It took a few more days in Gondar to finish the police report about
my stolen things. But finally I was able to leave. Martin has been
waiting for a while at the Sudanese border. I arrived there on Friday.
And the next day we crossed.
Crossing from Ethiopia to Sudan is quite easy and straight forward. If
you have your documents together. Our two Spanish overlander friends had
no Carnet for their car. No Carnet - no crossing. Martin and me, we had
our Carnet for the bikes. And within an hour we were free on the
Sudanese side of the border.
At the border crossing we met three more friendly young overlanders, two
South Africans and one English man on their way to Capetown with their
bicycles. Only that one of them had to stop cycling in Karthoum because
of knee problems. Now he is travelling with the most awesome motorbike
I've ever seen (apart from my little Suzuki). It's an orange Egyptian
made Jawa motorbike, 350ccm, two stroke. And best of all - it has an
orange sidecar. It's a real beauty and the beauty of that beast surely
compensates for the fact that it breaks down every now and then. But
these three will surely have a cool journey - two bicycles and one old
But back to Martin and me and Sudan. What a difference a border can
make! On this side of the border the excellent tarmac road coming all
the way from Gondar simply continues. But everything else changes. The
landscape is totally different. Most of today we travelled through flat
terrain. Flat to the horizon. There is hardly anything, only some
scattered little Acacia trees. But not many. The landscape is covered
with golden yellow dry grass. Dotted with some black rocks. Everything
is dry. And hot. Really hot. You can feel the closeness of the Sahara
here. And you can see it. The air is filled with dust. Strong northerly
winds bring this dust straight from the Sahara. We started seeing this
phenomenon in Gondar already. But up here it is getting more and more
dominant in the environment. Everything has a yellow shine with it. Like
looking through yellow sunglasses. The sun is visible only as a dim
disk of light in the afternoon hours. The horizon vanishes in a
yellowish haze. At night only the moon and the brightest stars are
visible. You can smell the dust. And you can see it accumulating on the
surfaces. Like on my little Suzuki over night. Many people walk around
with dust masks. And day and night there is this strong wind. During the
day it is quite hot. It blows from the right hand side and make us ride
our bike leaning at an angle. The combination of hot air, the smell of
dust, the strong wind on our skin, the eternally flat landscape tainted
into a dusty yellow haze - it creates an awesome environment. I've never
seen anything like it.
During the night the wind cools you down. Down to a degree that you need
to use your sleeping bag again. All night long you hear the wind
howling across the empty landscape.
But it's not just the environment that is different, it's also the
people. They seem to be keep more of a distance here in Sudan. No longer
do they run towards you, do they waive to you from the roadside or
shout greetings towards you. No more 'you you YOU!'. English skills are
much less developed so communication is quite hard. Most signs are
written in Arabic only. But people are still kind, friendly, hospitable.
Just in a more calm way, not so much in your face as in Ethiopia.
Sudan is an islamic country and you feel it straight away. Women hide
their faces, men wear Galabiyas. There are no more orthodox churches.
But many mosques.
Also we saw hundrets of camels today. Big herds of them, held in cheque
by a few people using long sticks. It felt like the border between
Ethiopia and Sudan divides two very different worlds.
Riding through Sudan today reminded me of Australia. Riding along the
Nullarbour back in August was the last time I've been riding through
such a flat and empty landscape along a perfectly straight road. It kind
of feels cool. Cool that now, I'm in Sudan. I'm really here. On my
bike. All the way from home.
As it is the nature of empty landscapes there are not too many
highlights. So we travel quite long distances during the day and will
reach Karthoum tomorrow. North of Karthoum Sudan will provide more
things to see and do and we will spend much more time there.
Hopefully also in Karthoum I can replace some of the things that got
stolen in Gondar. As much as it is a pity loosing my camera but it's
also the little things which I really miss. Little things I carried in
my backpack for ease of access and which got stolen with it. Like my
pens. My head torch. My swiss army knife. Or my spoon. I never realised
how important these things are.
Faster than expected we made it to Sudan's capital, Karthoum. Due to our
short two weeks visa we need to hurry through Sudan at a faster pace
than we would otherwise have done. To extend the visa is difficult as
hell and expensive. We already spent two days in Karthoum just to
register our presence in the country and to collect the necessary photo
and travel permits. Sudan is by now the country requiring us to do the
most paperwork. But hey, it's worth it, it's cool to be here.
Karthoum is quite a modern city, much more than expected. There are some
beautiful high rise buildings along the rivers Nile. The city is cut in
three by these rivers. There is the Blue Nile coming from Ethiopia, the
White Nile coming from Uganda. Both combining here in Karthoum to the
Nile River, a huge mass of water heading through the dry and barren
landscape towards Egypt. Travelling through a desert like landscape for
the last few days in the intense heat of the African sun I was very
surprised to see such a huge river. And as for most cities the river
forms the base of the beauty for Karthoum.
We stay at the National Camping Residence, some 7km from the CBD. And
quite close to a western style shopping mall. With free Wifi Internet.
And to my big surprise a shop in there had one Canon SLR camera for
After mine 'disappeared' in Gondar I was obviously upset. For me a
camera is a pretty important thing to have on a journey. More than any
souvenir, photos are memories. And back home I found myself very often
going through some old pics of previous holidays and started dreaming
again. Photos of people, places, fortunes and misfortunes. For this
journey, my biggest one ever, photos will need to do the same in the
future. Not being able to take any or just taking crap ones with my
broken old point and shoot camera was a big worry. So here was the
chance. But should I really fork out a lot of money for a new SLR right
here in Karthoum? It's pretty much western price levels for electronics.
I thought a lot about it and said yep, let's do it. And now I'm loving
it. Took heaps of photos on the first day and am heaps happy with it.
And will now guard it with all I have, no thief may ever lay hands on my
Due to our short visa we will leave Karthoum tomorrow and keep heading
north. There are many ancient sites, old as the famous monuments across
the border in Egypt but creating much less publicity.
From what we have seen so far, Internet is a rare commodity here. So I
hope we will find some and will be able to let you guys know what's
happening with us in Sudan.
07/03/2012 Sudan pics
Other than Ethiopia Sudan is mostly flat and dry.
Stopping for dinner along the road near Gedaref.
Similar to the start of my journey through Australia the Sudanese
landscape is empty and cut in half by one straight tarmac road.
Sudan's capital Karthoum is a busy and well developed city. It was here
where surprisingly I was able to buy a new awesome camera to keep our
HUBB audience happy with photos.
City scene - cemetary and mausoleum.
Our bikes next to camels on the Karthoum camel market.
AU$700 and it's yours.
Donkeys still provide cheap transport for many. But they are not as numerous as in Ethiopia.