Day 35 – 5 July
Last morning in Ethiopia. Set off after breakfast at the hotel for the Sudan border. Not too far to go as we are only going 80 km into Sudan and then bush camping. We are astounded as the road is new tarmac and very few people and animals on this side compared to the rest of Ethiopia. The only real problem that slows us down in that there is evident a sale of cattle somewhere and great numbers of herds of cattle are being driven along the road.
The border crossing is a nightmare with “customs” wanting to look at all the vehicle engines etc, which takes about an hour. On the Sudanese side photo and copies of passports have to be produced the officials are officious. Customs are a real joke with not knowing how to fill in forms and wrongly tearing papers. This is happening inside the office with the 3 drivers, Paul, Mark and Willy, while Denys, Andre and Rene standing outside in the sun not knowing what is happening and contemplating the worst. This takes 1.5 hours to sort out. Eventually we get away having paid our taxes. As usual it is to too early to set up camp so we will look for something in Gederef itself. No luck, which in itself is a blessing for us as we find a super bush camp site about 90kms further on behind some rocks away from the traffic and remote enough to away from prying eyes. This is the best bush camp so far by far.
Day 36 – 6 July
The road to Khartoum takes us over the Blue Nile into a small town called where we are to have breakfast at a restaurant alongside the Nile. What a joke as the restaurant is run down and filthy. We land up buying bread and cokes at a little corner shop. The bread ( small loaves more like buns) is very good, hot and fresh sold in newspaper.
Khartoum is far more organized than the cities of the countries we have been through so far. Teams Lipstick and Bulldog have decided to have the luxury of a hotel for the 3 days in Khartoum while we decide to stick to the plan and camp next to the Nile at Blue Nile Yacht Club. The place is run down but suits our needs as we are pretty self sufficient.
Denys in the meantime who has been running a temperature and has a headache comes down with malaria.
Days 37 -7 July and Day 38 – 8 July
While Denys sweats it out Paul takes the time off to read and catch up with some rest time.
Day 39 – 9 July
Denys still under the weather but having taken the course of Coartem for malaria is hopeful that today should be a better day.
We get through Khartoum and head north according to our schedule for Kerma. The road north is a brand new road and the travelling is easy, reaching Dongola at about 2.00pm and have coffee with a local resident ( read the other team’s blog). After coffee we head north to Kerma and stay in rooms at a museum site where they are still uncovering ancient buildings and artifacts.
Unfortunately the scribe is still trying to recover from malaria.
Day 40 – 10 July
On schedule we have a casual start as we head off for Wadi Halfa our final destination in Sudan before crossing the Aswan Dam into Egypt. There is no real hurry as we have to meet our “fixer” who is going to sort all our documents for the shipping onto the barge and our ferry ride up The Aswan. The vehicles go separately and are going on Wednesday. The ferry is also leaving on Wednesday so we have plenty of time. At about 11.00am we receive a message from the “fixer” that there is a barge leaving today AND we can leave with the same barge. Naturally all teams members are excited as we can make up 3 days by not having to wait in Wadi Halfa for the 3 days. This time can rather be used by driving up Egypt alongside the Red Sea with some scuba and swimming instead of sitting in a hotel.
Team Lipstick go on ahead while we together with Team Bulldog to bring up the rear. Sorry to say as we arrive in Wadi Halfa we are met by Team Lipstick who tell us we cannot go with the vehicles. This is devastating after the anticipation of leaving today. The good news is that our vehicles can be loaded so they will be waiting for us at Aswan when we arrive on Thursday.
A mad panic to get clothes, food, freezers and documents out and taken to our rooms in the “hotel” before the drivers take the vehicles to customs and then to load them onto the barge. The big wait starts.
Day 41 – 11 July
There is nothing to do Halfa and the day is simply whiled away doing nothing! What a waste of time. The “hotel” is simply a kitchen (absolutely no comment) bedrooms with no linen and unclean ablutions. Not all the electrical points or lights are working, but luckily Rene and Andre sort a few connections so the freezers can at least work.
Lunch is at a local restaurant – quite an experience.
The rest of the day is at the hotel in air conditioned rooms until the electricity packs up. Well, we are in Africa and as the saying goes “Africa is not for sissies”. Supper tonight is as last night – a braai, to enable us to finish the bit of meat which has been brought from East London.