Sudan is the third largest country in Africa and the 16th largest in the world, so it’s hardly surprising that it is culturally and historically as extensive as it is geologically. In the past, Sudan has prevailed through many challenges in its ancient and contemporary history. Because of the war it’s associated with, much of Sudan’s culture and diverse history are under-visited. This, plus its many attractions, makes it well worth a visit, so here we’ve compiled some of the must-do activities as well as vital information for adventurous travellers.
How to Get There
Flights are available daily from Cairo and Dubai. Another alternate route is a rail link from Khartoum. Trains leave every Monday at 8pm and arrive some 20 hours later. There is also an international ferry route from Jeddah.
What to Do
Travellers can go on sightseeing tours throughout the cities by rickshaws, taxis or buses going directly to Sanganeb and Shaab Rumi, two hours’ and an hour’s travel from the coast, respectively. These coastal areas are perfect for divine diving and stunning snorkeling experiences.
The reefs provide visitors with shallow and protected areas for swimming and snorkelling alongside magnificent dive sites to explore. In addition, the mangroves scattered about around the area and along the red coast to the south of Port Sudan harbour diverse marine fauna.
Travellers should not miss out on a trip to see hammerhead sharks in Sanganeb during the shark season. However, visitors should take note that it gets very windy from November to December, which can make swimming and diving difficult if not potentially hazardous.
What to Eat
On hot days, travellers can go to the large boardwalk area overlooking the port to get ice-cream and milkshakes in the nearby shops and cafés. Or, if in need of something warmer after a chilly swim in the Red Sea, grab a hot drink from one of the tea ladies in the vicinity. Delectable hand-ground coffee can also be bought in the area.
After an exhausting day exploring Port Sudan, travellers may opt to dine at The Coral Hotel. The cafeteria here evokes the feeling of being in a classic American diner, and it offers a fantastic range of international cuisine with a great range of coffees to choose from. The hotel also provides an excellent restaurant boasting sensational set menus.
Khartoum is the capital of Sudan and is located where the Blue and White Niles merge to form the main Nile. This huge, sprawling city is made out of three smaller cities—Khartoum, Bahri, and Omdurman—which are divided by the Nile and its two branches.
How to Get There
Travellers can use the railway connections that link Khartoum with Hadi Halfa and Port Sudan via Atbara. Khartoum Airport also provides flights by various European, Middle Eastern and African Airlines.
Once at Khartoum, taxis are the most convenient way of transportation and are also a fun way to go sightseeing while trying to direct your driver through complex and foreign streets. Do be conscious of “foreigner” prices as taxi drivers are inclined to inflate their fares. Also note that some of the taxi drivers cannot speak English nor read maps. Occasionally, and somewhat mysteriously, they may also not be able read Arabic nor understand the geography of the city, too, so it’s wise to meticulously plan your itinerary in advance and expect an somewhat interesting journey.
What to Do
There are many places to see and things to do in Khartoum. The Sudan Presidential Palace Museum, which is rooted in the grounds of the Presidential Palace and which houses the remarkable century-old Palace Cathedral, is one of the must-see attractions. The museum displays comprehensive relics relating to Sudan’s geopolitical history.
Another must-see is the Souq Arabi, which is hectic and lively as it’s the commercial heart of the town. The market is huge and spread out over several squares in the centre of Khartoum just south of the Great Mosque.
The Sudan Ethnographic Museum is also perfect for travellers who are fascinated with the rich culture, history and numerous ethnic groups of Sudan. The museum showcases displays that range from handicrafts to models of traditional homes.
Another must-see attraction is Sufi Dancing. This colourful and effervescent festival is celebrated every Friday from 4pm (except during Ramadan) at the Ghobba al-Hamed al-Nill.
Last but not least, the Jebeb Barkal—a small mountain located some 400km north of Khartoum in the Nubia Region—is a Unesco World Heritage Site. In around 1450BC, the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III extended his empire to the region and considered this site as its southern limit. Ruins found in Jebel Barkal include some 13 temples and three palaces that were first mentioned in a discovery by European explorers in the 1820s; excavations first began there in the 1916. To get there, grab a bus—they leave daily from Khartoum.
Text By: Jasmine Kusuma