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Sudan

Travel Journal

22.08.2006, Ferry – Wadi Halfa, Sudan, 0 km

The time on the ferry passed surprisingly fast. After a sweet morning tea we handed over our passports and were told to pick them up again before we leave the ship in Wadi Halfa. We reached Wadi Halfa by 1 pm and were greeted on the ship by Mazar Mahir (Mithat’s brother), who came to pick-up his sister (she was on the same ferry) and us. The port of Wadi Halfa cannot really be called a port, it is more simply a lake shore with the possibility to secure a ship and some distant administration buildings. We followed Mazar and his sister to the custom’s house, grandly called “arrival hall”. There we had to show our luggage, got a little red sticker on each piece of luggage (Jens kept sporting these stickers on his T-Shirts ever since) and waited for our passports. We used the opportunity to change our Egyptian Pounds into Sudanese Dinar and bought our first Sudanese falafel from it. Delicious – highly recommended. We then filled out some more papers needed for the registration the next day. Finally we got our passports and emerged into the heat of the Sudanese sun. Outside the building we were greeted by easily 20 Series III Landys, just like Tembo. They function as taxis and are painted with beautiful colors and pictures. Mazar told us that roughly 4.000 Series III Landys work in Wadi Halfa. Tembo was not due to arrive until tomorrow, and so we took the Landy taxi to Mazar’s home, where we were invited to stay.

So we had our first entry into a Nubian Sudanese home and could enjoy the Sudanese hospitality. The houses are all build with bricks made from the clay coming from the Nile and the Lake Nasser. They all have a wall going around the house and when entering through the (mostly brightly colored) front door one reaches the open patio of the house, where the family life takes place and at night the beds are placed for sleeping under the stars. In Mazar’s home there were among many plants a mango tree, a guava tree and a jacaranda tree (from seeds from South Africa). Along the house wall there some open rooms (with a roof, but open to the patio) and some completely closed off rooms. Across the patio there are the toilet and the shower. The shower is a so called bucket shower – you fill a bucket with water coming from large canisters and then shower using a smaller bucket to pour the water over you. In Mazar’s home everything was impeccably clean and the bucket shower was pure bliss after the heat. We were invited to a delicious afternoon meal (the Sudanese have lunch between 3 pm and 5 pm) and then enjoyed chatting with the family and playing with Ola, the 10-month old baby from Mazar’s sister. We felt at home from the first moment and were integrated into the family as if Jens and I were old friends. The Sudanese open their homes to strangers with an open-mindedness and a easiness that leaves an European speechless. We can – and should – learn from that!!!

The first night in Sudan was spent in a bed in the open patio under millions of stars. Hopefully Tembo will be with us again the next day …

23.08.2006, Wadi Halfa, Sudan, 19 km

After a delicious and very sweet Sudanese shai (tea) we left the house for “down town” getting ourselves officially registered. Mazar was doing all of the administration for us and so we had time to chat with the few other foreigners (from Ukraine, Poland, France and Germany) and to have a look around Wadi Halfa. The town is basically a cluster of some low story buildings scattered over a large area connected with broad sandy streets. Almost no tree offers shade and the heat beats down mercilessly. We learned from Mazar that Wadi Halfa is a new town build after the old town of Halfa was flooded when Lake Nasser was created. Old Halfa was a beautiful town with lush plants and nice colonial houses. For the inhabitants of Old Halfa a new town was build by the government (somewhere up the lake) but no one wanted to move there and so Wadi Halfa was founded.
After the registration we got the information that the cargo ship with Tembo on board has reached the harbor. We rushed there with Mazar, hopping on the back of a truck to get all the way to the port. And sure enough there was the cargo ship and we could see Tembo’s familiar frame in between piles of goods. What we could not see however was HOW Tembo should be rolled off that ship since the difference between the boat (and hence Tembo) and the ground was easily 2 meters due to the flooding of the Nile. However there was no other possibility for the boat to stop and so a solution had to be found. In the typical African way (“no is not an option”) people started to look for things that could be used as a ramp. After many discussions two very old and very weak looking planks were attached to the pontoon – of course the two boards were of different length and different width and one of the two would not have carried a donkey cart, not to speak of a huge Land Rover. After some more discussions an iron board was conjured from the water(?) and fixed over the second and weaker wooden plank. We couldn’t believe our eyes – the Land Rover should get off the boat via that!!!! But there was no way to escape the inevitable and so Jens got into Tembo and started the “off-boarding”. He first had to get Tembo of the boat onto the pontoon to which the “ramps” were “installed”. The pontoon was narrow and the Landy barley fit onto it. On this narrow pontoon, Jens had to position Tembo directly in front of the two boards to start his 2 meter decent to the save ground. That being done with many shouts and wildly thrown arms, Jens started the first attempt to get Tembo on the “ramp”. However as soon as the front wheels were on the two boards, the boards started slipping and Tembo hit the edge of the pontoon. After a quick retreat the boards were newly adjusted and Jens started the second attempt. I was just standing on the shore keeping my fingers crossed hoping for our luck not to leave us. On the second attempt Jens managed to get all 4 wheels on the “ramp” and just when we heard an ear-splitting crack from the wooden board that functioned as one ramp Jens shouted “go go go!” and accelerated the car and managed to get Tembo with all 4 wheels onto save ground. Shouts and clapping erupted from all the port workers that watched the show and we were happily running around Tembo making sure he was ok. As we were still celebrating the reunion, one port worker reversed his car and hit Tembo at full speed. Luckily he hit the front bumper with the license plate, but we couldn’t believe our eyes - we managed to get the car off the boat without a scratch and then some idiot reverses into it. We got into the car quickly and drove to the administration building to go through customs. That done Tembo was free to move in Sudan and we were happily reunited. We spent the rest of the day at Mazar’s home repacking our things and discussing the tour to Khartoum with Mazar, who had many helpful ideas and hints.
After a last bucket shower and another night under the million stars we were ready for our adventure through Sudan.

