Why Not Tavel To Sudan

The majority of websites I came across regarding travel to Sudan all seemed to describe it as dangerous, but my curiosity was strong enough that it led me to explore the country anyway. I was interested in the adventures I’d come across and what treasures I’d find in Sudan that where unknown to the rest of the world. At the time of my trip Sudan had been constantly in the headlines for its multiple wars in the south and west in Darfur. While these tragedies are very real, many people didn’t realize that before its split Sudan was the largest country in Africa. So while parts of Sudan may be at war other parts are relatively calm. One Sudanese man who lived in the capital compared the situation to an American living in a normal life in New York but seeing wild fires in California or hearing about Hurricane Katrina on TV.
Sudan Links


Sudan - Downtown KhartoumSudan - Khartoum School Children
The capital of Sudan is called Khartoum and is located near the center of the country. Khartoum itself has about 2 million people, while the entire surrounding area totals about 8 million inhabitants. On the upper left is a photo of downtown Khartoum, on the right are some students that were more that happy to have their photo taken. All the Sudanese I came across in Sudan were friendly, but there was one guy who in his 20s that seemed to be stalking me for a short bit and I got the vibe he didn’t like me because I was a foreigner, but maybe he was just to shy to say hello.
Sudan - Sudanese Tribal MaskSudan - Mosque in Khartoum
Sudan is a unique country as it is a mix of Arabic and African culture with an Islamic faith. On the left is a face mask created by one of Sudan’s many tribes seen in a Khartoum museum. The center photo is a typical scene that you would expect to see in Africa and the middle east, on the right is a mosque in Khartoum. I was surprised to see occasional Sudanese Christians walking the city and even a large cathedral in Khartoum that seemed to get along peacefully. Since I’ve not lived here in Sudan it’s too difficult to judge the true struggles of minorities and learn the politics, but on a travelers level the Christians Sudanese I saw seemed to be treated with respect and enjoy their life here in Khartoum.
Sudan - Sudanese Village PeopleSudan - Sudanese Man Reading A Book
Above are some photos of people in Sudan. The majority of the people from Sudan are black, with a small percentage in the north having a more middle easterner look. On the left is a photo of some people in a market in a village outside Khartoum. I’m not sure if they were happy that I took their photo with the exception of the smiling guy, but the guy on the right was too involved in his book to even notice.
Sudan - Where the White And Blue Niles Meet in KhartoumSudan - Nile River Hut
Sudan - Mud Brick LayingThe Nile river is the longest river in the world, and begins as the blue Nile in Ethiopia and the white Nile in Uganda. Sudan’s capital of Khartoum was built along the Nile River where a constant supply of water made life possible in the otherwise dry and hot environment. It is here in Khartoum, where both the blue and white Niles meet and continue north to Egypt as one river. On the upper left is a photo of the Niles meeting, with the white Nile coming in from the left and the blue Nile coming in from the right side of the photo. To get a real shot of the Niles meeting I would need to take an aerial photograph or at least a high vantage point. The Nile River is just as important to the people of Sudan today as it was thousands of years ago. On the left, people take rich soil from the banks of the Nile to create bricks to build homes. Above is a photo of a small hut where wood carvings and even a boat are being built using the trees and plants that grow along the river.
Sudan - Nile River CrossingSudan - Nile River Crossing
These pictures was taken farther south from Khartoum, but you can see that even today in modern times the Nile creates a challenge for people trying to travel across the country. Above are photos of cars and people being transported back and forth across the Blue Nile. Even in the capital, I had to take a small boat to cross one portion of the Nile since at the time of my visit a very large bridge nearby was still under construction. It looked about halfway completed and I think it will be the largest bridge in Khartoum once it’s completed.
Sudan - Omurdan's Suq MarketSudan - Omurdan's Suq Market Spices
Just outside of Khartoum is the city of Omdurman, what could be considered the cultural capital of the country. There are many things to see in this city, but the Suq of Omdurman is by far the most interesting place I came across. The Suq of Omdurman is essentially the country’s main market place, but its size and variety make it stand out from others that I have been to in various nations. The Suq is made up of a maze of large alleys and corridors each with its own theme. I came across one selling toys, a meat market, leather market, and electronics.
