After completing 3 days in a row and exceeding 1600km we are hoping for a days rest but this is not to be. We have caught up with the main group but we must push on as the pressure of possibly missing the Wadi Halfia ferry drives our group decision. Once again we are up early for team departure, the target being Wadi Halfia, the port town where we will ferry down the Nile on lake Nasar to Aswan in Egypt. No one knows how long this journey will take? Some say three days and some say five?
It is fair to say that there is a lot of contradiction flying as we discuss at the last minute which way to go, should we do the desert route (telegraph route) or should we take the Nile river route. We wade through the various blogs from previous trips, we gather data from others who have travelled these routes and we are certain that the Nile route is the better option. Overnight email comes in saying “go the desert route”. We have chosen the Nile river path, have we made the right decision?
We stagger our way out of Khartoum, the Zumo’s (Navigation Unit) tracks do not align them self with the roads surrounding Khartoum. This is evidence on how little people travel in this part of Africa. Soon we are in some market trying to find our way back on to a main road and north to the Nile road. After an hour we are on a newly formed tar sealed road heading north toward Dongola. The road is excellent but the temperature is building. It is 9:00am and it is already 32 degrees.
After crossing a main desert section we intercept the Nile then travel down the Nile again on a well formed tar sealed road arriving in Dongola at 14:30. The temperature is now 46 degrees and we all welcome the cool of the Hotel room and some cold water. (No beer in this country) We have completed 535 km’s in the heat of the day.
The next part of the route requires the crossing of the Nile to ride the eastern side of the Nile from Dongola to Wadi Halfia. We are assured that the ferry will run to time but as normal this is not the case and we cross the Nile one hour later than anticipated. We enjoy 10 km of tar seal road then we are into sand riding on a track that has been disturbed by recent flooding from the Nile. This causes great confusion as we back track around water holes. Fortunately we have the GPS to fall back on when we wander too far from the track. Brendan seen here deep in the sand:
After about 40 km’s of sand the road settles into a mixture of hard packed sand and gravel with corrugations. The riding is hard as we wander our way through many of the villages that dot the Nile. We stop at many a watering hole to wet ourselves down in the 45 degree heat. Brendan seen here wetting down
Finally we arrive at Abri at 17:00 we have been riding all day and have completed 240km. We settle in for a nights sleep at the local hotel (Elfagr Hotel) in Abri.
The next day we are up early to catch the cool of the morning and the sunrise. We have 180km to run to Wadi and the promise of improved conditions. The road is much the same, gravel with corrugations that shake the bike severely. Being used to the heat and road conditions we begin to enjoy this section and stop half way for a local lunch of liver, mushroom, beans and bread:
We push on to Wadi getting there around 13:00 again in the heat of the day. We have made it and the fear of missing the ferry fades into the background. We settle into the Nile Hotel to enjoy two days wait for the ferry departure.
We gather again with others who we have met previously at embassy offices and compare notes on our journey. Most have arrived early for the same reasons. It appears that we have chosen the correct route as the desert route has deep sand tracks that deviate from the main telegraph poles making it hard work to stay on track.
It is Wednesday morning and our agent races around Wadi completing all the necessary paper work for immigration and customs clearance. 13:00 we are off to the ferry terminal where we leave our bikes, they will travel separately to Aswan on a barge. We clear immigration and customs, armed with our paper work and a change of clothes we board the ferry for the 18 hour trip to Aswan.
Next stop is the bureaucratic processes of the Egyptians in Aswan and the wait for our bikes?