Stage 22: Al Qadarif to Gallabat
I was really fearing today as I wasn’t sure I had much left in the tank from the previous 3 days; figured I’d try to make it to the lunch truck, then assess condition. We started out on 18 kms of flawless new tarmac, with a bit of tailwind, so was feeling a little more confident. Then we hit unquestionably the worst road on the tour; kilometres of giant gaping potholes with occasional gravel and tar intermingled. Day started to warm. I was consciously trying to drink every 10 minutes and stopped every 30-40 for some serious gulping.
The landscape now low rolling hills, steadily rising southward. Savanah, short grasses; good cattle country I think.
Got to lunch by 10:30 and it was definitely hot. Drank a bottle’s worth, refilled all my containers to the 3.5 litres capacity and decided to press on. Road turned delightfully challenging; a mogul course clothed in dust and gravel as opposed to ice and snow. The bike handled beautifully, and I made reasonable time. Took advantage of 2 of the 3 afternoon coke stops to get into some shade, cool down for 20 minutes or so, and re-soak sun sleeves, cycling cap and neck scarf. Even ate one of my power bars and some snacks through the day so I could handle more water intake.
Eventually encountered a long-ish stretch of good tarmac and picked up the pace. The country now real savannah bush. Even in the hottest part of the day, it has its charm. Later on, I learn that we’re passing through the northeast margin of Al Dinder National Park, a 10,000 sq. km biosphere reserve connected to Ethiopia’s Alatash National Park. Noteworthy as it merges the Sahel to Ethiopian Highlands, it apparently contains big cats, ostriches and perhaps wild dogs. I can’t say that I saw anything except birds (but some sort of colourful Roller included) and the road or track immediately in front of me or fast approaching. The road surface returned to the African mogul course.
Traffic was light all day, bike going almost as fast as the motorized vehicles on the pothole/mogul sections. In contrast to past weeks, only one (1) of the monstrous long-haul coaches or buses passed during the entire day, and not many large trucks. So a very good day in that respect.
Finally caught up to Grace in the last kilometre before camp; we got to chatting and missed the admittedly obvious turn-off to camp site (marked by lots of orange flagging) and got to the actual border. Hold on, I say... this doesn’t look right. Checked the GPS, and yes, we’d overshot. Oh well... back up short hill to our bush camp site, which for first time is in bush, well away from the road.
Another fabulous sunset, this our last night in Sudan.
Last camel, Sudan. Photo: Brigitta Varadinek