WILD AFRICAN QUEST – 16
27 – 30 January 2020
Mention Sudan and ideas of civil war quickly come to mind. Conflicts between the north and south of Sudan continue to rage to this day between different ethnic groups seeking to gain power. It is not listed as a popular tourist destination and indeed is still in its embryonic stage when it comes to tourism, yet it offers a great deal of hidden gems.
As one of the hottest places in the world, it is also one of the largest countries in Africa. The name means, “land of the Blacks” attributed to the dark colour of their skin and in fact the Pharaohs of Sudan where known as the Black Pharaohs.
Leaving Gondor early, Morgan arrived to the border around 10h00, announced by a flurry of whatsapps over exchange rates “Need help, 1 dollar equals 45.30 Sudanese pounds. My maths is shocking so please check, does that mean 35 dollars will equal 1585 pounds?” A pretty impressive calculation for one poor at maths we may add.
Sudan may be a country gripped by ongoing civil war but the one thing they are known for is their friendliness and hospitality.
“Within minutes of completing my visa checks I went to exit the border and had to produce my documents at the last checkpoint. They were all eating so they asked me to park my bike and join them. We huddled around a large plate in a tent and shared a meal as strangers from the same continent but people of different lands. Afterwards, we washed our hands; they greeted me and sent me on my way without even checking the paperwork.”
But a travelling nomad is easy pickings when it comes to be duped into parting with your money and at the first fuel stations he once again came upon a group of men sitting around eating. “The guys insisted I sit down and share their lunch, which I must add was pretty tasty, 8 people eating out of one bowl with your right hand!!! Then they smiled and proceeded to rip me off, price per litre is 7.87 pounds, I paid 75 per liter.”
Sudan is vast with 853 km of the country composed of the Red Sea. The Nile runs through the country forming from the Blue Nile in Lake Tana in Ethiopia and the White Nile of the African Great Lakes. The two rivers meet just north of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
Khartoum is frenetic with the usual traffic and noise of a city but the people no less friendly. It is not surprising that even here Morgan met a friendly local on a bike who offered to drive him around to look for good bike oil, and insisted on buying in lunch.
Tea and coffee is present everywhere in Sudan. Yes you may argue this to be common in most parts of the world, but here is it engrained in everyday life. It is normally served on the street by women who have their own coffee stand. It is strong, sweet and brewed Turkish style.
At Khartoum Morgan met up with a group of overlanders. With his next destination being Egypt – the reports coming in from them were not good. Hassles at the border, endless delays, and fines for innocuous issues. And so Morgan contemplated skipping Egypt altogether and heading across to Saudi, north into Jordon and then onto Israel. From there, the idea was to take the bike by Ferry across to Italy.
Now for anyone reading this who may contemplate this route, let us help make the decision for you, in the way it was pretty much made for Morgan. As a South African you need a visa for Saudi and although they have an E-Visa system, South African passport holders are not part of it. It takes 4 days and requires finger printing. Option 1 – denied
The next thought was to enter Egypt and instead of tackling the traffic of Cairo, head to Hurguda and take a ferry across to Sharm-el-Shaik. Several emails bounced back and forth to companies that run this ferry line only to learn that while the ferries do run, you can only take cars, not bikes on the ferry. Option 2 – denied.
That left the option of heading to Cario and then around to the Taba Border and into Israel and up to Haifa. However, with the influx of refugees from Syria, the ferry’s from Haifa are not currently running and when they do, the ferries are passenger only and run to Cyprus, then Palermo, then Italy. Option 3 – denied …..
Sometimes the decisions are just made for you so it was north, to Egypt through Meroë. 240km to the north
Meroë is the site of around 200 ancient pyramids built between 2,700 and 2,300 BCE. Smaller than Egyptian neighbours, they have narrower bases and steeper sides. For those aufait with ancient history, this was the Kingdom of Kush and a great introduction to the temples and pyramids that were to come.
Post by Debra Bouwer