We (us, seven other overland jeeps, a massive German truck and about 9 motorbikes all doing a similar Africa trip) all had to meet at the police station in Aswan at 8.30 in the morning. After about two hours of sorting things out from a helper of Daves (from South Africa), we all drove in a police escourted convoy to the port.
After a few more bribes from Dave at the port, we avoided getting the jeep searched and about 4 hours later finally got the jeep onto the barge. We then got onto the separate passenger ferry for our overnight trip to Wadi Halfa down the Nile. Our first class cabin was certainly not first class with a pretty pungent smell, but at least it had air-con.
Arrived in Wadi Halfa the next afternoon, what a sight, absolutely nothing there...
Got off the boat and after going through customs, we finally headed outside and into Sudan. The guys got in the back of an old land rover and I got into a Tuc Tuc with Dave and Magdi and went to Magdi’s house.
The next day the barges arrived with the jeeps; however Podge had to wait there all day to get the jeep off. Since he was gone so long, I sorted out a couple of other options just in case...
We ended our last night in Wadi Halfa with some gorgeous whiskey smuggled in by Stan and Frans… a perfect treat in a dry country. South Africans and the Dutch/Germans are all such a lovely group of people and hopefully our paths will cross further on down through Africa. We promised Dave we’d call into him when we get to South Africa, and I’ve to return a book I borrowed from him.
Stan, Lenie, Frans, Carline, Dave, Magdi, Anita,
Me, Dela, Marc, Janer, Podge, and Coen.
The next day we left Wadi Halfa and drove for hours through the desert. Throughout the trip myself and Podge have been having discussion after discussion about how long it would take to climb up certain mountains we pass. So when we passed one in the desert I was finally asked to put my money where my mouth was. I said it wouldn’t take more than an hour. Podge said I wouldn’t make it up in under two.
So, I popped on my trusty Yassir Arafat scarf, a white t-shirt and took two and a half bottles of water, oh and a Dioralite too, just in case. I’ve been up sugarloaf loads of times so not a bother. However the Sugarloaf is not in the Sahara, not as high and doesn’t have the midday desert sun beating down on you. It was HOT. HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT!!! I have to say, Sudan is the hottest country I’ve ever been in.
Anyway, I set off feeling very optimistic with a spring in my step. Half way up I passed a small cave with the biggest bats I’ve ever seen coming in and out. They were monsters. It was getting hotter and hotter and I was sweating buckets wondering what the hell had I gotten myself into? A man and his pride!!! Anyway, after about 42 min I was nearly at the top….
I found an overhanging rock and crawled into it for some well-needed shade, a sachet of Dioralite and a few minutes to contemplate life.
When I finally crawled out to continue, I quickly realised I had been defeated by a cliff. If I had managed to climb up there, there’s no way in hell I would have gotten back down. So the little voice in my head said; I think that’s enough Johnny and I started the long descent back down. Probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life. Destroyed my runners and got some whopper blisters too. Podge, enjoy your $1. Here’s a view from my last stop with the Nile in the background…
…and one of the jeep. It’s the little dot under the arrow…
Oh, did I mention it was HOT!!!
That evening it got eerily dusty and you could barely see the sun as we drove further and further south. I was so dehydrated and completely knackered. We free camped in the desert and surprise surprise, it was hot. When I got into my tent, the ground was roasting. Worst nights sleep ever!
Got up the next day and drove few hours to the pyramids in Nuri, which were actually built by Tutankamun, I think? Don’t quote me on that one!
Headed further south towards Khartoum and free camped again in the desert where Podge caught us some dinner. Janer tried her best, but it still tasted like shit.
As soon as it got dark we were joined by a load of bats flying around our heads, if you were on your own you’d be brickin’ yourself.
After a lovely long sleep in the desert with some interesting noises coming from outside, we finally headed for the capital, Khartoum. Stopped off at some other pyramids on the way but weren’t that impressive. As we got closer to the city, the landscape changed from sheer barren desert into more desert/savannah like landscape with massive flat white grassy areas and those African trees that grow wide with spikey leaves you see in programs about Africa funnily enough.
Finally we reached Khartoum, but had to wait until Tuesday to go the the Ethiopian embassy and get our visas. So, spent all day yesterday trying to get the air-con fixed in the jeep and after a lot of sweating and waiting, they told us to come back again today. Applied for visas this morning, then spent the rest of the day again back in the garage part of town (cars everywhere). Very productive day as we also picked up new straps for the roof rack and a shovel. Lots and lots of hard haggling though!!!
Roll on Ethiopia with its cold cold climate and those kids who throw stones at your car... Podge is going to go mental!