What a contrast with the previous countries we drove through! The main difference; there are fewer people and they leave you alone !! We were able to camp again and the next morning shepherds passed by with their herd, but they did not come to the car immediately. They wave, greet, but left us completely alone! Haha we were already in the start mode to close everything, but not needed at all. What a difference with the rest of Africa!
Visa red tape
We drive directly to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, because we have a two-week transit visa and by the end of Ramadan we have no idea how long it will take before we can apply for a visa for Saudi Arabia. For us an essential visa that is needed to continue our way. Unfortunately this is a difficult visa to get, especially for a woman, so we go to the embassy in good spirits. At the first attempt we do not even come in, the second attempt we come in, but they tell us that it will take at least 2 months. Attempt 3 but through an agent across the street. Unfortunately, due to the end of Ramadan, there is a holiday of 5 days so we can only try again a week later.
The bureaucracy of Sudan
Yep this was a problem, since we could only be in the country for two weeks. Directly to immigration to see if we could extend our visa. We understood from everyone that this was a hopeless mission, but we had little choice so just try. Haha we got to know that, but the most bureaucratic country we’ve seen so far. (yes worse than Europe).
For the grant of a week we have been at 14 different counters and we had to have a Sudanese who wanted to guarantee our stay. Fortunately, the first Sudanese who addressed Suus immediately was super helpful. He gave his ID card, wrote a letter in Arabic on the spot and went to 6 of the 14 counters to indicate that he was indeed our guarantor. 4.5 hours later we received a receipt with the news that we had to come back the next day. Of course the next day our passports were still in the same place as we had left them and of course our help to execute pressure was gone. Fortunately, a helpful man behind 1 of the counters recognized us and with a little chat about football, the 3 Arabic words I had learned in the meantime and Roel’s beard our passports were ready within an hour. Yes first problem solved!
The pyramids of Meroe
In the days we had to wait, we drove around in northern Sudan. First to the Pyramids of Meroe. Wow especially because of the location is very impressive. There is no tourist in Sudan so you walk around in the desert between all the pyramids and there is no one at all. In the evening just behind a sand dune our tent folded out, still seen Serval like cats and wake up the next morning with our own shower. Wow what a top spot!
The hospitality of Sudan
After a few more places with pyramids that were slightly less overwhelming, we decided to return to Khartoum to have some time to find out things. Driving through the desert in 50 degrees with a car without air conditioning, you do not quite do it for fun. Along the way we get to know the hospitality of the people in Sudan. Ramadan is now over and everywhere we are invited to eat. In a village on the way to the Nile, Roel is invited to the men and Suus to the women and children. Everyone comes to watch and although no one speaks English, we still come a long way with our hands and feet. We get a kind of brown drape and brown water in a cup. After a few gulps I ask carefully what kind of soup it is and point them to the Nile. Haha we have left the rest.
We are also invited to police checks when visiting the Pyramids. In the hostel in Khartoum it is almost impossible to cook for yourself, because the chef of the football team does everything to ensure that we get enough food. We have already experienced many friendly people in Africa, but the people in Sudan are the most hospitable.
Back in Khartoum: The moment of truth
Back in Khartoum we deliver all the papers to the agent and after a day we get a phone call that the visa for Saudi Arabia is ready for us. We both received a visa !!! This is also a transit visa and this time for 3 days. Something else is not possible as a tourist, but we are super happy that we can continue our journey and that Suus can go with it and does not have to fly after it. Now only get an Abaya (for Suus required in Saudi Arabia) and then we are on our way to Port Sudan where we will arrange the ferry.