Our first night out of Khartoum was spent camping in Old Dongala.
Old Dongola is situated on the east bank of the Nile opposite the Wadi Al-Malik. Originally founded as a fortress, Old Dongola soon grew into a town. With the arrival of Christianity, it became the capital of the Kingdom of Makuria until the fourteenth century – one of the few states in the world to successfully resist Muslim conquests led by the Rashidun Caliphate.
The peak for Old Dongala was around the eighth and ninth centuries A.D. At that time Old Dongola had many churches, at least two palaces, and a huge monastery. Many homes were well-equipped with everything from bathrooms to wall paintings.
As is the nature of life though, the Kingdom of Makuria collapsed in the fourteenth century due to aggression from Egypt and internal discord.
To get to Old Dongola from Khartoum one must cross the Nile River which means taking the ferry. As this is Africa, the ferry leaves when it is full. So, a lot of time is spent sitting around waiting for the ferry:
Old boys waiting for the ferry:
Still waiting for the ferry:
Finally, the ferry arrived:
Our side of the river, loaded up quite quickly and so we were soon off:
This is the captain of the ferry:
We spent the night camped on the sand dunes around this man’s home:
Quite close to this chicken coop actually:
The next morning we awoke to discover why it is always good to come properly prepared for trips like this – both our spare and our right front tire were flat:
The patriarch and his family brought tea out to Eleonora and me and hung out with us while Ramadan, our driver and guide, sorted out the tire situation:
With the tire issue resolved, we drove up to the site of Old Dongola.
There isn’t much left:
What is left though, and is quite interesting, is a vast cemetery connected to the Old Dongola site:
The entrance to one of the cone-shaped structures in the background:
My proof shot in the cemetery:
Now, dear readers, I need your help with this one… What is the story here? At first I thought it was a domesticated dog, but someone I showed this picture to pointed out that it looked like a hyena, which it certainly does. So, what is it and how did it get here in the middle of the cemetery?
Our visit to Old Dongola complete, it was time to cross the Nile River again to continue our journey north.
Others waiting for the ferry:
These guys down by the river were waiting as well:
I didn’t quite understand why these guys opted for the ferry, but sure enough, when it arrived, they clambered on board instead of using their own boat:
At last the ferry arrived and we were off again: