The Bir Tawil incursion

Any morning where you wake up to a great sunrise is a good one, but when you are in genuinely unclaimed territory of Bir Tawil it is extra special.

Breakfast was how it always is, and then we were ready to explore Bir Tawil.

Our first stop was Wadi Tawil, I’m not sure of the exact translation, but during the rainy season this place (now green) is basically a river. It’s quite strange to see smatterings of lush greenery in a desert wasteland.

The adventure was to continue as we traveled to a secret gold mine called Al Tawil. This was to prove quite an important place! Photos were not allowed, and the trip was brief.

We headed further inland looking for a place to plant our flag. A location was found and we began the flag planting ceremony. Then a truck full of men arrived. We were duly advised to follow the car to the office.

The journey seemed to last forever, but eventually we arrived at what was quite a big settlement, departed our car and were told to explain our trip.

In actual fact they were borderline killing us with kindness, cold drinks were given, and we were told to stay for lunch, although it was under the provision of no photos.

Considering the remoteness of Bir Tawil the settlement was actually pretty swish, with shops, restaurants, money changers, and even satellite phones to reach the “real world”.

Being in Bir Tawil town also meant lunch got kicked up a notch, and aside from bread, and beans included Sudanese fried chicken, or would that be Bir Tawilian fried chicken? Regardless Bir Tawil Town delivered on lunch and stuff to look at.

Alas leaving after lunch was not an option, as despite befriending the “chief” of Bir Tawil we needed to wait for a government official to drive up from Ad Damir (the nearest main settlement). Then the waiting game began…..

2.30 arrival to 4.30 arrival to 6pm. Part Africa time, part the strange things that happen when you enter strange parts of the world. Sometimes as a guide you need to put your foot down, and despite the tense situation I wanted to get the group to a camping area by 7 (after supposedly being fed). This essentially had us keeping to schedule, but with a side dish of intense uncertainty.

I really should get onto food, with this being a food blog an all, but dinner was turning into a game of chicken (which wasn’t on the menu), with our 7 o’clock no delay conflicting with an alleged goat having been slaughtered. Keeping everyone happy whilst respecting cultural nuances isn’t always easy.

Dinner eventually arrived at 18.51, sans slaughtered goat and consisted of beans, Sudanese bread, fried chicken, and the surprising x-factor chips. Chips in Bir Tawil, who knew? Not exactly the epicentre of fine dining, but food at this juncture was really the least of my concerns.

But, just after 7 we left in convoy, personally escorted by the Bir Tawilians to our place of rest for the evening.

Light sand, camping and star gazing in Bir Tawil. Day 2 was at an end.

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