The Merowe Pyramids are on the agenda. From Karima we head towards Atbara. We need to cross Bayuda desert. This is not a big challenge, because it is tarmac up to Atbara. However, it is very hot, even the wind does not cool.
The Bayuda desert is a part of the Nubian desert and lies in a bow formed by the Nile. In the South it gradually goes over into a sparsely vegetated landscape, which extends to Khartoum. It consists predominantly of a mixture of sand and stones, and is interrupted by occasional long covered ridge. In the wadis grow woody shrubs, low trees and a bushy acacia.
We have a break, because the heat is tremendous. Imposing are the ridges that extend through the endless desert. Occasionally bushy acacia come out from the sand, one wonders where this bush gets the water from. The settlement is very sparse, mostly nomads with their camels live here.
At our resting place a nomad passes with his animals in the distance. We wave, the greeting is answered, then he moves on, probably to Atbara on the market, perhaps he wishes to sell camels.
Because of the great heat, we decide to finish early today and find a good place for the night. We use the afternoon to relax and hide in the shadows of our vehicles.
On a new bridge we cross the Nile direction Atbara. The road is good and we are making rapid progress. We look out for a coffee woman, we want some breakfast.
In Atbara, there is nothing to see, it is a transportation knot for the rail, a typical city with low houses and bustling activity. We do without a visit and stay at the roadside stand at a coffee woman.
We learn that the lady is not Sudanese, but an Ethiopian, probably a Somali.
Since the war, many Somalis are living in Sudan, especially in the capital Khartoum. The coffee preparation is interesting. Not only coffee but also spices are mixed into the coffee. Each woman has her own coffee recipe and the drink tastes delicious.
After this break we go to the Merowe pyramids. Good asphalt road and we make it to the late afternoon to the pyramids. We turn from asphalt towards the campsite and again we are stuck in the sand. Now, air must be released to about 1.5 bar to move forward again, sand ladders, we will not need.
Tara feels hot, she’s bored and doubts in my car driving skills. It does not help, now we are waiting in the sweltering heat until all the tires are ready. The scenery all around us is spectacular, like a picture book, lonely and abandoned. Not quite as lonely, camel riders are approaching from the distance. Tara can not stand this and barks at the strangers. Her job is to guard the car after all. We do not know what the riders want from us. Language barriers. But it quickly becomes clear. They want to take Alexandra for a ride in the desert. The camel protests, it would rather lie in the shade, but it does no good, on its feet and off they go.
And before I realized what happened, my wife has gone already. I can not worry about that now, I must release air from the tires to get the car go again. After a while Alexandra is brought back, she liked it well, no one asked me.
Now we can start again. The Pyramids of Merowe are located in a beautiful landscape. They are the main attraction in the Sudan in cultural terms, even though you feel nothing of tourism here, for it is still in its infancy.
The pyramids stand alone on a hill like a row of broken teeth. An interesting sight.
Though the pyramids were clearly influenced by the Egyptian counterparts, they are however very different in shape and size to those at Giza. The largest of the pyramids of Meroe or Merowe as it is written, is under 30 meters with an angle of 70 degrees. The smaller size allows for quicker construction time and fewer workers, including the technical costs were less. The grave chambers were directly cut into the rock and the pyramids just built on top of it, a substantial difference to those in Egypt.
The pyramids were covered with a clay plaster, giving them a smooth, shiny surface. The base was simply painted in red, yellow and blue stars.
Unfortunately, all were beheaded, which is due to the work of an Italian treasure hunter.
We cast a last glance at the magnificent scenery before we torture our vehicle through deep sand to the campsite. The difficulty is to find the right track. We can see the campsite in the distance and head towards it. Sections with firmer sand alternate with soft sand. One must realize in time when it is soft, so you have enough momentum on the one hand, on the other hand, enough torque in reserve. Despite the 125 horsepower, the engine works heavily. However, we are also quite loaded with diesel and water reserve, an additional weight of 150 kilograms.
We did it without getting stuck. Now we are at the campsite and have a fantastic view of the desert.
In the distance, one can again see the Merowe pyramids. No wonder why the rulers have chosen this place as the final resting place.
We were lucky again and found a great place to stay overlooking the Pyramids. We enjoy the rest of the afternoon with a bottle of cold beer. Tara is also satisfied , she can easily explore the area and enjoy her evening walk.
In the afternoon the next day we are already in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.