Tuesday 29th April

Aswan, Egypt – Wadi Halfa, Sudan

As the sun rose on deck and the call to prayer started up, those of us on deck who were asleep were woken. The smell of ammonia that you had to endure in the ships toilets was enough to burn the nostrils but endure it we did.

The day passed hiding in whatever shade could be found and helped along with conversations with all the ships passengers who were keen to chat about anything and everything. Standard topics included how they could get a visa to the UK, the merits of Islam, Egyptian politics and who was married to Becky! This was interspersed with tea, more beans & pitta, and an occasional blast on the bagpipes from Andy when the locals seemed bored of our chat. We feel like recreating some Michael Palin moments from Pole to Pole as the crew and all the locals were super friendly and this boded well for Sudan.

As the sun set for the second time since we had been on this boat, we passed the temples at Abu Simbel which were moved to their current location when they flooded the Lake Nassar with the Aswan High Dam. As we reached Wadi Halfa, a local fixer call Magdi hunted us down on board the ship and escorted us through the brief interview below decks. We eventually got off the ferry and set foot on Sudanese soil 32 hours after boarding the ship. A swift customs bypass and we were into a taxi with our fellow travellers to the local Deffintoad ‘hotel’ in Wadi Halfa. We shared a 3 person room with Niall in the Eastern wing in block D, cell 6. The super simple room was welcome though after the sleepless night on deck and the fan on ceiling worked well. We headed into town for a quick bite to eat along with the new game of ‘Guess the mysterious hanging meat’. A couple from Portugal and Holland joined us who had just got off the train from Khartoum and were heading north and back to Holland after working in Mozambique for 4 years.

Living on the deck (Niall on left)
Chatting mince to locals
More fine dining
Entertaining the crowd
1st Mate
Hoisting Sudanese flag
Another sunset
Cell block H
Cell block G

Wednesday 30th April

Wadi Halfa – Abri

We met Magdi at 0830 at the hotel where he took our passports for Alien Registration to the police station while we had breakfast in the town square. Chatted to other northbound overlanders on the way to the ferry including a great older couple driving a Rolls Royce from Cape Town to England along with a friend of theirs of similar age on a scooter. It was up to their children to be their support crew!!

By 10am word spread that the barge had arrived so we grabbed a cab the 5km back to the port where the barge was waiting. We unloaded our vehicles as Magdi finished the paperwork as we negotiated his fee down to $15. After an hour or so, we were in convoy with Niall leaving the port after a long but very easy crossing into Sudan. A brief stop in town to stock up on supplies, wave good bye to our fellow ferry travellers and for Niall to change his many single US dollar notes for Sudanese pounds which didn’t go down very well!

After a short piece of tarmac, the fun driving began. A mixture of rock and sand as we crisscrossed the new road under construction which will open up this whole area, when complete in 2 years. We feel like some of the last people to undergo this trip before the whole thing is achievable on tarmac. We hear that even the legendary ferry journey will not be necessary in 2 weeks time as the border opens up and lets cars take the short ferry crossing from Abu Simbel to north of Wadi Halfa.

All the locals in the villages greet us with friendly smiles and waves as we accidentally shroud them in clouds of dust which is also coating the inside of the landy. We find a great spot for camping overlooking the Nile (20º49’11.4”N, 30º25’41.0”E) and chat to a couple farming the land who inform us of the local crocodile population. After Niall breaks his fishing rod on a mysterious creature, we christen the dutch oven on the fire with a great stew and the local pitta bread which is amazing.

6244 miles


Looks like we got ourselves a convoy...
Dusty roads
Camping Nile side
The view
The roads
Local farmer and child

Thursday 1st May

Abri – Argo Ferry

We continue South through some very remote countryside, with the Nile on our right.  The roads continue to confuse as we often find ourselves slightly lost, trying to figure out where we are with maps that even though were produced in 2006, are now out of date.

Some of the dust is incredibly fine, which finds its way into absolutely everything in the cabin. This has dire consequences as we turn a sharp corner with our windows open and the tail wind fills the cabin with thick dust blinding Nick who is driving. He is oblivious to the large hole ahead of him and so powers blindly onwards to a thick crunching sound from the suspension. Initial inspection is ok but further down the road we see the front left shock is leaking badly and totally shot.

We power on with Andy now behind the helm to enjoy the fun driving and put his mind at rest being a bad back seat driver at the best of times. The other vehicle gives us plenty of opportunity for different video footage of the landy as well as increasing confidence with navigation. However, if you ever hear a joke about two Scotsmen and an Irishman stuck in the desert, I think we will have made it up as the banter increases over the 2-way radios.

A short roadside break enables Andy to buy some chicken for dinner by doing the birdy dance which the locals find hilarious while supping their tea. Crazy white people!!

Caked in dust, we finally discover the Argo ferry only to discover that it is out of service. We decide to utilise the beach and set up camp (19º31’21.8”N, 30º24’39.3”E) much to the bemusement of the locals who find our excessive kit and bad sand driving very amusing. We gain their respect by taking a cooling dip in the Nile which washes most of the dust away but probably infects us with all sorts of things we couldn’t care less about right then. In true colonial style, we send a couple of kids off to find us firewood in return for a dollar which they struggle to appreciate but smile anyway. Another delicious roast chicken and veg dinner would have gone down nicely with some wine but sadly it is yet another dry country.

