The Gorge

Sunrise over the desert.

Sunrise over the desert.

We have now surpassed the 2000 km mark and completed Pharoah’s Delight, the 1st of 8 sections of the tour ending just outside of Khartoum. We were bussed through that city for safety.  Looking at the mayhem and sprawl through the windows we reflected on the words of the travel writer Paul Theroux, who wrote in Darkstar Safari, his chronicles of an overland Cairo to Capetown  journey in 2002:

“Even at their best, African cities seemed to me miserable improvised anthills, attracting the poor and the desperate from the bush and turning them into thieves and devisors of cruel scams.  Scamming is the survival mode in a city where tribal niceties do not apply and there are no sanctions except those of the police, a class of people who in Africa generally are little more than licensed thieves.”

Harsh words, which we would not hazard to comment upon. We certainly hope for a good outcome for the people of this country who have struggled under economic sanctions since 1997.

We are excited about the next phase of this year’s Tour d’Afrique: The Gorge. This 1250 km section comes with a TDA “far out” rating of 5 on 5.  We will head south from Khartoum and pass through the Gezira region – the “bread basket” of Sudan. Approaching Ethiopia, the mosques we have seen in every town will give way to the more tribal and traditional nature of the Horn of Africa. We will have to set the alarm clocks in the absence of the 5:00 AM call to prayer.  

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Topographical change as we head for Gondar, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia offers some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, as well as one of its most unique and ancient cultures. Our work will be cut out for us as soon as we cross the border, with two days of climbing up to Gondar (2500 meters worth on arrival day – the most of any stage on the tour).

We will be encouraged to sample the spicy local cuisine and somehow avoid the well documented “problems” it may give us. From a cycling standpoint, the highlight of this section will be the Blue Nile Gorge, a 1360 meter precipitous descent and ascent that will test our nerve. After that, the beautiful terrain of the central Ethiopian plateau will see us through to capital city of Addis Ababa. 

We have a rest day today. Time to do laundry, bike maintenance and charge up devices.  We will be entertained by traditional Sudanese musicians later this afternoon. The next 6 days will bring a change of scenery and new challenges.

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“New Challenges”. Next shower in 6 days. We have booked a hotel in Gonder to give the tent a break.

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Mornings will begin to look different than this start in the desert.

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First electricity in days – plugs at a premium.

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Photography is discouraged for us in Sudan, but the natives can’t stop taking shots of us (especially selfies).

Thanks for reading.

 

  21 comments for “The Gorge

  1. Geoff Heseltine
    February 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    It looks fantastic Gerry. Really an awesome experience. We look forward to your posts and knowing that you guys are safe and still pushing on. I don’t know how you can do a 2500 metre climb and still do 140 km. That’s brutal Post pictures of the gorge when you can. Love to Lenore. (LOL)

    Like

  2. February 8, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Heart-stopping, as usual. Thank you for finding the time and energy to post. Are you and the local enjoying an alcoholic beverage or is this not allowed by their faith? If not, I guess Coke Is It.

    Like

    • February 8, 2019 at 6:26 pm

      Not a beer in sight. For that reason alone looking forward to Ethiopia.

      Like

  3. Doreen A. Croll
    February 8, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    Finding this all so interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. February 8, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    P.S. I was considering NOT running today because we have winds gusting to 90 km/hr and the roads are covered with ice. But after reading your post, I realize what a joke my “challenges” are. Thanks for the kick in the ass.

    Like

    • February 8, 2019 at 6:24 pm

      In my mind you have by far the tougher task. Glad to be of help though.

      Like

  5. Amanda
    February 8, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    Did you bring a funky folding chair for relaxing at the end of a hard days cycle?

    Like

    • February 8, 2019 at 10:31 pm

      Yup. Should have brought more battery back-up instead!

      Like

  6. Mark McMahon
    February 8, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Sounds like an incredible experience so far G-van. That photo is the epitome of you, casual and at home wherever you might find yourself. Travel well! – Mark

    Like

  7. Michelle
    February 8, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    Looking happy in your lounge chair Gerry! Happy to hear you’ll be checking into that hotel. I’ve no doubt it will be luxurious. Enjoy your day off.

    Like

  8. February 8, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    It seems amazing to me that you have the energy to write at the end of all this, even on a day off. Happy for the updates. Good luck on those upcoming hills.

    Like

    • February 8, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      Something to do while my mind is racing thinking about those hills!

      Like

  9. Anonymous
    February 8, 2019 at 10:15 pm

    Glad to see you are still smiling! All the best to Lenore and yourself.

    Like

  10. Michael Fraser
    February 8, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Glad to see you are still smiling. All our best to you 2.

    Like

    • February 8, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      Great to hear from you Mike.

      Like

  11. Joanne Ward
    February 8, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Love reading about each stage and the great pictures you’ve been posting ….. you are going to enjoy that hotel when you get Gondar. Good luck with the climbs !!!

    Like

    • February 9, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      We actually like climbing. Looking forward to the change in geography. Thanks Joanne.

      Like

  12. Anonymous
    February 9, 2019 at 2:03 am

    Keep it up! We love reading about your adventure! Glad to read your quote from Paul Theroux DARKSTAR SAFARI about African cities! Excellent book, very astute observation!
    Enjoy your Ethiopian food!
    Louise and Tom

    Like

    • February 9, 2019 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks for commenting. Theroux calls it like he sees it and the truth is not always pretty. Be well.

      Like

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