Bicycle touring or cycling through Egypt

The challenges we have faced with the Egyptian tourism police and how we are dealing with them.

November 2022 – January 2023

TL;DR: Egyptian authorities are not friendly toward independent travellers. Bicycle travel through Egypt will likely mean a lot of headaches and stress caused mainly by negotiations at best and arguing at worst on checkpoints. Perhaps with relevant permits this could be avoided. TBD.


We came into Egypt from Eilat, Israel. We entered the country through the Taba border crossing (see location on Google Maps) on the 4th of November. During our journey thus far, we have already passed through 14 countries (see the map of our journey here). We have never had any major problems with the police, border guards or military, even in countries such as Iraq and Iran where military checkpoints are a common sight.

The two of us crossing the Israeli-Egyptian border by bicycle in Taba, south of Eilat. On the Israeli side as seen by the writing in Hebrew behind us.
Taba border crossing on the Israeli side. Much more pleasant.

In Taba, at the border crossing

We clear the border crossing in 2 hours. A thorough X-ray of all the bags. Then a quick stop at the customs, fortunately no payment involved. Then visa and finally we are out.

As soon as we step out of the border post, the tourism police stops us. They immediately take our passports. One of the policeman says that we cannot go by bicycle. A scene begins.

At first we suspect that the policemen are in coalition with the Bedouin drivers who hunt for naive tourists just outside the border post building. Maybe they want us to pay for the overpriced transportation to Dahab or Sharm el-Sheikh. After 2 hours of intense arguing we prove this hypothesis to be false.

They then say that there is a special rule. It is supposed to be a new rule. The rule specifically forbids bicycle travel.

Then they say that it is for our safety.

Next they say that the border area is very dangerous and that as soon as we are out of that area, we can continue on the bicycles.

It is very difficult to communicate with the tourism police officers, not just because of the language barrier but also because it seems that they do not want to reach an agreement. Instead of solving problems we just keep inventing new ones. There is an assymetry in communication.

The argument takes around 5 hours in total. Throughout these 5 hours the policeman who initially took our passports, keeps them confiscated in his pocket so there is not even a possibility to force your way out of the police checkpoint.

In the end an ultimatum is given to us: either we return back to Israel or we accept a free-of-charge bus lift to Nueiba from where supposedly we can continue by bicycle. We pick the second option.

In and past Nueiba

The driver drops us off at the main road after the checkpoint in Nueiba. We put all the bags back on the bicycles and begin cycling.

We cycle for 25 kilometres, mostly uphill. You can see the exact route here. After much climbing we descend down to a checkpoint located at the crossroads of Dahab road and St. Catherine road (Google Maps location of the checkpoint here). There we are stopped, not to our surprise. The tourism police once again says that we cannot keep on going and that we need to take a car to Dahab. At this time it is already dark outside so the police officers use this as an excuse (which to be fair is hard to argue with as there are no streetlights here).

After a scene, albeit much smaller one than in Taba, the police provides a pickup truck where we load our bicycles in despair.

What’s next?

We took a break from cycling in Dahab. We parked the bicycles. One of us travelled by bus to Cairo and met with officials in the Polish Embassy (we are Polish). Thanks to help of those officials we managed to get a recommendation letter from the Egyptian Cycling Federation as well as from the Embassy itself.

The author holding the recommendation letter from the Egyptian Cycling Federation.
The letter from the Egyptian Cycling Federation. One version in English and one in Arabic.

We are now waiting for even more permits. Supposedly we will receive a car escort, free of charge, that will travel with us through the entire country. They asked us to prepare a day by day itinerary so that the escort could be organised. They also want us to sleep in hotels every night – not someting that we would normally do and definitely out of our budget (7 USD a day, good luck).

Note 1: I will update this post once we are done with Egypt and happily and freely cycling in Sudan.

Note 2: This information is up to date in January 2022. The situation may change in the future so take it only as a point of reference and a possibility of what could happen, not an indicator of what will happen.

Note 3: We entered Egypt through Sinai Peninsula. Rules may differ in Upper and Lower Egypt, for example if you were to start in Cairo. I do not know how the situation on the ground looks like there, only what I’ve read and heard on Internet forums or Facebook groups. I heard rumours that from Cairo to Aswan you should be able to cycle although with much hassle on the checkpoints. However there is conflicting information here as well – I’ve also read from someone going that way in 2022, that they got turned around back to Cairo after cycling 100 kilometres down south from the capital city.

Note 4: If you have any questions in regards to this, please contact us via our Instagram.

If you are in Egypt, chances are that you will be going to Saudi Arabia next. Check our Instagram to see how cycling looks like there. Below I have also attached a few photos.


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