Highlights

 

Sudan is an absolute delight of a country to visit. Its people are the friendliest and most hospitable in Africa and it is a treat to be regularly welcomed into their homes.

Following the course of the Nile is very special. Not only is it scenic but you get to closely interact with the locals.

A trip through the beautiful Nubian desert is not to be missed.

Entry 8th July 2000
Tripometer 62,431 kms
Currency Dinar (426 = £1)
Language Arabic
Time GMT + 3
Midhat chating with the kids at the Jebel Barkal tombs

 

Previous "Ethiopia"

The Sudanese border point at Matema kept us busy - car search, money declaration (if you have less than $5000 in cash you do not need to declare it), documentation for all of your camera and video equipment (including serial numbers) for which you pay 275 Sudanese Dinar (just over a dollar).

By 3pm we were officially in the country. On this side of the border there is no road for 50 km and all vehicles follow a variety of tracks through the fields. Within a few minutes we were stuck in the mud.

Five hours of playing in the mud followed. Tracks were numerous or non-existent. Between us we had three Landys, three winches, one kinetic rope, four tow strops and shackles for Africa. We used them all and broke one of the strops. It was great fun despite the mud getting the better of one of my flip flops. After digging and shovelling we got mud in places only previously seen by sand in the Mauritanian desert. By 8pm we had driven a total of 11km and it was dark so we packed up for the night - with a big mud bath between us and the other two cars.

Fortunately it didn't rain much during the night and the day was dry so we were able to make good progress during the following day - a grand total of 12 km!

More towing, more winching. The locals were out laughing at us and helped us push the cars. The locals loved having their photo taken and even asked to be in a picture. They pose and laugh and love it - and don't ask for any money. The Sudanese are lovely people. One of the locals had a business of ferrying tourists on his tractor. It looked very odd seeing a man in his white dress type attire (jellabiyya) on the top of a tractor. Donkeys and camels walked past with ease - the camels looked down their noses at us. That night we bush camped in an exclusive site - with the exception of one local who came over and said "I haven't seen you".

We get pretty stuck and the locals are cominmg out to say hello - V.nice people

The following day I spent an interesting time in Dennis car - a series 11A which was very noisy, very hot and very bouncy. For me it was a good laugh but for Dennis it was frustrating as it was underpowered in the mud and the leaf springs acted as a mud trap and slowed down the car even more. By the time it was dark we had reached the road - a dirt road but it was a road and it was home for the night.

In the morning it only took around 2 hours to travel the 100 km to Gedaref where we had a cold drink, bought some bread and fruit and tried to set off for Khartoum. However a local guy told us we had to register with the police. He forced himself into the car and sat down beside me on the front seat - I was not amused. He took us to the police station where we were told they were shut! We then spent an hour having our passports confiscated and being told we had to go to the hotel in town and return the following day.

The evening was great as the town was good fun. We decided not to go to a hotel as one was too expensive and the other a dump. Walking about around the town was lovely. The locals were welcoming and funny. We bought halava - those really sweet small cakes usually served in Turkish restaurants. The fruit and vegetable offerings were wonderful and cheap. Here, people just give you things and are delighted to see you. What a place - fantastic.

That night we camped outside the police station and were ready to collect our passports at 8am. They weren't ready though and by the time most of the paperwork was done we were too late to get to the bank. Thankfully dollars were accepted. You have to pay (per person) 3000 dinar for the travel permit (you can list every place you wish to visit on the one permit), 300 dinar for photocopying, 300 dinar for the intelligence officers (whatever they do) and 600 dinar for stamps.

Late in the afternoon we managed to escape and passed dead dogs, camels and cows along the road as we headed towards Khartoum. There were a few police road checks which weren't time consuming but a bit of a nuisance. Everyone was friendly though. The roads here are unbelievably good - tarmac with not a pot hole in sight. That night we found a fantastic bush camp next to the Nile and under a big tree where we scoffed a three course dinner to celebrate arriving in Sudan in one piece. The cars weren't looking too good though.

It was now Thursday 13th July and after a leisurely breakfast we drove into Wad Medani in time for the bank opening. Changing money here is so easy. You just hand over your dollars (any denomination) and get a good rate with virtually no commission. Ten minutes and you are done. The only downside is the volume of paper notes you get. A single $100 note is replaced with 250 x 100 dinar notes! In shops the pricing is quite tricky though to start with because they have dinar notes but sometimes give you the price in Sudanese pounds (10 pounds being one dinar) although you always pay in dinar.

