Sudan is totally different world after Ethiopia, in many ways. It is not a touristic country at all with only 10.000 people visiting in a year and most of them will probably have a background in Sudan. For us it was a country we needed to pass on our way to Egypt from where we would ship our motorcycles to Turkey.
We did hear a lot of good stories about the people in Sudan so of course we where very curious about it, especially after Ethiopia what was so intense and where you are never alone and everyone wants something from you when you stop with the motorcycle. Well I need to say all stories where completely true, we never seen so generous people.
We arrived in Sudan border afternoon and we left from the border at the end of the day; we already knew we would be able to wild camp again in Sudan after a long time.
For us this is still the best way to spend the night as it gives us the feeling of freedom. We ride till the sun nearly disappeared from the sky and we found a nice spot to open the tent and see the last bit of the sunset. We prepared a meal and after that we set up the tent. In Sudan it is very hot so we decided only our inside tent was enough so the wind could keep us from sweating. Also nice is that we can see everything outside without opening any zips. We slept like babies and woke up with daylight at 5 am, after a fast breakfast we hit the road again. In Sudan we need to ride early in the day and late afternoon, at the moment the temperature was getting up to 48 degrees and no clouds for any shadow on the road.
No petrol! And our motorcycles broke down in Al-Qadarif 🙁
We had 100 km to the first city is called Al-Qadarif; here we needed to look for petrol. The petrol in Sudan is very cheap 0,18 cents per liter. The only problem is that at the moment when we where there (May 2018) there was not enough petrol available. We passed several gas stations and asked for petrol, 1 of the wanted to sell us some for almost ten times more the price from what you pay at the pump. This was too much for us, after talking a bit more someone else came to look for petrol. They asked and drive away pretty fast, one guy (from the gas station) pointed me to the car to follow them.
I told her get ready we needed to rush, I straightaway started the motorcycle and ride behind them. Next gas station I was behind him, no gas again. He drive away again, when a traffic light came I went next to the car and explained him we are looking for petrol as well, he looked like a bit confused but then said, ok follow us. We passed several stations without success till we came to a gas station with a cue of hundreds of cars. Wow, this petrol problem is serious!
The car went straight to the front of the cue and talked a bit with the guy working and he filled up his car, unbelievable! He looked at us and said come, come you can get full now as well. They filled both our tanks but we needed 5 liters extra so we where able to make it to Khartoum (the capital of Sudan). He didn’t want to fill the bottle we had (we learned later this is illegal) but the entire crowd pushed him that we really needed it and he should fill our 5-liter bottle, luckily he did. Happy us, we started the engines and left the station.
We ride 500 meters with our new petrol and all of a sudden my motorcycle refuses to go, no way I did see we got petrol, not diesel! My motorcycle dropped down once, I started it again and we ride a bit more to see if it will work normally or not? Then she told me she had the same problem; this was not good! We looked on the map and found a hotel pretty close, this was the best place to go and we could check the motorcycles what was wrong? We tried to call our mechanic friend and her brother in Turkey to see if they had a explanation for what happened to our motorcycles. They told us the same as we said to each other, it cannot be that something broke down at the same moment for two motorcycles. It needs to be the fuel, but there is no other fuel available. We learned from the locals that the quality is not good and more vehicles have the same problem.
We decided we needed to drain the fuel, open and clean everything. The tank, spark plug, and tubes all we can find. First I tried to get both our spark plugs out, mine went normal but hers was a big fight (which I eventually lost). It was stuck and moving very hard, but it looked like it was moving so I pressed a little more and then boom my tool broke. Damn, my spark plug is out and I don’t have a tool anymore to get it back in. I took my broken tool and walked around the area, I found a local motorcycle and a few more people talking to each other. I showed my tool, and pointed to his spark plug (what was visible) and explained where mine was. They talked a bit and one guy took the broken tool and left. We couldn’t understand each other for a single word but I had the feeling I had no other option then to trust this guy could find a new one or repair the tool. I walked back to her and told her what happened, we sit down and waited. After one hour he came back with the repaired tool in his hand smiling, we both got a big smile as well and said thank you. First I did was place my spark plug back to where it belongs.
In the mean time it got late and dark so we decided to call it a day, have dinner and go to sleep. The next morning we can test the motorcycles again and see what happens. In the morning I started both motorcycles and started riding a little bit, no problem at all… What is going on? Is the whole problem to do with the temperatures, is everything getting to hot? We decided to still work on the motorcycle and clean the tank and some of the hoses that we can. It was too late to leave now anyway because it was hottest time of the day. After cleaning everything we started the motorcycles, they run so we decided to start packing them and leave around 5 pm when it’s getting a bit cooler. We ride 5 km and the same problem came back, we stopped and talked to each other and decided lets push the motorcycles a bit further till we find a place for bush camp, it is to hot to stay in a room.
In 20 km we find a good spot hidden from the road, we figured out the hot and the petrol must be the problem. We still had some petrol from Ethiopia as well with us what was a better quality, ok we can mix our petrol and leave with the sunrise to reach the next city and see how the motorcycles react to that.
We woke up at 4 am and after a quick breakfast we started riding at 5 am. Of course we where a little scared for what can happen now. They both went very smooth, no problems at all to ride. We pushed ourselves to not stop so much and made the 200 km in about 3 hours.
