Sudan (or India?)

A helpful local leading us the way on his donkey

Today as we were riding through the Sudanese desert for the third day, in 45 degree heat a thought came to my mind:

‘Would I prefer to be in Sudan or India?’

Just to put this into perspective, whilst I was in India I lost hair and felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I also hold India responsible for going grey.

You can imagine how I’m feeling about Sudan.

As I said to Dean the other day: ‘this is my idea of hell’

After we left India I was unable to look at any photo I’d taken there for at least 6 months…but…at least I took photos….lots of them….so many….however here…I’m finding it hard to find anything very interesting.

It’s hot….so so hot, with no shade and no relief.

It’s an Islamic country which I always find depressing.

And there’s nothing here….just miles and miles of desert. It’s not unusual to see piles and piles of carcasses of cows, horses and donkeys off in the distance – the terrain so harsh animals just collapse and die.

Walking over a dune leading to one of Sudan’s many Nubian Pyramids

The people are lovely, very welcoming and friendly, as were Indians (when they weren’t trying to kill us on the road) and whilst here they have religion ruling their lives, India had the caste system which was equally as oppressive. Here Islam also has its own sort of caste system where men are the most important and women and animals come second and third – I’m not sure which comes second, women or animals but I do know the men spend alot more time with their animals than their wives (plural).

lovely lady selling chai (sweet black tea) on the highway where we took a break and drenched ourselves before continuing in the desert.

The terrain is dry and barren with mostly sand and rocks however one night we wild camped in some stunning sand dunes which was a beautiful experience.

Our camp in the dunes at one of the Nubian ruins


We have visited a few Nubian ruins, mostly small (30m high) sets of sandstone pyramids used for burying important people.  They’re something like 3000 years old!!  Pretty amazing when you consider that everything else in modern Africa is completely ruined within about three years.

The Sudanese haven’t worked out how much money tourism can bring, so we were able to ride up to most of the pyramids with no entrance fee at all, which is great for us. (India on the other hand was the other extreme and reamed tourists wherever they had the chance)

we didnt really want to pose for this, but Matias insisted 🙂

The most famous Ruin at Meroe, as seen from our camp. You can also see main set of pyramids off in the distance.

I came to the conclusion that I would choose India and then I remembered the horns…the incessant,stupid, loud, annoying horns which I think contributed to my almost nervous breakdown….no no no!!!

Ok, ok….so its not that bad here….it would probably be half enjoyable if it wasn’t so hot….

We’ve been showering in water from the Nile for the last few days and it looks like we will continue to do so until Cairo. The Nile is brown and so are our showers. Not just a bit brown, but completely brown, like putting a spade full of soil in a bucket, swirling it around and then showering in that.

this is the water coming from one of the many water “filters” around the place.

People here also drink it! We’re tough, but we’re not that tough. Throughout our whole trip we have avoided buying bottles of water and have filtered water when required. We’ve also refused the numerous plastic bags given to us in shops whilst trying to spread the word that plastic is bad (usually followed by blank looks). However here there’s too much dirt in the water to filter it, so we have no option other than to buy plastic bottles, which hurts our soul.

As a way to stay cool and sane, we refill 2 litre bottles with Nile water and soak our t-shirts and pants every time we stop the bike, so when we’re moving again the air cools the wet shirt and for about 30mins we escape the heat. The locals who are dressed head to toe in gowns and wear hats (and sometimes gloves and socks too) look at us like we’re crazy.


We were going to camp tonight but thankfully found a guesthouse with a fan. It’s 9pm and still 38°. Dean and I have both had a muddy shower and are preparing for another hot, sweaty night (not the good kind 😳) dean plans to lay a soaked t-shirt on him to try to stay cool, I may have to follow suit.

Heading to the border tomorrow where this is promise of air conditioning…


Hi all, I’ve just read Sal’s post and feel that maybe I should restore a little balance.  The Saharan desert here in Sudan is incredibly beautiful, but in the most harsh way.  I really like it, not so much the heat, but the vastness and the “don’t fuck with me or you’ll die out here” sense of it all.  It just seems to go on forever, dunes, stony mountains or rocky boulders strewn around the landscape like some giant sandpit, with the Nile feeding this thin line of green through the rock and sand.  And it’s HUGE, we’ve been riding north for a few days now, and have another three days to reach Cairo! 

We cross to Egypt tomorrow, please god, let there be cold beer in Egypt.


The Real Paradise Hotel

We’re in Sudan, day 3, in the capital Khartoum, it’s really hot.

Entering the city we agreed to spend a little more than the usual 5 to 10 dollars on a filthy room, figuring that we’d save loads on alcohol anyway.

So we’re at a mediocre hotel in the middle of town, the bikes are parked in the rear foyer, we’re sharing a “suite” with Matias.

Our suite has hot running water, electricity, WiFi, breakfast included and clean beds (albeit incredibly hard).

Our suite does not have a strong smell of feaces, a million mosquitos, dripping taps that don’t actually work, broken tiles everywhere, stained sheets that smell like (I’m not sure what but Sally calls it) dirty head, a broken toilet seat or exposed wiring. It’s the real hotel Paradiso.

Feels a bit like cheating actually, but we’re headed from here into the desert camping so are making the most of it.

We went out last night for dinner in a Syrian restaurant. Turns out there are lots of Syrians here, and their food is AMAZING! After weeks of ugali, non descript inedible meat, beans, rice and cabbage, the feast of fresh tabouli, chicken, eggplant, yoghourt and mango juice left us all draped in our seats with big smiles.

The friendly Syrian owner grimaced when I mentioned the only thing missing was a beer “here it is not easy to live, too many rules, not so much fun…”

It’s Sharia law in Sudan, which means a lot of things, but Matias summed it up quite well recently in an expletive ridden rant in Spanish saying something like…

“Now I understand, no alcohol, no drugs, no sex, you can’t even see a woman, this horrible screaming coming from ten different mosques 5 times every day… it wears you out! In another week I’m going to start praying for something too!!”

Of course there were plenty of “puta madres” and “en la concha de tu madres” thrown in as well…

On the up side, the men here are very friendly! (we dont/can’t really talk to any women). Yesterday on the highway a man came over to the stall where we were trying to work out what was being sold for lunch, I initially thought he was begging because of how dirty he was, but he translated the food for us then invited us for coffee and shisha at his stall down the road when we were finished.

We chatted for some time about Argentina and Australia, and when we asked to pay he just smiled, put his hand on his heart and said no, you are my guests.

These acts of kindness are so humbling when you consider the man sells coffee for maybe 30c per cup out of a mud hut on the highway.

He spoke fluent English, explaining he was a qualified translator but there was no work, so he and his wife sold coffee here, (and the odd bag of charcoal made in the next village, hence the dirty clothes!).

It’s 830am now, I’ve been awake since the morning prayer at stupidoclock, time to wake Sal and get some breakfast.

Love to all at home xxoo