A Carnet de Passages en Douane is a document for the importation of a vehicle and it's mandatory in Sudan. Mine expired months ago! I requested a carnet (details on iOverlander) one week before arriving at the border, which is valid only for Sudan. At the border, it was straight forward; however, I had to play the waiting game for an hour in the customs office but I eventually got the carnet.

A cool thing about entering new countries at land borders is the first few miles or minutes when riding away from the border. Sometimes the differences and new things are small, and other times it's more obvious. Well, I entered Sudan and there was lots of dust in the air preventing me from seeing much at all! It also affected my throat. Somewhat unfortunate!

I found a few hotels in El-Gadarif that were cheap but they didn't have anywhere secure for my motorcycle. After a few hours of riding around to explore options, I didn't want to risk parking my motorycle on the street, so I gave in and rode out of town to camp.

I found a cluster of small bushes. Whilst riding through the bushes, I had to fend off lots of thorns from getting a firm grip on my clothes and sometimes skin.

Camping with Honda CRF250L in the bush in Sudan.

Accommodation was a similar story in Wad Medani. Pulling up at what I thought was a hotel, I got chatting to a policeman who informed me that it was a gym and swimming pool. He spoke no English, and I spoke no Arabic. After much "conversation" and a phone call in broken English, he jumped into a car and waved for me to follow. I followed the car to a house in the suburbs. This was my place for the evening!

Stephen Matthews in apartment styled with hello kitty drawers in Wad Medani, Sudan.
Stephen Matthews in apartment with wardrobe in Wad Medani, Sudan.

It had secure parking too.

Honda CRF250L parked inside apartment in Wad Medani, Sudan.

The next day, I dsicovered there was no fuel in town. The fuel shortages in Sudan are well known, and my 300+ mile range with my auxilliary containers was now close to depletion.

Whilst exploring all the stations in town, I parked up to assess the situation at a station for what I thought looked promising. The station was flooded with hundreds of people and vehicles. A van driver stopped next to me and said I should push in. I did but no benzine (petrol). A tip off from a stranger was that I should return at 3pm.

At 3pm, there was benzine! This is where the fun really started.

I walked passed the long queues. The mood was very tense on the forecourt. Some discussions were heated, others less so.

Lots of discussion and nothing was happening. There was fuel but only two or three vehicles were filled over about two hours (I think).

A gentlemen helped me get to the pump. Initially, I wasn't too keen on the idea because of the uneasy mood of the crowd. I was now stood right next to the fuel pump. All eyes were on me.

At one point, I thought I heard a gunshot. The crowd was silent. No commotion. Discussions continued.

I was asked if I had coronavirus. No!

Fed up and frustrated but playing it cool, I counted fifteen police and army in a 10 m2 area. Lots of discussion. They then started refueling vehicles, but at a rate of one vehicle every 20 minutes.

It was interesting to observe who was given priority. Two officials in uniform refuelled when I arrived a few hours ago.

Since then, a Hilux carrying a dead body wrapped in linen was next. They drove straight in so manouvering to exit was very difficult with the crowd. About ten men stood around the Hilux and repeatedly lifted it. They eventually turned it around on the spot.

An ambulance followed. Then a three-wheel mobility scooter. Then a young man on a motorcycle who had made it very clear that he was unhappy with not being filled up and also my presence. Then me—the tourist. It felt strange.

Leaving the station, I felt compelled to do one thing! Ride like I stole it!

I didn't take any photos at the station as it definitely felt unwise to do so.

Finding fuel had taken all day, and sunset was now upon me. With no hotel to stay in, I left town to camp on the Blue Nile river. I put up my tent in the dark, and appreciated the view the following morning!

Camping with Nemo Dagger 2P tent on Blue Nile river, Sudan.
Camping with Nemo Dagger 2P tent and Honda CRF250L next to a bush on the Blue Nile river, Sudan.
Camping with Nemo Dagger 2P tent on the Blue Nile river, Sudan.

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