Rainier’s co-driver, Sam Roach, reports from the car and updates us on their epic “Cape to Cape 2.0″ world record attempt to drive from Cape Agulhas to Nordkapp in Norway. (More details on the attempt here).
“After the shock of being told that the Ehthiopian/Sundanese border was closed on our arrival yesterday, we were more than relieved to get on our way into Sudan. After the green and mountainous surroundings of Ethiopia the contrast was striking. Sudan has completely flat, dry and dusty desert stretches from South to North and our road runs straight through this featureless landscape.
“We were travelling through Sudan in a convoy with our fixer Midhat and his team in their Volkswagen Amarok. Our first leg of the journey was a five hour stretch in the dark to the capital, Khartoum. There were no bends, hills or any features which meant we could fully concentrate on the poorly conditioned Sudanese vehicles. We passed many cars, motorbikes and trucks in the dark with absolutely no lights on a fast two-lane road which can really be a frightening experience particularly with the amount of overtaking we had to do. We also met a donkey standing calmly in the middle of the road, just staring at all the on coming traffic towards him at it at 120 km/h.
“We have started to develop a routine for the driving between the three of us across each 24-hours. Marius, who’s amazing photography accompany each of these updates, has a bit of a skill for night driving so he typically takes the wheel from 01:00 through to 07:00 whilst Rainer and myself do our best to get some sleep. Rainer always takes the lead for driving during the day as he is by far our most experienced driver in Africa. I tend to take a short stint in the morning and the afternoon to give Rainer a break, then my long drive tends to be 19:00 through to handover to Marius again at 01:00. It’s become our tradition that whoever is sitting in our single back seat makes some breakfast for the team; it may only be a small fridge, but we still take some pride in our catering skills.
“We arrived in the capital city Khartoum at around midnight. The city was still busy at that time, with food stalls and shops spilling out to the edge of the road. The dust was heavy in the air which made it feel as if we were driving through fog at times. We crossed the Nile at this point as it winds its way through the city. After a quick stop and refuel, Marius took the wheel to head out onto the empty straight highway across the Sahara Desert, due north up the Nile valley for the six-hour push through to the Egyptian border. After leaving the city limits, we barely saw another vehicle.
“At around 06:30 this morning, with the hazy sun rising over the desert, we arrived at the Western Nile border control into Egypt. There at the border waiting for us was our fixer team who will now accompany us right across Egypt just to ensure that everything goes smoothly. What a great welcome from Hatem and Turbo, and Volkswagen Egypt who have arrived with two branded Volkswagen Tiguans to escort us across their country. Quite a convoy we have!
“And so, as we reach our halfway point of the challenge, its time to begin the next stage of our adventure with a country and region that I am excited to see more of. At the moment we are continuing our drive through the vast and empty Sahara on the Egyptian side but as we travel North it is sure to change again.”
– Sam Roach