What an underestimated country – beautiful desert landscape, magnificent sunsets then night skies and roadside cafés bubbling with friendly, humble and generous folk.
Exiting  Ethiopia was somewhat of a relief; we were at breaking point after dealing with stone throwing kids, jippo guts and constant mountain passes..

Last of the mountain passes in Ethiopia

Border crossing was a breeze, similar to all other countries on the journey, however the Ethiopian / Sudanese border is poorly signposted (if at all) with not much of a structure so I can imagine why some over-landers have troubles.  At times you not sure if you dealing with officials or just curious locals.  Customs is literally a 5 X 5 metre tin structure!
In Sudan the discrepancy between the official bank rate and the black market exchange rate is massive. Bank:  1USD = 2.5 Sudan pounds (SDG)  Black market:  1USD = 4 to 4.5 SDG

Sudan did not come without its difficulties though!  The extreme heat and relentless head wind prove to be a challenge.  We altered our cycling routine:  start at 4am, cycle till 9am then chill the entire day at a roadside rest stop with beds made of weaved nylon string for better ventilation.  We then cycled again from about 4pm to 8pm.  As the full moon waned night cycling became more difficult with poor visibility and bumpy roads in sections – that’s when my 60 lumen headlight came in handy.

On 12 November we hit a record 57 degrees Celsius at midday – at first I thought my cateye is incorrect so I had a look at the mercury thermometer on my compass – the mercury only goes up to 50 degrees and it was off the scale!!  Its too hot to do anything, even just breathing is exhausting and your face feels like its melting in the shade!
As much as we rehydrated on flavoured malt drinks, urination was limited to once daily and it looked like Oros ( just in case you wanted to know)

Cateye temperature - middle right 55 deg                                  Roadside rest stops and restaurants

Early days in Sudan we met Franscoir and Tanya Steyn who have been riding their 200cc Moto Mias from Cape Town – what an amazing achievement! It was great to speak to fellow Saffas but it did put me on a downer, as from that day for the next week I started making motorbike noises and rotating my right side bar grip while cycling but all to no avail.

Franscoir and Tanya with their 200cc bikes

Food in Sudan is as bland as can be, with Ful (boiled chickpea / bean) being the staple for breakfast, lunch and supper, seasoned with just salt.  If you lucky you got a drizzle of grated cheese – mmmhh cheese!! who moved the cheese?
More traditional food included Weke – the Sudanese version of curry – but this is actually dried Okra ground into a powder and added to a few herbs, giving you a slimy, spit like consistency – just like the white of a raw egg, and it did not taste much better!

Diving into lunch - yum!                                                                One of the many roadside, free water points

Our approach of walking into a restaurant and asking for “food” soon changed to physically going into the kitchen and looking into the pots as the locals kept on thinking we asking for “Ful”  On one unforgettable lunch, starving I glanced into a pot – thinking its meat, potato and cauliflower I said Yes, I will have this! Only to find out later it was liver, omental fat, sections of small intestine and tripe / rumen! Driven by hunger I gagged with each bite and bolted most of it.
So next time you in Nandos and they ask you what flavour would you like, take some time and appreciate the fact that there is a choice :)
Its not as bad as I make it out to be, food more familiar to a western tongue is available at a premium (well over our budget) but in Khartoum we broke the bank and went to Steers – 2 burger meals later, short of an arm and a leg it felt like I had only had starters.

Bush camping in the middle of the desert was definitely a highlight for me – fiery red sunsets then stargazing with a crescent moon undoubtedly made for some of the best night skies I have ever seen.

Setting Sun                                                                                Rising "Moon"

Jiten has an uncanny ability to fall asleep every time we take a cycle break, be it under a tree, with locals or even in a busy café – I think he has African Sleeping Sickness – however its one of the two skills he has that I am envious of, the other being his ability to clap with his feet :)

G6  - lights out!   Dreaming......                                                  Chilling at a rest stop......Baking

Some homeless dude, begging                                                 Half of G6's dream coming true - one massive melon

13 November – Ria's birthday, he awoke to a surprise present of 6 punctures, only finding a few at a time then cycling on it took a few hours and lots of flowery language before he had them all fixed – by this time it was 8am and 42 degrees so we stopped after having only done 9kms.

