Since the 2014 Taba bus bombing on a tourist coach, killing 4 – foreigners are crossing the Egypt – Israel border less and less
It took about 20 minutes to cross the border from Taba to Eilat and I didn’t pay anything and it was a breeze compared to the nightmare border crossing I did on Africa’s most corrupt border from Senegal to Mauritania.
How to cross the border from Taba to Eilat on foot
- Take the bus from Sharm or Dahab or Neweibaa to the Taba / Eilat border
- Pass security checks from Egyptian Officials (quick and easy but you might have to pay a fee)
- Get your exit stamp in the Egyptian Immigration office and leave the Taba office
- Walk to the Eilat border office
- Pass security checks (usually female officials)
- Enter the immigration office to scan your bags
- Fill out immigration forms to get your passport stamped
- Exit the Eilat immigration office
You might get pulled out of the immigration line like I did, but the questioning is fairly straightforward. “what are you doing” “why were you in Egypt” “how long do you plan to stay”
I took the bus from Sharm to Taba which left at 9am from Sharm bus station. The journey should have been 4 hours but the police patrol along the way made it about 5 hours. This is important to account for if you are on a time limit. The bus passes through Dahab and Neweibaa.
From Taba I took a micro bus to the Taba – Eilat border crossing for 10 EG£
My Experience Crossing the Taba to Eilat Border on foot
Crossing the border from Taba
On the Egyptian you cross through about 4 checks (guys sitting down in chairs outside) and the official crossing inside the ‘office’ where you complete an exit form.
Fees: You must pay 2EG£ exit fee to leave Egypt which I didn’t pay… If you’re lucky, like me you can say that you don’t have any money.
Crossing the border to Eilat
Apart from a Kenyan holy pilgrimage group of people aged 60+, I was the only foreigner crossing the border from Egypt into Israel.
There are 4 border control check points you must pass to get into Eilat.
1st: The lady asked me the basic questions; why are you coming to Israel? etc…
2nd: Baggage scan
3rd: As I was waiting in the line for my visa a young border official stormed out her office and demanded an old Kenyan man who was on the holy pilgrimage (he was wearing a t-shirt ‘holy pilgrimage tours’) come with her. In her office, she probably asked him a few questions and I saw him leave happily, join his group and they disappeared on their holy way, out the doors and into Israel.
The lady stormed back out and looked directly at me. ‘Are you alone? Come with me!’
If there is anything that I am not good at.. It is interrogation.
The immigration officer asked me…
What are you doing in Israel? Where are you staying? What did you do in Egypt? Where did you go in Egypt? Where are your parents from? How much money do you have / Do you have a bank card? Are you a student or work?
I was foolishly, nervously smiling and even laughing throughout our exchange, I’m bad with confrontation. I kept telling her that she can check the information she was asking me for. For example; I showed her my two bank cards, one which is a business banking card and one my personal banking card. I played her voice notes on whatsapp of my Israeli friends giving me directions from the border and she totally totally relaxed. Then we became friends the conversation totally changed, it even became silly. She started to smile and told me that she wants to go to London. I told her that I live alone in the city center and she is more than welcome to stay with me… The conversation was friendly and I felt like if I asked her for her number, she would have happily given it. Anyway, she gave me my paper visa and I was on my way to the 4th check point which was outside her office.
4th: Final visa check. The lady who ‘interrogated’ me, came out with me and this one was swift. A glance at the paper visa and my passport and… I walked out into Israel!
Fees: I paid no fees to enter Israel, and none to exit Egypt (i hold a British passport)
What not to say to Israeli border officials
All young people are interrogated at the border because of various reasons; either they look suspicious or they plan to volunteer in Israel for some months. You are not allowed to volunteer in Israel due to tax reasons. This is why Israeli border officials often target young backpackers for interrogation. Do not say you are coming to volunteer, this includes in hostels or on organic farms. I learned this from travelling volunteers I met along the way. To guarantee your entry into Israel say that you are travelling around Israel, learning about the vibe/culture, hiking etc.. It is better for you, and ensures that the place you are actually volunteering at does not get into trouble.
Egypt & Israel; the immediate difference
It is shocking that the 10m border between Egypt and Israel can make SUCH a difference!
The difference between Israel and Egypt hits you as soon as you cross the border, you go from covered up women to bikini’s and nudes everywhere. It’s insane
This picture is what you see when you cross the border to Eilat, this is totally different to the conservative, religious ways of Egypt. I had to pinch myself to make sure that it wasn’t a dream because it was unreal!
As soon as I stepped out into Israel I was stunned with surprised. The border is on the beach so I immediately saw many people on the beach side in Eilat camping, snorkeling, drinking, smoking, naked, dancing and enjoying. I felt I stepped directly into a whole different world. It was so free; nobody was swimming with clothes, couples were kissing and hugging each other, the people had alternative styles you’d associate with Berlin, Barcelona or London.
It was amazing. I was so impressed. On first sight I was happy to be in Israel!
My first 5minutes into Egypt I was scammed immediately!
My first 1 minute into Israel was AMAZING. I walked into an awesome open environment