We will never forget the ferry crossing experience of the Nasser Lake from Egypt to Sudan, even though we would like to. After we were already waiting for one week, there was just a big mess short time before our departure: The pontoon full of holes was repaired temporarily with wet cement only in the morning of our departure. In addition, all off of a sudden the captain of the pontoon had a week off, except the amount of “bakshish” (tip) could convince him to work. We couldn’t help but collecting some money from our tour members from England, Germany, Italy and Australia and at the end we were successful in convincing him to postpone his vacation.
Finally on Monday, 29th of November we drove our Toyota on the Pontoon, hoping that the fresh wet cement will hold. We left our Toyota with a last wave and went on the passenger ferry. The passenger ferry was not really equivalent to a luxury boat, but was rather a rusty old barge endangered to sink shortly. The next twenty hours we had to share the “luxury barge” squeezed in with a countless number of people from Egypt, Sudan, Libya as well as hundreds of bag’s, suitcase’s, TV’s, washmachine’s and all kinds of other strange stuff. This was really a long border crossing from Assuan (Egypt) to Wadi Halfa (Sudan).
We received some compensation at the moment we touched Sudanese ground. The Sudanese people were just lovely and welcomed us warmhearted. Our initial distrust was totally wrong because the Sudanese people did not want to sell something or cheating on us like their Egyptian neighbors. They were just friendly and even the prices in the shops were absolutely correct. This was just a pleasure after four weeks Egypt.
However one day after the other we got more and more desperate because the pontoon did not arrive on the second day as promised nor on the third or on the fourth day. We were not even able to get in touch with the captain. The worst case scenario was already in our head – our Toyota on the bottom of the Nasser Lake. We were so relieved when our “bush taxi” finally arrived at the harbor of Wadi Halfa on the fifth day. The reason for the delay was the badly repaired hole as well as the fact that the pontoon was dreadfully overloaded. The pontoon was lying very deeply in the water and drove slowly like a snail. In addition a lot of water went into the pontoon. The only way we could get distracted during that waiting period was just with eating tons of falafels, drinking a lot of tea and coffee as well as having exciting conversations with our travel companions. These were Mick from Dragoman Overlanders from Australia, Dee and James from England as well as Igor and Johannes from Germany www.zweidurchafrika.de. They are on the road with a lorry, a land cruiser and motorbikes . We shared a lot of information and experiences and laughed a lot while we were waiting patiently for the pontoon to arrive.
During that time we also met Barbara and Franz (www.stoerch-besel.de.tl). The couple drove all the way from Cape Town to Wadi Halfa with their mountain bikes and have already managed 9000 km. They want to go further to Egypt. Needless to say they looked incredibly fit and shared their exciting experiences with us. They were kind enough to give us their Sudanese SIM Card. In Sudan it is possible to surf in the internet for only 0,18 Euro for the entire day. This is possible with mobile reception.
Unfortunately we were only able to pick up our car on the next day because all of a sudden the computers at the customs did not work anymore. And we were waiting again patiently. On Sunday, the 5th of December, the sixth day after our arrival, we were able to drive our car out of the harbor. The first thing we did was getting water and buying groceries at the farmers market (yes, it is possible to buy strawberries in the middle of the dessert) and then we went immediately into deep sand. We drove about 300 km South along a deserted railway road through the Nubian dessert. Beautiful off road-driving, taking showers with 360 degree panorama view as well as campfire and sleeping under thousands of stars made our days.
On the third day we reached Abu Hamed, the first city at the Nile, where we filled our tanks thirstily. We went further towards South along the Nile between Atbara and the pyramids of Meroe. In a small valley off the road we did bush camping. The next morning we visited the beautiful pyramids of Meroe and met coincidentally our friends from England Dee and James. We decided spontaneously to drive the temple trail around Musawwarat together. In the evening again relaxing campfire and this time intercultural exchange with “excellent British Earl Grey Tea”. The Temple trail contains well-kept temples and we drove through stunning landscapes, passed by small villages, wells as well as wild camels. In the afternoon we reached Khartum.
Firstly we went to the German Embassy to get an entrance letter for our car to Ethiopia. However we learned that the letter is not necessary anymore and it was like that at the Ethiopian border. Afterwards we drove directly to the National Camp Ground. The camp ground manager helped us to get rid of the dust of our car. We cleaned the car directly in front the mosque. We were very happy to coincidentally meet our biker friends Johannes and Igor there. The following two days passed by with running errands, e.g. washing, cleaning, servicing of our car, etc. One highlight in Khartum were the dancing Derwishes. Every Friday afternoon, the Derwishes meet in front of a big mosque at the cemetery Hamid El-Nile Tomb (GPS Koordinaten N15 37.588 E32 27.773) for singing, drumming, dancing, laughing and talking. It did not take long until we were also captivated by them. It was nice to experience one part authentic Africa.
The next morning we left Khartum together with Igor and Johannes and our English friends Dee and James towards Ethiopian border. The first night, we did bush camping directly at a river on a field with tons of dried cowpats. We realized that the cowpats are just perfect for campfires if there is no wood available. The next morning we continued our way to the border. We had to bush camp again 30 km before the boarder because the customs were already closed for the day. This time we stayed next to a well. As we noticed the next morning the well serves water for the surrounded inhabitants and their animals. When we woke up, we were surrounded by herds of sheep’s, goats and camels as well as some people. They all wanted to quench thirst for the day. The people were watching us respectfully from a distance and were waving at us shyly.
We got to know the North Sudan only with lovely, helpful and honest people. For us it is difficult to understand, that only view kilometers away there is still a terrible war going on – more or less between their own people. For security reasons it is not possible for tourist to travel from North Sudan to South Sudan. Therefore we might try at a later stage to travel to South Sudan via Uganda or Kenya.
- The beauty of the Nubian Dessert
- The lovely pyramids of Meroe
- The impressive temple trail with stunning landscapes
- Bush camping at a well just before the Ethiopian border
- The honest and lovely Sudanese people