The town was lovely and after buying bread and mayonnaise a local chap bought us a couple of beers (alcohol free of course).

As we approached Khartoum the temperature rose dramatically. The next thing one of the tyres started hissing and went flat. We are now so good at changing wheels we could work for a F1 team. Five minutes later the battery light on the dash board came on and signalled the end of air-con for a while. Devastating. Soon though we were at the National Camping Ground which was to be home for a few days. The only good thing about the site is its shady camping areas. Other than that it is not great. Its loos are yuk and showers not much better. The worst bit though is being parked next to the mosque and being forced to participate in their 4am prayer call.

We took a journey into town only to find most of it closed. The chawarmas at Casa Blanka as recommended in the Lonely Planet were not good but the ice cream was tasty. The British Council was shut and would not open until Sunday. The British Embassy was shut and the alternative campsite - the Blue Nile Sailing Club - was diabolical, especially at $11 per night as compared with the ($2) each that we were paying at the National. The local buses dash around and have spikes on their wheels to fend off foreign registered Land Rovers and the local taxis are the tuk-tuk type things from India.

Khartoum water front

At the campsite we had a shower before venturing out into the heat. At 8pm it was still 42C. We had plans to go out for dinner but it seems that restaurants are not too popular here. Instead we found an internet cafe and spent the rest of the evening there. At last we were able to make contact with home - especially as it was my mums birthday. Hurray for mobile phones - it works here unlike in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.

In Islamic cultures Friday is a day off so we stayed at the campsite and caught up on chores. The heat was really debilitating and it took all day for me to wash the car and the clothes. Andrew fixed the alternator - thankfully we had the right spare parts - and we could have air-con again. That night we all went out to try some street scoff. The local dishes are chunks of meat (mostly fat), fuul (pounded beans) which were very bland, and lots of bread. There was also the offering of a communal bone in gravy for us all to suck on! Otherwise there were the halava stalls selling their delicious sweet cakes and then there were the juice bars where you get freshly squeezed orange, mango, guava and raspberry juices. They are so sweet though but at 50 dinar are an absolute treat.

Gordon managed to find a chap that wanted to sell us some local hooch so we all marched off across the darkness to some housing estate in the middle of nowhere. There were people about sitting on old bed frames in the heat and out came the booze in a disguised container. We all took a sip but weren't too impressed. A few minutes later another chap arrived and started asking us lots of questions. It turned out he was a local policeman but was just a bit too late to miss the action. He tried to get us to drink some more by asking if we had what we wanted, etc etc, but not actually stating that he was offering booze. Given that the penalty for being caught drinking here is public flogging and repatriation we think that it was all a set up in the hope of getting a bribe out of us. He asked us to return the next night - of course we would!

On Saturday after obtaining our photo permit (free from the tourism office) we spent four hours driving around trying to find the Libyan Embassy. The locals were sending us here, there and every where. Eventually we found it and reapplied for a visa. As expected, they had never heard of us - the Addis office had forwarded nothing to them. This time Tripoli should be aware of us. They seemed quite positive about getting permission to cross the border from Sudan too - normally a privilege of Sudanese and Libyans only. We discovered a delicious chawarma bar - Piccadelly. Here you can get the best chawarma and ice cream in town. That afternoon we had the puncture fixed and spent some time in a net cafe only to discover that there were problems with our website. It will be great to look back on but really has been a lot of work and hassle - for us and for Simon and James back home who are on the business end of things. The net cafe hired out films on CD-R so we borrowed 'Something about Mary' and hoped it would work on the lappy. It was excellent. We used Dennis' lappy as it is a more powerful machine and connected the sound to the stereo system of the car and there we were - cinema 1 off the back of Punda. What a laugh.

The next day we had a few hours at the British Council which turned out to be nothing like the one in Addis, sadly. I had hoped to read the newspapers but the locals here are so friendly they just wanted to chat. Eventually I got kicked out at siesta time having read about two pages. That afternoon we visited the Omdurman souk which was good fun. The bean stalls were good and the vegetables delicious. People gave us dates and obliged in a bit of photography. We bought a paraffin burner made out of an old tomato tin. They recycle everything here. Andrew bought a dagger.

