Sudan

Posted in: English Mrz 16 2016

The ride over the Naser Lake with the ferry from Aswan to Wadi Halfa was very nice. It stormed pretty as we drove in the harbor of Wadi Halfa. It took some time until we could leave the boat. Fairly fast we passed the boarder controll and entered into Sudan. First thing i recognized here was, that everything is so flat! In Wadi Halfa the Immigration Office allowed us to camp in their backyard. The next morning we could get our Registration and Travel Perit. Every visitor needs it to travel in Sudan (which cost you another 40.- USD).

IMG_6252

When we left Wadi Halfa we could immediately feel the strong tailwind. Sometimes he was so strong that we were almost blown through the area. We made a lot of kilometres every day in cause of that. Not only cycling in Sudan was a lot of fun. Every evening we discovered a nice campsite somewhere in the desert. The silence and solitude, mixed with the brilliant starry sky, are just fantastic. The road follows mostly the Nile river. You can discover a lot of things here. First we went to the Temple of Soleb.

During the Amarna Period (Mid 18th Dynasty), several pharaohs paid attention to Soleb starting with Amenhotep III, continuing with Akhenaten, Tutankhamen and Ay. A large temple made of sandstone was founded here by Amenhotep III. It is the southern-most temple currently known to have been built by this king. The temple was consecrated to the god Amun Re and to the king, himself (deified with ram-horns).

IMG_5606

After a while we found a rhythm. Michael and I started mostly a little bit earlier. The others overtook us later. Marco was our Pacemaker. Two days later it was time for the next point of interest. It was not easy to find the Deffufa.

Kerma (also known as Dukki Gel) was the capital city of the Kingdom of Kerma, which was located in present day Sudan at least 5,500 years ago. Kerma is one of the largest archaeological sites in ancient Nubia. It has produced decades of extensive excavations and research, including thousands of graves and tombs and the residential quarters of the main city surrounding the Western/Lower Deffufa. Around 3000 BC, a cultural tradition began around Kerma. It was a large urban center that was built around a large mud brick temple, known as the Western Deffufa.

IMG_5666

The traditional meal here is Fool (smashed beans). It is freshly prepared mostly in the morning and is a good source of energy. In Dongola it was time for a little brake. We organized a bus to Karima for visiting the Jebel Barkal and El Kuru.

Around 1450 BCE, the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III extended his empire to that region and considered Gebel Barkal its southern limit. There, he campaigned near the city of Napata that, about 300 years later, became the capital of the independent kingdom of Kush. The ruins around Gebel Barkal include at least 13 temples and 3 palaces, that were for the first time described by European explorers in the 1820s. Jebel Barkal served as a royal cemetery during the Meroitic Kingdom. The earliest burials date back to the 3rd century BC.

El-Kurru was one of the royal cemeteries used by the Nubian royal family. Most of the pyramids date to the early part of the Kushite period, from Alara of Nubia (795–752 BC) to King Nastasen (335–315 BC).

IMG_5715

Some few hundred kilometers later we changed again to the other side of the Nile by boat and visited Old Dongola. Old Dongola was founded in the fifth century as a fortress, but town soon evolved around it. Later with the arrival of Christianity it became the capital of Makuria, and several churches were built. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the town was in decline. It was attacked by Arabs several times, and the throne room of the palace was converted to a mosque. Under the Funj, Old Dongola became the capital of the Northern provinces.

IMG_5852

After that it was time to cross the Nubian Desert. Since Aswan in Egypt we are now in the Nubian area. The hospitality of the people here is incredible. People always High Kick thumbs when they see us. Only the bus drivers don’t take care. They usually pass with hellish speed. Overjoyed we reached Khartoum, the capital.

The BAND OF BROTHERS made their last common trip by bus to the Pyramids of Meroe.  This city was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries. The site of the city of Meroe is marked by more than two hundred pyramids in three groups, of which many are in ruins. The importance of the town gradually increased from the beginning of the Meroitic Period, especially from the reign of Arrakkamani (c. 280 BCE) when the royal burial ground was transferred to Meroe from Napata (Jebel Barkal). In June 2011, the Archeological Sites of Meroe were listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

IMG_6040

Caspar went back to Germany, Michael left his bicycle in Khartoum and continued by bus towards Ethiopia. Matthias and Marco started on Saturday, while Zoltàn and me waited another day until our tents get fixed. That was the end of an amazing time. I never cycled with so many people together.

Nabil, our tailor, is also a big cyclist fan. We cycled with him through the city. George, his friend, recommended us Nabil. George is origin from Syria and Nabil from the USA. It was very interesting to hear their storys. Through them we could learn a lot about the Sudan. We spent many hours in Georges shop talking about religion and life. George is believing Christian and Nabil muslim. Thereby we got an insight into two different societies.

IMG_6060

We wanted to stay longer in this nice city. Unfortunatly, our visas were slowly running out. With fresh power we went back on our bikes. There was much more traffic now on the road. It was not always easy to navigate. In Wad Madani we crossed the Blue Nile river. On top of the bridge it was time to say goodbye to the river. Only in Ethiopia we would see him again. We took some pictures but immediately a police officer showed up and wanted to confiscate our cameras. After a long discussion, we deleted the pictures and left. Why is it forbidden to photograph a river?

If you want to get in contact with the people, you just have to stop at the cafeterias for a tea. These places are the meeting point of the country. Zoltàn and me get always invited. Unfortunately, the friendliness of the people is not misleading about the current situation in Sudan away. Many just want to leave and build a new future elsewhere.

IMG_6101

The hardest part of the road was between Wad Madani and Gedaref. Constant wind blowing from the side. Sometimes it felt like a punch when a truck overtook us. Gedaref is a trade centre for cotton, cereals, sesame seeds, and fodder produced in the surrounding areas, and it is a well-known agriculture area where a mechanized farming scheme has been introduced since 1954. About 70% of the total mechanized farming in the Sudan is carried out in Gedaref.  With the cultivation of sesame seed, sunflower, cotton, peanuts and cereals, especially sorghum, Gedaref has become the country’s granary. Gedaref is the breadbasket of the Sudan.

The landscape is changing rapidly. More and more vegetation appeared at the roadside. A nice change after all the deserts in Jordan, Egypt and northern Sudan. It was hard for me to say goodbye to this fantastic country. Unfortunately, the visa is just valid for one month. I have rarely experienced such a large hospitality as here. A difficult future stands before the country. I wholeheartedly hope that people find a way here. I want to thanks everyone for the amazing time here. شكرا جزيلا, Shukraan jazilaan!