160km to Al Dabbah
250km to sleep in the desert
120km to Khartoum
530km in 3 days
12,014km so far
We took the most direct route to Khartoum, the west road, so that we could take advantage of the Southerly wind. The other route via Karima and Atbara is more scenic and probably better if you are on a holiday but having lost a whole week in Egypt due to the ferry, we wanted to press on.
We left Dongola at around lunchtime as we had spent the morning using the Internet to upload photos. We had fixed a broken spoke on Alex’s wheel the night before, but another one broke as we started out in the morning. He decided to keep going anyway. Although late, there was a ferocious tailwind and we flew. There wasn’t much to see other than the occasional herd of camels or Falcons in the sky above us. So it was all about cycling. We managed 160km and arrived into Al Dabbah in the dark.
There wasn’t much to the place and we slept outdoors at the lokanda which was €1 but so grotty that it felt overpriced. We met Sudanese and Ethiopians who were as usual incredibly friendly.
The next day after coming 8km out of Al Dabbah the sign said 335km to Khartoum. The wind was strong and it was going South again and I found that it was easy to maintain 35km and often we were being blown along and able to push it up to 45km per hour! But I was faster than Alex. After 50km I sat and waited for him. After tea, and a chat with the locals, I had made a decision. When Alex turned up I told him I wanted to see how far I could get today and if I could make it to Khartoum. Tailwind is hugely exciting and I was like a kid at Christmas. I genuinely thought I would be able to do 335km in one day!!! He said , “no problem, see you in Khartoum tomorrow”.
After 5 more hours of shifting my legs at 40kph I reached 250km, a new personal best. I had more energy and my legs felt strong but it was very dark, and I was very sleepy. I realized I would not arrive in Khartoum until nearly midnight so I stopped and slept alone in the desert.
In the morning, I heard the voices of kids as I woke. They were on their way to school. One came up and shook my hand and used his best 3 phrases.
“Hello, how are you”
Where are you from?”
“What’s your name?”
“Izmi Eddy” (my name’s Eddy) I replied
Then he went back to the other kids who stopped and stared for 15 minutes as I got my bags packed.
The rest of the way was mostly East and with a crosswind so it was much slower but I made it to Khartoum by the early afternoon. Khartoum was quite a shock as it was so much more developed compared to what we had seen so far. It was such a contrast. Glass skyscrapers, posh cars, western style restaurants, and people dressed in a much more modern style,holding smartphones.
I couldn’t find the hostel and sat down to work out a plan B. A man asked if I needed help and then more people came over. There were about ten of them around me and one called over a kind lady called Sara who spoke English. She said ” you are at road 47 but in the wrong district!” She said she would take me there and I followed her car to the hostel. And the next night she took us for dinner! I am pleased to say that I now have Sudanese friends.
Alex arrived that evening and we spent the next 2 days in Khartoum where we registered with the police ( an awful experience) and applying for the Ethiopian visa (which was relatively simple and cost just 20 dollars).
Next? Wad Medani (9th Jan) and then Gedarref. It should take about 4 days to reach the Ethiopian border.