had planned to get a ferry to Sharm El Sheikh, on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, and then get a ferry from Sharm El Sheikh to Aqaba in Jordan. However when we got to Hurghada we found out the ferries to Sharm weren’t running anymore. “But the ferry from Sharm to Aqaba will certainly be running,” they told us, so we booked cheap flights to Sharm El Sheikh instead.
Sharm also gave us a bit of a lesson in how Egypt runs, as not only was there no ferry to Jordan from there, but no one could tell us anything about the ferry that was running from Nuweiba.
Nuweiba is about an hour and a half away from Sharm El Sheikh, but no one seemed to know anything about the ferry, or even have a phone number we could call. We were super confused about why there seemed to be zero communication between Sharm and Nuweiba. I mean after all, didn’t lots of tourists travel from Sharm up to Jordan to see Petra?
But apparently local travel agents were just as confused by us. “What tour group are you part of? What company did you book with?” they kept asking. Then they would just stare blankly at us: “You … came here alone?!”
It turns out Sinai is still pretty dangerous for tourists to travel through (oops), and in fact when I got to Israel later I met a guy who had been kidnapped last year while traveling through Sinai with a Norwegian woman (they were eventually released, phew).
In the end we had to book a private car from Sharm El Sheikh to Nuweiba, where we eventually found the ferry we needed, which left the port at 5 pm and got into Aqaba around 8 pm. While the whole process of finding the ferry was a headache, the ride between Egypt and Saudi Arabia up to Jordan was beautiful and probably worth it!
At the ferry port we also met Alejandra, the only other backpacker we saw in Egypt. She ended up joining us for several days in Jordan and Israel, and she blogs at Lales Wanderlust, which you should totally check out!
Can you guess what our first stop in Jordan was?
The ferry from Nuweiba to Aqaba cost $85, including the exit tax, and took about three hours. It was scheduled to leave at 2 pm, but the workers said that the real departure time always varies by several hours.
As we were traveling through a free trade zone, we didn’t have to pay the usual $60 visa fee to enter Jordan.
What to pack as a female traveler to Egypt and Jordan
These are a few of my favorites that I packed for Egypt and Jordan: