14-Nov-2005 -- We had organized a 15-day trip to explore Jabal `Uwaynāt and the Gilf Kabīr area of south-western Egypt to be led by Mohamed Fayez, an experienced visitor to the area. It was to cover 1800 km on roads and 2000 km off-road. In total we had 11 people in 6 vehicles, three Cherokee Jeeps, one Landrover, and two Toyotas.
We set off from Cairo on 11 November, however the radiator in one of the Jeeps started leaking before we got as far as Gīza, so two cars stayed behind to get a new radiator fitted and then catch up with the rest of the party in Dākhila. They managed to find an open workshop, track down a new radiator, and have it fitted 4 hours later, which must be some record for a Friday morning in Cairo. The other 4 vehicles travelled to Dākhila where we were to pick up the compulsory military officer who has to accompany all trips into the area. As expected, the paperwork and formalities took a bit of time to get organized, so the two chasing vehicles had time to catch up before we were ready to move.
Just after lunch we collected the officer but unfortunately, a wheel fell off one of the Toyotas 2 km down the road, a victim of having tyres changed without double checking the work of the garage afterwards. It took us 3 hours to offload the heavily laden vehicle, dig a hole to get the jacks under it, lift it up, repair the damage we could, and get the wheel back on. So it was late before we eventually cleared the checkpoint just outside Dākhila. We travelled a couple of hundred kilometres before pulling off the road to camp for the night.
The next morning we travelled to the checkpoint at Bi'r Ṭarfāwiyy before turning off the blacktop to Bi'r Ṣaḥrā' and then onwards to Bi'r Misāḥa. However, one of the jeeps who had replaced its engine mounts in preparation for the trip had a problem where the auxiliary fan started knocking against a pulley belt while under torque and had almost destroyed itself. We stopped at the edge of one of the large crop circles spreading across the desert as part of the Toshka project where we managed to restructure the front end to get enough space between the fan and the pulley wheel. At this stage we were starting to think we would be spending most of the trip working on the cars, but we pressed on to the impressive but dry well at Bi'r Misāḥa. We then headed west to skirt the dunes with our heavily laden vehicles where we came across an abandoned truck from the Second World War in remarkably good condition. The northern side of it was beautifully sandblasted to bare metal, and the front of the cab still had an emblem that we suspect is from the Sudan Defence Force, which occupied and supplied Kufra during the war.
We camped at the edge of the dunes and carried on the next day, the detour round the dunes took us within 10 km of the confluence 22N 27E across an expanse of hard sand which we could cruise across at leisure until we came to an Egypt/Sudan border sign very close to the Confluence. We had no problem getting the zeroes and taking the photographs before heading west towards al-`Uwaynāt and 22N 25E.