How to cross the Egypt-Sudan border overland

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The rules of the Egypt – Sudan border do change fast. This article contains the latest information from 2018. If you have more up-to-date information, kindly let me know and I will update this accordingly. 

Crossing the border from Egypt to Sudan overland is not as easy as it may sound. Probably, you think that it is as simple as catching a direct bus from Abu Simbel (the last city in Egypt) to Sudan, but it doesn’t work like that, as they leave from Aswan. In this article, I am going to show you the whole process, step by step, from catching the bus in Aswan to arriving in Wadi Halfa (the first city in Sudanese after the border).

Don’t forget to check my Sudan Travel Guide and my Egypt Travel Guide

Egypt Sudan border crossing

 

How to cross the Egypt-Sudan border overland

Here you will find:

Travel insurance for Sudan and Egypt
Egypt to Sudan border crossing

Sudan to Egypt border crossing

 

Travel insurance for Egypt & Sudan

Any regular insurance will cover for travel in Egypt. However, because of the sanctions, most companies will not cover for Sudan, even if you got a ”World” policy and that includes World Nomads.

Therefore, it is better if you travel with an insurance that covers both countries and the one I recommend is IATI Insurance. Why?

  • It definitely covers for Sudan and offers a wide range of plans, including deals for backpackers
  • It offers very competitive prices
  • The readers of Against the Compass can get an exclusive 5% discount

BUY IT THROUGH THIS LINK TO GET YOUR 5% DISCOUNT

 

Egypt to Sudan border crossing

First of all, you need to know that there are two different ways of transportation of getting into Sudan: by boat or by bus.

Which one should you choose? That depends on the money you want to spend and the time you have.

 

Aswan to Wadi Halfa (Egypt – Sudan border) by ferry

Pros: Sailing along the Nile and across Lake Nasser must be an unforgettable experience
Cons: It takes 24 hours to reach the border, the boat only leaves once or twice a week and it’s expensive

Here are some things you need to know:

Price

Second class: 325EGP + 50EGP departure tax ($18 + $3)

First class: 475EGP + 50EGP departure tax ($27 + $3)

On second class, you get a bench to sleep on, whereas on first class you get a room with 4 beds with dirty, 30-year-old linens. Many travelers prefer to travel in second class, not because of the price but because it’s more hygienic.

Food

On the boat, you can get some basic meals, like bread, foul beans, eggs, and sweets. You can also get sodas, water, and tea. Anything extra, you should bring it with you.

Timings

Since now, the bus runs every day, the boat only leaves on Sunday. Before you could also take it on Thursday.

Departure time is pretty uncertain as they tell you something between 10am and 5pm. However, apparently, the average time is between 2pm – 4pm. The train from Aswan to the harbor leaves at 7:15am.

The boat takes around 20 hours to Wadi Halfa.

Harbor location

Aswan High Dam. These are the approximate coordinates: 23.973062, 32.896697. It’s 16 kilometers from Aswan.

Important – This is Egypt, so don’t trust the above schedules, as they keep changing all the damn time. While you are waiting for your Sudan visa, go to the terminal and ask for the exact timetable.

The ferry from Abu Simbel to Wadi Halfa
Sudanese get pretty sick when they go on the boat

 

Aswan to Wadi Halfa (Egypt – Sudan border) by bus

Pros: It’s way faster, cheaper and there are daily buses
Cons: The experience is not as awesome as going by boat

I got my visa on a Monday, so I had no other choice to take the bus. Here’s everything you need to know.

Read: How to get a visa for Sudan

 

Step 1: Get your bus ticket to Wadi Halfa

Ideally, you should be able to catch a direct bus from Abu Simbel to Wadi Halfa, right? Ideally, yes, but unfortunately, it turns out that the buses to Sudan only leave from Aswan, which is 300 kilometers north of Abu Simbel.

In Aswan, you can book a bus ticket to Wadi Halfa.

In 2018, prices have increased to 250EGP (14USD).

