Saturday, 30 April 2011

Day 224 Sudan 30/4/2011, Karima. A holy mountain, ruins, strong winds and pyramids.

This morning we left just after 8am to visit Jebel Barkal (holy mountain). We were accompanied along the road by a very strong tailwind that seemed to be carrying half of the surrounding deserts with it.

The entrance to the site looked more like a police compound than a archaeological site. There are no signs at all just a huge number of blue camouflage clad policeman sitting around outside a building. They can't be there to protect the site from hordes of tourists as we were the only ones there. Eventually as at the previous site of Deffufa, some form filling took place, our nationalities were asked, money was parted with and a ticket/permit was given.

Walking out into the desert towards the ruins we encountered yet more policeman scattered around the site. This was a bit unnerving as we don't have a photography permit and we obviously wanted to take some pictures. In the end we just decided to carry on regardless and hope no one was aware of the rules. Fortunately, none of the police seemed that bothered.

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As we wandered amongst the ruins one of the men from the entrance started to follow us and point things out. We didn't really want a guide and weren't really certain what he wanted, so we just kept walking. In the end it became clear that he was just there to open the door to the temple for us.

The temple of Mut was very interesting with the walls covered in carvings and hieroglyphics. The man who had let us in gave us a brief insight into the meanings of the carvings and with the aid of a torch for the darker sections gave us a short tour.

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Having seen the ruins we headed round the back of the mountain and straight into the very strong, sand-carrying wind. It was a bit like being sand blasted as we struggled through the dunes to see the pyramids. The walk was worth it though, when the steep sided remarkably preserved pyramids came into sight.

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Walking up a slightly higher mound to have a better look at the site I was waved at by a security guard. Oops! It turned out that the mound I was on, was in fact the remains of a collapsed pyramid, no wonder he was waving! After that slight error I tried not to commit any further mistakes as we wandered amongst the pyramids.

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Eventually the wind got the better of us and we slowly headed back towards the bikes. Jebel Barkal has been well worth a visit and having it all to ourselves was great.

Leaving the site behind we encountered the first unpleasant Sudanese children we have come across. Pointing at our bikes and shouting 'give' and then pursuing us on bikes demanding money is something we have not come to expect in the country.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the bus station to find out about moving on to Atbara. As before we were told that it would be no problem, but being further the ticket cost for ourselves and our bikes is going to be a bit higher. This time we will be skipping nearly 300km of desert or three/four days of cycling that we really need to make up to get through Sudan while our visa lasts.

Leaving the bus station we went to try and have a look at the old derelict 'Nile Steamers'; boats that used to sail from Dongola to Karima when the Nile was high enough. Sadly we couldn't find the right road and when a young lad decided to accompany us on his bike and then start asking me to give him things we decided to give it up as a bad job. Thankfully we encountered lots more friendly and smiley children during our ride round the town, so the begging, rude few are not in a majority. Breakfast at a restaurant where we were assisted by a really helpful Ethiopian guy rounded off a busy morning.

The rest of the day has been somewhat less busy, although we have sorted some photos out and the blog is back up to date. Hopefully we will get to do some uploading soon.


Tomorrow Atbara and then it is back on the bikes for the ride down to Khartoum.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Day 223 Sudan 29/4/2011, Dongola – Karima. Bikes on the roof and a town between two deserts.

We were awake earlier than we had planned so we decided to try and get an earlier bus to Karima. Our helpful hotelier gave us directions to the bus stop and handed us a piece of paper to show to the bus driver. The directions turned out to be good and we soon arrived in Souk es-Shabi. The hotelier had obviously phoned ahead to say we were coming, as we were greeted on arrival by the man from the ticket office. We paid our 20SDP (£4.50) each and another 20SDP for our bikes and luggage and everything was soon loaded on the roof. All we had to do now was wait for enough passengers to fill the bus.

