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Author Topic: Africa - Photoreport (Prague to Cape Town)  (Read 48060 times)

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Offline Ian in Great Brak River

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #40 on: October 11, 2014, 05:22:19 am »
Another excellent real life story Xpat ... thanks for sharing and the effort it takes to post all these old photos and memories.

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Offline Wooly Bugger

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #41 on: October 11, 2014, 07:57:36 am »
 :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
This is not life or death. It is an internet forum.
 

Offline DCR

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #42 on: October 11, 2014, 08:42:56 am »
Wow, really looking forward to the rest! Beautiful photos and well written. Thanks!
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #43 on: October 11, 2014, 11:46:35 pm »
Sudan - Part 2

We arrived to the Wadi Haifa port in the early afternoon, 4 days after we left Aswan . In the port we were welcomed by the gang from the ferry who after two days of waiting in Wadi Haifa could not wait to get into cars and start moving again. No wonder -  the village is a small non-descript desert mudhouse dwelling with two dirty hotels about 450 km away from the closest tar (well at the time it was, now Chinese tarred the whole 450 km), where the only excitement is the weekly passing of the passengers from/to ferry.  

First we had to clear the Sudanese immigration and customs. We knew from the travelers grapevine that customs in Wadi Haifa are manned either by a young guy who is cool and helpful or an elderly hardass Mr Ali. We got Mr Ali so Rupert let his pack loose and they did a good job on him (actually theyíve been working on him for past 2 days). But it was still a remote unhurried African border so it took us good few hours to get through. By the time we were through the sun was setting down so we have driven few km to the actual village (port is outside the village) for the overnighter.

The whole group heading for Wadi Haifa after clearing the customs - Rupert even gave Mr Ali lift, you can barely spot him holding Olivia in his arms:



At the outskirts of the village most of the cars headed for the most opportune spot and parked in the defensive circle for the overnight camp - theyíve seen enough of the hotels in Wadi Haifa to really appreciate their own roof tents and cooking.



That is except me, Ali (the Turk not the custom guy), Nando and Chris (riding with Ali) - as none of us had a roof tent. We all headed to the hotel rated by the ferry gang as somewhat more bearable - they knew theyíve been holidaying here for past 2 days. After sleeping 3 nights  on the corrugated floor of the pontoon I thought any hotel surely must be better. Ali was some kind of turkish telecom marketing mogul who I think was on a personal brand building exercise (I believe to be the first Turk to drive to CT) - and that was all he was interested in. He didnít care about the local people (he seemed to actually dislike them) or sightseeing and he didnít care (and came prepared) for camping and always stayed in the best hotels available. This strategy backfired quite badly in WH. To be fair, he was generous to Chris (on bicycle) and Nando (on public transport) and gave them ride for the next 400 km of corrugated dirt and deep sand (would be probably very tough or unrideable on bicycle) to Dongola.

Hotel Deffinitoad (no idea), Wadi Haifa:



The hotel was very basic with dark courtyard rooms with bare walls and dirty bedding, but from my point of view still preferable to sleeping on the ground. The only real challenge were the toilets - the usual hole in the ground affair (which I prefer in the countries where hygiene is not a priority), but the whole floor was crawling like a moving carpet with thousands and thousands of cockroaches. So every visit was very crunchy event and while there you had to keep your feet constantly moving, otherwise they started to crawl up on you.

Once unpacked I headed for a dinner to the open air buffet eatery Iíve spotted close by. The food and smells were unfamiliar to me. But after tasting unsuccessfully few of the non-descript dishes on display - one of them goat tongues that I fed to the nearby cat. The food proved to be a problem throughout the whole Sudan - the restaurants were very sparse and unappetizing (and I have traveled in third world before so Iím not picky) and selection in shops very limited. I have ended up surviving whole Sudan on the diet of canned tuna and laughing cow cheese.

As a plan B, I downed the universal disinfectant Coca Cola and headed out of village to infiltrate the overlanderís defensive perimeter and scavenge on whatever they were cooking. To show my gratitude Iíve challenged and beaten few of them in the game of chess, until I found my match in Rupert and spent next three stuck in it. By that time I lost it was about 2:00 am and I headed back in the dark to the hotel being shadowed by the pack of growling half feral dogs. The hotel was locked and dark and no one responded to my banging. So I went around the block, leapt over the rear wall which for some reason did not have the usual glass shards embedded and went to bed.