6376 miles

Andy filming
Nile view
Nile view
Argo ferry locals
Dusty heed

Friday 2nd May

Argo Ferry – Karima

Another early morning dip in the Nile freshens us up before we tackle the last of the sand and dust. After getting lost in a maze of Nubian dwellings, a local elderly hops in the back to guide us to the main road. He refuses a lift back, payment or even a cigarette as he trudges the ½ hour back to his farm. The generosity and friendliness of the Sudanese is such a refreshing change from the Egyptians.

At the main ferry crossing to Dongola we stop for some lunch and chat to one of the engineers in charge of building the new road. He is well educated and fills us in on the local politics. China is taking over here too and funding much of the new road infrastructure as well as a huge dam near Karima which will double the country’s electricity supply. The consequences on the land fertility downstream in addition to the resettlement requirements from the lake appear to be fairly short-sighted. We expect the Chinese will supply the fertiliser though…

We already miss the dust as we stay on the East side of the Nile and rejoin the tarmac for a 2 hour drive across the desert to Karima. After pulling out 4 locals stuck in the sand in their Cinquecento, we head over to the pyramids at Jebel Barkal. They are amazingly preserved with no tourist amenities in sight as we have the place to ourselves.

We continue down the Nile and head towards a GPS coordinate for a fossilised forest in the desert (18º25’44.1”N, 31º44’04.9”E). Interesting sight and great spot for camping so we set up the awning only for it to be ripped up 10 minutes later by a passing tornado that bends all the struts like spaghetti…we didn’t need it anyway!! Andy decides it is time for his boot camp haircut so gets the clipper treatment with surprisingly good results. A huge tuna pasta dinner sets us all up nicely for a food coma star gazing session. Desire for a beer from the Celts is strong.

6538 miles

Jebel Barkal pyramids
Jebel Barkal pyramids
Fossilised forest
Fossilised wood
Nick's Romanian twin appears
Sunset pipes
Truck loading Sudanese style
Nick filming

Saturday 3rd May

Karima – Khartoum

We say farewell to our Irish friend for now as he heads up to Port Sudan for some diving and we head south to Khartoum. Within minutes we pick up two Canadian hitchhikers (Lisa & Tim/Ted) who have been working in Uganda and now doing a short trip from Cairo back to Uganda before heading home. We pick up some good tips from them about Uganda and dream of the nightlife ahead of us. The 3 hour drive is uneventful across perfect tar with the heat increasing as we approach Khartoum. A quick check of our newly acquired GPS information points us towards a Land Rover spares shop in central Khartoum which we easily find. This is an oasis of ‘genuine’ parts but we pick up a new shock for the front and a spare for the rear for the ‘genuine’ price of £30.

After dropping off the Canadians, we head for the Blue Nile Sailing Club where camping is available. The clubhouse here is Kitcheners old gun boat and a Mecca for overlanders. The first people we meet are a Brazilian called Arthur who is cycling around the world and a German called Philip who is heading to Cape Town in a 125cc Yamaha motorbike. He has already been here a week trying to get his bike fixed. While sharing stories, an ex-pat mother comes over to chat while waiting to pick up her kids who are kayaking in the Nile. She fits all the stereotypes and her husband had some tips about Ethiopia from his time working with food programmes out here.

We quickly head out to airport to pick up a new alternator that has been shipped out, but the DHL office is shut until tomorrow as the workers are tucking into their communal fuul. Driving around the town brought home where we were with numerous white UN Land Cruisers parked up from their work in nearby Darfur. Back at camp, the showers are appreciated before we head into town with Arthur and Philip for a pizza and a quick search for any nightlife in town. We were sorely mistaken so console ourselves with some water and diary writing beside the Nile.

6849 miles

More grease please

Sunday 4th May


A relaxed day in the welcoming breeze at the Blue Nile Sailing Club where we did a much needed vehicle and clothes wash, vehicle service, photo back up and web update. We quickly drop by the DHL offices to pick up a new spare alternator that was kindly shipped out to us from Mike Aitken, Fife’s leading independent specialist in Land Rovers. The heat allows for little else so we grab a quick dinner at the club before the Canadians, Lisa and Ted, join us for a pint of water on the riverside patio.

Monday 5th May

Khartoum – Gedaref

After a brief glimpse of the converging rivers of the Blue and White Nile, we left Khartoum with a quick pit stop for diesel and supplies. The road was heaving with traffic in both directions and only quietened down a couple of hours out of Khartoum. The road was fairly mundane except for the regular Fife game of ‘Name the combine harvester?’ The combine of choice seemed to be a Claas Dominator with a 15 foot header…for those who are interested. You could see that at some point these machines must be used as the fields stretched as far as the eye could see, albeit with no crops actually growing.

After 5 hours, we reached Gedaref and negotiated a diesel stop in US dollars before getting lost in the town’s ghetto. After utilising our newly acquired Scots/Arabic tongues, we finally got back on the main road to the Ethiopian border as the sun was beginning to set. We bush camped in the desert just off the highway and enjoyed another fine roast chicken dinner accompanied by hundreds of locusts who we were sharing a campsite with. This created some new games including ‘Beat and burn the locust’.

7172 miles


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South Africa