Day 087 Sudan : Abri - Dongola

Day 087 Sudan

Trip Distance 306 km (190 m) Total Distance 11131 km (6918 m)
Road Condition 60% tar 40% hard-core/corrugation  
Diesel Costs S£1.43    
Stopover
Dongola
  N19.15702 E30.49615 Wild camping

 

We set off at first light, taking a quick ride through 150m of soft sand to get onto the tar and spent the rest of the day swapping from tar to dirt and back.  As we approached Wawa (on tar) some 25 minutes later, we bumped into Amy, Paul and Bobby standing on the side of the road.  They had stayed there for the night and were waiting for transport to Dongola.  We had a chat, passed on some bread for breakfast and packed their backpacks onto Sully with a promise to meet up in Dongola and for them to camp with us.  At this stage, Mark and Jason were just ahead of us.

We spent the day leaping frogging each other and sending sms updates with out latest positions.  Several times during the day we encountered teams working on the national road trying to chase us off the prepared surfaces but we motioned "no comprendo", waved madly, drove around them and carried on.  Finally we came over the crest of a hill face to face with a steam roller - we knew when we were beaten!!!  We left the national road back onto the dirt but as soon as we had left the scene, we popped back on again till the next confrontation.  The last 40kms along the national road was tar and the travel quick and simple.

In the meantime Jason had been having some issues with his bike resulting in a delay so we reached the village on the opposite side of the Nile to Dongola 3 hours ahead of them.  We decided to catch the ferry across to the market side of Dongola for a bit of a shop whilst we waited for them to arrive. 

Folks, just so that you are aware.  Going across is a breeze, getting back isn't!!!  The traffic seems to be all one way ie leaving Dongola back to the national road side so the queue to get back to the opposite side is at least an hour and half wait.  Also getting to cross the ferry from Dongola back to the national road side requires a police permit. Sigh.  So off we trotted to Dongola blissfully unaware of all of this and spent 2 hours in the market having a grand old time.  Everyone is really friendly and wanted to stop, shake hands and chat.  It felt a bit like a royal tour! And not a single request for money, touting or hassle. Bliss!

Leaving ourselves (what we thought) was plenty of time to get back across to meet up with Jason and Mark, we set off for the ferry.  1.5hours later we got to the front of the queue only to be told that we needed a police permit to cross back.  Even Trevor pitched a fit at the same ferry bloke for not telling us when we bought our ticket.  Arse!  We went back to the police station in Dongola (N19.17027 E30.46675) which is marked on Tracks4Africa, and another hour later got our permit and went back to the ferry.  We pushed to the front meeting with glares from boksis and taxis waiting in the queue and handed over the permit which was checked, screwed up into a ball and discarded and directed onto the ferry.  10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, calm, calm, calm......

Jason and Mark had been waiting for us in the village on the opposite side of Dongola (the national road side) whilst they had some lunch and were just about to leave at around 4pm when we pulled up.  A quick cup of tea later and they pulled off just as Amy, Paul and Bobby arrived in their boksi from Wawa!!  Small world.  Bobby had decided to cross to Dongola to stay in an hotel there so while Amy and Paul had some lunch, we gave Bobby his bag and went off to find a "nice camp site" that was marked on Tracks4Africa.  2 hours later having found that the "nice camp site" no longer exists, getting stuck in the sand and having to extricate ourselves (successfully I might add!), we found a small village on the banks of the Nile that looked suitable.  We spoke, mimed and played charades with who we thought looked like the main man (turns out it was his son!) and discovered that they would be happy for us to stay there.  Off we went back to the town to pick up Amy and Paul.  This time taking the back fridge out wasn't an option so I sat on the centre Engel fridge (nothing along with us without 2 functions!!!) with Amy on Paul's lap in the front seat and we set off back to the chosen campsite.

The villagers were agog as we unpacked Sully and slung the hammocks up and with "tamam, tamam" added to our Arabic vocabulary (good, good!).  Amy made supper as we took turns showering and washing our hair.  A nourishing bowl of tuna surprise later (surprise, this one had beans as well!) and we went to bed with plans to take Amy and Paul back to the village in the morning to catch a bus to Karima, our next stop.