After Gondar there is one last mountain range to climb, then the long descent to the border begins. When we arrive there, we both have a bit of a hangover. Somehow we had to get rid of our remaining Birr and the prospect of several weeks in the desert, in a country where there is no cold beer made the decision how we would do that rather easy.
Borders are sometimes strange things. From one kilometer to the next everything changes all over again. In Sudan I have now reached the arabic/islamic world. At first we simply enjoy the quite. No more shouting and screaming and for the first time in something what felt like months we can have a break without dozens of people staring at us. People are wonderfully friendly and helpful.
The scenery is now flat like a pancake. Hardly anything grows here. Cycling has become very monotone and temperatures have quickly reached unpleasant heights. Every day we start a little bit earlier until we find our ideal time. At 4 we get up and then cycle for 2 hours in the moonshine until the sun spectacularly climbs over the horizon. These first hours are always the best of the day. At noon we have reached our destination and the afternoon we spend somewhere in the shade, sleeping and relaxing. We usually sleep in Lokandas, simple accommodations where you can hire a bed frame and sleep under the open sky.
In Wad Madani we meet the Blue Nile again and follow it to Khartoum where it meets with the White Nile. Here in the capital we have to get registered first of all. A very lengthy process that takes all morning to complete. Khartoum is a surprisingly modern and organized city and we enjoy heaving a couple of rest day here.
In the dark we search our way out of town while in the countless mosques all the muezzin call for the prayers. Of course I am very curious of just how bad the headwind on this next stretch will be, having heard so much about it already.
We are now heading out into the Nubian desert. On the very first day we already pass some big sand dunes and much more than sand we are not going to see for the coming days. The northern is there of course, but not as bad as I feared and so we make quite good progress. The across the desert is becoming the highlight of our time in Sudan. Every day we start in the middle of the night. With cool temperatures, little wind and a scenery only lit by the moonlight we ride across the desert. A fantastic experience that is crowned daily by the rising sun, bathing the san in yellow and red colors.
At noon is soon is getting to hot and we are glad to have completed our daily ride already. In a simple restaurant, a Cafeteria which can be found regularly along the road, we rent a bed frame and spend the afternoon in the shade, until we start again in the middle of the next night. Water is no problem on this route, as there are often big clay drums with drinking water next to the road.
After 300km we meet the Nile again and follow it again from here on. From now on we have a sandy desert to the left of the road and often palm trees and smaller settlements to the right of the road.
In Dongola we take another break before we take on the last section. The desert has now become a stony, rocky moon landscape. Except for the thin green band along the Nile, no one lives here. Only a few gold diggers that try their luck out in the heat we see every now and then. The moon has now become almost a new moon and our nightly rides are now for about two hours in the complete dark under a gigantic starry sky. For the first time I can now see the Plough and next to it the North Star, that we keep following from now on every morning. After 1500km across Sudan, about half of it at night, we reach Wadi Halfa at the southern end of lake Nasser.