Archive for August, 2010

We’re not out of Africa yet, we’re in Egypt, which has a distinctive Northern African/Middle Eastern feel. And so it feels as though we’ve left Africa behind us now, although the continent will surely stay with us for years to come.

We’ve covered roughly 20,000 km overland, across 12 different countries (excluding Egypt), not really knowing what to expect as we moved from one to the next. We enjoyed every country we visited, but a few definitely stand out in our minds, namely Namibia for its spectacular desert scenery, Malawi for it’s warm and friendly people, and Ethiopia for it’s unique culture and breathtaking mountains.

Here are some of the small things that will remind us of our time in Africa:

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Shop on Main Street Wadi Halfa

We arrived in Wadi Halfa after what felt like our longest marathon journey to date: seven whirlwind days around Ethiopia, followed by a two-day long border crossing and four continuous bushcamps across a stinking hot desert. Our arrival was welcomed, yet still somehow anticlimactic. We were onto the homestretch, getting to Egypt, but the some of the worst was yet to come. Don’t get me wrong here, I am loving traveling through these parts of the world, but it is full-on. There is very little relief from the skin-melting, life-sucking, dry heat of the Nubian desert. After a while, even the hardest-worn traveler craves staying put in one place, a little shade, a cold beverage, a bucket shower, bare shoulders and knees, and sweet, sweet air conditioning…to name a few.

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Crossing the Desert

Camping in the desert

After a couple of relaxed days in Khartoum (and one ridiculous Nile River cruise) we headed out of the city and into the desert. Our destination was Wadi Halfa on Lake Nasser, where we’d be catching a ferry to Egypt. Between us lay over 900 km of Sahara and Nubian desert, 300 km of which has no roads at all. We were in for four days of sweat, dust, dehydration and heat exhaustion, of beautiful nights under the stars and scorching afternoons under the sun.

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Old ship at the Blue Nile Sailing Club

We drove the 11.5 hours to Khartoum in one day, mostly to make up for lost time spent waiting at the border. We were camping at the Blue Nile Sailing Club, which was much less posh than it sounds. We spent a couple of days there, mostly trying to adjust to the heat. Since leaving the mountains of Ethiopia, we’d dropped from 11,500 feet to barely over 1,500 feet, and it was hot. Afternoon temperatures were regularly above 40¬∞C. It was hard to believe that less than a week earlier we’d been huddled together in sleeping bags and long underwear to try and stay warm. Water was the drink of choice, followed closely by Coca-Cola. It’s actually ridiculous how much Coke we’ve found ourselves drinking, but it’s just so refreshing in such scorching heat. It’s also an easy way to get some sugar into our systems, which can be a good thing.

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Tons of new photos

We’ve arrived in Egypt — and rediscovered fast internet. The result: 12 new photo albums for your viewing pleasure. So grab a snack and a drink, click over to the photos page, and enjoy.

Crossing through the Sudan is a leg of our journey that we have anxiously and apprehensively anticipated since booking our African overland trip; our path was to take us through the north-east corner of the country, and it is a stretch that has ever been on our minds. Anyone that has ever watched international news or read anything about the Sudan’s recent history will know that “the Sudan” and “danger” are nearly synonymous terms in many parts of the world. The Canadian Travel Advisory webpage says “Avoid all travel” to the Sudan, and advice from friends and parents is the same. Nevertheless, our truck was bound north through Khartoum and into Nubian Desert on our way to Egypt, a route which is happily distant from the much more volatile and dangerous regions of Darfur and the south. We were headed into the Sudan, and we where about to learn a few things about a country we seemingly weren’t supposed to visit.

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My parents, and our two most avid commenters, just renewed their vows in Vegas. I’m so happy to have parents so much still in love. The fire must be rekindled now that all the kids are grown up and out of the house. But guess what mom and dad? We’re coming baaaaaaaaaaack! Haha, after our big voyage is over, we’ll be moving back into the basement for a few months to help us save and pay off some of our accumulated travel debt. Thanks mom and dad :) Congratulations.

We’re in Wadi Halfa right now, on the border of the Sudan and Egypt. We’ve spent the last week driving through the Nubian Desert from Khartoum, with people dropping like flies from heat stroke. Since we’ve arrived in this small, dry town, we’ve spent three days sitting in the heat waiting for our ferry to depart. The temperature yesterday peaked at a cool 47 degrees Celsius, in the shade. We’ve never had to drink this much water in our lives. Someone told us that it hasn’t rained here since 1991, and then only for half an hour. It’s another world.

Today we get on a 30 hour ferry that will take us to Aswan in Egypt. Our budget ferry tickets get us luxurious placement on the ship: we will spend all 30 hours laying on the top deck, on the floor, competing for space under the lifeboats for some hint of shade. We will be in Egypt with the Oasis truck for another two weeks, and after that we’ll be back on our own, just two wanderers with a lot of distance left to cover. We’ve decided to take 6 weeks or so to travel up through the Middle East and through Eastern Europe on our way to the UK, where we’ll be catching another ship across the Atlantic. This time we’ll be stopping in Norway, the Faroe Islands, the Shetland Islands, and Iceland, before disembarking in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

We’ll be treated to some A/C and some internet in Aswan, so we’ll share more details then. Also watch for some new posts about our time in Sudan, as long as we don’t melt before we get out of here!

The Ethiopian landscape

Ethiopia feels unique amongst the other 11 African countries we’ve visited so far. The borders separating Ethiopia from its neighbours feel natural, whereas most borders in Africa were created for the convenience of the colonizers — mashing together or splitting apart a multitude of different tribes and religions under one flag. As soon as we crossed over from Kenya into Ethiopia, things were decidedly different. We started climbing. The scenery in Ethiopia is some of the best we’ve seen anywhere in the world. It rises to a plateau, spanning most of the country in a spectacular highland of mountains and valleys. No wonder Ethiopia produces some of the world’s top runners! There are endemic plants and animals found nowhere else, including the very cool gelada baboon, the mountain ibex and the Ethiopian wolf.

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