Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Searching for Sabaloka Gorge

This weeked we drove into the desert in search of Sabaloka Gorge. This beautiful natural wonder in the Nile River is found at the sixth cataract. Of the six cataracts on the Nile which flows from Sudan to Egypt (yes, the Nile flows upwards from South to North),  only one is in Egypt; the other five are in the Sudan. We knew that the birdlife would be prolific and read about boat trips on the river so we decided to visit the gorge on Saturday. However, while entering the coordinates for the gorge into the GPS, Grant warned me that we may not be able to get close to the river after all the rains.
74km/46 miles from Khartoum, we turned right into the desert in search of the Sabaloka Gorge

Following the instructions on the GPS, we headed towards the Nile river. We rode through one village after the next in the eight kilometers since turning off from the highway. Some of these villages are visible from the road and, to me,  it felt weird to be driving through them. Because of the winter rains during the month of July and August we were unable to get near the river. We will return during the drier months.   
Doubling back after not reaching Sabaloka Gorge, Grant turned off the GPS and  we headed north into the desert in search of a place to enjoy breakfast.


Grant sees to breakfast while I snap away. As I said before, someone has to keep a record of our travels (lol!)

I don't think I'd  like to camp under this precariously balanced rock


The grasses are beautiful at this time of the year and I had fun photographing them

A shady spot to park under the inevitable paperbark thorn tree. We had lunch here.

Wildflowers in the desert. These small flowering shrubs are so prolific after the rains that the veld looks like a yellow carpet
 A shepherd and his flock of sheep: a scene from a children's  Bible story
The young shepherd on his donkey. He told me his name was Abisfar and his donkey is called Hamar. Grant gave him a packet of pita breads, a chocolate bar and a bottle of water

After lunch we were off scouting for a campsite which we will use when we overnight in the desert next week

We've found the perfect overnight camping spot. However, with the whole of the desert at our disposal, we are spoilt for choice and could camp anywhere!  
 
The proposed campsite is at the top of a large sand dune with a rocky mountain rising up behind it 

Even though we spotted a flock of  Bee-eaters (not sure which ones), an Eurasian Hoopoe and another Crested Lark, they would not sit still for long, so I couldn't get any photos. There were also lots of swallows which are impossible to photograph. They were hawking the insects which had been disturbed by the goats in the field

  
I followed the goats on foot to get a close-up photo of the Nubian variety for Sunny over at Barnayards and Barnacles. But these animals are not at as forthcoming as their American relations and kept running off in the opposite direction while making a snorting sound. I managed to click as this one turned its head away

The one single bird we managed to capture, was this Namaqua Dove. (Sorry about the quality of the photo; it was taken throught the windscreen as the dove acted skittish if I opened the door) Namaqualand is an arid desert-like area stretchin up the West Coast of Southern Africa - and is world-renowned for it's beautiful wildflowers in spring -  so it fascinated me to see a "local" dove here in the Sudan. These doves are found everywhere in Africa, except Namibia and the Ivory Coast of West Africa. There are also no Namaqua doves in extreme upper regions of Northern Africa
I just L O V E Africa and her wide open spaces. I never get enough of her so take as many photos as possible so that I can pore over them back in our flat in Khartoum!

I thought the rock in the front looked like a man walking his dog (sort of like Pluto on hind legs, if you use your imagination) following behind. Grant didn't think the first rock looked like anything other than a rock but thought the seccond rock looked like a hamster. I mean where would you get a hamster in the desert? Mmm.

We came across many herds of camels and once again, I got out of the vehicle to get better shots of these sleek beauties


And played around with the camera settings again


Two camels browsing in a paperbark thorn (Acacia sieberiana var woodii) 

These youngsters are imitating their elders, only they had to nibble on a low thorn bush!

Homeward bound. The highway between Khartoum (to the left) and Port Sudan on the Red Sea,  beckons. Boo-hoo. I love being in the desert and would love to spend even more hours there. But there is always a next time. Watch this space!