When you are taking the ferry to/from Wadi Halfa make sure you contact Mithat Mahir or his brother Mazar Mahir (+249(0)122380740 or +249.251822330). They have an office in Wadi Halfa downtown called “Mashan Sharti for Service”. They can help you with reservations, getting your car through customs and the foreigner registration. They also have useful information about the road conditions and car repair shops and also they can organize tours for you, if you don’t come with your own car. If you are coming from Khartoum you can contact Moez Mahir (+249(0)122390571) in his office in Khartoum: Nub Kush Advertising, two blocks west from Le Meridien hotel, on left hand side after Petronas petrol station. He helped us big time with our broken windscreen and can also book ferry tickets for you. Do not take the help of a Mr. Kamal (old man with Jallabiya) in Wadi Halfa port. He is likely to rip you off.



Nach oben

Getting Tembo off the boat

4 feet down in Wadi Halfa



Nach oben

24.08.2006, Wadi Halfa, Sudan – Bush Camp on Nile, Sudan, 196 km

The next morning we said our good-byes to Mazar and his family and started our off-road tour. We were armed with maps, GPS waypoints, our GPS, good fortune and fresh aish (bread). Outside of Wadi Halfa the road was easy to follow and we drove through a beautiful landscape made of sand and rocks sloping over hills. The road however was heavily corrugated and we had to reduce traveling speed over long stretches of time. After roughly 120km the road got closer to the Nile and the first Nile villages approached with their clay houses and colorful doors and windows. The Nile ran very high water due to the heavy rains in Ethiopia and southern Sudan and more than once we had to find a detour because the road was flooded or actually had to cross water. So the road kept on switching from corrugations, to water to deep sand and back to corrugations. When driving through the endless succession of Nile villages it was sometimes hard to find the track and often we weren’t sure whether we were still on the right track. Roughly 20km north of the town of Wawa, we decided to stop for the night and found a beautiful bush camping spot overlooking the Nile. We were greeted by some locals wandering between the villages and exchanged some pleasantries. Tembo had survived the first day without any damages and we enjoyed a hearty dinner and a great sunset over the Nile.

25.08.2006, Bush Camp on Nile, Sudan – Bush Camp in Mountains, Sudan, 145 km

The next morning we enjoyed a breakfast on the Nile and Jens had an intimate encounter with an old man on a donkey while he was pursuing the usual after breakfast affairs. You are never alone.
In Wawa we found our way to the ferryman who according to Mazar could take us to the Temple of Sulb (N20°26.249’ E30°19.918’) on the west-bank of the Nile. And sure enough after a breakfast of ful (beans and beans) we hiked to a tiny little boat that was dancing on the strong current of the Nile. It looked a bit scary and the Nile was wide and flowing fast, but there was no turning back. We jumped into the boat and crossed the Nile sure enough. It was actually fun, unfortunately we didn’t see any of the famous Nile crocodiles. The Temple of Sulb is really nice and very old and stationed right next to the Nile. You can see old Egyptian hieroglyphs and one has the place to oneself. Then we re-crossed the Nile and pushed on towards Dongola. We only made it to the area of the 3rd Nile cataract due to the road conditions (corrugations, deep sand and corrugations) and again found a perfect bush camping spot. Sudan is really the best country for bush camping!!! Our spot was in the mountains right next to a little river. Very scenic! In the evening the town’s people came for a chat and a swim, apart from that we had the place to ourselves.

