And into the fire?

Into the fire? Not at all. As soon as we crossed the border into Sudan it was like we were on a different planet. No hassle, helpful people, a nice bus conductor giving us a fair price. Not at all like the hell into which our Ethiopian money changer would have us believe we were descending. And not the scary place most westerners would imagine. Sudan tends to be synonymous with war, genocide and extremism. After all they did spend a time hosting Osama bin Laden. But your average Sudanese Joe, or more often Mo, is just like any other normal person, and a lot nicer than most of the Ethiopians we met in our final few days!

 

After an evening bus ride through the arid plains south of Khartoum, the capital, watching camels grazing in the setting sun, we arrived in Khartoum and met up with our Sudanese couchsurfing host, Mohammed. On our first night we went to a shisha bar with Mo and his friends, there’s no alcohol allowed in the whole country (sharia law) so shisha takes its place. When we got to the bar we were surprised to be introduced to a very flamboyant group of obviously gay men. Very tired after a 4.30am start, we were more than ready to leave at 1am when Mo finally decided to say goodbye to his friends, still talking of their latest shopping trips to London and Paris.

 

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The Main Library at the University of Khartoum, still containing a plaque commemorating the colonial ruler beheaded during a local rebellion

The next day, our only full day in Khartoum, we wanted to see some of the sights. But first we had to go through the tedious process of registering as aliens at the ministry of foreign affairs. The rest of the day was spent running errands with Mo and visiting his university, the oldest in Khartoum, and surprisingly beautiful. In the evening we managed to escape and had a nice walk along the banks of the Blue Nile to the point where the two Niles, White and Blue, meet. Neither was white or blue but it was nice to see after visiting the sources of both (Lake Victoria and Lake Tana, sources of the White and Blue Niles respectively) earlier in our travels.

 

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Nile-side in Khartoum (ignoring the 'no photos of bridges' rule)
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The joining of the Niles in Khartoum

We still had our travel and photography permits to collect from the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife the following day but once that box was ticked we hopped on a bus and headed north. Next stop, the Sahara desert.

 

This leg

Days: 2

Time on public transport: 9hrs

Distance travelled: approx. 570km

Countries visited: 1

 

Total

Days: 68

Time on public transport: 14days19hrs

Distance travelled: approx. 16,044km

Countries visited: 12

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