For more posts on other people's worlds, click here . Thanks to Klaus Sandy Wren Fishing Guy Sylvia for this amazing meme.

The Arabic for Sabaloka Gorge is Sabalouga al-Khānq (Sabalouga a-ghung - gh as CH in the German Nacht)

20 comments:

Carol said...

Well, Grant was right, couldn't get close to the Nile; but all the sights you saw were well worth the trip. Your camels were really in the wilds (unlike mine in a nature conservatory). And they look so different than the ones I photographed. Great shots of the shepherd and his flock, it DOES look like a bible story. And I wonder how those rocks got to be stacked up. Nice lunch spot in the open air cafe....

Kay L. Davies said...

I'm certainly glad someone is keeping a record of your travels, Jo !!
The final photo was a bit of a comedown, however. Looks too much like civilization.
I love the photo of the two young camels eating a low thorn bush. Even if we can't see their heads, it is obvious they are youngsters.
Thanks for taking us with you on your desert day.

Kay
Alberta, Canada

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

How beautiful Jo. One tends to thik of the desert as being all sand and dust with no greenery at all. :)

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I love seeing the desert too, Jo... Thanks so much for sharing it with us... To me, it is truly another world.

Sorry you couldn't make it to the river --but you can go back during the dry season. I never knew that they EVER had a rainy season in the desert... ha

Have a wonderful week.
Hugs,
Betsy

Sylvia K said...

Your wonderful adventures always take my breath away, Jo! Your photos are the very next best thing to being there myself! Thank you so much for sharing the beauty of Africa with us!! Have a wonderful week!

Sylvia

J Bar said...

Interesting post.

Joyful said...

Too bad you couldn't make it to your desired destination but it looks like you had a lot of fun anyway. I love the beauty of the sand and rock.

BraCom (Bram) said...

beautiful sereis

Have a nice week,
Greetings, Bram

My Word Tuesday post

Seen on My World Tuesday

diane said...

Thanks for taking me places I'll never get to. The desert does have a magic of its own. Lovely shots.

Sunny said...

Hi Jo,
You have the most amazing adventures. The scenery takes my breath away, especially the picture of the shepherd and his flock.
Thank you for thinking of me with the Nubian goat, he's very cute!
☼ Sunny

Jenn said...

Lovely photos, I love the sheperd and his flock of sheep, very bible story indeed. I once rafted the "white nile" in Uganda and had a blast. It was such a beautiful, wide river, the greenery was so lush and full of birds. I hope you get to see the river in your part of Africa, as I want to see it too! :-)

RCUBEs said...

How fun sister Jo! And I'm glad we get to marvel at these wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us! May God bless and protect you as you both travel.

Andrea said...

You guys are amazing! How beautiful was this time shared in nature & shared together - what a blessing. Hope you two share many more and continue to allow us a view into your beautiful world now and then. Thank you!

Vernz said...

Hi JO, wow, you just made someone awed by your adventure photos... you sure enjoyed your trip.. I even enjoyed your photos....

All the best..

Vernz

Linnea said...

What a "sandy" adventure. You sure do get around! Have fun camping!

eileeninmd said...

I enjoyed going along on your desert adventure. The photos are all great. Love the dove, of course. And all the other animals.

Eden said...

What a great adventure! I enjoyed this post so much. Beautiful photos. And thank you for taking us there.

Gaelyn said...

I too love you going to the desert. It's so amazingly different than our desert. Especially seeing shepherds and camels. Too bad about not getting to the river, but there's an excuse to go back. Looks like you could camp almost anywhere out there.

Pat said...

Are those camels wild or do they belong to someone? I really like the long, distant vistas you have there. At our house, we have short views, as we live in the mountains and mountains surround us. Even travelling through California's central valley, we see mountains off in the distance on both sides, looking east and looking west. I love your photos of the desert in Africa.

Dina said...

Hello Jo.
Thanks for this great ride through your desert. Wonderful!
The shepherd boy was lucky to meet you out there.