22-Sep-2004 -- I have been making land resource studies in a remote part of Northern Sudan, more precisely far to the west of Dongola, a large town on the main Nile.
Reaching this confluence point was in theory not too difficult in that the GPS, a Garmin12, just pointed the way: we had been fairly close to the site on several days before the visit. But, despite having satellite imagery that showed the site as lying on a small plateau, the intervening topography was not clear along the route I had chosen. Of course, I kept the rest of the team in the dark about where we were headed, and as the terrain grew bolder and more bouldery and rougher as well as higher, they began to ask questions. Oh, it's a surprise, I said. What possible surprise can there be out here?, they asked. When suddenly we came to an abrupt precipice, about 2.0 km from the site, and had to make a big loop back and around, they asked more questions. It's a special place, I pleaded.
Eventually, we got there and I padded around until lat and long both said 19 North 0 mins and secs, 30 East 0 mins 0 secs at the intersection. A cairn now marks the site and I left some cards there if anyone else can make it there. The site is quite devoid of any living plants, and consists of a rock pediment with subangular dark sandstone stones lying on a thin veneer of coarse yellow sand. A natural crazy paving. It reminded me of images of Mars, and with the wind blowing and heat radiating off the ground, it felt as inhospitable.
As we left the site I noticed nearby a mound of large stones that resembled a prehistoric cairn. Ancient visitors? No time to investigate on that day. But I will be back soon hopefully in 2005 to check it out again. Perhaps I will leave a small bottle of some special Scottish water for the next weary traveller. Not a promise, but I will try.
From Dirleton, Scotland, in temporary residence at Dongola and Kharṭūm.