27 – Traipsing across the Nuba Mountains
Thu 24th Dec, South Kodorfan Hotel, Kadogli
It is 530pm, on xmas eve, with no Internet in rural Sudan. Firstly, the South Kodorfan Hotel has only bucket showers, with well water, so that’s a first for this trip. But the place is very comfortable, with mosquito nets. Here in Southerly Sudan the risk of malaria is substantially higher so I would take extra precaution.
The first thing to note here in Kadogli is that this town is like UN center. There was conflict in this region and now post-conflict, there are the UN and many other NGOs based here, though I suspect many went home for xmas. There’s a whole UN encampment ringed by barbed wire fence nearby. Even now, post-conflict, I see the military around town. There are the usual tamma’ams (which means “OK?”) with the thumbs up sign, except this time the greetings are by someone with a loaded M16. If I do see anyone from the UN later tonight, I’m going to joke that I’m here in Kadogli for a job interview with them. Hahahahah!
The second point is that Kadogli is in the middle of the handsome Nuba Mountains, which is home to the Nuba tribes, in the surrounding areas. These assortment of tribes are completely different from what Sudan has offered me, and I may yet visit these should I find the means to.
In the meantime, I will trek up the mountains, which are essentially rolling hills that cover the size of Scotland, according to LP. In typical fashion, I have been brought up to be unable to resist a trek up mountains, so off I go toward the peaks. Abdullah the hotel guy tells me the highlight are of course the mountains and dam somewhere around. He says to not go too far in the interior of the mountains, since there is a risk of unexploded landmines. And snakes. Er…. ok.
The terrain is completely different that that I have seen previously. The only other place that had invoke similar awe was Dahab’s craggy mountain meets ocean landscapes. This time it is green bushes, trees in a very savannah setting. I headed in a general south easterly direction up the first hill, caught a full view of Kadogli below me. I headed deeper in, met many local women villagers ferrying straw back to town. There were trails to follow, and as long as I followed these human / goat trails, I should be safe…Over the first hill were more valleys, grazing herd of goats and an isolated hut or two. It was after the 3rd valley or so that I realised hey, I am getting quite lost. I started taking bearings with my trusty field compass, as well as taking pictures of prominent trees and landmarks. I carried on into the interior. After about 4 hours of travel, the sun was high up, and i was getting tired. There was definitely more to see, but the trails were getting sparser, and i was getting more and more disoriented. There was of course the option of climbing one of the many peaks to get my bearings, but that’s probably the most obvious place to stick a landmine..
I headed back in a general north westerly route along a different trail and came out elsewhere from where I originated. It seems I’m near one of the outlying villages linked to Kadogli. I asked for directions, ended up having lunch with some youths, making conversation with them and a whole bunch of their friends over sheesha (i had shai). Yes, I know they look like they’re about to beat me up, but they are actually very nice.
Made the long way back towards town, but it was easy once i found the highway. I’m going to check later the transport times. I could stay longer, but I really want to be in Khartoum by Sat night so that I can check out the status of my Eritrean visa application and be off to Kassala by Sunday. I might leave for El-Obeid on Friday and spread out the travel back to Khartoum over two days (which also allows me time to explore El-Obeid properly). Or i might stay here in Kadogli another day, and do the painful long journey to Khartoum (provided there is a direct bus).
Some shots (since I have time)