Sudan - Omurdan's Suq Market ShoesSudan - Omurdan's Suq Market Meat
I think what really made the Suq interesting was how they often stacked so many of their goods in such a small area. I passed by some alleys that had mountains of products on the street or walls that were completely covered with shoes and sandals while other goods where tied to the ceiling. Above is a photo of the shoe and sandal section and meat market, below you can see the inside of two of the shops in the Suq.
Sudan - Omurdan's Suq Market LampsSudan - Omduran - Suq - Jewels & Necklaces
Sudan - Port Sudan Sailing ShipSudan - Port Sudan Cargo Ship
The next largest city after Khartoum and Omdurman is Port Sudan located on the Red Sea in the north eastern part of the country. This was the only place I saw any other tourists in Sudan, apparently its easier to visit Port Sudan from Egypt with a special visa. With this type of visa you can not leave Port Sudan or travel to Khartoum. I found Port Sudan to be a more attractive city than Khartoum, but other than the sea there didn’t seem to be much to the city itself. Above are photos of ships in port, on the left a sailing ship, on the right a cargo ship.
Sudan - Red Sea Diving Ship Wreck DeckSudan - Red Sea Diving Ship Wreck Deck
I was pretty surprised to find that scuba diving was available in Port Sudan. A golden rule of diving is to never go alone, but who I thought would be my diving partner instead drove me 40 minutes into the sea in a speed boat and told me he would be fishing. I didn’t even remember how to put on some of my scuba gear so I wasn’t really enthusiastic about jumping in the water solo but I had no choice. I had never done any wreck diving or anything of the sort, but as I descended in the water I found a sunken ship. Since this was my first time doing a wreck type of dive I found it to be a pretty eerie experience swimming around in the dark alone even though I never went more than 40 feet from the surface. We had an overcast the day of my dive and you lose light quickly as you descend making you feel deeper than you really are. Above are photos from the ship’s deck and another area surrounded by dozens of fish acting as a artificial reef for the coral
Sudan - Red Sea - Sohal TangSudan - Red Sea - Sohal Tang
I saw many species of beautiful fish while diving in Sudan. Unfortunately I brought with me a very cheap scuba camera, and as a result only a few photos from the surface came out. I’m happy with these surrounding photos, but they fail to show all the colorful species I came across and definitely weren’t the highlight of my dive. The species of the two fish above are known as the Sohal Tang; below on the right is a parrot fish, on the left is a puffer fish. Most of the fish I saw in Sudan I came across in other parts of the world as well.
Sudan - Red Sea Parrot FishSudan - Red Sea Parrot Fish
Sudan - Rock PileSudan - Sand Dunes
Many people are surprised to know that not only are there pyramids in Sudan, but Sudan actually has more of them than Egypt! When the ancient Egyptians built their kingdoms, their borders actually spread into northern Sudan. The pyramids above are from an area known as the Meroe Sites, dozens of pyramids of a slightly different design than Egypt’s. Meroe sites are Sudan’s Gaza, but there are several other locations along the Nile River that have dozens of more pyramid sites in Sudan, sadly there is just never enough time to do everything!
Sudan - Sand MelonSudan - Sand Falls
I found the plant on the upper left to be very unique, that it could grow directly out of sand and somehow still produce fruits. This plant wasn’t by itself in the desert, but there were dozens more of the same species living in the dunes. On the right is a waterfall of sand flowing down some rocks due to strong winds in the desert.
Sudan - Meroe Site
Many people are surprised to know that not only are there pyramids in Sudan, but Sudan actually has more of them than Egypt! When the ancient Egyptians built their kingdoms, their borders actually spread into northern Sudan. The pyramids above are from an area known as the Meroe Sites, dozens of pyramids of a slightly different design than Egypt’s. Meroe sites are Sudan’s Gaza, but there are several other locations along the Nile River that have dozens of more pyramid sites in Sudan, sadly there is just never enough time to do everything!