The heat is quite something here. Trying to get to sleep is a bit of a mission. Despite being really really hot there's no wind and you toss and turn for hours. Then just as you nod off the call to 'Allah' starts from the minaret. By morning we are shattered and could do with a good nights kip. Everyone is the same. Trying to drink is also a mission. We force litres and litres of water down ourselves each day but hardly manage more than three piddles. It is great here if you are on a diet - lots of water, little food and lots of sweat. As I write this at 9pm sitting in a chair with the lappy on the back bumper of Punda the air temperature is 36.6C and the tow ball is even hotter from the heat of the day.

The people here are so interested in us that they sit around us and watch us - around the car, in the shower, anywhere! There were a group of army recruits staying at the campsite and during their time off they would come to watch the white mans circus. Having fifty or sixty people around got to be quite annoying but you cannot tell them off because they are too nice. They just smile at you and give you bananas.

On Monday we were at a bit of a loose end. We had panned to visit a museum but then found out that they are closed on Mondays. Instead we just faffed around town and visited the Disney Ice bar which is not as good as Picadelly. There was no news on the Libya visa.

On Tuesday we applied for Egyptian visas (2 photos, $24, one day - much better than in Addis) because as time goes on it looks less likely that the Libyan visa will materialise before our Sudanese one runs out. Gordon, Dennis and Aaron had already got their Egyptian visas and decided to leave Khartoum and head north. They had given up on the idea of going through Libya.

Getting into the Egyptian Embassy is quite interesting. If you get one man he tries to send you away and tells you to return on Thursday which is visa day. If you get the other chap you get invited in to see the man who issues the visa and is willing to see you at any time. I'm not sure whether 6000 dinar is the correct price though but you get the stamp in your passport very quickly! He asked us to return that afternoon to collect the visas so we dashed off to meet the others as planned. However, they failed to make the rendezvous and by the time we returned to the embassy it was shut. A bit grumpy we returned to the campsite then went off with Derek to Picadelly for a chawarma. But no...no chawarma...devastating. We had to make do with a very tasty burger. This time the shop people decided that we couldn't have a three scoop ice cream like before - it had to be a five scooper! The nescafe one has to be the best.

The following morning after collecting our Egyptian visas and stocking up on scoff from some excellent supermarkets in the New Extension part of town we were ready to leave. Just then a couple of chaps gave us a box of kit-kats - 36 of them for our journey. Amazing. I didn't realise at the time who they were from and was sad not to have been able to thank them.

Soon we were on the road and the first road block loomed. Providing the paperwork is in order, that is you have your travel permit then there is no problem. After a couple of hours we reached the site of the ancient pyramids of Meroe where we expected to meet Gordon and Co. Their tracks were there but they had decided to move on to Atbara a few hours earlier.

A load of children from the village appeared with their old rice sacks full of goodies which they laid out in front of us. I have never seen such a pile of old tat - pyramid replicas, broken baskets, old broken shells, old beads (apparently quite fashionable), a camel skin wallet without the stitching and an old cat skin which you could shove your arm into and pretend it's still alive! Andrew bought a tiny pyramid to get the children off our backs.

The back of Meroe as the sun sets

Soon the sun was setting and with a pyramid backdrop a lovely evening followed - with no interruptions from locals, no starring and no mosque.

In the morning we were fortunate enough to get to the pyramid gate as a tour group arrived. They asked us to join them, but there was the slight problem of the absence of a permit. Apparently you are meant to have a permit from the Ministry of Antiquities to visit these sites. Each permit costs $10. The two guards decided to overlook the formalities in favour of a little something or other! We gave then a bit of cash (approx. $1 each), a bottle of water and a packet of fags we had been carrying around since Gibraltar. The tour was excellent. The pyramids were in various states having been partially destroyed by the Ottomans. Others had been improved and you could walk inside the entrance areas and see the carvings and hieroglyphics from years ago. Apparently part of one of the walls is housed at the British Museum so it will be interesting to see when we return.

The front of Meroe in the evening

Half of the day was then spent trying to find the others. Usually tourists are highly visible in towns and as everyone knows what the tourists are up to you only have to ask one or two people and you will be pointed in the right direction. This time it was different and we heard a variety of stories. It turned out that they had already left on the Atbara ferry. This would not be a safe option for us on our own so decided to take the easier route to Wadi Halfa following the train track route. By 5pm we were camped up next to the Nile where only a few people passed us by. The desert sky was lovely and over a few coffees (would have loved a beer) we discussed the changes amongst our friends at home. Our trip is coming to an end and it was a lovely evening to reflect on things.