We didn't have to wait long, just after 9am we were full and under way. From the conditions outside it looks like we had a lucky escape by not cycling the route. The road was very desolate with what looked like only one water stop along the 165km stretch. There was also a fierce crosswind, blowing sand that showered against the side of the minibus. Inside the bus may have been a bit cramped, but it was certainly better than being outside!

Just under two hours later and we arrived in Karima. With our bikes unloaded, still in one piece, minus the odd bit of paint, we grabbed our gear ready to find somewhere to stay. Our guidebook mentioned a guy who offered a home-stay option which sounded good. Debs set about making a phone call and managed to get hold of the guy. Unfortunately making calls is never easy when the other persons English is not brilliant, so getting directions was difficult. Eventually we gave up and found the Al Nasser hotel, which seems decent enough. Once again we had to go and register with the security office, but this time it was easy to find, although unsigned, and the officer was very friendly and helpful. We were soon back at the hotel and checked in, with our bikes stored safely in the room.

Aside from going out to buy some lunch we pretty much stayed around the hotel all day. The afternoon heat stops all but the foolhardy from venturing out, we have found it is best to do as the Sudanese do and sleep through it. One good thing that may have come out of a lazy afternoon is that I have possibly fixed the zip on our tent and all it took was a squeeze with some pliers. We will keep our fingers crossed and see how it is when we next camp, but so far it looks good.

Tomorrow we will leave early to see the ruins at Jebel Barkal and have our first look at some Sudanese pyramids!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Day 222 Sudan 28/4/2011, Abo Hojar – Dongola. 30.66miles/49.70km, 2hr52minutes, Av 10.6mph.

This morning was a morning of sad farewells. Our lives have been deeply touched by the family and their friends. As is often the way, people with so little have shown themselves to be rich in warmth and hospitality. It is easy to think that while we have gained so much in the west we have also lost the sense of community that pervades throughout the poorer countries. The world is a rapidly changing place, none more so than the Middle East and the Muslim countries. Travel for the ordinary Sudanese is very difficult, but who knows one day we may be able to return the favour. It would be a great shame to think that we will not see them all again.

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Riding away from the village was a difficult one, we could have easily found ourselves turning round and staying a few more days. In the end we knew that we had to move on.

The 45km ride to Dongola was tougher than expected, mainly because of a strong headwind and the fact that we left a little later than we planned. For some reason I also wasn't feeling 100%, suffering from a lethargy that just wouldn't let my legs get moving. When we finally got to Dongola having crossed the Nile it was with a sense of relief. Finding the hotel we were looking for came as even more of a relief.

After a bit of hanging around while managers were called and the room was sorted, we eventually checked into a basic room, which was at least cooler than the stifling heat outside. Once again Sudan's frequent power cuts reared their head, so our fan stopped working. With little else to do we wandered into the bustling little town to get some food and with any luck a cold drink. Despite the shops boasting a staggering amount of refrigerators, they were largely empty. When we found a small shop selling taamiya (falafel) and cold drinks it was most welcome.

With it getting too hot to be outside we bought some fruit and veg, found another shop selling cold drinks and returned to the hotel for a sleep. At least we would have if we hadn't had to go out to the security office to register our intentions to stay in a hotel. The Sudanese do love their bureaucracy! Having just been out in the heat and struggling to understand the hoteliers directions we took a Tuk Tuk rather than walk. It was just as well that we did because the directions we were given were rubbish and it was quite a long way. After some serious form filling, we were handed the permission slip that we needed to give to the hotel. We have no idea what you do if you arrive in the middle of the night. Perhaps the security office is manned 24 hours, but we seriously doubt it.

Back at the hotel I enquired about the possibility of getting us and our bikes on a minibus to Karima. The staff at the Lord Hotel are very helpful and speak pretty good English and I was told that it would be no problem at all, with the buses also leaving every hour. This is good news as it means we will be able to skip 165km of barren desert. We are aware in some cyclists eyes that riding through the desert is about challenging yourself, but we just can't see the attraction. It's too hot, extremely dusty, windy, there is no water, no shade and it is extremely boring. If the options are staying a few days with local people experiencing the countries culture or riding through the desert for days on end then, with us at least, there is only ever going to be one outcome.