Sudan - Meroe PyramidSudan - Reconstructed Meroe Pyramid
Here are some close ups of the pyramids of the Meroe Sites. Both pyramids above have main entrances to the chambers instead of the hidden ones that are used in Egypt’s pyramids. On the left is an ancient pyramid the way it was found, notice how high the sand dunes have climbed on the right hand side of the pyramid compared to the left. The small pyramid on the right, was reconstructed the way they were expected to look thousands of years ago.
Sudan - Meroe PyramidSudan - Meroe Damaged Pyramid
Many of the pyramids here have been damaged by the harsh desert and mostly by time itself. On the left is a pyramid that has lost its top but is in otherwise decent shape. The pyramid on the right has almost been reduced to a pile of large bricks.
Sudan - Meroe Site HieroglyphicsSudan - Meroe Site Hieroglyphics
These photos were taken from both the inside and outside of the pyramids showing some drawings and hieroglyphics. The right photo is script taken from the inside of one of the tombs, on the left is a drawing that has survived on the entrance of another one of the pyramids.
Sudan - HouseSudan - House Inside
Aside from scuba diving in the Red Sea and exploring the Sudanese pyramids in the north, another adventure I did in Sudan was take a road trip south of the capital. I got the opportunity to visit a Sudanese home in a random village as seen on the left. I was surprised how modern the inside of the home was. The pretty much have everything you’d expect in any other house, a kitchen, living room, bedroom, electricity, and even a TV. The only thing the house lacked was running water, and maybe equally important for some people, no internet.
Sudan - George Kashouh with Sudanese FamilySudan - Sudanese Dinner
On the left is myself visiting one of the Sudanese families a few hours south of Khartoum. They were some of the nicest and most hospitable people I have ever met! I was invited to dinner and to rest in their home as if it was mine and since there are no hotels south of Khartoum, I even ended up spending the night here. On the right is a photo of their dinner, many different foods served with bread that is shared with everyone at the table, notice there is no silverware or individual plates. You mostly eat with your hands and share food from the same bowls.
Sudan - Mud HouseSudan - Grass Hut
Other homes in Sudan have the more tribal look and so I expected the people to have tribal beliefs as well, but they still spoke Arabic as their primary language, and every few villages had its own mosque. On the left is a home made out of mud, on the right is one made out of straw. Most of these homes weren’t as nice as the one I had stayed in and lack electricity, but every occasional hut would have a power line to it.
Sudan - Rich SoilSudan - Savannah
As I continued further south into the country, the terrain slowly changed from the dry arid land to a dark rich soil. On the left you can see some of the richer soil which makes it much easier to grow crops, and many villagers of course use this to their advantage. Finally this rich soil gave way to the African Savannah as seen to the right. One of the great things about road trips is watching the terrain gradually transform.
Sudan - Tribal WomenSudan - Villagers Getting Water
Since I didn’t go to the west or extreme south, this was the only part of Sudan where I saw real tribal people. I asked my driver who was a native Sudanese born and raised in Khartoum which tribe these people were from. He responded by simply saying these people are from Africa, suggesting this part of Sudan was a completely different world for him. On the left are tribal women walking through the Savannah carrying food on their heads. The photo to the right is of villagers gathering water from a dried out river.
