Stop in Wadi Halfa!

There we are, right in front of our last African country to visit: Egypt! This is also Zainab’s fatherland, where she was raised at one stage of her childhood. The Lake Nuba (or Nasser) makes it still impossible to travel across by land, although there are already two fully paved roads on each side of the lake.

As we hit the harbor of Wadi Halfa to ask when the next ship for Herbie, the camper and us will be going, the port security officers called a guy named Mazar Mahir. He was very kind, invited us to his home and introduced us to his lovely family. He also helps us now to deal with the shipping procedure.

We were told that there are two different kinds of boats going to Aswan: Barges that are carrying cargo as wells as vehicles and passenger ferries. The barges are leaving Wadi Halfa going north on Monday. The passenger ferry leaves on Tuesday. We’ll have to pay the double price, because we’re towing our camper “QEK”.

During the day we’re hanging out at Mazar’s place, having “chai” with dried dates while chatting with members of the family. The night we’re spending outside in our own little house, which is parked just in front of Mazar’s house and a Land Cruiser which is tucked away by South African “overlanders”.

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The Nubian Desert

We had to cross the Bayuda as well as the Nubian Desert in order to reach the town of Wadi Halfa at Lake Nuba (or Lake Nasser) – the “gateway” to Egypt.

As the desert winds blew south in Sudan, we were driving only 65 km/h (or 40 mph) in third gear for hundreds and hundreds of miles across this huge country.

In the deserts you cannot find any life except really tough creatures like camels. And sometimes you even notice some people who make their living along the highway.

After crossing deserts and following the Nile downstream, we arrived in the Northern most town of Sudan, Wadi Halfa. From here we want to go to Egypt next.

The Ancient Sudan

Yesterday we visited the ancient Royal Cemetery of Meroe and the Pyramids of Jebel Barkal. These are two of numerous archeological sites along the Nile in Sudan.

As we followed the Nile from Khartoum downstream, we passed a town called Shendi. Just a couple miles further up north we reached Meroe’s Royal City (or rather “Cemetery”) on the right hand side. Later on we crossed the Bayuda Desert heading west and reached Karima as well as the Pyramids of Jebel Barkal.

Crossing Ethiopia

If you’re driving on the highway noticing somebody screaming “You!” or even “You! You! You! You! You! …”, then you know, that you are in Ethiopia. Right after we crossed the border, we got to listen to kids and adults shouting stuff like that for our entire stay.

We entered Ethiopia by crossing the border at Moyale, coming from the Kenyan “Trans-East-African Highway”. The curiosity of Ethiopians can be really tiring, because they are literally everywhere. It reminded us of traveling through India.

It is weird, but interesting, that borders apparently still have such a strong influence on people’s behavior, because right after we crossed over to Sudan, we stopped on the highway for lunch and kids were passing by, just politely greeting us.

We toured across the fertile South, got our way through the chaotic capital Addis Ababa, climbed the high elevated mountain areas and eventually reached the dry North. At Metema or Gallabat we crossed the border to Sudan.

The most impressive pieces of nature in Ethiopia were probably those huge canyons. But also the green and fertile South was very nice to see. There we stocked up fruits and veg for our ongoing trip across the Sudanese desert.

The Trans-East-African Highway

On our way up north we had to manage the so-called Trans-East-African Highway which connects Kenya with Ethiopia. We definitely had to face a lot of nerve wrecking challenges. On a stretch of hundreds of miles we found every kind of road condition, you can imagine. Our destination was Moyale, the border town of Ethiopia.

A lot of paradox things were said about this so-called “highway” and many stories were told, but only some of them are true, we believe. In fact, the Trans-East-African Highway is one of the most dangerous “streets” on the Eastern side of Africa, because of bandits and other suspicious human beings.

Furthermore it is for sure the toughest road along the main route across East Africa. But it should be manageable for all kinds of cars as long as you drive there during the dry season. Unluckily we hit the rainy season, which is normally only two months of the year – somewhere between March and May.

We had to literally shovel our way through, although we were already using snow chains. At this point we want to say thanks to Domi’s dad for the shovel and Friedrich, our friend and “Beetle Doctor” back home, for the snow chains! Also countless rocks as well as bushes had to be removed in order to pass.

Especially the road north of Marsabit offered one challenge after the other. It took us 24 hours of “driving” (or rather “digging”) to manage this stretch. We drove all through the night, because we were afraid that it could rain even more, as we already felt like we were in a “muddy battlefield”, not knowing if we can make it or not.

We tried to hurry, as rain would have meant to wait days until the track would dry again. Of course it was never dry at all, but Herbie conquered all the horrifying obstacles we faced. Sadly, against all odds and everything which was said, we were facing the problem of water, everywhere we went.

Along the way, huge trucks and even four-wheel drive vehicles (just as Land Cruisers) got stuck in the mud. One truck for example stuck for already four days, when we met the drivers who tried to unload it while the road was starting to dry out again. Almost every lorry we passed, had to be towed out of the mud.

In front of every impassable looking obstacle, we had to step out of the car, searching for a little path to pass and prepare it the way Herbie could make it while pulling an anchor, our camper, through it. Unfortunately we only got pictures of those challenges while driving by day, as the more difficult ones were facing us in the night.

One car made it without any help of towing: Herbie! But only one tiny mistake could have led us to get stuck. What a triumph that this little car without “4×4” made it through this horrible road – and all that with a trailer in tow. Kenya joins Congo and Cameroon regarding our toughest African road experiences.

We met no single “overlander” (means a tourist traveling by car across Africa) on our way towards Moyale. But we met cyclists from Great Britain, South Africa, Ireland, China and Japan. Most of them were heading south while the Love Bug was heading back home towards Europe.

Before we were hitting the “unpaved” section of the Trans-East-African Highway, we passed the equator again, after we left Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where we met a guy named Chris from the UK “overlanding” by a BMW car and Anton from South Africa, who travels Africa on his motorbike.

In Marsabit we spent the night at “Camp Henry”, fearing possible showers during the night, making road conditions even worse. But we were lucky, there was only a bit of rain in the morning, just before we started continuing the Trans-East-African Highway across Kenya’s vast and remote North.

Visiting the Kitatu Family

From the Kenyan coast we headed inland towards Nairobi, after passing through Mombasa via the Likoni ferry. Just a couple miles off the main highway we got to Kajire Village, where we visited the family of our dear friend Micah Mbogho Kitatu aka “Mike”.

We spent the entire Saturday afternoon and evening as well as Sunday morning sitting together with Mike, his lovely wife Loyce as well as their kids, Brenda, Jane and Benjamin (from left to right), chatting and looking through photo albums.

Domi got to know “Mike” on a vacation at Kenya’s Diani Beach in 2002. Before Herbie’s World Tour, in winter 2008, Domi invited him to Austria. Together with our families we celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Eve with our friend from Africa.

Since Domi got to know “Mike”, he has always been trying to support him. Thanks to Domi’s family, Micah owns now a little tractor, which helps him to make a living for the entire family. We’re still looking forward to welcoming Micah in Austria again!

Below you can see some pictures of Micah’s three weeks stay in Austria in 2008/09. There he also got to know snow for his very first time, even though he saw it already on the Kilimanjaro from a very far distance at his house in Kajire Village.

Yesterday we arrived in Nairobi, where we stayed at “Jungle Junction” (or “J-J’s”) for the night – a famous place for backpacker’s and overlander’s. Today we’ll head further up north, passing Mount Kenya and hitting the so-called “Trans-East-African Highway”, known to be the most dangerous and challenging stretch of “road” in East Africa and only connecting route to Ethiopia with hundreds of unpaved miles.