26.08.2006, Bush Camp in Mountains, Sudan – Dongola, Sudan, 139 km

Our goal for today was Dongola. We urgently needed a shower, because we were DIRTY, and we wanted to change money and restock on diesel, water and food. Dongola is on the west-bank of the Nile and you have to take a ferry (again) to get there. But before that we were battling with the worst road conditions and sometimes we lost the way completely. With Chinese support a new road is build from Dongola to Wadi Halfa and in the midst of these road works there is simply no road left. We kept on getting stuck in construction dead-ends and our mood darkened – only the thought of a shower and a hotel room kept our spirits up. At the ferry we managed to buy a ticket for Tembo and us and then we WAITED. There was only one ferry working and this ferry could take 1 bus, 3 cars and one donkey cart. We waited for 4 hours in the blasting heat – but no problem, we would have a shower and a dinner soon. Finally we forced ourselves onto the ferry together with the odd bus, 2 more cars and 3 camels. When we reached Dongola we were greeted by tarmac. Oh joy. That was the only joy though. The only supposedly nice hotel in Dongola (Olla Hotel) turned out to be a crappy shit hole and no more banks were open for changing money. Ok, there went our shower and our dinner. Unsure what to do next, we drove out of town. We decided to sleep just outside of Dongola and drive back into town the next day to change some money – we only had 4.000 SD (16 Euros) left.
Outside Dongola were some fields and we decided to ask if we could set-up our camp there. The first person Jens asked gave us fresh dates and said that of course we could sleep here, but not in the field but at his house. Again we were treated with the extraordinary Sudanese hospitality. We were welcomed to the home without hesitation and met 3-year-old Hamid and his mum and her sister. The first thing they showed us were the shower and we were even offered a fresh bar of soap … we really looked filthy, sweaty and dirty :-) we looked like vagabonds. No one in Europe would have let us into their house.
After a refreshing bucket shower we had a chat with our host and played with Hamid, who was very interested in Tembo and in us. Again we were offered two beds under the open sky and after a delicious dinner we happily fell asleep. Instead of a crappy hotel room or a bush camp without shower, we had beds to sleep in, food and a shower and all for free.

27.08.2006, Dongola, Sudan – Bush Camp “Desert Night”, Sudan, 255 km

After a little drawing session with Hamid and some more delicious tea we dropped off our host in Dongola and said our good-byes. We then went to find a bank to finally change our money. But not one bank in Dongola – and there are many – changed money. “Oh no, we stopped changing. The money is only for the people!” “But we are also people!” … No chance. So the only solution we had was to get to Khartoum as fast as possible. Luckily we had just enough diesel and food with us to take us to Khartoum.
Just outside Dongola the tarmac disappear and we were back on the dusty tracks. The first kilometers of the track were a pleasant drive directly along the Nile through peaceful villages. However the closer we got to Abu Dom (junction for road to Khartoum) the more the road dissolved into tire tracks and again there was no telling which one to take. The tracks were lined by the carcasses of dead camels and vultures were looking for new prey. We powered through deep sand and the muddy gray of the villages and the gray of the sand became just one gray cloud. It is very tiring to constantly look out for the right path and thought of seeing just one more dusty village made us quite tense. And then suddenly we hit tarmac again. What a relief! It didn’t last long – only a few kilometers but it got our spirits up and we managed to navigate through the last kilometers of dirt roads with our spirits rising. At the Abu Dom junction we finally hit tarmac that was supposed to take us the rest of the way to Khartoum. The road between Abu Dom and Khartoum goes straight through the desert and we enjoyed the emptiness and the absence of Nile villages :-) We found a perfect sleeping spot in between the dunes and enjoyed the silence of the desert.