You can also buy a direct bus to Khartoum, which costs Khartoum (500EGP, 28USD).

Buses leave from Aswan every day at 5 am and 8 am. Both timings and prices may vary slightly depending on the company you go with. Moreover, be aware that this is Egypt, so it wouldn’t surprise me that someone tris to charge you three times more.

It’s better to book your ticket at least 24h in advance, at Aswan’s bus station.

Pro tip –You can actually catch the bus in Abu Simbel. How? Believe it or not, there is no direct road from Aswan to the border but, in Abu Simbel, you need to get on a ferry, with the bus included. When you arrive in Abu Simbel, you have to wait for a few hours before getting in the boat. What you can actually do is to buy your Aswan-Wadi Halfa ticket in Aswan and tell the guy that you want to be picked up in Abu Simbel. Still, you’ll have to pay the ticket for the whole journey but you will be able to visit Abu Simbel. It’s actually possible and I know one person who did it.

The bus from Aswan to Wadi Halfa
Having fun with the rest of the passengers

 

Step 2: The journey from Aswan to Abu Simbel

Here we go, the journey begins! The bus will be overpacked with Sudanese carrying the most extravagant things. From washing machines to chairs and oversized baggage. It’s crazy. Who the hell travels with a fridge? Apparently, since the Egyptian Pound devalued so drastically (around 250% in only 2 years), every day, hundreds of Sudanese people cross the border to buy stuff for their homes.

Time: 3-4 hours

Baggage in the bus from Egypt to Sudan
They travel with the most extravagant objects

Step 3: Lunch break in Abu Simbel

Before the ferries arrive, all buses heading to Sudan take a lunch break in Abu Simbel. Most people there are from Sudan and, most likely, you will be the only foreigner. I highly recommend sitting with any Sudanese group to eat fried fish from the Nile, a typical Sudanese dish.

Time: 2-3 hours

Very important – Apparently, there is a new road that goes from Aswan to the border and skips Abu Simbel. However, as of October 2018, the road remains closed and buses still go to Abu Simbel and get on the ferry. If you have any more updated information, kindly let me know in the comments.

Having lunch in Abu Simbel before the ferry to Sudan comes
Lunch break with the locals in Abu Simbel

Step 4: The ferry to the border

After waiting for two hours, the ferries finally arrive. At this point, everybody goes crazy and chaos rules. The ferries are quite small, but they try to fit up to five buses in each of them. Definitely, the ferry is more than overloaded but, in the end, sailing along the Nile is a nice experience and a good opportunity to mingle and have fun with the locals.

Update October 2018 – Apparently, now you have to pay an additional fee for the ferry ride, which is 102EGP (6USD).

Time: 1-2 hours

The ferry from Abu Simbel to Sudanese border
Overloading the ferry

Step 5: The Egyptian border

When you disembark, you still have a couple of kilometers before actually reaching the Egyptian border. Once you are there, you’ll be asked to pay the exit fee (60EGP). Remember to bring some Egyptian Pounds with you or you’ll have to exchange them at a very crappy rate. You can also pay in USD.

At this border, the bureaucracy takes forever. Due to the sensitive political situation and the increasing number of terrorist attacks, the Egyptian authorities want to check absolutely every single piece of baggage, with no exception. There are hundreds of Sudanese with thousands of suitcases, boxes and strange objects. You’ll have a lot of free time. Just be patient and enjoy looking at all that chaos.

Time: 3-4 hours

Important! A traveler reported that, since he got his exit stamp very quickly, he managed to cross the border on a different bus, before the authorities finished to check with his actual bus. Because of all the Sudanese, who bring one thousand suitcases, you are going to stay here forever but you may have the chance to leave earlier on another bus. Ask your driver and the authorities.

