The different smells and the women’s colorful dresses made me think that I was at the heart of the African continent but the sweets, sand dunes, camels and Arabic language, which is the official language in the country, invited me to believe that, perhaps, I was in the Middle East instead. I went up to the top of a dune, from where, very thoughtful, I observed those incredible, off the beaten track pyramid ruins.
Welcome to Sudan, the land where, finally, the Middle East meets beautiful Africa
Sudan is one of the most off-beat countries I have ever been to. From the most hospitable people on Earth to some of the remotest ruins and pyramids, this north African country is a destination you can’t miss.
For all the practical information, read my travel guide to Sudan
Capital – Khartoum
Population – 39 million (35th)
Official language – Arabic
Visa – You need to arrange your visa in advance for entering Sudan. The most typical places to get it are in your home country, Addis Ababa, Cairo, and Aswan, this last one being the easiest place to get it. For more information, I recommend you read: How to get a visa for Sudan in 2018
When to visit – Sudan is a very seasonal country and, since this is one of the hottest countries in the world, I strongly recommend avoiding the summer months. I visited it in December which, supposedly, it is the coldest month and, sometimes, it was over 30ºC.
Top experiences in Sudan – In a period of two weeks, you can visit pretty much everything:
- Enjoy the Sudanese hospitality
- Visiting a camel market in Omdurman
- Visiting the most off the beaten track pyramids ever
- Swim in the Red Sea
- Attending a Sufi dancing ceremony, the mystical branch of Islam
- Exploring the Nubian villages
In my travel guide to Sudan, you can find a complete 2-week itinerary.
Travel Insurance for Sudan – In Sudan, you must travel with insurance. However, because of the sanctions, many insurance providers, such as World Nomads, don’t cover for traveling in Sudan. Therefore, I strongly recommend buying IATI Insurance, a very professional company that fully covers Sudan. Why do I recommend it?
- It has a wide range of different plans for all types of budget and traveler
- It offers very competitive prices
- Readers of Against the Compass readers can get an exclusive 5% discount
The people – The Sudanese are one of the highlights of the country, not to say the best. They are so hospitable and helpful by nature and, over your journey, tea and house invitations are more than guaranteed.
Safety – Unlike what most people think, Sudan is extremely safe. For a better understanding, read: Is Sudan safe?
How to get to Sudan – There are a few ways to get to Sudan:
– By plane – From Europe, flights tend to connect in Doha, Dubai or Cairo.
– By land – It’s very common to overland from Egypt or Ethiopia. I personally came from Egypt and you can read my report here.
Prices – How much does it cost – Budget hotels cost something between 5 and 15USD per night. Eating at any local eatery costs between 1 and 3USD and 6-7USD in the nicer restaurants in Khartoum. Last, transportation between cities costs between 2 and 4USD.
How to move around cities – There is a wide network of mini-vans which go to practically anywhere in the country. You just need to find the right station in each city.
Accommodation – The accommodation options are quite limited but you can still find a few hotels. In my travel guide to Sudan, you can find plenty of recommendations.