28.08.2006, Bush Camp “Desert Night”, Sudan – Khartoum, Sudan, 287 km

The next morning we were greeted by the first rain on our trip. We saw dark clouds building up towards the direction of Khartoum. We were reaching the rainy season! We had heard of severe floods in southern Sudan destroying entire villages and of even more floods in Ethiopia and now we were actually approaching this area. With the promise of a smooth tarmac ride into the city we happily started Tembo. However after some kilometers the nice and smooth tarmac turned into rough and heavily pot-holed tarmac and sure enough after some kilometers the tarmac ended altogether. The existent tarmac was being removed … hm. There were heavy road works going on (we have learned to hate those by now) and again the track disappeared into nothingness. At one point a truck driver had to show us the way back to the track and Tembo had do some heavy climbing. There went our clean and easy ride to Khartoum … again we were covered in dust and sweat. Shortly before Omdourman/ Khartoum the tarmac reappeared and the landscape started changing looking more green and somewhat more African. We drove through the sprawling town of Omdourman (the biggest market in Sudan) and crossed over the White Nile into Khartoum. Since we hadn’t had any contact with the outside world after leaving Aswan, we navigated through the Khartoum one-way system to the Meridien Hotel to use their high-speed internet access. We changed money (much better than hunting for an open bank) and had a huge club sandwich with our internet access. What a joy … but since the rooms were way to expensive for us, we moved Tembo away from the aid organization Land Cruisers and headed for our campground in South Khartoum, the “National Camping Residence”. Thanks to the GPS waypoint we found the campground without any problems and set-up our camp. We were planning to spend the next days in Khartoum to clean up the car and us and recover from the heavy driving.
In the camp was buzzing with activity and there were people literally everywhere. After a while we found out that there was 1) a training camp for Sudanese customs officials and 2) a training camp for actors and camera people from Sudan TV. Isn’t that a nice combination? And Jens and I were right in the middle.

29.08.-30.08.2006, Khartoum, Sudan, 3 km

After the tedious ride through northern Sudan, Tembo and we needed a break from driving and a thorough cleaning. So we spent two days of cleaning the car – well it is a British product and hence not really air tight – and ourselves. I also took the opportunity to catch up with the bulging laundry bag and took off towards the women washroom armed with dirty clothes, a little fold-up sink and “Rei in der Tube” (detergent). The laundry area (a large and long stone sink on the floor) was packed with young African women also doing their laundry. I was greeted with curious smiles and everyone moved over so I could have some space as well. As soon as I started soaking the first (very dirty) T-shirts I was under the observation of 8 pairs of brown eyes. Well I have to say that household scores are not necessarily in my skill profile, especially not doing the laundry by hand, and I gave a very sorry sight. After some minutes one girl gave me a little bag of detergent because mine was not foaming at all while their laundry was covered in white nice smelling foam. I kept on battling with our desert clothes which refused to let go of all the dust and sand. At one point I realized that it had gotten very quiet around me and when I looked up all the girls had stopped their work and where watching my useless attempts with pity in their eyes. I started laughing and they all joined in. After that I was always greeted with friendly laughs when I approached the laundry area.
The sandstorms that had troubled us in the desert are also common in Khartoum and in the end we had to fold up our roof tent because the wind was to strong. At night we watched the training for the actors of Sudan TV on a little stage and though we did not understand a word we had a good time and everyone was super nice and friendly and there was always someone stopping for a chat. The Sudanese were especially interested in what we thought of their country and what we usually hear in the news about Sudan. Whenever we said that you only hear bad things about Sudan (about the conflict in the south and about Dafur) they were all very keen on assuring us that it is not like that at all and that Sudan is a peaceful country. Well, I wouldn’t say so, but what we had seen of it was definitely a very different Sudan. But while we were there western journalists got arrested … so it is not the common tourist destination yet.

