Touching African Ground

We are now in Khartoum/Sudan. A lot happened and had to be done to get here. But let me start from the beginning. Again, this will be a longer entry. Read it our just enjoy the pictures 🙂

The last days in Istanbul were filled with the preparation of the airfreight and organizing the arrival in Khartoum. On Saturday, the 30th of August we went back to the motorium guys (we are actually now linked on their homepage 🙂 ) and met Daniels relative Yakup who lives in Istanbul. Funny story, they didn’t knew each other but when Daniel mentioned his last name to Tolga, the shop owner, he said he knew another guy by this name. Small world.

Yakup with his 1200 GS and Daniel
Yakup with his 1200 GS and Daniel

After that we went to Kadir, the carpenter preparing our transport boxes and had a look at them. They looked great and we tried them on with my bike J . Getting such boxes in Istanbul was a big problem so it was quite a relive to see that they are of good quality and will be ready in time for the loading on Monday.

We met with Kadir on Monday morning at the Atatürk Cargo Terminal to load the bikes into the boxes. We got the OK for the Cargo company to do the preparations of the bikes at the Cargo Terminal, which meant to empty the fuel tank, drain the engine oil, remove the battery and remove windshield and mirrors. The latter two are for size reasons to fit the bikes into the boxes. In airfreight you pay by volumen, unless you exceed 167 kg per m3, which you won’t do with a motorbike, unless you use a metal press…

Communication with the cargo company was a mess. We never got clear answers via mail or telephone, very tedious. And thus we weren’t able to meet the cargo guys at the terminal. They kept on saying they will sent someone to pick us up. Nothing happened. After 2 h Daniel found a guy of the company who took us to the loading bay were we could do our work. The guy, Hamit, was super nice and helpful, he even invited us for lunch. He had the things under control and with his supervision and “can do” attitude the loading worked smoothly.

Luckily we were allowed to pack our luggage with the bikes into the transport crates, which made our flight the next day a lot easier.

After loading things got a bit messy. Remember when we wrote “Yay, they didn’t need our carnet for the Turkey entry”? Yeah, those dopes at the border should have written into our passport that we entered with the bikes. Which, even though we had to show the passports three different officers, no one did. This fired back now. Without an import you can’t export. Solution? Blame the Greek! We entered from Greece to Turkey so the cargo guys prepared a letter saying the Greek should have written something in our passports, what they didn’t. Well Greece is in the EU, why should they write anything into the passports? Well neverminde, it worked out that way.

Draining fuel while phoning with the cargo head office
Draining fuel while phoning with the cargo head office
Ready to go!
Ready to go!


Kadir, the great carpenter!
Kadir, the great carpenter!
Bye Bye Bikes
Bye Bye Bikes

While packing the bikes no one wanted to check them. Which puzzled us, but hey, why not? Well they should have controlled the chassis number. Now the crates were closed. The Turkish Cargo officer gave us the option that for a 100 € each he would not check the number and we are good to go. No way! With Kadir we opened the boxes again and let them check the number for free. Now the bikes were ready and after almost 9 h at the Cargo Terminal Kadir was so nice to take us along with his moving van. We arrived very tiered at the house and went for a very nice farewell dinner with Daniels aunts.

Daniel with his aunts
Daniel with his aunts. Thanks guys for the great time in Istanbul!

The next morning we had to catch a taxi at 4 am to get to the airport and fly via Cairo to Khartoum. In Cairo we touched African ground for the first time in our travel 🙂 and had 8 h of transit, super boring. But, with the slowest wifi in the world we passed the time. We did see the egyptian football national team though! Unfortunately no photo.

The flight to Khartoum was eventless, except that we never had to show our passports and visa this many times ever when taking a flight.

We arrived in Khartoum after sunset, after immigration and screening of my luggage by the police we entered the country. Funny story with the screening. When my bag came on the luggage belt it was marked with several blue chalk crosses. I had the chalk all over my pants and the police officer kept on apologizing for the mess :D. That’s something about Sudan. You will have to look very hard to find as polite and friendly people as the Sudanese are. They have a very high level of dignity in their public life, something many other countries including Germany can learn a lot from.

At the airport we directly met with our fixer Mithad and Mohamed who would drive us to the guesthouse. What is a fixer? A fixer is someone who helps you with customs and the official paperwork, which means finding the right people and negotiating the “fee”. Since no one imports motorbikes via Khartoum airport it would be close to impossible to get the bikes without the service of a fixer. So we discussed the strategy with Midhat and agreed to meet the next day at the airport.

By the way, Sudan is hot. Not the “oh it’s a hot day, let’s have a day at the lake” kind of hot, but the “OMG I am burning alive” kind of hot. At night it’s still 35°C, thank god for the air-condition in our room (as long as there is power, which works quite ok)! The direct sun during day really feels like sitting in a fire. Great place for wearing all the motorcycle gear J. By the way, shorts in public are frowned upon, so you have to wear long trousers.

The next two days were spent sitting in front of the “Cargo Terminal” in Khartoum in the heat and waiting for the forms to be filled. We sat next to a lady making tea and coffee and as the only white people around we were a bit of an attraction. We talked with countless people. All very nice. Everybody loves Germany since the world cup J. We got invited to tee and coffee all day long, and by this I mean of course a cup of sugar with traces of liquid. When they offered us orange juice they wanted to know if we want sugar in the juice. I am sure they put extra sugar in their Coca Cola as well.

Well in the end we got the bikes yesterday evening! It was not easy and it’s probably too much to go into detail but of course a lot more people needed to be paid. Which is ok, the rates are quite low here. You get a dinner for two with four drinks (obviously no alcohol) for under 3 € all together.

Typically Africa, we got the bikes some 15 min after closing of the customs and everything was “hurry hurry” after sitting for 8 h around doing nothing. We weren’t allowed to unpack the bikes in the customs area. It had to happen outside on the street in the scorching sun with plenty of people being very interested in our work.

Everybody was happy when the bikes were ready again. After 11 h and an crazy ride with Midhat on the back of my bike to fetch engine oil for Daniel we were off on African roads on our bikes! The fun lasted for about 1 km until we ran into a police check point, but everything was fine. We guess the officer wanted to show off with his (bad) English skills.


We read a lot about the terrible Khartoum traffic. But honestly, after two weeks in Istanbul Khartoum traffic feels like a walk in the park, except maybe for the massive potholes in the street.

Today we met an Canadian traveler, Grant, on his Africa Twin totally by accident during the registration with the police. He started in Cape Town and drives north. We will ride out of Khartoum together, since he is heading for Egypt and we want to do a tour along the Nile to see some of the pyramids here. After this we will finally meet David ( who is right now waiting for his ferry in Aswan.

2 Gedanken zu „Touching African Ground“

  1. Was ne Geschichte und was für Erlebnisse, toll! Eure Blogs sind einfach super. Wir wünschen Euch noch viel Freude bei den Sudanesen. Etwas weniger Hitze natürlich auch 😉

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