A few locals greeted us in the morning but we decided to drive for an hour and stop somewhere really remote for breakfast. The further north you go the more remote it gets and soon we were surrounded by miles and miles of desert through which runs a train line and telegraph poles. The train line goes directly to Wadi Halfa solely for the purpose of meeting ferries from Egypt.

The route to Abu Hamed was quite tricky in parts with episodic soft sand but generally there were few problems. The locals at Abu Hamed detained us for quite some time with offerings of delicious food, including local custard. We had tea at Omars house then tea at Omars friends house before filling up with diesel at 150% of the normal price (but this place is remote) and topping up with water. You should see the disgusting water that the locals drink - brown stuff straight out of the Nile! Thank goodness for our filtration system. After bumping into Derek we were back on the road for an hour before finding a campspot where there was not a soul in sight. Fantastic.

Another day of desert driving followed but the sand was much harder on the latter 369km stretch. It was very hot and we were relieved to reach Wadi Halfa and have a cold drink. With the wind blowing it is like being in a tumble drier. Here we met up with Derek and with Midhat who we had heard a lot about. He is the tourist officer and is the man that sees you safely onto a ferry up to Egypt (or vice versa). There was no news on the cargo ferry's arrival so we would just have to wait for a few days. The local food was tempting and we enjoyed an evening with the hospitable locals eating a very salty dish of fuul and fish. Midhat handed us a copy of Geoff and Tienny Kingsmills website for us to read as it contained information about their trip and included details of the ferry. We were astonished to find a reference to our website as we had never heard of these people before (their trip ended as ours began) but they had travelled with Caroline and Ross who are friends of our friends (Richard and Jo). The travellers world never stops amazing us and we had a smile on our faces all night.

The following morning was very hot. For some reason we had a flat tyre but the local tyre man sorted it out. I have never seen someone so capable with a couple of tyre levers and this old contraption for breaking the bead. By the time the old puncture site was vulcanised we were ready to hit the juice bar and sample the mango and lemon juices. Later in the afternoon we went fishing - Andrew caught a reasonable sized one. Midhat invited us for dinner at his home and we had a lovely welcome from his family. In the courtyard we ate fish, pasta and custard and spent some time with the animals - one green monkey and two crocodiles. The crocs were small but ferocious and the monkey, called Nob (Nubian for 'gold') was fantastic. He took a dislike to Andrew but for some reason liked me. He climbed on my shoulders and proceeded to groom me. Now I have seen monkeys on TV rummaging through the hair of their chums looking for mites but I never expected a monkey would ever do that to me. What an extraordinary sensation having a monkey comb your hair and scoff the bugs that had landed there during the day whilst fishing. It was just wonderful - until he tried to chew off a small mole!

After dinner we were invited to a local Nubian wedding ceremony. Apparently all the village goes so we weren't intruding. The marriage happened the previous week but the village party is a later event. The women sit at one end of the room, the men at the other. The women dance together and the men dance together - all in straight lines moving forwards and backwards parallel to each other. There is only one dance and no opportunity for a wiggle. This was strict body behaviour stuff. The bride looked miserable and there was no food or drink as at a western wedding but it was great to be involved in such an event.

That night was the coolest in ages and it was lovely to get a good sleep. After discovering that the ferry would be approximately another ten days we decided to camp up on the lake shores and have a peaceful day of relaxing and doing a few small chores. Absolute bliss. There was no news of Gordon, Dennis and Aaron and we started to get a little concerned as they hadn't arrived. That evening Midhat arrived with news that the ferry had arrived and we would find out some timing details tomorrow. A peaceful nights sleep followed.

For breakfast we had the remainder of last nights curry - yum, yum. Andrew checked over the car and to our surprise found that one of our heavy duty custom built springs had broken. Perhaps this would end any plans to visit Libya!

Curiosity got the better of us and we decided to take a look at the ferry. We were pleasantly surprised at its condition, then found out that the boat we were looking at was not our ferry. Ours was around the back and looked a bit worse for wear. Apparently it arrived 30 years ago from Romania! Our ferry wasn't going to go anywhere for at least another week so we thought we would go and do a bit more sight seeing around the Nile but spied three travellers (Frank, Steffan and Kaorda) who had just arrived from Egypt and spent the evening with them swapping stories.

With the arrival of the passenger ferry from Aswan the market stalls were now overflowing with fruit and vegetables. Apples and grapes were on offer! After stocking up with supplies for our desert tour we asked Midhat if he would like to join us. He had no impending work so off we all went down south for a play in the sand. In fact the first part of the journey was along an existing undulating and rough going road towards Dongola. Within a few hours we had caught up with Frank and Co and decided to travel together for a while. It wasn't long before we had a puncture.