31.08.-01.09.2006, Khartoum-Meroe-Khartoum, Sudan, 492 km

Our Ethiopian visas were not valid until the 3rd of September and so we decided to do a little tour to the Pyramids of Meroe, roughly 250km north of Khartoum. There was supposed to be a very nice Italian-run tented camp in the desert and we felt like treating ourselves to some luxury.
So we hopped into Tembo, crossed the high waters of the Blue Nile and drove north. Just outside Khartoum we were stopped by at a police checkpoint and our passports were checked. The officer (not in uniform) was very young and seemed somewhat insecure handling our papers. And sure enough he looked at our visas and exclaimed: “your visa has expired!”. Of course our visas were not expired since it is valid for one month after entry of the country, but the officer only looked at the original German expiry date (19th of July) and insisted that our visas were not valid any longer. It took us some discussion and palaver before he handed us back our passports and we were free to continue our trip.
We reached the pyramids of the Royal City of Meroe in the afternoon. One can see the pyramids from the road, but again there were no signs and no apparent road to the sight.
After some looking about we found a sign to the Mereo Tented Camp with also no road in sight. But we were used to that now and we simply left the tarmac road and drove head first into the desert. There were signs appearing once in a while and in the distance we could make out the shapes of the tented camp. However when we got closer we realized that the camp looked somewhat unoccupied and no luxury tents could be seen. This was confirmed by the warden who explained that the camp was only open from October to April. Well that was a piece of information the guide (Bradt’s Sudan) missed to point out. However camping was allowed at the pyramids and so we drove on to the pyramids. We were greeted by two wardens who confirmed that we could camp there and who let is into the fenced in area of the pyramids without an official permit (one usually has to buy those permits in Khartoum) but with the usual 10USD per person.
We had a very lonely stroll around the pyramids, took some pictures and then were off to find our night spot. We found a perfect spot right behind the pyramids all alone in the desert and enjoyed the sunset and the warm desert wind. As soon as we got into the roof tent the warm desert wind turned into a full blown desert storm and after some sleepless hours with the wind rattling and shaking the roof tent and with us and the tent covered in fine sand we gave up and escaped into the front seats of the car. The next morning we woke with our limbs aching to discover that the wind had gotten even worse. So we turned around and headed back towards Khartoum. Such as pity, because that camping spot was just perfect otherwise. On the way back to Khartoum the wind came full frontal and since Tembo is not exactly build with aerodynamic features we sometimes crawled at 30km/h. Very annoying. And then suddenly after a big truck has passed us the side of the passenger front screen shattered with a loud crack and pieces of glass started flying towards me. Since the wind was blowing straight at the windscreen more and more pieces fell apart and the whole screen threatened to dissolve. We stopped and taped the entire screen with duct tape (it keeps the world together) and for the rest of the drive I held the screen with my hands and feet in place. Our mood was not exactly the best when we continued: a closed tented camp, a sandstorm and a broken front screen. We should have just stayed in Khartoum …
Once we got back to our “National Camping Residence” we removed the screen and replaced it with good quality German rubbish bags. Then Jens called Mazar’s brother Moez (moezmahir@gmail.com, mob. 0122390571) and asked him for help. He said that he could help us and that we should call him again the next day since today was Friday and the Islamic weekend. Relieved we step up our normal tent – the wind was still too strong for the roof tent – and had a chat with a Japanese guy who was traveling with is motorbike and was already on the road for 3 years (from Japan, via Russia and Europe to West Africa and back up via East Africa on the way home to Japan).

02.09.-03.09.2006, Khartoum, Sudan, 52 km

OK, so what will happen if you have a broken windscreen? Yes, it will start raining … our first real rain on the entire trip. It wasn’t really surprising since it was still rainy season in Khartoum. But on our way to Moez’s office in downtown Khartoum the heat was back on. We met Moez and he hopped right into the car to show us to a Land Rover repair place. He guided us through some back streets until we reached a narrow and sandy alley that was completely designated to repairing Land Rovers. And sure enough we were in Landy heaven. The small place Moez took us to was stocked to rim with LR spare parts and they started work right away. While the mechanics were doing their job we had a chat with the local youths and after 3 hours we had a new passenger side front screen (with security glass, this time), the broken bolt that connected the windscreen frame with the chassis (driver side) got fixed and the engine oil got changed. We paid in total 108 USD. After a sweet shai with the repair shop owner we headed back downtown and paid the internet at the Meridien another visit.
Happy with the results of the day we treated ourselves to some western style food and I had the BEST guava shake EVER.

Here a few words concerning our campground in Khartoum: usually overlanders tend to stop over at the famous Blue Nile Sailing Club. However we had heard only bad things about it (dirty toilettes, no shade, expensive), and so we decided to try the much cheaper and simpler “National Camping Residence”. Camping costs 600SD fro 2 people and a car per night. The showers and toilettes are not outrages, but they are clean and work. There is small café/shop that serves hot, sweet tea and coffee all day for just 50SD a cup and it also sells cold coke and milk. The camping area is basically a parking lot in the middle of the compound, but there are shady trees and so the spot isn’t too bad. The people that work there are very helpful. So overall it is great value for money and definitely recommended. The drive to downtown takes roughly 10-15 minutes. A big advantage is the closeness to the international airport and the UN office. There is a super modern shopping center (Afra Shopping, N15 33.570 E32 33.248) only 5km from the campground. There you can change money, have a pizza, stock up your food supplies in the huge hypermarket and have a real macchiato. Along the road to the campground are also many excellent food places and if you are willing to cough up the money you can even have a pan-style pizza or a burger.

