Posts Tagged ‘Oasis Overland’

Truck Awards

Shay, William, Farmer, Ross, Shelagh, Ali, Helen, Stephanie, Brian, Barbara-Jeanne
Jeff, Hiro, Colin, Steve, Becky, Meghan, Eric, Suzanne, Mark, Guy

It brings us great pleasure to present the inaugural edition of the Oasis Overland Cape Town to Cairo Truck Awards! Everyone on this list spent at least part of the past four months with us, striving every day to earn the awards presented here. So let the boasting and toasting begin! Without any further delay, may I present (drum roll please)…


Egypt's Western Desert

After nearly four months of driving through Africa, the last leg of our Oasis Overland truck journey had finally arrived. We set out from Luxor after a too-brief visit and headed into Egypt’s Western Desert for four days of travel on our way to Cairo. I have to admit that it was a leg of the journey that I was not too excited about at first. Our time in Aswan and on the felucca had gotten me used to the trappings of civilization again, and I didn’t relish the prospect of heading out into the unrelenting heat of the desert for another stretch of several days. On the other hand, there were a few things to look forward to on the way: we would be driving through the White and Black Deserts, and hopefully getting a few more nights of desert bush camping along the way. This was the home stretch, and Cairo was the ultimate destination, the end of our marathon overland crossing of the African continent. Only one little desert left to cross…


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.


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.


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.


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!

After much delay, here’s the long-ago promised video of us sandboarding in Namibia! You can check out the original post here for all the details on our day on the dunes.

The source of the White Nile is near the town of Jinja, Uganda. A series of waterfalls and dams marks the start of the mightly river which runs from Lake Victoria all the way up to the Mediterranean. It is here, near Jinja, where some of the world’s best whitewater rafting exists. Since we missed out on the opportunity to raft on the Zambezi river near Vic Falls (because the water level was too high), we decided that rafting here would be a more than adequate consolation.


So many village children happy to see us!

As we crossed back into Uganda after our gorilla adventure, we had an opportunity to take a boat across Lake Bunyonyi, the second deepest lake in Africa. On the way, we would make a stop at a small village to visit a community of Batwa pygmies. The pygmies are traditionally a forest-dwelling people, but in the past few decades they have been displaced by deforestation and by the creation of national parks. Unfortunately, they shared much of their habitat with the mountain gorillas, and although this wasn’t detrimental to either the gorillas or the pygmies, the government decreed that no people were to dwell in the gorilla’s protected lands, and the pygmies were relocated to small parcels of land throughout Uganda. This has had a very negative impact on them, since they’ve been forced to adopt a settled, agricultural lifestyle, after hundreds of years living as nomadic hunter-gatherers. The tour that we were taking was meant to raise awareness for their situation, as well as provide some monetary support to help with land purchases and other necessities.


Awesome beasts

This is a post that I’ve been waiting to write for over a year now. When we made our booking with Oasis Overland back in the spring of 2009, we decided to pay the extra money to reserve our mountain gorilla trekking permits well in advance. It wasn’t an easy decision to make — the permits cost nearly $600 a piece, which is no small pocket change for travelers. However, ever since hearing Douglas Adams’ account of hiking through the cloud rainforests of the Virunga Volcanoes to find these incredible animals* I’ve been indescribably drawn to the prospect of having the experience myself. It would have been unbearable to be in the heart of Rwanda, so close to the gorillas, without a permit in hand. So we bit the bullet, paid the money (gulp), and started counting down the months. Finally, our planned trekking day was upon us: June 29th, 2010, almost 14 months after booking. This was it. We were going to meet the gorillas.


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