With the next stage of our journey organised we spent the rest of the day trying to stay cool. We failed miserably, but at least we got some rest. Hopefully getting the bikes on a minibus tomorrow will be as easy as we have been told.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Day 221 Sudan 27/4/2011, Abdulfadil's house, Abo hojar. Debs has a morning with the girls and we make a short stop at a Nubian wedding.

This morning after tea and biscuits Debs went off to visit the girls while I stayed at the house. Yet another power cut, extremely common in Sudan, meant no Playstation so I contented myself with reading and sorting some photos.

Shortly after mid-morning breakfast, Abdulfadil said we would have to go and get Debs. I personally couldn't see what the rush was as she hadn't been gone that long and I assumed she would be having a good time. Nevertheless we had to go, so we wandered down the street towards the house. When we got to the house Debs wondered why we were there and I tried to explain that it hadn't been my decision. She was now having her feet hennaed and had been pampered all morning.


Instead of leaving her to it, we stayed drinking tea and chatting. The laptop and camera has been in constant use, first taking pictures and then showing them to everyone on the bigger screen. With the henna finished we had a photo shoot, where Debs was dressed up in a succession of Nubian outfits. She looked great and we have some terrific photos.

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Eventually it was time to go so we said our goodbyes and returned to Abdulfadil's house accompanied by two of the girls. More showing and taking of photos followed our return. Debs has made quite an impact in the village, women travelling through riding bicycles is clearly a rarity!

I would love to say that it will be both of us who are remembered the most from our stay but a small green fuzzy fella has rather taken centre stage. It seems that everyone who has visited the house wants to see Toad and his photo of him sitting on the Great Wall of China. It is has been astounding the fascination that has surrounded him. Having grown men want to have a photo with him while they drink coffee was hilarious. In Abo Hojar at least, he is truly a star!

Later that day we gave the family some bottles of fizzy drink that we had bought and some sweets. I then gave Abdulfadil my British flag which I fix to my bike. They seemed a bit shocked and overwhelmed that we had given them anything, but after the amazing hospitality it was the least that we could do. We are going to try our hardest to get the photos from our stay printed out in Khartoum and get a copy to them. This is a little tricky as there is no postal service to the village. Apparently we have to give them to a bus driver who is heading in that direction and they will get to them eventually. This seems a little haphazard but it may be the only way. We would love for them to have the photos, especially as apart from their weddings pictures, they just don't have any.

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To bring our amazing stay to a close, we were taken that evening to a Nubian wedding. It was an honour to be able to see the dancing, colourful clothes and listen to the very rhythmic Nubian music. Unfortunately we didn't take our cameras, as we were uncertain whether we could. Despite being told later that we should have, I don't think either of us would have felt that comfortable taking pictures. Sometimes it is best just to have the memories.

As a final thought and in answer to the question 'what do you give the already overladen cycle tourist as a gift'? I can tell you that despite how nice they are and how generous it was, 2kg of dried dates is not the most helpful of items! It was lovely of Abdulfadil's friend to give them to me and I really am very grateful, but where am I going to put them?!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Day 220 Sudan 26/4/2011, Abdulfadil's house, Abo Hojar. Recovery, a stroll round the village and more neighbours!

Thankfully I woke feeling better this morning. The consensus seemed to be that it would be best if we stayed for another day while I got my strength back. See, I told you we were slipping easily into the Sudanese way of life.

This morning we were taken on a tour of the farmland surrounding the village, and got to see one of the deep wells where the irrigation water is drawn from. Despite the harsh conditions the area was surprisingly green.

