Planning a road trip across Egypt is one of those journeys that many groups of friends mull at some point in their lives, fantasizing about the offbeat, broadening venture that will go down as one of the best trips that they’ve ever embarked on together.
Egypt’s disjointed roads aside, nothing sounds more gripping than a bunch of friends getting rugged on the road, boastfully stinking as they muse at their country’s unexplored geography and heritage, worming their way from one city to the next.
Adding to this picture is the fanfare of spinning on scooters; a team of sixteen riders has actually put this plan on paper.
Hitting the road this October, the core team of Cross Challenge Egypt is set to scoot 1700 km from the coastal city of Alexandria in the North to Aswan in the South.
The non-profit initiative was brought about by a group of Alexandrian friends, and is meant to 'help promoting tourism to the country as well spreading the culture of alternative transport,' according to Ahmad Elzoghby, spokesperson of the challenge.
Since January 25th, Egypt’s tourism has been hard hit as several countries issued warnings to travellers on the heels of the continuous political turmoil that ensued in the weeks after. A wide-spread xenophobic media campaign during the revolution also contributed to a further slump in tourism activity across the country.
By April 2011, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism projected that the country’s 2011 tourism revenues will fall by 25 percent from the previous year.
Around that same time, Elzoghby and his friends Ahmed Husseiny, Ayman Moussa, Hussein Fathy, Mohamed El Sherbiny, Mona El Madany and Sarah Tabana decided to do their part in helping the economy to weather its woes.
As a group of cross-cultural and professional individuals who are both experienced riders and adventure travellers, they plan to spend nine days on the road, stopping their Vespas at Egypt’s most iconic cities.
On October 14th, the Challenge kicks off from the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. It then races to the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, the River Nile, Suez Canal, Sharm El Sheikh, Karnak Temple in Luxor and Ramses II’s Abu Simbel in Aswan.
So what’s the message they’re trying to send out?
'Egypt is safe and worth a visit after the great Egyptian revolution,' said Elzoghby. The group also wishes that more Egyptians opt for alternative modes of transport 'as a quick and short term solution to the traffic problem in Egypt.'
A total of sixteen riders will take on the full tour. However, outsiders can join selected routes, Zoghby told Cairo360. An application will soon be posted on the challenge’s website, detailing age and safety measures required to join the team.For more information, check out their Facebook page.
Routes open for local scooters include Alexandria to Cairo (210 km) and set for October14th and Cairo to Suez (140 km), set for the following day. Those interested may join both routes.
When asked about possible plans to make this more than a one-time tour, Elzoghby said that while the organisers are overwhelmed with the support that the initiative has garnered, they are still wary of making future commitments.
'Future decisions are on hold until this turns into a successful one,' he said.
Already endorsed by the Egyptian Tourism Authority and buzzing on social media outlets, Cross Challenge Egypt will sure have many heads turn to Egypt’s dazzling sights in coming months, a nod to the country’s history and to a new generation relentless in bettering its future.