Friday 16th March
Gondar Ethiopia to Gedaref Sudan
Up early for our journey from Ethiopia down to the border and then into Sudan. We headed down from the mountains to the border at Metema where it was very hot (about 42C). The road from Gondar down to the border was very bendy and there were numerous small villages on the way. The truck took 3 hours to get through customs at the border while we as people only took about 1 hour. We had lunch in one of the small restaurants at the border whilst we waited for the truck. Once we had cleared immigration and headed off into Sudan, the landscape changed dramatically. It was now flat country, very dry with less people and almost no animals on the road. We saw a few waterholes that had hundreds of livestock including camels around them drinking. We drove on throughout the afternoon and finally reached Gedaref at about 5.30pm where we decided that we would stay in a hotel (very basic – shared toilets, but fan in room) overnight. We went out to the markets and had dinner (fish) and had a number of fruit juice drinks – there is no alcohol in Sudan – before returning to the hotel. It was a very oppressive night – the temperature was 34C when we went to bed. There was a football team in our hotel who were playing a game the next day and they made quite a deal of noise when we were trying to go to sleep.
Saturday 17th March
Gedaref to Khartoum
Left at 6am to beat the heat and to try and get to Khartoum as early as possible. We had breakfast on the side of the road about 8am. The road was flat and straight with many crops at the side. We crossed the Blue Nile River a couple of times on the way to Khartoum. The day was not as hot as yesterday – only about 32C – and we reached the city at about 1pm. We checked out the camp site at the Blue Nile Sailing Club next to the river, but the site was pathetic and the place seemed like a wreck, so we moved on to the Plaza Hotel in the city. This is a very nice hotel and so we settled in then went for a walk to the market to buy some long pants more suitable to the climate here in Sudan. When we returned to the hotel we discovered that there were two new people joining our trip up to Cairo from here in Khartoum. Afterwards we (Lynn and David) went out to dinner with them at a nearby restaurant then back to the hotel to bed. Khartoum appears very friendly and the Sudanese seem very welcoming. There is none of the constant badgering you get everywhere in Ethiopia.
Sunday 18th March
Up late today then went and had breakfast in the hotel. We decided to go to the Omdurman Souk, the biggest in Sudan. It is on the other side of the Nile River – we caught a mini bus to the souk which only cost 1 Sudanese Pound each ($A0.26) for about 5 km. We strolled around looking for bargains and souvenirs but didn’t manage to buy much. We were there for about 3 hours then decided to come back and visit the Sudan National Museum. Back on another mini bus visited the museum which has an amazing number of antiquities from the Sudanese countryside. Sudan has a very rich history intertwined with Egypt and the exhibits reflected this heritage. They had even reconstructed a series of temples recovered from the Nile Valley when they built the Aswan High Dam in Egypt in the 1960s and 1970s. After our visit there we walked back to the hotel through the back streets. Everyone in this town is very friendly and it is a very pleasant city. Tomorrow we head off for the north and for the ruins of the illustrious Sudanese past.