At night it started pouring again, but we felt all cuddly and safe in our ground tent and we happily listened to the rain dripping on our new front screen. However when we woke up in the morning, Jens looked out of the tent window and gasped “we are in the middle of a lake!”. And sure enough our tent felt like a huge water mattress. Cursing we got up (it was before 7 am) to check what we should do. The entire parking lot was a big lake, there was almost no escaping the water and it was still raining. So we decided to move the tent onto the small stage, where the Sudan TV actors were practicing at night. The stage was high and had a roof. After that done we were dripping wet, but safe and I went to get some hot tea.
We spent the rest of the day “on stage” packing for our departure to Ethiopia and the afternoon we enjoyed the luxury of the Afra Shopping Center and had an outrageously expensive but divine pizza. At night the Sudan TV actors came onto our stage and had their practice right next to our tent. Bizarre!

04.09.2006, Khartoum, Sudan – Gedaref, Sudan, 437 km

The next morning we set off towards the Ethiopian border (after a delicious coffee at the Afra Shopping Center). The road was tarred and we made good progress. We were following the Blue Nile for a long time and crossed it close to Wad Medani. Then we moved further east and the Blue Nile disappeared towards the south (we will meet it again in Ethiopia). The landscape became more and more African with villages with thatched roof rondavels and lush green forests and fields. Before Gedaref the road became very bad and so decided to call it a night in Gedaref. We stopped in “downtown” at the Armir Hotel, that was called the “best budget option in Gedaref” according to our guide. Well, it was ok, but it was the first real compromise we had to make. We headed out into the busy side streets of the hotel and grabbed something to eat. The people in Gedaref are clearly not used to tourists and we were stared at a lot, however we could walk around freely and I even managed to get something vegetarian to eat – in the end. “Do you have eggs?” “Chicken?” “No, not chicken, eggs … omelet … not chicken!” “Yes, we have chicken …” “OK, never mind …”.
Back at the hotel we dove into our sleeping bags (after the police came to check our passports) and hoped for a quick night.

05.09.2006, Gedaref, Sudan – Gondar, Ethiopia, 360 km (part 1)

We had an early start and were glad to leave Gedaref and the Armir Hotel behind us. After navigating through the back streets of a small village outside of Gedaref we found the tarmac road to Gallabat (border town). Again our passports were checked and then we were off. The tarmac was brand new and smooth, but we knew that only 100km of the 160km to the border were tarred. We drove through a lovely landscape and enjoyed it very much when the tarmac ended and the old road started. First we had to navigate through the ongoing road works (we really learned to hate road works) and sure enough this time the track was made by trucks with a wider wheel-span and a higher leverage. The earthy middle of the track was too high even for Tembo and so we had balance the car on the middle part and the rim of the track. On could see everywhere that the heavy rainfalls of the prior months had done nothing to improve road quality. However the sun was shining now and the road was dry. I was just about to point out to Jens, that the road must have been a nightmare during the rains and that we were really lucky, when we turned a bend and there it was … The road divided a small village, cutting through the hill the village was set on, and the passage was a very narrow track. And right in the middle there were three trucks stuck in the mud unable to go forth or back. The only chance we had was to climb up the hill to the village and drive back down on the other side. There the road was dry again. So we threw ourselves onto the muddy tracks and slipped and slided up the hill and made it safely down on the other side – thank god for 4x4 and low gear. The trucks are probably still there …
The rest of the road to Gallabat had some more mud and water waiting for us, but Tembo navigated through it without any problems.
The border to Ethiopia consists of two dusty and crappy border towns, separated by a small river: Gallabat in Sudan and Metema in Ethiopia. It is not a classical border crossing in the sense of reaching a gate or station where you show you passport and move on to the next country’s gate. Here it is just two villages and it is up to you to find the right offices and get all your papers stamped. We were confused and in the end had some eager teenagers showing us the way. For leaving Sudan the following steps have to be done: 1. Security Police (N12 57.561 E36 08.909), they check the passports and fill things into a big ledger. 2. Sudan Customs (N12 57.512 E36 09.024), there you get your Carnet de Passage stamped. 3. Sudan passport control (two houses down from customs), they check your visas – again – and one has to fill out some forms. That was it. It costs nothing to leave Sudan. We then changed our Sudanese Dinars for a very bad rate on the black market (same kids) into Ethiopian Birr and moved over to the Metema side. We were ready to enter Ethiopia!


