So, after reaching Turkey we have two route options that boil down to the question – Which is the safer country to cycle through, Syria or Sudan?
Our original plan was to go through Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then fly from Jeddah to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. But this is beginning to look somewhat unappealing. If you look at the map on the left you will see a blue line that tracks our proposed route through Syria. The red patches mark all the areas that the UK Foreign Office are advising people to avoid. Most of the unrest is centred around the major cities so we could simply give them a wide berth, but how will the locals out in the country react to a pair of Brits on a Tandem?
Another issue with this route is Ramadan. This year it falls between the 1st-30th August and we will probably be trundling into Saudi Arabia at about that time. Travellers are permitted water during the day, but it will certainly make the procurement of food and water a little more taxing.
Going by the lack of red patches traversed by our blue route line you would probably say that Sudan looks like the better option. But, it has been ravaged by civil wars and is in the process of separating. Southern Sudan is due to formally separate (or secede, if you like more politically polished prose) on the 9th July this year. We have no idea how this may affect the passage of a tandem over newly created borders? Will it cause any further unrest or conflict?
On a less dangerous, but still potentially painful note, this route will mean much more time cycling in Ethiopia. We’ll be able to get some cracking coffee there, but we will also be faced with some rather daunting mountains. To give some perspective on their scale, Ben Nevis stands at 1,344 metres and is the UK’s largest mountain. Ethiopia is littered with peaks of 4000+ metres, it’s calf-crampingly mountainous!
So there lies the conundrum, Syria or Sudan?
If anyone has any knowledge of, experience of, or any contacts on the ground in any of the countries we will be visiting please do get in touch via the comment box below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org