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Figs and tea in the Nile valley

date of entry 26/11/1994
mileage 133,482

capital Khartum

area 1.886.068 km²

population 38,3 Mio.

GDP 64,750 Bill. US-Dollar

official language Arabic/English

Sudan is a difficult country for travelling. In practice, the only direction in which the Holtorfs could move safely was northwards from Khartoum along the Nile. However, they were not allowed to cross the Egyptian frontier. They avoided other cities and the Darfur region in the west. Despite several attempts, they were also unable to enter South Sudan because of the civil war.
  • His bandaged arm held tightly against his body, Holtorf and his wife Christine used the jack to dig the firmly stuck Otto out. With Otto jacked up, the sand plates fitted under the wheels, and they were on their way again. This happened several times. "It was touch and go," Gunther Holtorf recalls today. "I was in excruciating pain."
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  • As they drove along the Nile, the Holtorfs came across many historical sites, including a number of pyramids.
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  • View of a settlement by the Nile. For safety reasons, the Holtorfs usually spent their nights near the river and avoided the cities.
    2  of  27
  • Fig plantations are the major business on both green banks of the Nile River in northern Sudan. The rest of the land is extremely dry and dusty.
    3  of  27
  • After a successful Nile crossing. They often spent the night on flood plains near the Nile. It usually did not take long before local people came with tea and figs to greet the strangers.
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  • Camels were the only means of transport for this family of nomads.
    5  of  27
  • Women, children, firewood, water and goats: everything has to be taken along on the search for pastureland.
    6  of  27
  • By the Nile, the Holtorfs came across the abandoned, ruined settlement of Suakin, the previous port city which has been replaced by Port Sudan – complete with cannons at the gate.
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  • Gunther Holtorf explored the ruins with his camera.
    8  of  27
  • These columns have probably been standing here in the desert for thousands of years and date back to the Egyptian period.
    9  of  27
  • Further north, the Holtorfs repeatedly encountered stone witnesses to a time long past.
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  • The pyramids in Sudan tend to be somewhat smaller than those in neighbouring Egypt. Here, a copy of one of the graves had been built as an illustration.
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  • The travellers were impressed by the pointed pyramids.
    12  of  27
  • From well-preserved to completely ruined: the condition of the pyramids grows worse and worse from right to left.
    13  of  27
  • In this extremely dry area, water had to be drawn by hand from deep wells.
    14  of  27
  • An all-terrain vehicle like this with two Europeans on board was something that the local people here saw rarely. Their curiosity was correspondingly high.
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  • "People everywhere were very friendly" – Gunther Holtorf had good experiences in Sudan.
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  • The women’s gold nose rings were striking.
    17  of  27
  • Citrus fruit was on sale at this market.
    18  of  27
  • Otto ventured as far as the flat shore of the Red Sea.
    19  of  27
  • In the north of Sudan, sand is the biggest problem for the little traffic that there is. Here, a lorry has got stuck.
    20  of  27
  • In the middle of the desert, the Holtorfs then came upon a railway line, and a freight wagon that had toppled over. The line had been built by British colonial engineers from Atbara to Wadi Halfa to avoid rapids on the Nile.
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  • The connection from Atbara to Wadi Halfa, some 400 kilometres long, was still operating. Otto was firmly lashed to a railway wagon.
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  • The next leg of the journey went by rail, for a change. As the wagon was swaying so much, Gunther Holtorf checked the straps holding Otto at every stop. While doing this one night, he fell on his shoulder but thought no more about it.
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  • From Wadi Halfa they travelled to Lake Nubia. From here, it is not much further to Egypt, but the border remained closed to the Holtorfs.
    24  of  27
  • They drove on dusty tracks through northern Sudan on the way westwards from Wadi Halfa back to the banks of the Nile. The area was deserted: in one and a half days Otto did not encounter any other vehicles.
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  • Gunther Holtorf made a rash movement which completely dislocated the shoulder that he had injured when he fell. This was extremely painful. On the way from Dongola, where his shoulder had been set, they drove through open terrain to the capital Khartoum, where the injury was to be examined again in a proper hospital.
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  • Video 1: Sudan – a surprising discovery
  • Video 2: South Sudan – effort in vain

Otto was here before ...


date of entry 23 December 1994
mileage 136,934


date of entry 06 January 1995
mileage 139,074


date of entry 24 January 1995
mileage 141,132


date of entry 26 January 1995
mileage 142,108


date of entry 30 January 1995
mileage 143,310


date of entry 30 January 1995
mileage 143,560

South Africa

date of entry 01 February 1995
mileage 144,160