The Egyptian exit border
The Egyptian border

Step 6: The Sudanese border

Before the bus departed from Aswan, all those extravagant packs, washing machines and suitcases were carefully put inside the bus so, each passenger had a seat. Now, all those things were absolutely all over the place. When we arrived at the Sudanese border, the bus had to be unloaded once again and all the passengers had to go through the exact same process as before. Like at the Egyptian border, be patient and enjoy watching all that chaos.

Watch Out! The Sudanese authorities will ask you to pay 60SDP as for transport fees. It’s a scam! They will insist over and over but you say NO, NO and NO! Tell them that you know other travelers who crossed recently and they didn’t pay any extra tax. If you say this, they’ll let you go.

Time: 3-4 hours

The bus from Egypt to Sudan
The extremely overpacked bus after the security check

Step 7: Arrival in Sudan and Wadi Halfa

You made it! After approximately 14h, finally, you find yourself in Sudan! Get ready to receive one of the warmest welcomes ever from the amazing Sudanese people!

Wadi Halfa is still 30 kilometers away from the border. All the passengers in the bus will spend one night in Wadi Halfa, as the bus won’t continue to Khartoum until the next morning. Don’t worry about finding accommodation. There are several extremely budget hotels. Typically, they have 5-bed dorms for 25SDP, which is less than $2. I stayed at Alneel Halfa. These hotels suck but you have to remember that you are in Sudan now!

Arrival at 7-8 pm approximately

Sudanese border
Finally in Sudan!

Step 8: Journey to Khartoum

If you booked a ticket to Khartoum, the journey will take 11-12 additional hours. At some point, around 1am, the bus will stop in the middle of nowhere and the bus driver will take a 2-3-hour nap. You should be in Khartoum around 10am in the morning. Tell the bus driver that you want to get out near Al Souq Al Arabi (Arabic Market) that’s where cheap accommodation is found.

Wadi Halfa
Wadi Halfa

 

Crossing from Sudan to Egypt by land

I personally haven’t crossed the border from this direction but I got the latest information from some travelers who did it recently.

As you may imagine, you just need to follow the same reverse process and it takes the same amount of time.

First, you will have to go to Wadi Halfa. You can check my Sudan itinerary for directions, as well as all the places to visit in between.

The bus from Wadi Halfa to Aswan costs 250SDG.

When you leave Sudan, you need to pay an exit fee which costs 132SDG.

In Egypt, most Western nationalities can get a visa on arrival, which costs 130EGP or 25USD. This is the price if you enter overland and may vary significantly if you fly in.

If you have more updated information, let us know in the comments section!

 

Are you planning to enter from Ethiopia, instead? – Then you should read: Ethiopia-Sudan border crossing

 

More about Sudan & Egypt

Sudan Travel Guide
How to visit the Nubian pyramids of Sudan
Tales of the Nubian people in Sudan
Is it safe to travel to Sudan?
A guide for traveling to Egypt
Egypt off the beaten track
How to visit Luxor in 2 days

 

Egypt Sudan border crossing

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32 comments

    1. Hey Anna, thanks for your kind comment! glad you liked it 😉 Yeah, I wish I could have done it by boat but unfortunately, time and money were not on my site. Maybe next time!

  1. Hi buddy, thanks for the information.

    Did you see any cyclists along the route, as I’m looking to do it soon.

    I’ve also read that there is now a road to the west of Abu Simbel which now means there is no need to get any boat. apparently it opened in Jan 2017. Is this something you’re aware of?

    1. Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment. I didn’t see any cyclist because I barely saw any tourist 🙂 but, according to many Sudanese I met, it was very common to see tourists traveling on their bicycle.

      As per the new road you are talking about, I had absolutely no idea. Is that for real? I crossed the border by the end of December 2016 but didn’t hear anything about the new road. I will do a little bit of research. Moreover, if you use this road, I would appreciate if you tell me any tip, so I can upload this post accordingly 😉 Cheers!

      1. I self-drove down there a couple weeks ago and although I only went to Abu Simbel and while I was talking to the police officers at the Aswan airport checkpoint waiting for permission to go, I asked him if the road down to Sudan was open. He said yes, open for traffic and trucks and personal cars and I could drive there myself from Abu Simbel if I wanted, although they wouldn’t let me through with a rental car.