The road towards Abri from Wadi Halfa is beautiful. The desert landscape is broken by oases along the Nile. Date palms lined the shoreline and plain white houses with coloured Nubian doorways filled deserted streets. It was very very hot and the locals obviously weren't as daft as the travellers.

Just as we were looking for somewhere to camp we met Gordon, Dennis and Aaron driving towards us. It was good to see them - they had just been travelling slowly from the south. Abri provided us with fuul (what else is there to eat?), sweet cakes, juice bars and a free camping location next to the Nile.

In the morning we were all up early to get a taxi ferry over the Nile to the Amara Temple. The taxi worked out to be about $20 for eight of us which was far more favourable than the original $60 price. As we got off the boat and walked in the intense heat to the Temple we had high expectations. We had expected some sort of grand construction but instead got a fallen pillar and a couple of hollowed out stone bowls. We wondered if we were at the right place! Surely this couldn't be it!

Asmara - That's all folks

But it was, and we hoped the other temples further south weren't of the same standard. Back on the boat the captain wasn't too happy with the agreed figure, he wanted more - but got no extra.

Back in Abri as we consoled ourselves with some of the local juices Justin and Andrea turned up. They had made it through to Sudan on their own without any problems. After three days of sunshine the muddy tracks between Metema and Gedaref had dried out and what took us four days took them four hours. They put it down to good driving and having a Range Rover though!

The man at the puncture repair shop got his hammer out to break the tyre bead and our simultaneous "aghhhh" was followed by a dash to get out the high lift jack to do the job. Never let anyone with a hammer near your tyres .

Just south of Abri there are more temples on Sai Island which turned out to be excellent, especially at sunset. One was like a whole village and you could spend hours just rummaging around through the stones with hieroglyphics.

Sai Island Ruins - well worth a rummage

The ferry to the island runs twice per day (GPS co-ordinates below) but we agreed a special charter at 1000 dinar for the return part of the journey as the ferry usually ends its day on the other shore. It is usually 50 dinar per person each way and the ferry can take a couple of cars. Only us and Franks crowd went in the evening and by the time the others went the next day the ferry charter had risen considerably in price. The position next to the ferry dock was beautiful and we decided to camp for the night but there were these nocturnal flies that were tiny enough to get through the mosquito nets and caused havoc. I spent all night scratching whilst they chomped away on any bit of exposed skin.

We were really tired the following day and the journey to Dongola took all day. To our surprise we had a puncture but soon put the spare on. Five minutes later we were driving again and ten minutes after that had another puncture. What's going on? As we no longer carried two spares we had to fix one of them. Fortunately we were next to a shady tree as the temperature was touching on 50C. We had to get the tyre levers out together with the high lift jack to use to break the bead on the tyre. The inner tube had completely exploded but thankfully we had a spare. In this heat on corrugations the tyres really suffer and any patches on the tubes tend to peel off.

Just before reaching Dongola we had tea with one of Midhats relatives. What a lovely crowd, so hospitable. We all sat out in the courtyard on beds drinking tea. If you were feeling tired you could lie down if you wanted to, it is that relaxed here.

By the time we reached Dongola it was dark and we had to leave our dinner on the table in the dash to get the last ferry (700 dinar for a car with passengers) into the town. Checking in with the police was a bit of an inconvenience although necessary. There is no camping allowed in the town but there are a few hotels to chose from. All had very hot rooms or very cool breezy roofs to sleep on - unless you are a woman where the roof is off limits because that is where the men sleep! We ended up making a fuss at the police station and camped outside their building. There were reports of malaria but no hotels offered nets so we refused to do anything other than sleep in the safety of our tents.

Dongola turned out to be really nice but we only stayed long enough to fix the puncture, change some money and buy a couple of spare inner tubes. The man at the car parts place was apologetic about the prices of the tubes - he obviously didn't know his prices were the cheapest in Africa. We couldn't believe our luck at 5000 dinar for two.

Just as we reached the ferry the wind started to howl and the air turned brown and very humid. This haboob was to stay with us for the day and made the desert crossing rather unexciting. For once I felt the harshness of the desert - barren and unforgiving. During a haboob it is not a nice place to be. Thankfully we had our GPS. There were also markers every kilometre on the route to Karima but they mark an old track which is now very sandy. Following tracks is a waste of time because they take you all over the place. We just followed the route on the GPS which took us exactly to the Jebel Barkal pyramids where we camped for the night.