Summary Sudan:

Country:
we loved Sudan. Especially the northern part with the Nubian hospitality and the wonderful desert and Nile landscape. We felt that Sudan was the safest country so far. We bush camped every night and never felt odd or threatened. The people are all very welcoming and curious, but they never hassle you. We also liked Khartoum very much and were impressed by the excellent English many people spoke (better than in Egypt). Due to our money changing problem, we could not visit as many sights as we wanted to but we can highly recommend what we saw (Sulb & Mereo). The southern part towards the Ethiopian border is not as exciting, so I would recommend to spent most of the time in the north and along the Nile.

Costs: Sudan is, compared to the other countries we visited so far quite, quite expensive. One can always find something cheap to eat – they have excellent bread, 5 pieces for 100SD – but as soon as one wants something substantial or even western food, it gets very expensive. Diesel costs exactly 100SD per liter. However it is easy to bush camp and so one saves a lot on that side. The Sudanese often still name the prices in Sudanese Pounds and not in Sudanese Dinar, that is highly confusing, because they add one zero to the price. Bread costs 100SD, but when asked the price is 1000SD. We had a shock moment at a petrol station in a small Nile village, when the price was quoted as 53.000 – which we of course didn’t have. But luckily they accepted the 5.300SD – the actual price – but they were still convinced that the price was 53.000. After a while one gets the idea though and then it is easy enough.

Driving: the problem with driving in the Sudan are the roads and not the other drivers (bus drivers excluded, they are mad!). From Wadi Halfa to Dongola there is no tarmac and the road is heavily corrugated. We heard many stories about broken springs and flat tires. The drive from Dongola to Khartoum, via Abu Dom is partly tarmac and ok, but also still very bad off road terrain. In Khartoum there is the usual capital chaos, but the streets have all signs and the city layout makes it easy to navigate. The road from Gedaref to Gallabat is only tarmac for 2/3 of the road. The other 1/3 is atrocious – at least in rainy season.

Registration: in Sudan one has to register 3 days after entering the country. We did that right away in Wadi Halfa (recommended!). We did not register again at any other city and were never asked, when stopped by the police. In Dongola the hotels ask for a police registration, but since we had a private accommodation we did not register there. I am not sure if this is in general ok, maybe we were just lucky.



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Highlights

Tembo back on track in Sudan/ Tembo ist wieder bei uns im Sudan 
Hotel of the million stars with the Mahir Family/ Hotel der millionen Sterne im Haus von Familie Mahir 
Sudanese Roads/ Sudanesische Strassen 
Nile sunset/ Sonnenuntergang ueber dem Nil 
Little Hamid our host in Dongola/ Klein Hamid, unser Gastgeber in Dongola 
Camels on the way to Khartoum ... these were still alive/ Lebendige Kamela auf dem Weg nach Khartoum 
Sandstorm/ Sandsturm 
Mereo Pyramdis/ Die Pyramiden von Mereo 
our desert camp before the storm/ Unser Wüstencamp vor dem Sturm 
duct tape at work/ Gaffa tape bei der Arbeit 
Tembo gets a new screen/ Tembo bekommt seine neue Windschutzscheibe 
On the way to the Ethiopian border and the Ethiopian rain/ Auf dem Weg zur äthiopischen Grenze und dem äthiopischen Regen 


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Accomodation

The house of the Mahir family, Wadi Halfa, N21 47.779 E31 22.845
Bush Camp on Nile, 30km north of Wawa, N20 42.652 E30 21.547
Bush Camp in Mountains (3rd Nile cateract), N19 53.302 E30 23.536
Little Hamid's house, Dongola
Bush Camp in desert, south of Abu Dom junction, N17 31.310 E31 28.263
Khartoum, National Camping Residence, South Khartoum, off road to Wad Medani, N15 31.485 E32 34.175
Bush Camp next to Mereo Pyramids, N16 55.874 E33 45.038
Gedaref, Hotel Amir, N14 02.503 E35 23.320


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