16/01/2017 Wadi-Halfa, Sudan

Having already waited Two weeks in Egypt to obtain our visas for Sudan. Our crossing of the border wasnt quite as slick as we would have liked. To be fair we had already outstayed our Egypt visas and ‘fixing’ was required to enable us to leave the country with our vehicle and not get arrested or fined. one thing about Egyptian Society is that ‘all things are possible’ plus VAT. The delays however were not to do with our visas though it was the Egyptian customs requirement to scan everything on board. There were several tourist coaches to process as well so things take time. Before we could leave the country Egyptian customs wanted us to unpack everything and take it to an x-ray machine. After 3-4 trolley loads of the stuff inside The Cobar’s boot had gone I was asked to unload the Roofrack. “That is a tent” & I mimed a pointed shape above my head. They nodded in understanding and pointed to the Jerrycans. “That is too heavy to lift down” I stated. They pressed so I said “You can go up and lift them down”? They nodded sagely and agreed they were too heavy. Suddenly the Plastic box containing firewood and the ‘Trasharoo’ (a sort of rucksack for the car that normally hangs on the spare wheel) were also too heavy to lift down as well, excellent. The first trolleys of scanned boxes started to return so I began repacking before anyone could notice the under-floor locker where I keep the tools. “Have these been scanned yet”? Asked one official pointing to stuff in the cabin. “Oh yes” said Sally thinking quickly with her best Shirley Temple face on. “OK” he said “You can go now” phew! That was Two hours and a half hours of our lives but we were out of Egypt by mid-day.We arrived at  the gate to Enter Sudan but it was lunchtime so we had to wait in no-mans-land. We eventually got into the Sudan compound but our fixer Mazal explained that he had to go to Wadi-Halfa straight away and would join us later. feeling slightly miffed we ploughed through the process ourselves. This involved crossing and re-crossing a sun blasted parking area to find the right offices in the right order. After about Three hours Mazal returned and things speeded up but it was not until he was completing the Carnet de passage et Douane that he explained to us that a relative of his had been killed in a bus crash in Egypt that morning and he had needed to go and make arrangements for the body to be repatriated to Sudan. We were somewhat humbled. The final stage was for Sudan customs to examine the vehicle and give us a chit to proceed out of the compound. We waited and waited until Mazal said he would go and find the Customs guy for us. I knew that they cant leave anyone in the compound after the border closes so Sally and I made coffee and had a late lunch and relaxed in the baking hot parking area. Finally just before 17:00 Mazal reappeared and apologised for the wait he said the customs guy would not be coming now but we had the ‘Escape Chit stamped anyway. We asked the fee and he gave us the ‘Escape Chit’ saying “That costs 120 SDN and my fee is whatever you feel”. I pressed for a sum (We were expecting around $20) he said “I have not been able to give you my best service today, so whatever you think its worth”. Although we felt he would have accepted far less in the circumstances we gave him $10 and he seemed pleased with that much. later this proved to be a good move as we were to meet again. Mazal also showed us the official importation record. The Cobar was the first foreign registered vehicle to enter Sudan at that point in 2017. We had finally entered Sudan.

The town of Wadi Halfa has its appeal ( I was overjoyed to see many old Land-Rovers still giving good service) but after  a 71/2-hour border crossing we wanted some space & we headed for the desert.


Did you think Sudan looked like this? Well it does in Khartoum.

But it looks like this in other places.

Typical house on the journey to Dinder
Sudanese tribesman at Khartoum YH