        I didn’t end up driving down there but I did see a couple trucks at the New Toshka checkpoint / turnoff point where the road forks to either go to Abu Simbel or the new road south to Sudan.

        That said I bet the buses still go through the ferry and will probably continue to go that way for some time, since there are no settlements on the west side of the Nile for hundreds of kilometers, nor is there any bridge even remotely vaguely close as an alternative option. I don’t even know why they bothered building a road on the west side, and the truck traffic we saw coming from there was even more bizarre: 18 wheelers stacked to the brim with huge bales of hay. Where in the hell is hay coming from or going to in the middle of the Sahara?? How can that possibly be worth the transportation costs!? It remained an unsolved mystery.

  2. Hey man

    Can you travel in Egypt by leaving your passport there for a few days? Then come back to collect a few days later?

    Cheers
    Barry

    1. Hi Barry, sorry for the late reply. Just bring enough passport copies with you. In Egypt there are an endless number of checkpoints where you need to show your passport. I showed the copies and it was OK to go but I guess that it all depends on the person you may encounter. Cheers

  3. Hey mate! great post. i am about to do the same route tomorrow morning, so hopefully everything will go well. I need to return from Sudan to Egypt the same way, do you know if doing it by land through the border I am about to cross there are given egypt visa on arrival? and if not do you know how long it takes to get the Egypt visa in khartoum? where did you do the registration in wadi halfa or khartoum? cheers mate! and thanks for the post!

  4. Hey mate! I just went back and forth Aswan – Khartoum by bus, so to keep it on record for future travellers that check your blog in search of this info, I will explain it. The bus from Aswan to Khartoum is an easy.deal, you can buy the ticket in the Bus South Station for 450-500EGP (is Egypt so prices change every 10 minutes for foreigners) don’t pay more that 500EGP for the bus “straight” to Khartoum … if you want to go to Wadi Halfa it cost 200EGP. You can go easy to the bus station from Kornish Al Nile road by public transport costing 1,25EGP each way (is not necessary to pay a taxi). Before (of course) you need to apply for the Sudan visa, takes 3 working days (I applied on Sunday morning and got it on Tuesday) – 50USD (they don’t have change) / 2 passport photos / 1 copy of your passport front page / 1 copy of your passport page with the Egypt entry stamp / filled the form that consulate will give you (in Sponsor I wrote the embassy of my country but the asked me also for a hotel address in Sudan). Then … Aswan – Khartoum: every day bus it doesn’t depart at 5:00am as you will be told it departs at 6:30-7:00 it goes packed! with stuffs sudanese buy in Egypt and sell in Sudan (IT IS CRAZY PACKED) … from Aswan to the border takes 3-4 hours. This border is not Wadi Halfa, is called Argeen right in the other side of the Lake Nasser. Once there you need to pay 60EGP exit tax from Egypt ,,, takes around 2 hours customs in the Egypt side and 4 hours in the Sudan side. Basically you will be done with both borders around 5pm. From Argeen – Khartoum takes 11-12 hours, at some point around 1am the bus is going to stop in the middle of nowhere and the bus driver is going to take a nap for 2-3 hours; you will make it to Khartoum around 10am. Tell the bus driver that you want to get out near Al Souq Al Arabi (Arabic Market) thats where cheap accommodation is found. Once in Khartoum is mandatory paying the registration fee … I went to the airport and payed there, they will charge 5SDG for a copy of your passport front page and passport page with the Sudan Visa and stamp. I took a taxi from Al Waha Mall to the airport it cost me 50SDG probably you can negotiate cheaper but I was to tired to fight the price down. The registration permit cost 530SDG in the airport. Then I took a public van back near Al Souq Al Arabi for 2SDG. Now … Khartoum – Aswan: everyday bus, you will need to buy the bus ticket at some shop for 500SDG no more (I would recommend a shop that is in the corner right before the Egypt Consulate, there is an old man running the business and seems to be a fair man) The Egypt Consulate is in University Street 5 minutes walk from Al Waha Mall that is 10 minutes walk from Al Souq Al Arabi. Be aware of the visa policy according to you nationality, I have a Venezuelan passport and we can get visa on arrival at any port (Airport, Ferry Ports, and land border with Sudan); but I think that for example US passports can get visa on arrival only in the airport (not sure about this, just making the comment so people don’t make mistakes – I have an American friend that took the Wadi Halfa ferry to Aswan and he applied for the Egypt visa in the consulate in Khartoum I think) … so the bus here is a weird one. I needed to wait the next morning in front of Khartoum Stadium at 3:45am, but there is no stop or anything you just wait in the middle of the street and then a bus (no extra charge) is going to pick you up there and then take you to the station that is where the actual bus departs to Aswan. At the end my bus departed at 6am takes like 11 hours from Khartoum to the Argeen border, you need 130SDG for exit tax (one payment of 50SDG and a second one of 80SDG). Customs is more relax here, will take like 2 hours each side. Before entering Egypt border side they will charge you 90EGP for Malaria.check up (they just used a Digital Infrared Thermometer Laser Gun in your front head to take your temperature). No matter what way are you coming from always change money in the Sudan side (actually there are no people changing money in the Egypt side) you can change EGP and USD into SDG and the other way around. In my case I need a visa on arrival, in this border they don’t have the sticker for the visa … so basically they stamped my passport and wrote something in arabic above the stamp, that says that I need to pay the 25USD on arrival visa, before I leave the country … I haven’t done it yet, but apparently according to a traveller that I met that went through the same process, I need to go the bank in Cairo Airport pay there and get the sticker in the airport, the Immigration officers told me that I could do it in any bank, but I already went to couple of them in Aswan and Luxor and is not possible, they told me that in the Airport in Cairo. From Argeen to Aswan 4 more hours bus ride. That is pretty much the deal with Sudan, so good luck and enjoy the ride.