I overslept a bit and when I woke up all the overlanders were gone, except Loek waiting for me in front of the hotel. I was surprised, but cool about it - at the end of the day they were not my nannies and I was on a solo trip, but Loek was pissed-off. Loek turned out to be one of those uncut diamonds - man with big heart and passion. A bit rough around the edges, but if he liked you he would do anything for you, even though he just met you. So he could not understand how the rest could have left without me.

Once Iíve packed we set-off south through the Nubian desert on the heavily corrugated dirt road intersped with deep sand sections. It took me a while to figure out that the only way to ride the corrugations is fast. After about 40 km we came upon stationery early birds gathered around the broken swedish Cruiser - some shaft got broken or loose or something. When it became clear that itís going to take a while to sort out, the rest of the convoy set-off south again leaving the Swedes under Aliís supervision to vultures.

Loek, one of the Swedes, Chris and Nando checking out the broken Cruiser:


Rupert and his wagon:



Bill, Claire, Loek and myself still had to go through the mandatory police registration that had to be done within the first three days after arrival. The ferry people have managed to get it Wadi Haifa - the pontoon people arrived at the beginning of weekend so couldnít do it there. The next place to get registered was Dongola about 400 km of dirt and sand south, so we sped off to get there as soon as possible. Rupert and his Bus didnít have a chance to keep up, so he followed at much more leisured pace flanked by John & Helen for support. John - a co-owner of specialised travel agent in Blighty, was a real british gentleman, resourceful, perfectly prepared for the trip and always willing to help the weaklings in the group - i.e. Rupert and later myself. In my group I was generally riding few kms ahead of cars, stopping regularly to wait for them and take pictures (I just remembered that lots of pictures in this and previous instalment are from Bill and Claire, so I need to give them credit here):



One more of Nile without the bike (sorry ChrisL):




We have bumped into this guy going in opposite direction - I think he was actually South African. Even though he seemed to battle a bit with the heat, I cannot tell you how much envious I was of his set-up - this is how proper bike should look like and be set-up for this type of adventure (except for the helmet, I now only use open face helmet as it makes for much better comfort and contact with locals):


Sights along the way:



Nice locals, with Bill doing the secret service guy impression:




Evening caught up with us about half way through and we bush camped on the Nile riverbank:


Loek has driven through acacia branch and ended up with two flat tyres - Bill's helping to sort it out:


Sun setting over our camp and Nile:



Next day we continued and eventually made it in the late afternoon to Dongola - the first town in Sudan. Sights along the way:




Ferry across the Nile:





My gang - Bill, Claire & Loek:


We moved in the Lordís hotel and even scored a chicken dish in a nearby restaurant - the only respectable food we found in Sudan outside capital Khartoum.



My private room ... with en-suite bathroom - pretty cool, eh!

   




Next day in the morning we (and the Swedes who arrived in the late morning) managed to get the police registration - it took quite a while, but the officers were polite and courteous. Once done, Swedes headed south to Khartoum, while my gang crossed the Nile and set-off east free riding across the Nubian desert to the pyramids in Merowe and nearby town of Karima about 160 km away.

There is no road - not even dirt one - going there, but the route is marked by 2 meters high stakes every kilometer or so. This reminded me of a story in the kids book ĎGhost of Llano Estacadoí about a desert in the Wild West which had the route staked out for the travellers to get across. Bad bandits used to move the stakes and rob the the poor souls when they got lost and died. They wouldnít have a chance against us - none of us could see 1 km ahead so we lost the stakes pretty much within first 5 km and just headed east towards a point in GPS about 160 km away.


One more to show one of the few design problems of 1150 GSA (for the bike it is of course) - while standing my left heel always rested on the central stand lever effectively pushing the central stand half way down. On few occasions when I hit a stone or gully I got almost thrown off the bike and my heel hurt proper:



As we started relatively late, we havenít made it all the way to Karima and slept over in the desert.


Next day we continued east to Merowe and Karima:








Occasionally we got bogged down:



But then got going again:


Eventually we made it to Merowe:


The pyramids - biggest in Sudan, are quite underwhelming:



For the night we have camped directly in Karima village.

Next day Bill, Claire and myself still wanted to continue the off-road rally further east across the desert to Atbara about 200 km away, before turning south to Khartoum. Loek didnít feel well - we could see that he had enough of our off-road shenanigans, and he decided to turn south and hit the tar few dozen km south and head for Khartoum. Despite quite determined effort during which we crossed the local airport runway few times we didnít find the route that was supposed to head to Atbara (we didnít have any GPS tracks) so we eventually turned south and caught up with Loek on the way to Khartoum.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 02:00:41 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Wooly Bugger

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #44 on: October 12, 2014, 07:52:48 am »
stunning, epic report!
thank you for sharing.
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Offline I&horse

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #45 on: October 12, 2014, 09:05:59 am »
Sub.!!!!
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Offline Varkboer

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #46 on: October 12, 2014, 12:26:03 pm »
Live changing :thumleft:
Baai Geeles
 

Offline Brainbucket

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Re:
« Reply #47 on: October 12, 2014, 04:15:04 pm »
Really entertaining! Can't wait for the next installment. Vicariously...
Smiling coz its fun!
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #48 on: October 12, 2014, 09:03:56 pm »
Thank you for nice comments.  :thumleft:

Will try to finish the Sudan tonight.

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #49 on: October 12, 2014, 10:40:32 pm »
Sudan - part 3

Sudanese capital Khartoum lays on the confluence of Blue and White Nile. It is big sprawling city of non-descript cement buildings typical for third world big cities. Despite its size it maintains the sleepy demeanour of the rest of Sudan. There are two campsites in town - one comparably expensive in the yacht club on the Nile, the other National campsite on the outskirts - and that is where we ended-up. It wasnít campsite as we know it, but rather big compound with camp like one storey buildings with dormitories for migrant workers, and a dirt parking lot in the middle of the compound the edges of which were used by overlanders for camping. The thing was, it wasnít designated camping ground, but rather parking lot and gathering place. So while it was empty and quiet in the evening when we went to sleep, we were usually woken up in the morning by hundreds of cars parking for a conference, or by marching conscripts gathered for the national service. After sleeping for the past week on the ground (except the two nights in hotels in Wadi Haifa and Dongola) I was keen for a bed, but that wasnít to be - all the dormitories were full, so it was back to cramped tent (Iíve made a mistake of taking a tent that was as small as possible - which gets really uncomfortable if used for extended periods).

Some machinery in the National Campsite parking lot:




On our arrival, we all quickly cleaned up and jumped excitedly to a taxi to take us to the only shopping mall in Sudan - turkish investment called Afra. Now, normally in SA or Europe shopping malls have the power to make me within an hour or two understand the mind of suicide bomber and taste viscerally the need to kill as many people as possible. But after more than week of eating canned tuna and laughing cow cheese (mostly three times a day) sitting cross legged on the ground, the prospect of mindless consumerism at a fast food restaurant turned me into over-excited squealing teenage girl. And it was good - you appreciate food (any food) properly only when you had to go without it for a while. While the shopping mall wasnít exactly Menlyn Park, there were few fast food restaurants where we feasted every day of our stay in Khartoum. On day 3 of our stay we even bumped there into Rupert and the kids - they were staying with a Sudanese family they bumped into on the way, and who adopted them for the duration of their stay in Khartoum. Next time Iím packing a kid into my rollie bag - seems to work like a charm.

We spent few days doing chores - Bill did some maintenance on Defender, I fixed air leak from the the cut I sustained on the front tyre sidewall by putting a patch inside the tyre (the knot was leaking), and Loek was organizing his Ethiopian visa. Bill & Claire - as soon as they were done with whatever little maintenance they had to do - packed-up and set-off to Ethiopia. They couldnít wait to get again to a country where they can get a beer (Sudan being muslim country was completely dry - in Egypt you could cheat in the sea resorts) and get some food variety - even the three fast food restaurants in Afra started to get old after few days.

I had still one thing to do here - a visit to the weekly dervish dancing gathering held outside a mosque in Omdurman - the more traditional part of Khartoum on the west side of Nile. Iím normally not a big fan of cultural events, but this one wasnít organised for tourists and came highly recommended from some people Iíve met on the way. And I found it really special. Of course Iíve heard about dervishes before, but Iíve never been to any of their dancing sessions - in Turkey these are mostly performances for tourists rather than real religious contemplations they are intended to be. What I really liked was relaxed spontaneous - almost hippie like - exaltic atmosphere of the gathering. The joy radiated by the dancers transmitted to all gathered including spectators and this godless heathen. It was such a big and refreshing contrast to the usual serious, submissive atmosphere of the traditional muslim (or catholic) prayers.

Dance participants admiring the silver thing:



People gathering for the dance:

   


   

   

Tempting - doesn't look like tuna or cow cheese...

   




   



People there:








   

   





Next morning I packed-up and headed south-east to the Ethiopian border. Loek was still busy getting his visa, so I was on my own again. It took me day and a half to get to the border - first half on tar, second on the dirt.

Proper african bush at last (north was just desert):




And picked up another flat - this time rear. This picture shows clearly why you need to carry full set of Spanish textbooks on any serious bike trip (I was considering plan to go round the world, so came prepared) - how else you are going to support rear without the wheel, ha?



Came upon this two - French newlyweds cycling to Cape Town. The night before in the village they slept somebody stole their bag with medicine, so I gave them malaria and water-purification pills that should get them to the next town where they can resuply - Gonder in Ethiopia about 300 km away. I planned to be there the same day (including crossing the border) - they expected to be there in a week. Hard work this cycling. I asked if they need some money but they declined. Loek caught up with them next day and gave them some american money anyway:


Public transport close to the border:



Next instalment - Ethiopia
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 02:09:01 pm by Xpat »
 

Offline Brainbucket

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Re:
« Reply #50 on: October 13, 2014, 07:07:59 am »
Now become my morning fix...
Smiling coz its fun!
 

Offline Wooly Bugger

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #51 on: October 13, 2014, 11:15:05 am »
what an experience!
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Offline SuGnA

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Re:
« Reply #52 on: October 14, 2014, 10:58:43 am »
Great RR cant wait for the rest
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Offline Optimusprime

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #53 on: October 14, 2014, 08:56:19 pm »
Amazing, love the report. My 1150 and I depart for Britian from ZA on 29 May 2017, less than 1000 days to departure. Thanks for sharing your amazing journey.
Cape to Cairo 2017
 

Offline alanB

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #54 on: October 15, 2014, 07:56:47 am »
As usual - superb! :thumleft:

I'm half way through - enjoying it immensely.

You have done some really amazing stuff - not only do you have the balls to do stuff many of us probably wouldn't attempt alone, but you have a great eye for photography and tell a great story with a very amusing dry wit!  :biggrin:

Thanks!



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Offline Bernoulli

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #55 on: October 15, 2014, 10:09:53 am »
Superb, thanks :thumleft:

Offline Xpat

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #56 on: October 15, 2014, 11:03:06 am »
Thank you for the appreciation, glad you enjoy the ride along.

I'm going through some surgery this and next week, so may not be in shape to post more this week, but will try to get on with it again before the end of next week.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2014, 11:38:18 am by Xpat »
 

Offline ArthurS

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #57 on: October 16, 2014, 10:40:59 am »
My day at work is now buggered...  :sip: Great RR  :deal:
 

Offline Lou1

Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #58 on: October 16, 2014, 12:34:41 pm »
 :) :ricky:
 

Offline ArthurS

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Re: Africa - Photoreport
« Reply #59 on: October 16, 2014, 02:57:08 pm »
Xpat... This is something I would like to do. What no one ever tells you is what a journey like yours would cost to do in todays terms, and also what kind of paper work is involved in getting you there, and also the amount of reasonable time it woukld take you to do such a trip. Will you please shed some light on these aspects. Cheers  :thumleft: