In order to avoid the sweltering heat we started to dismantle the campsite with the early sunrise. Within minutes of the sun showing face on the horizon the temperature already climbed to almost 30 degrees.
Back on the main road we headed towards Khartoum passing many police stops where at one point the officer took our passport to his container office seemingly to record each and every detail of our team members.
At the first bigger town named Wad Modani we made first contact again with the Blue Nile and decided that the time was ripe to have a coffee at one of the Riverside restaurants which we found.
Unfortunately none of them was ready to serve us so we got some supplies from a little shop close by and proceeded towards Khartoum.
Every now and then we saw dead cattle lying on the site of the road – these obviously being dumped after passing out on the long trucks which transport cattle from Ethiopia to northern Sudan. It must be a cruel trip for these animals in sweltering heat and those who die will be dropped on the road site to make some more space for those who survive the ordeal.
Towards Khartoum the traffic became thicker but nothing compared to the chaos we saw in Addis Ababa. The originally planned stop over at the Blue Nile Saving Club did not materialise as the area was very run down and had no space for putting up our tents. Team Icevan who use their on-board beds however stayed there whereas Lipstick and Bulldog found a hotel some 1km further. The hotel is called the Burj Al-Fateh and seemingly in the upper price range. After taking a chance and Willy’s negotiation with the friendly manager at reception we were granted a 55% discount and got 2 rooms for 165 USD each. We were now in the most luxurious accommodation so far on our trip and checked in immediately.
After settling in we made contact with Midhat Mahir who has an office in Wadi Halfa and offers to do all the bookings for the ferry trip over the Aswan Dam to Egypt. We accordingly made all bookings for the cars as well as the drivers who by now are some 3 days behind us – but assure us by sums that they will arrive in time for the ferry. The Ferry leaves Wadi Halfa every Wednesday so hopefully they are able to catch up.
Returning to the hotel we were asked by the reception to please move our cars away from the entrance area for security reasons. After some more enquiry we found out that South Africa’s previous state president – Thabo Mbeki – was due to arrive shortly.
Thabo is currently head of the African Union special envoy to Sudan who is charged with mediation and a peaceful split of Sudan into 2 independent states – North Sudan and South Sudan. This new independence is taking place on 9th July the day we will leave Khartoum to head north again.
Willy quickly wrote a letter to Thabo Mbeki requesting an audience with him as a fellow South African and the receptionist promised to pass the letter on through the various security levels.
An hour later Andre met an Afrikaans speaking security office and Lipsticks team chatted to him in the lobby when another security officer approached him with an envelope. This was the letter which Willy previously wrote and the security officer undertook to secure a meeting between us and Thabo Mbeki.
A further hour later Mr Mbeki joined us in the lobby and team Lipstick and Bulldog had a nice chat with him and group pictures were taken.
Unfortunately he had to leave urgently to again fly down to Addis Ababa where talks on the peaceful transition of the 2 new Sudanese States take place after having broken down the previous day.
So he parted after whishing all the Elao members best of luck and safe travel not forgetting to hint that it might still be too early to drive through Libya…..- likewise the team whished Thabo all the best in mediating between the various parties involved in the split of Sudan.