With all the mixing of petrol and emptying the tank we lost some fuel so we needed to buy another 5 liters to get to Khartoum, we stopped at a gas station what had a enormous cue again. I told her to go with the empty 5 liter bottle put on your best smile and hopefully he can help us. She walked to the pump but no one was getting petrol yet, she asked a military guy on a motorcycle how to get petrol and he pointed her to a men sitting in front of the station who was probably the owner of the station. She explained she needed just 5 liters to get to Khartoum and said her motorcycle is on the road, luckily he fell for the smile and give us 5 liters of petrol. Ok, that problem is fixed. 🙂
We had no option to ride, must stop Al Hasahisa…
We sit down somewhere to have a coffee and talked what we should do? Stay here or see if we can push ourselves another 200 km to Khartoum? We decided to go to Khartoum; there we could get rest. We just left the city and the problem started again 🙁 probably it’s to hot again for the motorcycles.
We stopped at the next village, which is called Al Hasahisa at a coffee place it was now 10 am. While drinking our coffee and eating our lunch we were talking what could we do next? We could not sit all day this small place because if we want to ride again we must wait around 6 pm to the weather and our motorcycles tank also engine really cool down. Suddenly, one man came to me and asked where we are from and do we have any problem on motorcycles? After explain what is going on he asked if we want to come to his house to rest a little bit and take a shower. I didn’t think twice and said yes straight away.
We followed Mamdouh to his house and met with his family, they brought us juice a bed and showed where the shower was. During the day we got relaxed and played a little bit with his 2 daughters, when he came back from work we ate dinner together. Then Mamdouh said to me we should stay the night with him and his family as well, we said ok and decided we can sleep here and leave early in the morning. Khartoum was 150 km away if we leave early we hopefully could make it without any problems.
After a good night rest, we said bye to Mamdouh and his family. For us this is an unbelievable thing to just open your house for 2 complete strangers who stop in the city you live on 2 motorcycles. This is Sudan, the country with amazing hospitality from the people.
Finally we arrived Khartoum but with tear on her eyes 🙁
We started riding and everything went pretty smooth till we reached Khartoum, this is the capital and biggest city so that means a lot of traffic, which is not good for our motorcycles right now. Let’s just say we had a very big fight to make to our campsite in the middle of the city. She got very emotional when we arrived, these motorcycles are our babies while we are traveling, it is not feeling good if we need to treat them like this, we are breaking them.
After we calmed down we set up the tent and I bought a few cold drinks and we chilled out. We called Mohammed a local biker to meet in the night at the campsite to have a coffee or juice.
After one hour our friend Theresa showed up which we met before in Addis Ababa, she is Norwegian and traveling on a bicycle. It is so nice to meet other people on this kind of moments. We talked, laughed and shared a lot of stories. In the night Mohammed came to us as well and we shared more stories, he called one of his friends Fatih (a Turkish man living in Khartoum) also a rider and big fan of motorcycles.
Of course this was very special for him, it is not happening very often that a Turkish rider is coming to Khartoum by motorcycle and especially not a woman. We talked all night and Fatih invited us to stay at his house while we stayed in Khartoum. Unfortunately he was going on a holiday in a few days to Uganda but he allowed us to stay in his house while he was away. Of course this is a very nice opportunity for us to have some time to work on the motorcycles and solve our problems. Theresa came with us as well and we had a nice house all for ourselves. Fatih owns a car repair shop so we had a place to work and tools if we needed as well.
In these 10 days we relaxed a bit and worked on our motorcycles, they were riding fine again but most of the time. 🙂
Noway to get a visa for Egypt!
Now our next issue was a visa for Egypt to her. First time we went to the embassy they were sent us to the consult of Egypt, this is where they issue visas. We went there and they told us come back tomorrow at 10, this is the time to issue visas to foreigners. Again we went, we needed to get inside the consult to explain our situation. This seems more easy then it actually is, when we arrived and try to ask for any option to go in nobody wanted to speak English to us only Arabic, not friendly at all! After trying and trying we left and decided maybe someone can help us, a few local people told us that they can help. We made some phone calls in the night and hoped for the best to get an appointment with the consultant from Egypt. This didn’t work either, so we went back again to try it ourselves. Eventually we found with some help the right line to go for us to apply for the visa, we had all papers with us but after waiting 3 hours they simply told us for Turkish citizens there is a special procedure you need to go to the embassy itself or need to wait more than a month for visa result. We went back to the embassy again but they didn’t allow us to go inside, they were totally unfriendly and rude. They didn’t want to call anybody inside the embassy who we can talk and explain our satiation. They sent us back to the consult again and closed to the embassy door on our face.
It is so frustrating if officials work against you, we have been trying to solve our visa issue now for 5 days without any success at all. We shared our story with some people and they agreed we need to try it in a different way. Eventually some people even called the ambassador from Egypt in Sudan and in Turkey but nobody could help us to get the visa for her.
To be honest, we could not want to believe what was going on because we passed 33 countries in Africa and we never ever had any problem with visas before. Of course we were very disappointed as this means we cannot finish our journey in Egypt what we were planning. So, we need to ship our motorcycles out of Sudan and not going to see the pyramids in Sudan or Egypt, no diving in the red sea. 🙁 Maybe we could ride to Egypt borders and see nice pyramids in Sudan but she was so upset to run behind Egypt visa and nothing we had; also their behavior in the embassy made her so unhappy. She didn’t want to do something more because of that plus petrol issue plus motorcycles problem plus 48 degrees. 🙁
When we left our motorcycles at the airport we got a bit relaxed and enjoyed our time with Fatih till we fly out to Turkey. We are so happy to met him. I hope we can see you somewhere again Fatih.
We want to thank all the helpful people we met in Sudan.