Andrew had spent the day not feeling too well and had a case of bad bottom. The next day it was my turn. Relentless diarrhoea and dehydration made for a delirious and uncomfortable day. The endless supply of rehydration mixtures forced down me were horrible and it took until the following morning to feel better.

The pyramids were good fun - Andrew climbed one of them before we went to see the Temple at Jebel Barkal.

The Jebel Barkal tombs with the Jebel in the background

Formalities had to be taken care of first - police notification, security clearance, photo permit check (impossible if you have arrived from the north), ticket from Ministry of Antiquities in Khartoum (again impossible from the north). The latter you can get around by giving the chap a few bob which is a good deal given that the ticket is usually $10 each. Inside the Temple you can see carvings and paintings dating back 5000 years. It is beautiful.

Inside the tombs cut into Jebel Barkal

The next sight was to be even more spectacular. About 15 km south at El Kurru we had to ask for Ali to show us the tombs of some king and queen. Here the paintings were amazing - well worth the effort finding this place.

El Kuru wall paintings - The queen is being fed on her bed

This is the boat to take them on the great journey to the after life.

Afterwards we had to say goodbye to Frank and Co as they were off south and we were turning back north for a 400 km adventure through the desert. After a night in Karima we loaded up with fuel for 1200 km and water and food for a week. You cannot take risks in the desert - too many locals have already died. The police were informed of our journey and plans made with one of the local drivers for communication between him and Station 6 later that day. There is a fantastic communication system amongst the people here. If you don't make a checkpoint within reasonable time a search party is sent out to look for you. There are tracks from Karima to Station 6 which you can follow or you can take the tiger line direct using your GPS which takes you through fantastic desert scapes and gives you the feeling that you are the first explorers in the area.

The desert run to Wadi Halfa

By 4pm we reached Station 6 (one of the train stations between Khartoum and Wadi Halfa) where we were greeted by Miriam, Omar and friends. They offered us tea, coffee, bread, showers, water, a bed for the night...but we needed to head on and reach Wadi Halfa that night. I was very upset that my bad bottom refused to behave in front of our hosts. I had to dash around the front of the car but the explosion happened before I could deal with the underwear. Not nice! The reality of travelling!

A lorry had gone ahead of us and we had fresh tracks to follow along a great route for the remaining 200 km. The open cold drink store was a welcome sight as was our campspot next to Lake Nasser next to our chums.

Nice little camp spot at Wadi Halfa

By 7.30am we were up having had a very poor nights sleep due to five episodes of diarrhoea. It was all go at Wadi Halfa. The boat people decided that they wanted the cars on the ferry that day so we all had to dash around sorting out customs etc. In fact it was Midhat who was doing all the work while we waited around. The cars were inspected, the documents checked and we had to meet at the boat at 4pm. We had two hours spare in which to satisfy the craving for egg and chips. A telephone call to the Libyan Embassy resulted in a confused message but it seems like our visa has been approved as they asked us to collect it. That was no good to us so I asked them to forward our details to Cairo.

Here's our transport.....not very inspiring

The crew was still resting when we arrived at the boat. They hadn't got the ramps ready - not very amusing when we were told that we had to pay a bit extra to the crew for sorting out the ramps. Eventually all five cars were on the boat and the crew were pretty miffed at the 5000 dinar tip given. Too bad - we thought that $20 was pretty high given the local wage.

Within a few minutes the tent, awnings and hammocks were put in position for the duration of the trip then we put ourselves in the hammocks for an evening of pure indulgence. Then a haboob hit and we were in for a sandy dinner and a hot windy night.

The crew informed us that we would be leaving at 11am the following day so we were up early to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables from the market - thankfully it was Wednesday and the stalls were full. The journey back to the boat by donkey cart was good fun but was slower than walking. By 11am we were back on the boat with lots of food and a huge supply of ice from the fish factory to keep the drinks cold. The crew returned from the market with a lorry load of sacks and plonked them on the shore. Obviously our $20 tip was good after all!