Sudan - Man on CamelSudan - Tea Stand & Forture TellerHere are some more villagers from the eastern part of Sudan. On the left is a man riding a camel with a make shift saddle and is also carrying wood to use as fuel. On the right is a woman and her daughter selling tea by the road, a very common sight in Sudan. She was also a fortune teller so I asked if I’d be successful in climbing the 7 summits. Despite being so far from the ocean she pulled out a handful of seashells and predicted my success with the 7 summits. I’ll probably need about a decade to finally find out if she was right.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - EntranceSudan - Dinder National Park - Museum
Finally after two days of driving I reached my destination; one of Sudan’s national parks! This one is known by the name of Dinder, and I could find almost no information about it online before getting to Sudan. As a matter of fact, during the whole trip south my driver and I had no idea what we would come across or where we might stay. One night on the way towards Dinder we even slept in Sudanese military base because there were no hotels. I was given a cot and shared a room with some soldiers who placed big fans in front of us to keep the annoying mosquitoes away at night. The shower was a rusted out shack with no electricity and had a gigantic lizard that ran away after I shined my flashlight on it. When arriving to the national park, imagine how surprised we were to find out that they had a small museum, a small restaurant with a cook, and several rooms to stay in. While back on the military base, a Sudanese colonel had just gotten married and asked if he could join us for his honeymoon, so other than the couple, my driver and me, we had the whole place to ourselves.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - Wrecked PlaneSudan - Dinder National Park - Soldier
Travel in this region can be considered dangerous, so I was required to have an escort by the Sudanese military. On the left is a plane that has crashed into Dinder forest. On the right is a Sudanese soldier that was traveling with me from the military base outside the park. The soldier directed my driver on how to get to Dinder, and choose so many random turns in the Savannah that I seriously thought he was making them up as we went. Somehow he knew where he was going and the terrain changed again from Savannah to forest like the trees below.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - Orange TreeSudan - Dinder National Park - Green Tree Branch
Sudan - Dinder National Park - BaboonSudan - Dinder National Park - Warthogs
Here are some wildlife photos from Sudan. If I had a better lens I could have made a photo gallery of some great close ups. In Sudan I found it very difficult to get close to wildlife here unlike other African countries. On the left is a large baboon, on the right is a cautious family of warthogs that rarely see people.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - River Dried OutSudan - Dinder National Park - Dead Fish
On the left is Dinder River, and at this time of year it runs dry. During the rainy season, I was told this whole area floods with rushing water. On the right is a fish that died because it lacked the intelligence to jump out of the puddle and into the main pool that was just a foot away when the water receded during the dry season.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - GazellesSudan - Dinder National Park - Lion Paw Print
It seems that I came across three species of antelope and gazelle while at Dinder. On the left is a photo of two of them before they ran away. Unlike southern and eastern Africa, the animals here are not accustomed to visitors and usually run at the sight of the vehicle even if you’re pretty far away. On the right is a foot print of a large lion that must have passed just a day ago.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - Dead BuckSudan - Dinder National Park - Vultures
Here you can see a dead buck, one of the easier animals to photograph in Dinder national park. On the right are some large vultures patiently waiting for their next meal. The bottom two photos show some hawks that I remember from Tanzania as well. Like the other animals here these hawks would fly away if I approached them on the ground. The hawks in Tanzania were so bold they’d take food from your hands.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - HawkSudan - Dinder National Park - Butterfly
Sudan - Dinder National Park - ButterflySudan - Dinder National Park - Millipedes
Above is a butterfly and some giant millipedes. I didn’t come across any millipedes during a long hike I did through the forest, then suddenly around a pool of water there were dozens of them, many mating like above.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - Bee Eater BirdsSudan - Dinder National Park - Weaver Bird's Nest
The colorful bird species on the left are called little bee eaters and they were among many other of its species in a large tree. On the right is what I had assumed to be the bee eater bird’s nest, but it actually belongs to weaver birds, who weren’t home at the time.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - Guinea FowlSudan - Dinder National Park - Strange Melon
The bird species on the left are known as Guinea Fowl, I’ve seen these all the way at the bottom of Africa in Krugger Park. On the right is a type of fruit found on a tree, it looks exactly like the one I found in the Sahara Desert!
Sudan - Dinder National Park - SoldierSudan - Dinder National Park - Huge Monitor Lizard
While hiking I saw a splash in the water and barely caught this giant monitor lizard before it disappeared into the vegetation. On the left is another one of the soldiers with me, carrying his AK-47 in case an animal turns violent.
Sudan - Dinder National Park - GrasslandsSudan - Dinder National Park - Palms during Sunset
Here is some beauty of Dinder, the green grass and trees to the left where growing next to a large swamp we came across. On the right is the sun setting among the palm trees. A trip to Sudan is definitely for the adventurous!

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Posted on May 22, 2013, in Sudan life style and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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