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2015 Jan by Roman Bruehwiler
In January 2015 I visited all provinces of Sudan (except the Darfur provinces). This trip was organized by www.raidantravel.com. I can recommend this company.
I hardly tried to get the permission for Darfur, but without any success. Even a flight to Nyala and back to Khartoum the same day was strictly refused! |
2005 Dec by Veikko Huhtala*
When I was serving in UN Peacekeeping Forces in Ismailya, Egypt, I made my first visit to Sudan. With my UN fellow we decided to spend some days in Khartoum. First we got UN transport from Ismailya to Cairo, where we stayed one night. During this stop we climbed up to the top of Kheops pyramid. I think that it was illegal, but nobody asked to come back. Next morning we took train to Luxor. There we arrived after 10 hours and stayed one night. During this stay we swam in Nile River and visited to Valley of the Kings as well. Next morning we continued our trip to Aswan. Weekly ferry to Wadi Halfa was leaving same day and we went to office to have our tickets. It took about 24 hours to reach Wadi Halfa. By night the boat anchored nearby Abu Simbel and we swam in Lake Nasser also. Water was very dirty, but we did not get bilharzia. Maybe we were only lucky. When we arrived to Wadi Halfa next day, there was a train waiting passengers going to Khartoum. This was my most terrific train journey in my life. First engine broke down in the middle of Nubian Desert and we had to wait 12 hours, before new one came. So we started again, but second engine broke down some hours later and we had to wait again, this time only about 8 hours. It was very hot in the desert and we had no drinking water enough with us. Therefore we had to drink dirty water from the dirty pot in train. This journey took more than three days, before we came to Khartoum Railway Station. Our vacation was almost finished and we had to hurry Sudan Airways office to by our return tickets to Cairo. During these two days in Khartoum I got high fever and I felt myself very ill. When we arrived to our camp in Ismailya I went to doctor’s checkup and diagnosis was that I had Salmonella. I think I got it drinking dirty water in the train.|
Beginning of 1984 I got good job in Sudan. Finland donated 50 tractors for Sudan Government to help Eritrean refugees who were escaped to Sudan. Showak village was situated 80 km north of Kassala town, near Ethiopian (Eritrean) border and from it came my home for next two years. This is a little bit funny; I was leaving two years some kilometres from Eritrean border, but today it is still one of these four independent countries where I have not ever been. But it is true that this part of Ethiopia was not so safe place to visit in these years.
We had two Finnish to look after this project, I was as Project Manager, teaching people to use these tractors and making contacts to Finland when needed. Other man was mechanic and he was teaching people to repair these tractors. We had six Eritrean and five Sudanese people working with us. Distance from Showak village to Khartoum was over 500 km and we had to drive there at least once a month, sometimes more. We had Jeep Wagoneer car with tractor engine. The reason for motor change was that we could use tractor spare parts for our car also. In Khartoum we usually stayed 3-5 days, sending telex to Finland, withdraw money for worker’s salaries, visiting to other Finnish people working in Khartoum and so on. One day we had to go also Ministry of the Interior to discuss 50 more tractors, which Finnish Government wanted to send Sudan. These tractors arrived there when I was at home already. Usually these tractors were used on the fields, where they were cultivating durra for Eritrean refugees.
The weather was dry and hot, normal temperature was between 40-46 degrees centigrade. Occasionally sandstorms were raging around and sometimes the swarm of grasshopper’s game to eat all our cultivating. Rains were rare in Sudan.
But we had also some entertainment and recreation as well.. Best one was two weeks holiday every three months. Other one was our home made golf course where we played 18 holes every afternoon. Our working time was from 7AM to 2PM and we had plenty of time to play before dark. We had also sauna every evening and many foreign people working in Showak game to visit our sauna. The reason was that it was only sauna in the village. Also Hassan, Showak village leader, came very often to visit our sauna. We were working from Saturday to Thursday, but Friday was free. It was Muslim’s Sunday and then we often drove to Atbara River, where we spent our day swimming, etc.
Anyway, I liked my job in Sudan and during this period I had possibility to travel about 30 countries in Africa and Asia.
2005, when I was travelling with Oili and returning from Africa, we flew to Khartoum fron Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Airlines. This is my last visit to this Africa's largest country, where I lived two years. But there are still two MTP locations left. So, maybe I have to go there some day again.
1993 Aug by Jorge Sanchez
\'Ahlan wa Sahlan!\' (Welcome!).
That was the greeting of the Sudanese officers in colorful Kassala, inhabited by the ethnic groups Beja and Rashida.
I was coming from Eritrea and headed to Spain overland, after spending 6 months, so far, crossing the African continent.
I waited for 2 days in Kassala my permit to travel further. The Sudanese visa was not enough.
