Day 38 Blue Nile gorge camp

They’ve reached the top. In Andy’s words ‘It was a monstrous climb’.

gorge road 4 bestI heard a radio interview last week with the Team Principal of the first African team to be registered for the Tour de France race. He said that it’s a young team, still inexperienced, but with some wonderful young riders. He mentioned one from Ethiopia, ‘who is really good on the mountains’. No surprise there!

The children of Ethiopia play their part in the Tour.  They wait for cyclists, running alongside them and catcalling in what Andy described as a loud, high pitched keening sound. Sometimes they throw stones. Sounds like just what you need as you toil up a steep gradient in the heat of the late afternoon, heart pounding, legs aching.

The people in both Sudan and Ethiopia have generally been very friendly. It’s still hot, about 40 degrees, but the landscape is rural, lots of healthy looking cattle, green; much less harsh than the desert of Sudan.

The road might actually be a bit downhill from here. The briefing for Monday told them to expect a 20km stretch of downhill. Nice!  The Tour notes write of ‘the beautiful terrain of the central Ethiopian plateau’ and a ‘descent from the eucalyptus forested hills’ into the downtown core of Addis Ababa.

Addis is 195 kms away and there are two days of cycling to go. That’s two sleeps until I meet up with him. I’ve packed a case with bike spares, two tyres, more T-shirts and shorts, medical supplies, new pillow (his fell off somewhere along the line), batteries, a beard trimmer (well it’s time!) and ah yes, more USD.

I fly tomorrow; back on Friday. I don’t know if we’ll update the blog until I get back, although we can access it from Andy’s Ipad. He hasn’t seen the blog or his e-mail for at least a week. He can make and receive calls but he’s not been able to access data. If any of you have e-mailed him on his personal mail and haven’t received a reply, don’t take it personally. He’s planning some catch up time on the hotel wifi in Addis.

I open the blog regularly as you know, so I see your comments as they come in. Thank you all so much. It’s wonderful to see that you’re following Andy’s progress and as several of you have told me, you enjoy reading the posts. I’m looking forward to watching his face as he catches up with the posts (I hope he likes them!) and your comments when we’re together in Addis.

Some background…

The Nile River is 6,700km long, the longest river in the world. It got the ‘blue’ part of its name because of its muddy color from the fertile soil it erodes from the Ethiopian highlands. (That’s poetic license. The river is normally greenish and brown in flood.) During the summer monsoon rains it swells to over 50 times its dry season size and carries with it around 140 million tonnes of silt every year as it rages down to the Mediterranean. The Blue Nile flows in a gorge for 800 km, much of it over 1500 km deep. It’s obviously a tremendous obstacle for travel and communication from the north half of Ethiopia to the southern half. Ask the riders on the Tour d ‘Afrique! 

Sudan and Egypt both benefit hugely from the Nile water. 60% of Egypt’s water comes from the Blue Nile’s input. But there’s an Ethiopian saying that ‘the daughter of Blue Nile is thirsty’ reflecting that while Ethiopia donates its topsoil to the river, the country has not itself benefited very much economically. 

The Blue Nile from the highlands of Ethiopia, and the White Nile from Lake Victoria, meet in Khartoum, and merge in what Arab poets call ‘the longest kiss in history’, to form the Nile river.


course of the Blue nile
The course of the Blue Nile


12 thoughts on “Day 38 Blue Nile gorge camp

  1. Hi Andy, you looking “Skraal”, the boep is gone!! Maureen I just have to agree with U, the beard uhummm nope must go thank the lord for beard trimmers!!!! Hope U (and the shoulder) are fit and ready for your ride Maureen, good luck, sure Andy can’t wait for your arrival. Thank U for keeping up this Blog..xx


  2. Maureen, another second for that beard trimmer, he needs it! Thank you for the blog, it’s magic, thank you. Andy we are all so impressed, think what you are doing is amazing and it’s great to watch you. Rob and I go over the blog together every time it comes in, I think you have us all dreaming through you! Keep it going.


  3. Got to agree. Andy you’ve perfected the Forest Gump look! But I’m super impressed at the new lean look. I’ve joked with Richard that I should send him on one of these cycle tours. Maybe one day. Meantime we’re following you every step of the way. Thank you Maureen for the blog – it’s brilliant. Go Boet, go!


  4. Maureen, I missed the first few messages where I’m sure you would’ve introduced yourself and all along reading every blog you write, I’ve wondered who this man is that is being such good support to Andy – and tonight I find out it’s actually a woman called Maureen!! Some technical change must have happened as I am unable to read these whilst at work – my PC probably has a ‘blog blocker’!? THANK YOU so much for doing this. I read all of your posts and I’m sure many others do too, even if they don’t always post a reply. There is still such a long road ahead for Andy, but I’m so glad to know he will be seeing you shortly and that must be a big part of his motivation. Tell Andy, the next time kids throw stones at them, to be armed with sweets to fire back at them. Lots of Love, Louisa, Andy & little boys.


    1. Hi Louisa
      Thank you for your message. And your advice about sweeties for the kids. It might have been an excellent strategy. Hopefully that problem is now behind them.
      It’s wonderful to receive messages from Andy’s friends and to know that you’re enjoying following his trip. He has not been able to access mail or the blog for a while so in Addis I sat him down with my laptop and he started from the beginning and read all the blog posts and messages…especially the messages. It was after twelve at night, and still he sat, completely absorbed, smiling and chuckling and reading bits to me. I wish you could have seen him.
      Thank you for your message – and to all of you who have been keeping in touch – again – thank you


  5. Have just had a catch up on the last few blogs and am in awe at the challenge Andy has undertaken, as well as the beauty of this incredible continent! Am so enjoying getting some insights into what lies “somewhat” north of us.
    Thanks for keeping this blog Maureen so couch potatoes like me can live this adventure vicariously! Although we haven’t met Andy, know that my thoughts are with you and wishing you well for the ride that continues ahead.
    Hope you have a brilliant time in Addis< Maureen, and look forward to next update and seeing you back in Joburg.


  6. I have also been following the blog and have found it fascinating! Not something any normal person would do, but we all admire the sheer guts. Ros and I send best wishes and a prayer that you will keep yourself as safe as possible.


  7. Hi Andy,
    had a small but rowdy quickly arranged reunion at Wanderers last night with Malcolm Phillips on a trip out of California with his dad Lew Phillips ( now 92 and almost as sharp as his old “councillor” self !!)

    Ron Series (on a visit from UK) , Nev Hart, Baz Bezuidenhout sent special regards and best wishes for your ride.

    Keep it going buddy…regards Gary


  8. Andy if it feels like hell on the saddle, relax brother. You could have been at the AGM at the Equestrian Estate instead. Much to be thankful for! Enjoy the ride.


  9. Hi Andy

    Sorry I missed your call. Congratulations to you both !!!!! Something to get home for hey Andy. Looking forward to seeing you guys again soon.


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