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During the walk we were greeted by several more neighbours and friends and eventually found ourselves in a what seemed like a house full of women. They were all keen to have photos taken and Debs, despite the language problem, was in her element. Her old English teacher days are clearly coming to the fore. With a promise to come back later for tea, we had to leave as breakfast would be waiting for us.

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After breakfast I played on the Playstation with Abdulrazig and then later helped him fix his bicycle. In truth I really only held the bike upright, but he appreciated me showing willing, I think?!


Meanwhile Debs had gone a nearby house with the women folk who are all preparing for the forthcoming wedding. It is a shame that we won't be here for the wedding, nevertheless Debs seems to be having a terrific time.

Later that evening we returned to the house we had been in earlier for tea. Once again we were greeted enthusiastically, Debs especially. The women of the house have really taken her into their hearts.

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For some time Debs has been saying that she would like to have her hands painted with henna. The women were all very keen on the idea and said that they would do it tomorrow. Obviously we were planning on leaving tomorrow. Not wanting to be stopped they found some henna and started immediately to draw some designs on her hands. The finished work is very pretty and sometime during the evening, we agreed to stay another day so Debs could come back and visit the women again.

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Once again overwhelming hospitality is keeping us here. It is going to be very difficult to tear ourselves away. Only the knowledge of how big Sudan is and the time remaining on our visas is keeping us aware of the need to move on.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Day 219 Sudan 25/4/2011, Abo Hojar – Deffufa – Abo Hojar. 14.8miles/23.96km, 1hr43minutes, 8.5mph Sand!

For some reason this morning I woke feeling a little queasy. Shaking it off as nothing, we had breakfast and then headed down the road towards the mud brick buildings of Deffufa. The directions we had been given were good and despite having to ride on sand for part of the way we made it to the site. After what a lot of form filling, parting with money and having to explain that we didn't have a photocopy of all our documents, we were allowed in. Fortunately they didn't insist on keeping our travel permit which we need!

By now the queasiness that I had ignored had turned into full blown nausea. The fact that the mud brick building we were looking at was over 3500 years old and possibly the largest and oldest man made structure in sub-Saharan Africa, didn't change the fact that I felt really sick. While Debs went for a wander round, I sat in the shade and tried to hang onto my breakfast. The nausea eventually eased, so I was able to have a little wander and take a closer look at the massive structure.

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With me clearly not feeling one hundred percent, we decided to head to the town of Kerma to buy our hosts a gift for letting us stay and then head back. The lack of a tarmac road made getting to the town very difficult and we never actually made it. Instead we were beckoned over by some men and had a cup of tea with them and then stopped at a shop for a cold drink. I had thought the drink may settle my stomach a little, but it didn't help at all. Getting invited into another families house was a lovely gesture but it was all I could do to stop from being sick. For once the amazing hospitality, in my case at least, wasn't so welcome.

The projectile vomiting didn't start until we got out of the house thankfully. Rather fortunately there wasn't anyone around either, which saved my embarrassment at least.

From then on there wasn't much to do but head back. Trying to explain that I was feeling unwell was difficult and the family were very concerned. Even more concerned when I couldn't eat any food. I hope that they didn't think it was because I didn't like it. I ate a little and they insisted that a coffee was the best thing for an upset stomach. Another round of vomiting later and I did feel a little better, so I guess the coffee served its purpose!


I spent the rest of the day feeling extremely weak and groggy, Debs meanwhile went off with Zuleikha (Abdulfadil's wife) to a pre wedding event.

Debs' account of the evening:

It was a ladies only event and it appeared that all the women of the village were there. I was introduced to everyone and was greeted with warmth and curiosity and was made to feel very welcome. The bride's sister, Mona spoke English quite well and took me under her wing. After a while the groom's female family and friends arrived from a nearby village in light covered pick-up trucks with loud music blaring. With everyone present, the main reason for the party became clear; the bride was given lots of gifts for her wedding next month. The gifts included a lot of beautiful outfits and shoes for her new married life, which when shown around were greeted with loud whoops and shouts. It was a lovely evening and a great insight into Sudanese customs. I feel very honoured to have been part of the event and cannot thank Zuleikha enough for taking me.

Later that evening I started to feel a little better and managed to eat a bit of supper. For me at least it has been a difficult day. I am glad that Debs has been so roundly embraced by the local women, as looking after a sick grumpy me wouldn't have been a great deal of fun for her!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Day 218 Sudan 24/4/2011, Abo Hojar. A day spent in a lovely village with a terrific family.

Our plans to go to Deffufa early this morning didn't come to fruition. We left getting up a little late and we fell foul of the Sudanese custom of having breakfast about three hours after they get up. Chatting to Abdulfadil he suggested that we went after 3pm when it was cooler. We have to say that we were a little doubtful that it would be cooler by 3pm but you have to listen to the locals!


Once again during the day we were greeted by more of the neighbours. People seemed to be constantly dropping in for tea, coffee or a chat. We get the impression that this is a usual occurrence and not just because we were there.

We never did make it to Deffufa and it certainly didn't cool down at 3pm. Instead I had the tricky task of trying to explain some very wordy Playstation games to Abdulfadil's son and we had an impromptu game of football with a neighbour's disabled son. Just kicking and volleying the ball around had him rolling with laughter. It was all very sweet and a lot of fun.

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Later that evening we went to another neighbour Mohammed el-Hardi's house for tea and got to meet his mother and lovely family. It has been another terrific day and we are finding ourselves slipping, possibly too comfortably, into the Sudanese way of life.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Day 217 Sudan 23/4/2011, Desert camp North of Delgo – Abdulfadil's house in Abo Hojar. 63.11miles/102.27km, 4hr50minutes, Av 13.1mph.

Despite the somewhat sombre mood of last night we packed up and set out into the early morning light in good spirits. A return of the tailwind saw us making good progress.

Now aware that the road may leave the Nile and head out into the desert at any moment, we once again availed ourselves of valuable water when we passed a stop. It was a good thing that we did, because almost straight away we headed out into the desert.

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40km into the day we were surprised to be passed by a Toyota Land-cruiser with Swiss number plates. The driver stopped and introduced himself and his wife. They have been travelling from South Africa northwards and were now slowly heading back down. Which explains why they weren't on the ferry from Egypt with us. They were a lovely couple and it was nice to stop and have a chat.

Back on the road it was more of the same, desert followed by more desert, followed by more desert. The land eventually becoming a bit greener as we neared the more fertile plains around the Nile. It wasn't long before we were heading into the desert again though. As before in Sudan, we were buoyed along by the friendly waves and happy smiles of the people.

Eventually after nearly 90km we came back alongside the Nile and were called over by some policemen. They asked where we were headed and when we told Kerma, they pointed down a road in the direction we had come! We had clearly fallen foul of the lack of signposts.

Heading along the road, into the wind, we were greeted by groups of smiling children and received many shout of welcome by people sheltering from the sun.


Eventually we came to a mosque and filled up our water bottles and then bought a drink from a nearby shop. Checking our directions, we continued north along the road until we came to a junction where we were beckoned over by a taxi driver to shelter under a tree. By now it was very hot so we happily took him up on the offer.

While trying to buy a drink, I was approached by a man who introduced himself as Abdulfadil. He told me that he would like us to come and stay in his house. He had hosted a Japanese cyclist 3 years previously, who had been on the road for 10 years and had cycled 100,000km! Since then he has hosted other cyclists but normally in the winter. He was slightly amused that we had chosen to come to Sudan at the hot time of year! Obviously our assumption that it would be like our spring was a mistake!

After chatting with Debs we decided it was too good an offer to turn down. Especially after having camped for the last three nights. The chance to wash ourselves was too tempting. The desert dust impregnates everything, our clothes have become so ingrained by the sand and then baked solid by the sun that it is like they have been heavily starched.

Abdulfadil told us that he had to go to a market to buy some wood, he is a carpenter, but would be back in an hour if we would wait there. With the sun high in the sky we had nowhere else to be so we settled down to wait. Obviously being a Sudanese hour it was nearer 2.5 hours, but our Sudanese guidebook caused a lot of interest with the locals so we were kept entertained.

Rather worryingly, when Abdulfadil returned he was in a pick-up (boksi) and he said just follow the vehicle. We did our best to keep up, but it was just as well that he was waiting by the side of the road for us, otherwise it would have been the shortest home-stay ever!

Abdulfadil's wife, Zuleikha and son Abdulrazig are lovely and we have been made to feel completely at home. During the afternoon we have lost count of the amount of people we have been introduced to. We have had lovely food and have coped with eating with only our right hand. An invite to another neighbour's house for tea was most welcome and the hospitality has been amazing. Having supper at 10pm was a little tiring as we had been awake at 5am, but the whole experience has been unforgettable.

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We have been invited to stay as long as we like, so we will stay one more day and go and visit the ancient mud brick buildings of Deffufa, which is why we were here in the first place.

It has been a good day. Every time things look a little low, there always seems to be something that reminds us why we are doing this.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Day 216 Sudan 22/4/2011, Desert camp south of Abri - Desert camp North of Delgo. 60.54miles/98.06km, 6hr16minutes, Av 9.6mph.

No punctures this morning and we got on the road at just after 6:30am. Once again we had the road largely to ourselves for the first few hours of the morning. The tailwind that we had had for the first two days had dropped and was replaced by a gentle crosswind.

For a while the road followed the Nile, passing the palm-tree and mud-brick village lined banks. With the villages came the chance of water and filling our water sacks up proved to be a wise decision when the road slowly veered out into the desert.

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By the time we had covered 70km the temperature was rising dramatically, so a roadside rest stop was a welcome sight. A couple of cold drinks each and a falafel sandwich later and we felt a bit better.

There seemed little point in carrying on after our break as the sun by now was directly above and we were nearing the hottest part of the day. Foregoing the rest stop where we could definitely have stayed, we rode down towards the Nile through the village of Abu Sari. Two friendly Nubians greeted us as we rode through and gave us directions down to the river where we could rest.

Settling down under a shady date palm tree, we laid out our kip-mats and tried to sleep through the afternoon heat. The small village was very quiet, with us only being disturbed by two very sweet children. After a brief chat they saw that we wanted to sleep and left us in peace. Despite the breeze and shade, it was still very warm. We planned to sit out the sun until about 5pm and then do a bit more cycling, before finding somewhere to camp for the night.

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Leaving at 5pm turned out to be too early as the heat was still stifling as we headed out into the desert. At one point we cycled through what looked like a huge refugee camp, which we have since learned was a gold town. Gold has been found in the desert and it seems that everybody is now heading towards the area armed with metal detectors to try their luck. A large mine has also opened bringing valuable, if dangerous, employment to a poor area.

As the sun started to set, the temperature eased slightly and we started to look in earnest for somewhere to camp. Debs was really struggling as she has not been feeling very well and I haven't been helping much by being snappy and irritable. With nothing but open desert to either side of us finding a camp site with a bit of shelter from the wind was going to be tricky.

Turning a bend, the Nile came once again into sight and with it a small quarry, which proved a decent camping opportunity. We set up camp with the last of the light fading and quickly made dinner.

It has been a very long day in difficult conditions. For the first time in the trip I seriously discussed with Debs about whether we are doing the right thing. Africa suddenly seems like the enormous continent that it is. The whole point of the trip was to challenge ourselves and Sudan is certainly offering that challenge. It seems at the moment, maybe because we have been on the road for so long, that it is challenging our health, mood and relationship too much. I will probably feel differently tomorrow, but there is no doubt that I have reached a bit of a low point. I am very proud of what we have achieved so far, but I can't and won't let it bring us down too much. Still tomorrow is another day!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Day 215 Sudan 21/4/2011, Desert camp – another desert camp, 15km south of Abri. 48.19miles/77.91km, 3hr59minutes, Av 12.1mph.