In the tent where I slept there were several young Eritreans who had travelled in the same bus with me from Asmara. They hoped to find a job in Khartoum. We had made friendship during the journey. They also needed a special permit to cross the country. Finally we got it and travelled together in another bus to Khartoum.
I reached by bus Khartoum from Eritrea, in the company of some young Eritreans looking for a job in Sudan’s capital.
Khartoum, the junction of the Blue and White Nile, consisted in three parts: the centre was located in the South; the Northeast was an industrial area; and Omdurman, at the North and West side of the Nile, was the most interesting place for me due to the cemetery near the mosque where I would sleep in company of my friends, the whirling dervishes. That mosque sheltered the mausoleum of The Mahdi, probably the expected Prophet announced in the X century, who defeated the English general Charles Gordon at the turn of the XIX century. Every Friday the dervishes performed their sacred dances, quite different than those of the Mevlevi Order founded by Rumi in Konya.
One day among the days I boarded an open bus heading to Al Fashir, in the ancient Sultanate of Darfur.
In order to cross to Al Fashir, and then entering Chad, the bus with open windows that I boarded in Omdurman headed first (probably) to El Obeid, in Kordufan.
In fact, that journey was in 1992, and today (I am writing this over two decades later) I do not even know which way the driver chose to get to El Fasher; perhaps first drove down to Kosti, in White Nile province, by the main road, perhaps he preferred the tracks across the desert, a little bit shorter. But I did not even ask; I did not care in those times, I only wanted to arrive to El Fasher as soon as possible, then to proceed to Chad.
Out of the four days that lasted the bus journey, at least two were spent to cross Kordofan province, through the towns of El Obeid and En Nahud.
Most of my companions headed to Libya with the hope to find a good job. I was the only European on board the bus.
The first day we suffered a sand storm and the driver stopped the bus for a few hours.
The second day we distinguished in the distance a caravan of Tuaregs riding their camels. I then noticed that the Sudanese did not love them because they use to be bandits and rob the individual travelers.
Every day there were two military controls. The soldiers were most surprised to find a Spaniard in the bus, but they never asked me anything; just smiled and wished me a good journey, in Arabic.
Sometimes we stopped in small villages to sleep and buy basic food, such as dates or camel meat; some other times we made a halt around a well to extract water, or to spend the night.
The fourth day we reached Al Fashir, the town where Amelia Earhart made a call with her airplane during her unfinished around the world journey.
I had arrived to Darfur.
Now I still had about three more days of travel until the border with Chad… |
1973 Apr by Frank J Britton
I waited three days for the lift across the desert. Had travelled across the burning sands from Asmara to Teseney, Ethiopia as was, now Eritrea. The frontier control people were very understanding but clear- they were not aware of any imminent traffic if a vehicle was going to Kassala they would get me on board. Wait they said. Nothing for it then but to sit around a chai shop on the road out and wait, in the blasted heat. Hours passed, day one became day two, hope rose as the odd vehicle passed. Had they forgotten me? Every so often a wave of despair swept over me would I ever get out of Teseney. The 31 March dawned and around eleven in the morning the immigration people came over, checked my passport, stamped it and pointed to a four wheel drive parked nearby. I was off. Where was the road- no road, we just took off across the open flat desert following the half kilometer wide tyre mark path left by many others. The desert was so vast and flat I fancied I could see the curvature of the earth. Huge mirages kept rolling in, I could really see vast lakes of water. My head said mirage, my eyes said water. Most peculiar. Ninety minutes later we were in Kassala, during Ramadan. Through earlier contacts was able to stay in a VSO - Voluntary Service Overseas- house. Found copy 2001, A Space Odyssey and started to read. Evening in town and around sunset hundreds of men and boys sit around long tables stacked with water, food and waited for canon to fire announcing official sunset and end of days fast. I was very kindly invited to take part and shared in the excitement, bonhomie and relaxed mood under the hot evening star. Later to bed and the all night cacophony of dogs barking at- each other? Bus to Khartoum and stay at youth hostel. Following day massive sand storm swept across city. Rain was obviously falling into the sand because every so often I would be hit with what looked/felt like blobs of mud. A particular highlight was going onto Tuti Island and standing on the point where the Blue and White Nile rivers meet. Invited to Omdurman, sleeping outside on rope bed.
After getting Egyptian visa boarded weekly train to Wadi Halfa. On this 900 km, 36 hour journey called at Atbara, Abu Hamid. No air conditioning on train. Sitting in dining car made the mistake of opening window to get some cooling air- what I got was a deluge of sand mixed with coal fired soot from the engine. People sitting on the roof seemed to be enjoying cooling breezes, but a bit too risky for me.
In Wadi Halfa embarked on ferry across Lake Nasser. Surreal landscape slipped past, water, sand, sky, no green vegetation. |