    1. Hey man, first of all thank you sooo muuuch for this amazing report. I will update all the info as soon as I can. So, as per what I read, the road from Aswan to the border is fully completed? Before, once you arrive in Abu Simbel, you were supposed to get in a ferry. Isn’t like that anymore? Cheers mate,

  5. Hi, do you know the schedule for the ferry from Sudan to Egypt?
    I travel on a motorcycle from Cape Town to Poland. Now I am in Uganda,
    so I started to look for a possible crossing to Egypt 🙂
    I have sudanese visa already.
    Regards,
    Robert

    1. Hi Robert, I haven’t crossed it the other day, unfortunately, I nobody has reported me that… If you do it, I would really appreciate if you let me know!

      1. I will do. But generally, logically, it should be Wednesday or Thursday, isn’t it?
        Departure from Aswan on Sunday, + 1 day traveling, +1 day for disembarkation = Tuesday.
        Wednesday – first possible day for return.
        Do I think correct?
        Robert

        1. Logically yes, you are right. However, you can expect anything from these countries. In my experience, on many occasions, they don’t follow the logic necessarily 🙂

  6. Once you arrive to Abu Simbel and start waiting for ferries, would you have enough time to visit the temples? or you risk missing the ferries?

    If you are already in Abu Simbel, can you just hop on one of the buses at the ferry? Can you hithike with the truck drivers?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Myk, here’s my answers:
      1 – I think Abu Simbel is far from the harbor so yeah, you risk missing them. You can try though by taxi when you are there and ask!
      2 – On the post, I explain how to catch the bus in Abu Simbel. It’s on ”step 1”, in the ”important section”
      3 – Don’t know anyone who has actually tried it so if you do, please let me know!

