Four Wheels Around - A Road Trip from the UK to South Africa

In February 2009 we are setting off on the trip of a lifetime from Brighton, E-Sussex, UK to South Africa. Furthermore, we are raising money for the British Red Cross along the way. This blog will cover our preparation until we leave and our adventures whilst we are on the road.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Carol in Khartoum.........

We have been in Khartoum for over a week now and we are both really charmed by this city. One of the reasons we have spent so long here is that we decided it was high time we treated Caz to a service. Although Alex has been trying to maintain Carol mechanically on a regular basis (and for a non mechanic he is doing a good job) she was overdue some tlc and during Egypt her oil leaks had worsened.

We drove to the industrial side of Khartoum where in delight we came across 'Land Rover Street'. Alas, quite recentlyLand Rover have ceased trading with Sudan (more red tape and African beaurocracy) which means there is no longer an offical Land Rover dealer in Khartoum and genuine spare parts are difficult to obtain. Thus 'Land Rover' street in Khartoum is ver limited and full of spare parts that are 'made in China' (the story of our lives at the moment), especially compared to the plentiful supplies of Toyota Land Cruiser spares! However, we didn't know this so we perservered with our service. It turned out although Carol has coped extremely well with the miles so far that her oil seals had gone. This was a bigger job than we realised and next thing we knew the engine was out and there was a mechanic in the engine bay! (Pictures to follow).

To cut a very very long story and an even longer day (10 1/2 hours) at the mechanics short we had to go back to the mechanics a number of times as we were not happy with the job. Although the seemed comfortable with the engine and obviously the oil seals really did need to be repaired, she was still leaking. On our second visit they changed the gasket on the sump (we think this was a bit of a bodge and unfortunately we will have to change it properly at a later date) and installed a new fuel pump.

Our saving grace came in the form of British expat, lets call him Derek and his wife lets call her Daphne. We met Derek quite by chance and he invited us along to a evening at the British Embassy. We spent an enjoyable evening last Friday amongst the company of expats and aid workers and Derek being extremely knowedgable about Land Rovers was able to offer us some very helpful advice. Derek and Daphne invited us round for dinner and Derek and Alex got to work completing Carol's service last night. They checked the remaining oil leaks, changed the fan belt etc and gave Carol a new lease of life. We had a fantastic meal with Derek and Daphne and we are extremely grateful for their hospitality towards us!

With Carol, pretty much back on the road we are read to set off to the Ethiopian border. We have been joined at The Blue Nile Sailing club by Quintin and Julie who we met back in Cairo last month. They have turned up, with 3 kittens in tow so much of the past few days has been spent cooing over the tiny balls of fluff. They are a few days behind us so we will have to say bon voyage again and hopefully we will be able to rendezvous again further on the road to South Africa.

Despite spending much of our time in Khartoum at the mechanics we have managed to do a bit of sightseeing. We have visited the confluence of the Niles. Where the white nile from Uganda meets the Blue Nile from Ethiopia. There is a very noticeable blend of the two rivers.

We have visited a number of museums, all of which were cheap or free. We have been extremely impressed by the information and organisation of the displays in them all. On friday we went to see the Whirling Dervishes in Omdurman. A religious dance that takes place ever friday before prayer. The atmosphere was very hypnotic with lots of chanting. We also had a wonder around Omdurman souk where I managed to bag a few pressies for people back home and we went on a boat cruise along the Nile with the South African bikers. So our time in SUdan has been extremly enjoable if a little stressful. We have heard quite mixed reviews of Ethiopia. We are not entirely sure what to expect. We know that there will be a lot of hassle from locals which we fear will be reminiscent of Egypt. I think that we will have to make up our own mind about Ethiopia so we will update you from there when we can. In the meantime, another Country nearly finished and a new Country ahead for us to explore. We are only able to explore a set path through Sudan due to ongoing Security concerns and war in certain areas of Sudan which is a shame as the areas we have visited have been great and some of our favourite places to date. Hopefully one day this troubled Country will be able to work itself out and open itself up to Tourism a bit more. In the meantime it is beautifully unspoilt for travellers as there is a distinct lack of tourists (infact the only foreigners are aid workers, or overlanders) and the route we have taken (Wadi Halfa - Khartoum) has been fantastic to travel through. Hopefully the next few hundred miles to the border will be just as nice!

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