Heya, I’m currently in Khartoum!
It’s proving harder and harder to get online now, apologies for the long wait!
Well we decided to take the desert route to Abu Hamed from Wadi-halfa with 300+ kilometers of sand tracks across the desert. The tracks follow a disused railway and I wasn’t wild about the idea with the prospect of carrying 2-3 days worth of water and food on my piddly little bike with a very limited luggage capacity, but it was what the group really wanted so I was happy to follow along, my life was made easier with Dave and Stef who offered to carry my water and food for me. The prospect of camping under the stars in the middle of the desert really did sound very appealing. The track started off really difficult; we were still in sight of the police checkcheckpoint at the start of the road when we all started taking tumbles. Cam went down in the loose sand, I was right behind him in the same bit of track, I went down too. Further behind, Kim did an impressive over-the-handlebars stunt, after a brief dust off; we ventured further and after passing the first station Kim out-did her previous trick and managed to do a cart-wheel, this time wrecking her bike, and her composure… or better said, managed to bruise herself left, right and centre, and damaged her wrist and hurt her leg, she was in shock and in a bad way. We had to stop everything and apply some First Aid.
We had to regroup, and figure out what to do with regards to what to do next. Matt on the spot said he (and Kim) couldn’t carry on, Dave & Stef now were the group ambulance and said they’d return to Wadi Halfa too, I said I’d do the same, not sure if it was the monotony of keep falling over for the next 3 days, or just the prospect of following a different road which was paved, scattered with villages and maybe shops, Ed followed suit. Craig and Cam were still very keen to carry on with riding the desert, so there we left them there. I rode Kim’s limp bike back to the first station a couple of kilometers back, and then rode back my bike with the others (minus the kiwis).
So after rushing Kim back to Wadi-Halfa to look for some medical attention, I decided to call in a favor on the police Captain whose computer I fixed the day before (remember??). I got taken to the Major who spoke good English and he thanked me for my deed the day before and took me to another police station where he found someone to drive me back into the desert to retrieve the damaged bike. Meanwhile Kim, Matt, Stef, Dave and Ed went to the hospital.
The good news was that nothing was broken. After a small arrangement with a fixer to get Kim’s bike transported down to Khartoum, we hit the Nile route down until sunset. We managed to knock out 250 kilometers in the 4 hours we had.
Anyhow, I wrote that a few days ago, we’re now have been in Khartoum 4 days. We wild camped on our way down from Wadi Halfa twice on our 3 day ride down. Kim is feeling much better, and to add to the positivity of that, I should mention: While in Khartoum I bumped into a guy (Khalid) at the traffic lights, when we were trying to find the “Blue Nile Sailing Club” (a famous camp site) as we arrived in Khartoum. He led the way, and then gave us his business card, and told me that his brother (Abdelsalam) has of a workshop for repairing overlanding vehicles, useful meeting people eh?
Soon after we arrived at the camping, Kim’s bike arrived, we checked-out the camping place, which despite being famous, and mentioned in the Lonely Planet and Bradt and suchlike it was a complete dump; with appalling facilities, and extortionate rates ($8 a night!!) and the prospect of a noisy night as they were setting up a concert on the hard paving really didn’t sell the place to us. We took a walk, to look for cheaper/better quality accommodation and were very shocked with the prices of accommodation here in Khartoum (most places wanted about $40/night each), European/U.N. rates, for African standards. A quick call to Khalid, regarding getting the bike repaired and he came and picked us up, took us to his brother’s workshop, and found us a flat to rent, arranged to start repairs on Kim’s bike the following day.
Everything now has been repaired; wheel balanced, luggage frame re-welded and straightened, and steering corrected. Me, I’ve got my Ethiopian visa issued, that took two days, and the kiwis have finally returned from their grueling ride through the desert. They managed to do 110km in the first day after 8 hours of riding, and from the sounds of it, I’m glad I didn’t go, despite their photos looking amazing. The both look like they lost a lot of weight.
A couple of days ago, I noticed my exhaust pipe end had sheered itself off right where the dB-eater sits (the bit that quiets the thing down), I took advantage of the workshop and had my exhaust welded too (for what worked out to be £5). Since we’re no longer in vehicle taxing England, I’m pleased to say I have removed the dB-eater out, and roaring down the streets of Africa with a little more horsepower than before. 🙂
Yesterday, we added one more to our injured list: Ed decided to put a screwdriver through his hand trying to repair a foot pump. So we’re now 4 bikers and 4 car goers. He should be riding again at some point soon.
Last night we heading out to have a meal with the Abdelsalam (the workshop owner, who likes to be called “The President”) and his friends who are all into overlanding and very keen to practice their English prose on us, despite not letting us get a word in edgeways, it was a good night. The host’s house: Taha, is an old British Victorian house, and many features were very reminiscent of home, especially the cutlery we ate with. Taha explained to us that his grandfather brought the Sheffield cutlery back with him after he left England (Leeds) it’s the same set of knives my granny has. The food was not served until 11pm after much chatting and photo shoots holding shotguns/assault rifles and babies and the like (you know, the usual thing you do). Food was delicious. Although, by the time we left, military curfew was in effect (do remember Sudan is in the middle of a Civil war), and out of the 8 of us only Kim and Matt had their passports, silly of us to forget. Our convoy speeding through the empty streets of Khartoum was a riot and very surreal to have a whole city to yourselves, we were led by the hosts back to our apartment and explained our situation at the various check-points on the way, it was very safe (and fun).
I should mention, despite Sudan being in the middle of a civil war, there seems to be NO sign of any political tension anywhere, no signs of any unrest. The military/police presence at every street corner is not dissimilar to that of Egypt and by now we’re quite used to waving at the bored soldiers who are more than keen to wave back and cheer on zealously at our vehicles. I do like Sudan!
With regards to prices we pay, it’s now no longer tourist rates we pay (like we did in Egypt), it’s U.N. rates. There is a lot of U.N. here in Khartoum, and for being white we get charged at U.N. rates, not exactly fun but it’s something we have to live with.
Anyhow, not sure what to tell you about when we’re leaving from here to Ethiopia is 2 days away, and I look forward to being a little cooler than this oppressive heat we are suffering. We are sort of waiting for the injured to heal.