  7. Francisco Agostinho

    Hi Joan! Congratulations for the blog !! Look, it is possible change euros in Sudan or only dollars ?
    Thanks!
    Francisco Agostinho
    Portugal

  8. Hello dude! I am Nigerian and I want to travel to Egypt by bus i will get to chad then sudan, my question is do i need sudan visa? Since my distination is Egypt?

    1. Hello Fatima, yes, if you enter Sudan, you will need a visa, no doubt about that. However, I am not aware whether Nigerians are a special case, together with other African nationalities, you should check this with the embassy. But I can make sure that any European nationality would need a visa. Best wishes,

  9. Very useful blog who wish to enter Sudan from Egypt
    I am planing with my friend to go to Egypt then to Sudan via Aswan both e hold Croatian Passport EU.
    So I have two questions
    1. Can we get Sudanese visa from Aswan i/Egypt ?
    2. Can we hair from Wadi Halfa any 4 wheel drive car to Birtawil area we wish to make a great adventure .
    I hope you have some information that can help … thank you .
    Marko , Croatia

    1. Hi Marko,
      1. Yes you can
      2. I honestly don’t know. I think you should better have this arranged in advance, contacting any tour operator. Wadi Halfa is a village composed of 4 unpaved streets and shacks

  10. Hi!

    I just crossed from Egypt to Sudan overland.
    I came from Aswan to Abu Simbel early morning with my friends (who stayed in Egypt) to see the temples.
    They dropped me off at the area where people are waiting for the ferries to arrive at 11am.

    I quickly found a bus driver willing to take me. Initially asked for egp 500. I told i have only 200 and he agreed. I know I overpaid, Should have oferred 150 or 100.

    We waited for a ferry until 2pm with rumours circulating the boat is broken and we may need to wait until next morning until a replacement is found.

    Luckily shortly after 2 we went to the ferry area. The ferry is rather large and can fit up to 10 buses/large trucks.

    My plan to hitchhike with a truck did not fly as trucks seem to be down in the priority line both for ferries and at the border.

    I needed to pay EGP 63 at the ferry for a boat ticket. I saw people around me doing the same, so I don’t think it was a scam.

    Ferry ride took roughly an hour. People are not allowed to stay in the buses and need to sit on the deck.

    We disembarked at 3pm and after getting back to the bus arrived to the Egy border at 3.30pm.

    Went through customs and passport control very smooth. No extra payments.

    Good coffee shop at the border.

    Sudanese at my bus carried to much commercial stuff and were bargaining with the customs which was taking forever, so an English speaking egyptian businessman from my bus asked our driver to agree with another driver to continue with a different bus, which was cleared earlier.

    We arrived to Sudanese border at 6.30 pm. Passport control, luggage search. No extra payments. Advised me I need to register in Dongola with the police.

    Money exchange guys straight ater border exchanging 1usd for 32 sgp. Did not want to accept a 50 usd bill with a 2 mm tear.

    Left Sudanese border at 7.30pm. Arrived to Halfa at 8pm.

    Some useful coordinates:

    – an area where buses from Aswan wait for the ferry 22°20′29.89″N 31°36′46.52″E
    – actual ferry dock 22°20′13.81″N 31°37′02.09″E

  11. When I arrived in Egypt earlier this year (2018) the cost of the Egyptian Visa had risen to US$50, so I’m guessing that a lot of these prices are now outdated?

    1. 50USD at which port of entry? 50USD is the cost of the visa at arrival at the airport. Prices may change significantly if you enter overland. 25USD is what paid a guy who crossed from Egypt to Sudan very recently.

  12. Has anybody recently made the drive from Aswan down to Abu Simbel?
    If so, what’s the distance and estimated driving time?
    I’m on my way up to Cairo to start a Cairo to Cape Town e-bike ride and Mr Google’s maps don’t seem to provide an alternative to the ferry trip…a seemingly slower journey than self-driving.
    Am I correct?

    1. That’s a good question and hope someone knows the answer – I don’t know whether they finally opened the road or not but in any case, you will see it once you are there 🙂

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