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Published: November 27th 2013
Our ferry from Egypt chugged in to Wadi Halfa in Sudan just before lunch. Wadi Halfa is a dusty hot border town, with not a whole lot going down. Apparently we stayed in the room that Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman used during their Long Way Down trip. The bikes hadn't arrived so we headed into town to kill a little time. A large group of young guys in green khaki came striding past us a one stage, then a few minutes later one guy in police uniform came sprinting past us, with the group in hot pursuit. They caught him, gave him a bit of a beating, and then took him away. We found out later that the police guy had arrested one of the army guys for drinking, and this had obviously backfired on him badly.
Despite this police / army dispute, the people in Sudan were noticeably more chilled, genuine, and friendly than the Egyptians. It was a pleasure to be there.
A day after we got to Wadi Halfa, the rice barge with our bikes arrived. It was good to see them again, and in exactly the same position we had left them. However, in
a gutting administrative blow, the Sudanese customs authorities would not accept Jaap's Swiss Carnet. Woah. Can't go back to Egypt, can't leave the port...
After an incredible show of trust and generosity, our fixer's brother offered to act as guarantor for a new Sudanese Carnet that would cover the rest of Africa for Jaap. I left with three other bikers Brett, Chris, and Ron for Khartoum, with the plan that Jaap would do a big day's riding to meet us there once his Carnet had been sorted. Brett, Chris, and Ron are all independent riders who have joined for the ride to Cape Town. They're good guys, and we may ride as far as Kenya together.
I loved the ride through the Nubian Desert. Parts of it were exactly the same as the images I've seen from the Curiosity rover on Mars. Completely dry, rocky, red, no life. The heat was impressive, and it was not even the hottest time of the year, but we made good progress on the perfect tarmac.
We split the trip to Khartoum by staying at Karima, and were surprised by Nubian pyramids as we left the town the next morning. No
signage, no fencing, just some soft sand to deter GS1200 riders (Ron put his bike down a couple of times getting to them).
In Khartoum, we stayed with a lovely guy called Asker, who was a contact of Brett's. A few hours was taken up obtaining our Ethiopian visas, before we retreated back to the cool of the apartment. We got the good news that Jaap's Sudanese Carnet had been completed in Khartoum, sent by bus to him in Wadi Halfa, and that he had left just before lunch. He arrived about 11pm after riding 1020km.
The next day we headed south east towards Ethiopia. On the fast straight roads the change in vegetation was apparent. From nothing living up north, to the occasional tough plant, to regular shrubs and tough stunted trees, to agriculture nearer to Ethiopia. Once into Ethiopia this change was to accelerate as we climbed into the Highlands...
Our video of Sudan can be seen here
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