So much for the early start, not one, not two, but three punctures put and end to that! An important and frustrating lesson was learned about camping under acacia trees.

Instead of the 6:30am and on the road, we didn't get going until about 8am. Fortunately it was still relatively cool as we only had a limited amount of water with us.

Once again the road was flat and we were helped along by a nice tailwind, which was just as well as I had slightly miscalculated how far it was to the Nile. After about 40km we passed the first of the Nubian villages that line the banks of the river. A further 20km and we were heading into Abri, no thanks to the non existent signposts!


Finding a small shop to buy a drink and then spotting some of the clay pots that contain water came as a relief. The cleanliness and safety of the water within the pots is questionable, but thanks to the way the terracotta allows some water to seep through and then evaporate means that it is cool. So far we have had no ill effects from the water so fingers crossed, or possibly we have built up enough of a tolerance.

Abri is a bustling little town. We had a big lunch of Fuul (mashed beans with garlic, spices and a lot of oil), eggs and bread and then bought some vegetables. We had a look at the small hotel in town but it was a bit grim and a little expensive. Plus it was still early, although very hot, and finding a camp spot in the desert isn't exactly difficult. What we really wanted was somewhere to have a nap for a few hours and then head back out when it got cooler. While talking to some of the very friendly locals they told us that we would be able to find a shady tree down by the Nile that we could rest under.

Heading out of the town we passed a small village and then spotted a track towards the river between two houses. What followed was one of those experiences that makes the travelling worthwhile. We were greeted first by several children and then their mothers. A reed mat was laid out under a tree for us and we had the company of several very exited children. I quickly asked the women if I could take pictures of the children and was told yes. At the sight of the camera they got more excited and happily posed.

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When more people arrived to say hello, it looked like we were going to meet everyone in the village. Eventually some lads arrived and asked if I wanted to go for a swim. The chance to cool off seemed like a good idea so I was soon swimming in the Nile. There didn't appear to be any crocodiles although the lads seemed keen on trying to tease me about them. Having seen how well they swam I was quietly confident, even with my limited swimming skills, that I could out swim them. Which is all you need to do, right?!

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While I was swimming, Debs was entertaining the children. It was all a great experience but not as restful as we had planned. Eventually the adults, realising we wanted to have a rest, rounded up the children and we were left in peace. Debs managed to sleep for a while and by the time it was 4pm we decided to head back out and cover a bit more distance. It was sad to wave goodbye, but we needed to go and find a camping spot.

Any ideas that the temperature would have dropped were quickly quashed. It looks like we only have the early morning to make any serious distance. We had planned to go further but a decent spot presented itself, so we set up camp. A little sadly, while I was sorting our gear I spotted two of the overlanders we met on the ferry going past. They had obviously not got their cars back until today, plus they had told us they were taking a different route. Had we of been on the road 20 minutes longer they would have seen us.


A note on desert camping: people get very excited about the prospect, quoting the quiet,

solitude and clear skies. While all these things are true, they forget about the flies, sand, temperature, utter lack of shade, scorpions, snakes and oh did I mention the flies. Actually we haven't seen any scorpions or snakes yet but that doesn't mean they aren't out there. If the flies aren't heading for your mouth, they are up your nose, in your ears or trying to drink from your eyes. If I knew that scorpions dined on flies I would rather have the scorpion!

On a more serious note, the zip on our very expensive Hilberg tent is failing. The sand is certainly not helping but this is potentially a major problem and one we would not expect. Fortunately we can use the other entrance, but I am not convinced about that zip either. I will email Hilberg when we get the chance, but that doesn't do us much good in the meantime.

Problems aside, we will be having an early night, if it ever cools down, and an early start tomorrow.