By 4pm we were still waiting but it was lovely - reading in the hammocks, scoffing fresh vegetables and drinking ice cold drinks. Then it was all go and there were exit papers, passports, tickets and all sorts being given to us. Midhat had been dashing around on our behalf all day and finally got everything sorted out for us. We just had a bit of signing to do but the crew suddenly decided that it was time to leave (having kept us waiting for ages) and started the engines whist Midhat was still on the boat completing our formalities. There was barely time to say goodbye to him. It was a delight to have been able to spend time with him and his family and we will never forget the generous hospitality shown to us during our stay in Wadi Halfa.

Within a few minutes we were off, waving goodbye to Sudan and in a way waving goodbye to Africa as we headed towards developed Egypt. There were a sad few minutes to reflect as we waved to Midhat as he disappeared into the desert scene.

Then with no time to waste there was some serious hammock swinging to get on with as the boat cruised along at the grand rate of 11.9km/hr. Within two hours we were out of Sudanese waters and Egypt lay ahead.

 

Next "Egypt"

Click on a picture to see it full size

Punda slides into a deep rut The locals fins this most amusing Dennis calls out the AA Gordies got a captive audience Punda hits an air pocket - winch time!
Punda slides into a deep rut The locals find this most amusing Dennis calls out the AA Gordies got a captive audience Punda goes into an air pocket whilst towing the Series and couldn't quite make it out - Winch time!
Very sticky mud - time for a break Which is the best mud transport Great guys A lovely little campspot by a river But who's coming for tea
Very sticky mud - time for a break Which is the best mud transport ? Great guys A lovely little camp spot by a river But who's coming for tea ?
Big as you like Some of the tombs at Meroe Children of Meroe The Nile Lovely evening tuck spot
Big as you like ! Some of the tombs at Meroe The kids at Meroe try to show us whatever they have. The Nile - big and brown here Lovely evening tuck spot
Another puncture Steffan and Frank coming off the Sai ferry Jacs hiding behind a pillar - Sai Hieroglyphics on a stone at Sai Island Dates just waiting to be picked
Another puncture, this time we have to mend it as we're just used the spare Steffan & Frank coming off the Sai ferry Jacs hiding behind a pillar at one of the Sai ruins Heiroglyphics on a stone at Sai Island Dates just waiting to be picked. Careful these are a little sour
Burial guba Dhows being unloaded and loaded Midhat talks to the kids at Jebel Barkal Jacs and Midhat inside Jebel Barkal El Kuru tomb looking up the stairs
Burial Guba Dhows being loaded and unloaded Midhat talks to the kids around the burial pyramids at Jebel Barkal Jacs and Midhat inside a burial chamber cut into the Jebel Barkal Rock El Kuru Tomb looking up the stairs. It's very dark.
  A local man carrying reeds on his camels Midhat finds a water well    
  A local man carrying reeds on his camels Midhat manages to find a well so we can fill our tanks before heading into the desert.    

Restaurants as such are lacking but you can buy cheap street food around town.

Supermarkets are widely stocked with western goods which are priced at around UK prices or slightly more expensive.

There are no strawberry tarts at the Khartoum Hilton.

The staple food consists of fuul (black and white beans), lots of bread, pieces of grilled meat or stewed meat.

Chawarma bars are a common sight and are lovely.

No alcohol is allowed but you can get lots of sweet tea (shai), hibiscus tea (Karkaday) and freshly squeezed fruit juices.

The halava bars are wonderful if you like really sweet sticky cakes.

Fruit and vegetables are plentiful and cheap.

Ice cream at Picadelly is the best in Sudan.

 

 

from Ethiopia

 

Galabat

Border crossing with Metema  
Gedaref Four day journey Endless bushcamping
Khartoum via Wad Medani National Camping Site
Meroe to see the pyramids Bush camp next to pyramids
Wadi Halfa via Abu Hamed Bushcamping in the desert
Dongola via Abri Camped outside police station
Karima via desert route Camp at government hotel
Wadi Halfa via desert route & Station 6  
 

to Egypt

 

 

The Sudanese people are lovely and very welcoming. Expect to be offered endless hospitality and offers to stay in their homes.

Areas to the south are strictly off limits because of civil unrest.

The climate here is variable. In the south it is cool and moist, in the north it is hot and dry. Expect 45-50C. At night it is extremely hot and unless the wind blows don't expect to get much sleep. The locals have a siesta which can be quite frustrating if you want to get things done.

The paperwork can be a bit of a nuisance because it takes time to sort it out. Get your travel permit with every town mentioned on it at the earliest opportunity.

Fuel is very cheap and volumes are measured in gallons. Expect to pay 2250 Sudanese pounds per gallon (less than $0.9).

Permits for Jebel Barkal and the pyramids at Meroe cost $10 per person and are available from the Ministry of Antiquities in Khartoum.

Travelling direct to Libya is theoretically possible and involves permission to leave Sudan by an unofficial border and permission to enter Libya in the same manner. The journey is about 1300km across the desert and there are no fuel depots along the way.

The Wadi Halfa cargo ferry is a bit of a mystery. The No. 7 ferry comes down loaded from Egypt and stays at Wadi Halfa for around ten days before returning empty. There is no timetable for such an event so planning your trip through Sudan to coincide with the ferry is a hit and miss affair. The pontoon it tows is capable of carrying up to six cars which it theoretically could do for a nominal fee. However the company charges $365 per car (inc. insurance, passenger tickets, exit duties) and $50 per motorbike. This is almost entirely profit for the company. The rental of the whole boat is $1710 so if there are six cars it ends up being cheaper to rent the boat but the difference between boat rental and what we were doing couldn't be clarified. The land borders with Egypt are shut so you really are "over a barrel" as it is cheaper than shipping out of Port Sudan.

Seek out Midhat at the earliest opportunity once in Wadi Halfa. He is a lovely chap who will really take care of you.

Gedaref Intelligence N 14 02' 310 E 035 23' 747
Police N 14 02' 006 E 035 23' 049
Wadi Medani River Camp N 14 08' 154 E 033 50' 659

Khartoum

Car Parts Area N 15 35' 249 E 032 31' 379
Land Rover Garage N 15 36' 412 E 032 31' 879
British Council N 15 36' 190 E 032 31' 932
Tourist Office (Photo Permit) N 15 36' 118 E 032 31' 940
Egyptian Embassy N 15 36' 261 E 032 31' 373
Bookshop N 15 35' 463 E 032 32' 344
Libya Embassy N 15 34' 891 E 032 34' 391
Picadelly N 15 35' 025 E 032 31' 847
National Camping Ground N 15 31' 476 E 032 34' 177
Supermarket N 15 34' 771 E 032 32' 761
Alternative Campsite N 15 30' 754 E 032 37' 660
  Ferry to Sai Island N 20 45' 100 E 030 19' 930
Dongola Security Office N 19 10' 219 E 030 27' 968
Bank/Shops N 19 14' 444 E 030 28' 747
Karima Jebel Barkal N 18 32' 289 E 031 49' 328
El Kurru N 18 24' 591 E 031 46' 272
Police Station N 18 32' 523 E 031 50' 595
Government Hotel N 18 32' 835 E 031 50' 906
  Station 6 N 20° 45' 038 E 032 32' 824
Wadi Halfa Midhats Office N 21° 48' 043 E 031° 20' 945
Midhats Home N 21°47' 789 E 031° 22' 864

Camping Area

N 21° 48' 877 E 031° 19' 140
Gedaref Intelligence N 14 02' 310 E 035 23' 747
Police N 14 02' 006 E 035 23' 049
Wadi Medani River Camp N 14 08' 154 E 033 50' 659

Khartoum

Car Parts Area N 15 35' 249 E 032 31' 379
Land Rover Garage N 15 36' 412 E 032 31' 879
British Council N 15 36' 190 E 032 31' 932
Tourist Office (Photo Permit) N 15 36' 118 E 032 31' 940
Egyptian Embassy N 15 36' 261 E 032 31' 373
Bookshop N 15 35' 463 E 032 32' 344
Libya Embassy N 15 34' 891 E 032 34' 391
Picadelly N 15 35' 025 E 032 31' 847
National Camping Ground N 15 31' 476 E 032 34' 177
Supermarket N 15 34' 771 E 032 32' 761
Alternative Campsite N 15 30' 754 E 032 37' 660
  Ferry to Sai Island N 20 45' 100 E 030 19' 930
Dongola Security Office N 19 10' 219 E 030 27' 968
Bank/Shops N 19 14' 444 E 030 28' 747
Karima Jebel Barkal N 18 32' 289 E 031 49' 328
El Kurru N 18 24' 591 E 031 46' 272
Police Station N 18 32' 523 E 031 50' 595
Government Hotel N 18 32' 835 E 031 50' 906
  Station 6 N 20° 45' 038 E 032 32' 824
Wadi Halfa Midhats Office N 21° 48' 043 E 031° 20' 945
Midhats Home N 21°47' 789 E 031° 22' 864

Camping Area

N 21° 48' 877 E 031° 19' 140