Where the Blue Nile meets the White Nile, Day 299

al-Mogran (The Confluence of the White Nile [left] and Blue Nile [right]), Khartoum, Sudan, Africa

Today Christi and I intend to explore Khartoum on our own and in this highly security-conscious country we are a little nervous of what to expect once we leave the safe confines of the Gobba hotel.  Since the temperatures tend to be cooler in the morning, we are up and out early.  With the aid of some primitive maps and the benefit of having driven around Khartoum for the last few days we have a fairly good idea of where we need to go.  My goal is Al-Mogran, which means confluence. And not just any confluence but the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile, which together creates the longest river in the world. The Nile is over 4,200 miles long and travels through as many as 11 countries. In truth no one knows exactly how long the White Nile is because its exact source has yet to be found. Lake Victoria in Uganda is often given the honors as the source of the White Nile, but the lake has feeder tributaries of considerable size which originate in Burundi and Rwanda. The shorter Blue Nile originates in Lake Tana, Ethiopia.

Although the confluence of the Nile was the reason Khartoum was founded, the government does not overtly advertise this natural spectacle.  Indeed the Sudanese would appear happier if Al-Mogran  was never viewed and especially never photographed.  The guidebooks suggest that if you must take photos (and I must) then try the view from the top of the Ferris wheel in nearby Al-Mogran Family Park.  The place is deserted when we arrive and no one seems keen to start the Ferris wheel just for Christi and I.  The park is adjacent to the confluence, however, and with a little effort I scramble up the railings surrounding the amusement park and take a few snaps. But they are not perfect – and I’m all about perfect. Christi can tell I have that steely glint in my eye, indicating I’m on a mission and I won’t quit until I’m either arrested or I get the photos I crave.

Beside the Al-Mogran Family Park is the strategically important White Nile bridge that connects Khartoum and Omdurman. Our guidebook advises us that if you try to take photos of Al-Mogran from the bridge Sudanese security forces will arrest you and worse confiscate your camera. And still I’m prepared to risk it. Christi, against her considerable will I might add, is my look-out. We are the only people on the bridge and we are foreigners so we must stick out like sore thumbs, yet we are completely ignored. Perhaps Sudan is developing a more tolerant attitude towards tourists. I find this hard to believe, though, considering the effort required to obtain our Sudanese visas.

These photos are good, but they are distant shots and I want to stand physically on the bank where the Blue Nile (the water actually appears black) and White Nile (the water appears sandy brown) merge. And I want to be in the photo. There are steps down from the White Nile bridge to an area of waste ground that culminates in Al-Mogran. The waste ground is basically a garbage site and one that appears to be home to a pack of wild dogs. Christi has so many legitimate reasons for not wanting to continue, but I continually poke and nudge her along in the right direction. We stumble along warily, avoiding broken bottles and snarling dogs and still fearful that a Sudanese SWAT team will drop out of the skies at any moment and eliminate us with Uzi sub-machine guns. I just don’t understand why Sudan is not more proud of this natural spectacle. Christi gives me maybe 5 minutes to take whatever photos I deem vital to my future happiness and then physically drags me away. There are not many people in this world who have seen the confluence of the Amazon and the Nile, but Christi and I are two of them!

Blog post by Roderick Phillips, author of Weary Heart – a gut-wrenching tale of love and test tubes. 


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