19/01/2010 – I have lost count of the number of days without a shower now! One last stop before Khartoum. We wanted to see Naqa, one of the best Kushitic sites in Sudan. Another reason for the visit is that it takes 40 minutes off-road to get to it from the main Khartoum road. Flat corrugated sections meant we could put our foot down, only to slow when we hit quite deep and narrow sandy sections that seemed to twist and turn a lot. Lots of fun driving to Naqa.

We arrived and parked under a tree near one tour group from the Italian Tourist Co. After they left, we were left alone at the site, the only other people there were villagers who were gathering water from the 75ft deep well. They get the water from the well by attaching a rope around a donkey and then a couple of kids walk with the donkey to bring the water to the surface.

We got back onto the Khartoum road just before a police checkpoint. The usual questions and we were on our way again. The road should have been better, The heat of the summer had warped the road and made it uneven. Bun’s book mentions that the road was funded by Osama bin Laden when he lived in Sudan. It was a slightly nervous journey for an hour, overtaking extremely slow trucks that were doubled-up before then trying to get back into lane before the car coming towards us got close enough.

We are staying at the Blue Nile Sailing Club in Khartoum. Home to Lord Kitchener’s gunboat that is in dry-dock right in the middle of the club and is now used an office and a place for hanging up wetsuits. There is talk of restoring it and moving it to the Thames. This place has been the only option for overland vehicles in Khartoum for years so we headed straight there. It also serves as a members club. Men and women come here after work to water-ski and sail. We joined two other motorbikers from France and Germany.

We listened to: 2010 from Warp records. Corker! – http://bleep.com/index.php?page=release_details&releaseid=22789

18/01/2010 – Heavy winds in the night and we woke to a sandstorm. It got worse on the road later on. After we woke up, we got a glimpse of some goats through the window of the tent. This is nearly always a sign that there will be a someone nearby. You may feel like you are the middle of nowhere in Africa, but you can always expect someone to turn up. We continued to look and found a man with his two children coming towards us. We lay in the tent watching their path through the bush. When they were close I got up and greeted them whilst Bun hid in the tent for a while. They were clothed in rags and they hung around for a while squatting on the ground. The man asked for any clothes we had. We could only give them some bananas, biscuits and bread.

We were in a sandstorm all the way to Atbara. We came across patches where it was hard to see more than 10 metres. We got out of the car in Atbara for lunch, covering our eyes and slamming the doors shut to avoid the dust. Sudan is incredibly dusty. We left Atbara and moved onto the old Kushitic capital of Meroe. Two men on camels directed us to a place out of the wind where we could camp for the night.

17/01/2010 – Karima to Atbara. A lovely smooth new road which had very few vehicles passing. The odd section where we had to go off-road created massive dust clouds, which must have annoyed everyone working on the road. The scenery was fantastic and resembled the savannah we would be seeing in Kenya and beyond.

We met a Polish man cycling from Cairo to Khartoum along this road. We stopped for a long chat and sweet tea on the roadside. His map said we were crossing a national park but we had no mention of that in our guidebook. It felt good being in this area so we decided to camp here. We were 140 km from Atbara.

The Polish man continued cycling when it cooled down. Before he left he mentioned a Polish man called Kazimierz Nowak who, between 1931 -1936, travelled 40,000 km across Africa alone, on foot and bicycle .

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?ll=17.941697,32.696721&z=12&t=h&hl=en

16/01/2010 – We crossed back over the bridge into Dongola for breakfast. We sampled zalabia, a deep fried treat that’s similar to a doughnut. It’s served here with milky tea flavoured with nutmeg. We bumped into some of the people who had stayed at the same hotel in Wadi Halfa.

We headed south-east towards Merowe. The Chinese have been hard at it building news roads in northern Sudan. We did the journey in over two hours. The landscape wasn’t great; very flat and barren and pretty much nothing for over two hours. We wild camped off the road again.

15/01/2010 – We picked up a policeman and an old man on the road. We insisted that we were not going as far as Dongola today but they got in anyway. We stopped for lunch shortly after picking them up and they waited for us to eat before we carried on. Like in Egypt, they wouldn’t accept our food when we offered it.

We continued and after a while the policeman got out and we continued with the old man. When we arrived in Dongola he tried to get us carry on to Khartoum but we were not having any of it so we let him out near the bus station in Dongola and said goodbye.

Dongola’s vivid colours hit us after the long desert road from Wadi Halfa. Very few camping options so we trusted our GPS unit which showed an option for camping in the desert on the other side of the river from the town.

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?ll=19.096333,30.501333&z=16&t=h&hl=en

We listened to: Dam-Funk/Toeachizown.

Not sure what the old man thought of it!