|Friday 29th June - Sudan - Korti
The last couple of nights in the tent have been very comfortable for all of us. We have slept with the tent windows open (but with the flyscreens closed) and the gentle breeze blowing through the tent has helped to keep it cool.
This morning we were all happy to find that the car started first time, without a hitch! We stopped in Argo to exchange some money and have a drink and some bread. The bread was warm and freshly baked round and fluffy and very tasty.
From there we continued down the East side of the Nile on road that seemed even rougher than yesterdays. We are getting used to scenes that seemed so strange at first women walking with loads on their heads, men dressed in white robes with white cloth wrapped around their heads, big clay water pitchers under trees on the edges of villages. Everywhere people wave to us and children run out to greet the car. Often people try to stop us and persuade us to eat or drink with them.
The quickest way to Khartoum from here would be to cross over the Nile at Dongola and drive directly south from there on the West bank of the Nile. We had originally planned to do this, but our journey times have been quicker than wed been led to believe from the guidebooks. We decided instead to remain on the East side of the river and turn South-East from Dongola in the direction of Karima. This meant turning away from the Nile and driving across the Nubian desert.
To our surprise after Dongola we suddenly found ourselves on tarmac. It seemed very smooth and quiet after the last couple of days of driving. A new road is being built from Dongola to Karima. This new road is not complete but has sections that are tarred and open to drive on. We were on smooth tar for about a third of the journey between Dongola and Karima. The landscape in this section is harsh, inhospitable desert, lacking the tender influence of the Nile.
At Karima we went straight to Jebel Barkal, one of Sudans historic sites. There are about 20 pyramids here dating from the 3rd century BC and a couple of ruined ancient temples all at the foot of a sandstone mountain. We drove the car right up to them, got out and wandered about. It was very hot, about the mid 40s, and there was nobody else around. The pyramids arent nearly as big as their more famous Egyptian cousins but it was really special to have such an impressive area all to ourselves.
Between Karima and Dongola the Nile flows in a big loop and so we had to cross the Nile from Karima to Merowe in a small ferry within sight of the new bridge being constructed across the river. From then on the roads were all tarred. We drove south beyond Korti and set up camp close to a little village (Amatoga?). It is obvious to us that the route we have taken through Sudan is on the brink of major change. New roads are being constructed from Wadi Halfa to Dongola and from Dongola to Karima and a new bridge is being built from Karima to Merowe. These constructions will link up with the existing tarred road network from Merowe to Khartoum and will be complete within a couple of years.
After the girls had gone to bed tonight the rest of us had showers. Much need after a few hot, dusty days of camping!