Tourism & Communications
Sudan is one of the least-visited countries in Africa because of conflict in the region over the last few decades.
In 2009, only 420,000 people arrived in either Sudan or South Sudan according to the World Tourism Organization.
But when visitors do come, they receive warm hospitality. It is common to be invited to share meals with people. And when going to someone’s home, visitors are offered sweets to make them feel welcome.
Ancient pyramids and temple sites
Visitors are drawn to Khartoum because of the region’s history. The National Museum in the capital contains many ancient Egyptian/ Nubian artifacts. The gardens of the museum even have two Egyptian temples, which were saved from land flooded by Lake Nassar.
North of the capital, there are World Heritage sites of great historical importance. Along the Nile valley, near Karima and Meroe, are the tombs, pyramids and temple/ palace remains from the Kushite kingdoms (900BC–AD400) – see History & Politics.
One of the main sites is at Jebel/ Gebel Barkal. This 100-metre high hill was considered sacred by the Egyptians, who built the Temple of Amun at its foot. Near the temple are the Jebel Barkal pyramids (see photo above). These are smaller than in Egypt, with steeper sides and sharper points.
Travelling around Sudan
City roads can be busy, with main routes tarmaced. But across the country many roads remain un-surfaced. A 4x4 is therefore essential for travelling around Sudan. However, there is a key all-weather highway linking Khartoum with Port Sudan on the Red Sea Coast.
A tarmac highway has also been laid (with Chinese help) from Wadi Halfa in the north. This town lies on Lake Nasser and visitors to Sudan sometimes take the lake ferry from Egypt to Wadi Halfa.
Patience is a virtue
North by boat
The Nile beyond Khartoum is only navigable for certain stretches, for example, between Karima and Dongola.
Visitors can then take the train which runs from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum. The train leaves “sometime” after the weekly ferry arrives. This can mean anything from a few hours to a couple of days. As in many African countries, timeliness is rarely worried about and people expect to be patient.
The other important ‘highway’ is the Nile. The White Nile is a vital link with South Sudan, though the transport of goods south temporarily stopped when the countries separated.