At the Zoo
Our campsite on the grounds of an abandoned zoo in Sudan is surprisingly clean, albeit somewhat starved of amenities. At first glance it could be a mini-put golf course, with its peacock statues and manicured blankets of green sun-scorched grass. Riders were hoping for showers after baking on a bicycle in the hot sun, but settled for outdoor cement mounted taps and a bank of squatter toilets. Dongola is the site of our second rest day of the tour. Unlike our last day off in Luxor, tomorrow will also be a rest day for our livers, given that Sudan is a dry country. Last night’s camp along the Nile was another stellar desert tenting spot, with river access to cool off and escape the clouds of tiny, irritating flies that enveloped us from the moment we stepped out of the saddle. The flies, known as midges, don’t bite, but made it difficult to breathe without inhaling a cluster of fluttering microscopic wings and crunchy miniature exoskeletons. The appearance of a small Nile crocodile during yesterday’s swim did little to deter riders from a second dip, and despite the absence of an AK47-wielding security guard, most took their chances and basked in the fast-running Nile waters 600 kilometres north of Khartoum. In keeping with the wholesome beer-free atmosphere of Sudan, our night ended with a bonfire drumming circle under the stars – the driftwood fire licking at the sand, casting shadows over dusty, sun-burnt faces.