24-Jun-2005 -- It all started with an article in the "Shakey Time", a scurrilous rag if ever there was one, where the editor, a somewhat successful confluence hunter, had slandered my good name. He openly implied that I used business trips as pretence for confluence hunting! He had already insinuated that confluence hunting in Egypt was much easier than hacking your way through the jungles of Thailand. My integrity is important to me; it was a question of "how to clear my good name". The answer was obvious - bribery never fails! So the call went out, send Big Jim to Cairo on Thursday afternoon for a very important business trip and have him take his Garmin. This caused a little consternation, as Jim, being a fully qualified surveyor, was worried that I would expect him to do the navigation. I assured him that after years of experience, there is no way I would leave such an important task as navigation to a surveyor, you're bound to get lost. He had one other feeble excuse that he did not have his machete, but was quickly assured he would not need one where we were going, and that all he would need is a big shuffle.
Big Jim dutifully turned up on Thursday afternoon for a quick briefing on the plans and was a bit dismayed at the hardship of a 5:30 a.m. start so essential for hard days confluence hunting. We picked him up next morning and headed west on the Baḥariyya road, getting to within a few hundred yards of the great pyramids of Gīza, the closest Jim has got after 3 years in Egypt. Halfway to the rest house Jim and driver pulled up with a puncture and had to change a wheel - see the rigors of confluence hunting in Egypt. Then it was stop at the rest house for a quick break and repair of the tyre. The rest house is rather notorious and better known as the "chew and spew" and could certainly be regarded as a rigor of confluence hunting in Egypt to the uninitiated, but it appeared that Jim had been warned, as he only bought packets of crisps and drank my flask of coffee.
It was then turn off down a rig road that was in excellent condition for 50 km. Then we had to cross some sand dunes, so we dropped our tyre pressures in anticipation of the rigors to follow. However, the route was so well planned, we skirted any bad dunes and coasted over hard rolling dunes and gravel for 50 km more to the Confluence, all in two-wheel drive.
We had a pleasant lunch in cool (34°C) conditions at the Confluence. After taking the photographs over comments such as "what could be easier?", we set off back with a plan to cross some difficult dunes. The first one we came to I attempted to climb but powered out half way up. Actually only the right side (passenger side where Big Jim was sitting) of the vehicle powered out and once I engaged 4-wheel drive, we progressed on our way. The next crossing was a little harder and Akbar, Jim's driver, did get stuck but a quick push was all that was required to get us moving. After one more, even easier crossing, we stopped for a session of sand boarding and then it was head east and back to Cairo. After a total of 580 km, 254 of which was some of the easiest off-road driving you can get, we were back in Cairo. Now what was the excuse we had for this trip...