I rode out of the tiny outpost of Wadi Halfa into the fading light and into the Sahara desert of northern Sudan. I had no map, no guidebook, no sun cream, no insect repellent. A lone man stopped me on the outskirts of the village, his head and body robed and wrapped in loose white cotton which flapped in the brisk evening air. “There are wolves in the desert”, he warned me. “Wolves!!! Do not stop! Do not camp!”
The direction to ride after Cairo was uncertain. I’d been juggling the options for weeks. Previous attempts at the Nile had resulted in police convoys to ‘safer’ places. The Red Sea Coast route didn’t appeal to me after the ugliness and monotony of its opposite shore, and the Western Desert route, beautiful, quiet and remote, would constitute a long, if tempting, detour.
But in the end, it wasn’t ’til I was weaving through Cairo’s downtown traffic, Sudanese visa stuck firmly in my passport, that I made my choice. Despite the previous failed attempts, I would try and ride the Nile.
I woke at dawn in a drainage channel beneath a main road. It was 90 kilometres to the port in the south of Jordan, from where I would take an overnight ferry the short distance across the Gulf of Aqaba to Nuweiba, on the Sinai peninsular of Egypt.
The outside of my tent was crusted with ice. I packed my things and struggled up the bank to the road. It was 6:30am and I pedalled hard to warm up as the day broke. Then the wind began.