6 gifts in a row!! Take notice of how Jiten and Imraan are helping. Ha

The hospitality of the Sudanese is a well known fact but one has to go there to experience the warmth and generosity of the nation.
Everyone is willing to help and give, none of them have any ulterior motives or expect / want anything in return.  Even if you offer to pay for a favour or meal they will adamantly refuse.

Hibiscus tea (karkade) is constantly offered by locals and strangers took us into their homes, giving us a much needed shower, dinner and beds that we much appreciated!
A huge thank you to Hassan of Al Hayat Org in Khartoum and yaseen from El Tekina for their hospitality!

Hibiscus tea                                                                              Dinner, Bed and Breakfast at Yaseens home

Every foreigner entering Sudan needs to register with the police when in Khartoum – costs 40 pounds and you also need a travel permit / permission to head North – both of this happens at different locations and is a mission to find with our poor Arabic communication skills.  Fortunately we found an agent to sort out our (for a fee) and have it delivered to our accommodation, but apparently both of this can also be done at the Airport!

From Khartoum we took a bus to Dongola, laziness had a lot to do with this decision, we were hoping to get a train but the service is currently disrupted and unpredictable.
On the bus I was wearing a pair of shorts and one of the locals gave me a baggy ¾ pair of pant to wear as it is apparently shameful to wear shorts in the presence of woman – hence the pant has been named “The Shameful Pant” that you will see in many a photo.  In the bus wrestling was the channel of choice with speedos highlighting the crotchular region of the contestants  - if only I carried my red one with it would have been acceptable!


Shameful pant                                                                              Bus to Dongola

Lots of our daily cycling conversation centres around food, sometimes even as random as “how Lunch Bar is such an under rated chocolate” when it has everything you want in it and yet its still in the class of “average chocolates” unlike Flake or Galaxy. (you must think we have totally lost the plot by now)

Jiten once told me he is going to message his mother daily for 10 days – I thought to myself wow, that is nice of him, giving his mother peace of mind knowing he is safe.  However he had a plan of  putting in 1 of his favourite food items in each message, so his menu on return home would be set, haha

At Wadfi Halfa (port town in Northern Sudan) we met up with the Voetspore team who have been driving from Cape Town and filming a documentary for SABC.  We camped together for a night and enjoyed a hearty dinner provided by them – many thanks :)

Camping with Voetspore                                                           Desert cycling

Ferry from Wadi halfa to Aswan leaves once a week on Wednesday at 5pm.
2nd class ticket – 104 SDG, Port tax – 21 SDG, Bike cargo – 26 SDG.

We boarded the ferry on 23rd November pumped with anti emetics for our 19 hour journey to Aswan.  3 hours into the trip we saw Abu Simbel at night, a real spectacle and also crossed the Tropic of Cancer.
It was cold on the deck of the ship and I slept with all my clothes, except my technical thermal sweater that was stolen in Malawi by a little German girl – who would have thought!
Getting off the ferry was chaos, we sat back and watched the drama unfold while everyone jostled and pushed to get out only to wait in another police scan and check.  There is no system / order or such a thing as a queue!

Last 1km in Sudan before boarding ferry                                  Ferry in background

Heloo Aswan – On a high having just entered our final country my jolly spirit was soon broken by the arrogant, conniving and deceptive attitude of the Egyptians.
Starting off my rant was teller Ahmed at Commercial International Bank who was suffering from PMS!
I then went into the market to buy a coke (knowing very well it costs 1 Egyptian Pound)
First stop – 5 Pounds, I did a handbrake turn and was out of there;  2nd stop – 6 Pounds, I was stunned and lost for words;  3rd stop – 7 Pounds, that is when the dormant Negri Bodies in my brain started to fire and I pranced the streets spewing out my utter dislike of the Egyptian exploitation towards tourists – before long a barber sat me down and bought me a free drink!!! It does not end here, at every shop they will try to rip you off, first with the price, then the quantity/number, and then with your change – it just gets so frustrating. Egyptians have the perception that all foreigners are rich and charging you a few pounds more will not make you poor.
I'll calm down, we're nearly there, time to think of work/ buying a car/house – getting back onto the grid.

Most of the unrest in the country seems to be contained around Tahrir Square in Cairo, however there was an explosion in Aswan two days before our arrival. 
Some cyclists that we met in Ethiopia making their way down to S. Africa had a police escort in Egypt, that said we have so far heard 3 reports of police robbing tourists!

See you all soon....