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May 12, 2007

Into the Land of Kush

Click on image to play video (high speed connection advised).

LOCATION: Gallabat, Sudan
Longitude: N:12deg.57'30.
Latitude: E: 036deg.09'00.
Kms from Djibouti: 1,610

Overcast conditions and light rain followed me on the way out of Gondar, enough to feel a slight chill on the first part of the descent from the Ethiopian Highlands to Azezo where the asphalt came to an abrupt halt. For the next 200 kms to the Sudan border at Metema the altitude continued to drop, the road quickly deteriorating to a rutted gravel track and the heat really started to kick in. The cool temperatures that I enjoyed riding across the Highlands are now only distant memory. From now on it will be desert and scorching summer temperatures all the way to Europe.


It was with some trepidation therefore that I left the high plateau: partly because of the prospect of 50+ degree heat the further north I reach, but also because of learning of a first hand report of the dreadful road conditions on the north section of Sudan between Dongola and Wadi Halfa (on the border with Egypt) from a party of overlanders traveling in convoy by 4WD vehicles and motorcycles. I knew this section was going to be tough, but from what they had to say I doubt if it will even be possible without ditching a significant amount of my gear in place of the 7-10L of water I'll need per day, much of it spent pushing my bike through sand.

My last Ethiopian meal, with injera bread of course

Added to these factors is the uncertainty over whether I will be able to get permits to paddle across Lake Nasser. Getting permission from the Egyptians rather than the Sudanese will be the hardest part by the sound of it, and at present I don't have any leverage with the Egyptian authorities whatsoever. Not from lack of trying I might add - but doing a unique expedition like this doesn't seem to yield any extra curricular assistance from the British government these days. This is not a new phenomenon. Back in 2005 we got more help from the Americans in East Timor to get our kayaks across the border into Indonesia than the Brits, and only one of our party was American!


Anyway, I'm writing this in the safety of the Sudanese Customs compound over the border in Gallabat, just a stone's throw across the border from Ethiopia. These past couple of days I've been suffering from increased nausea and fatigue, most likely from the heat and struggling with the barely rideable road. This morning after crossing over the border (with no problem) I felt unable to continue for the day, and upon making enquiries learnt that the next hotel was 155 kms away in Gedaref, unless I backtracked to the Ethiopian side where there was one just 300 yards away! But I already had my passport stamped, so this was impossible. Thankfully my local fixer 'David', who I employed for 20 birr ($2.50 US) to run me through all of the bureaucratic hoops both sides of the border, had a word with the Customs officials and I was offered to crash out on a string bed under a large shade tree at the back of their office building - my first experience of the legendary Sudanese hospitality that I've read and heard so much about. So the day has been largely spent horizontal, drinking as much water mixed with oral re-hydration salts that I can cram down my neck, and swatting at the clouds of flies that come in abundance with every African village. I'm hoping this is the only thing that is wrong with me. I think it's a safe bet as I've drunk 10 litres today already and haven't peed once.

Hopefully my strength (and appetite - not having eaten anything in 48hrs) will return tomorrow for the much anticipated introductory ride into the Land of Kush.


> Total to raise: $4,500
> Total raised to date: $2,900
> Total still to raise: $1,600

Sincerest thanks to the following for your pledges -
- The Sheltons, UK, $500
- Karl Kaseoru, US, $500
- John and Bridget Maxwell, UK, $50
- Jennifer Mackenzie, US, $50
- Ian McCormick, UK, $200
- Terry Mason, California USA, $200
- Jackie and Jean Bernard, Djibouti, $250.
- Erden Eruc and Nancy Board of Around n Over, Seattle USA, $250
- Sharon Kessler, Colorado USA, $500
- Jane Koca, San Jose USA, $50
- John Caldwell, San Jose USA, $100
- Greg Kolodziejzyk of Pedal the Ocean, Canada, $250

MORE IMAGES (click to enlarge)

Posted on May 12, 2007 9:59 AM


i love that "i love for ethiopia" picture!

Posted by: gl. at May 12, 2007 10:29 PM