This guide for traveling to Sudan is constantly updated (2018) thanks to the input from some awesome travelers. If you have any further information, kindly let me know and I will update it accordingly. 

The streets were dusty and unpaved but it was the month of December, so a slight winter breeze produced a pleasant feeling. I felt like wandering around some villages settled along the Nile river, the shore of which is so fertile that, for a moment, I forgot that I was in the middle of the desert.

I desperately wanted to continue my journey to some villages located a few kilometers away, but the modest smiles, kindness, and hospitality of the Sudanese were blocking my way, as I was forced to have some tea every couple of meters.

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

This guide for traveling to Sudan contains everything you need to know, including a complete 2-week itinerary, and tips regarding transportation, accommodation, visas and much more!

traveling to Sudan

 

A guide for traveling to Sudan in 2018: Itinerary + Travel Tips

In this Sudan travel guide you will find:

Quick travel tips
Visas

Travel insurance for Sudan
Books for traveling to Sudan

The people
Transportation in Sudan
Money – How much does it cost?
The food
Internet and SIM Card

Sudan is an off the beaten track place
A 2-week travel itinerary

Total transparency! – If you like my website and found this post useful, remember that, if you buy your travel insurance or a book through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me maintain and keep Against the Compass going! Thanks 🙂

 

Sudan travel guide – Quick useful tips for traveling to Sudan

Best time to travel to Sudan – Sudan is one of the hottest countries in the world. If you really want to enjoy your trip to Sudan, you must go in winter, from November to February. The rest of the year, the heat is just unbearable, especially in summer. I went there in December and, at noon, the temperature reached over 34ºC. 

Is it safe to travel to Sudan? – With one of the lowest crime rates in the world today, the tourist part of Sudan is one of the safest areas in Africa. However, there are tribal conflicts in Darfur province (west) and near the border with South Sudan. This violence is quite far from the touristic routes and, in the unlikely event that you managed to get close to there, the violence would never target foreigners. For further details, check out my article: Is it safe to travel to Sudan?

Language – Arabic is the official language. Nevertheless, like in any African country, Sudan is also home to several different ethnicities who speak their own local language, as well. Basic English is spoken by a significant part of the population, especially those with a higher level of education. Communicating with people, as well as asking for directions, doesn’t impose any real problems when traveling in Sudan.

How to get there – Most people travel to Sudan overland, either from Egypt or Ethiopia. By plane, people tend to come from Cairo, Doha, Dubai or Addis Ababa. I entered Sudan from Egypt. For further information, check out my post: How to cross from Egypt to Sudan overland

travel Sudan
Some kids whose mother invited me to have some tea, in the village next to the ruins of Nuri

 

Visa for traveling to Sudan

You can get a visa in your home country, in Addis Ababa (capital of Ethiopia) and in Cairo and Aswan, Egypt. I got my visa in Aswan, a city located very close to the Sudanese border.

Once you are in Sudan, you also need to register and complete a few bureaucratic steps. 

For further details, check out my article: How to get a visa for Sudan

Visa for Sudan

 

Travel Insurance for Sudan

Because of the sanctions, many insurance providers, such as World Nomads or First Allied, 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

BUY IT THROUGH THIS LINK TO GET YOUR 5% DISCOUNT!

 

Recommended books for traveling in Sudan

Sudan Travel Guide by Bradt – I highly recommend buying the guide from Bradt, the best book guide about Sudan out there. Bradt Guides has the most insightful guides about the most off the beaten track destinations.

Click here to see the latest prices on Amazon

 

Arabic-English phrasebook – Super useful, especially in the countryside.

Click here to see the latest prices on Amazon

 

The Sudanese people

Traveling in Sudan is such an enriching experience, due to the multiple, endless interactions with people, whose kindness and hospitality are part of their culture, as much as their language is. Besides a couple of archaeological sites, Sudan lacks actual tourist sites. Sudan is about all the people with whom you’ll share uncountable cups of tea, coffee, meals and, occasionally, especially in small villages, you’ll be invited to stay at their houses.

By the way, be aware that, from a religious point of view, Sudan is a very conservative society, Sunni Islam being the main religion. If you really want to enjoy and experience people’s hospitality at its best, you should respect their habits and rules. Outside of Khartoum, you should always wear long pants. Never talk to women, unless spoken to first and, even if they talk to you, don’t dare take a picture of them, without asking for their permission, first. If you are a couple, say that you are married, even if you are not. Otherwise, they wouldn’t understand it, as in their society that would be unacceptable.

Read: A guide for traveling to Egypt (itinerary + tips)

Travel in Sudan
A lovely Nubian family – Traveling in Sudan

 

Transportation when traveling to Sudan

Public transportation – Traveling around Sudan by public transport is pretty straightforward. Every day, throughout the day, from all cities, there are local minivans going in all directions. Prices are quite low and they leave once they are full. By the way, roads are in very good condition. 

Private Jeep – Many travelers prefer to hire a driver with a private jeep. I met a few foreigners who were traveling this way and, if you can afford it, you should know that it is very convenient, as you can visit many ruins which are very deep into the desert.

Hitchhiking – Very easy to hitch a ride. Furthermore, since there’s practically only one road going in each direction, finding a vehicle going in the same direction as you is quite simple. 

Read: How to visit the Nubian pyramids of Sudan

travel to Sudan
The Sudanese guys taking a break after dropping me off – Traveling to Sudan

 

Money – How much does backpacking in Sudan cost?

Currency exchange

Don’t exchange money at banks or official exchange offices.

Officially, the exchange rate is 1USD = 6.70SDG. However, on the black market, in February 2018, the exchange rate was 1USD = 30SDG. You should always change on the black market. It’s better you change your money in Wadi Halfa, Khartoum or Sawakin, as you may have some troubles in exchanging money in the rest of the towns.

Please note that the exchange rate in Sudan is crazy and it keeps devaluating constantly. Prices provided in the following guide are correct in local currency but the USD exchange rate I provide may not be accurate.

Typical costs of backpacking in Sudan

In Sudan, one could easily travel for less than $20 a day. These are some of the most typical costs.

Note – I am using the USD/SDG exchange rate used on the black market.

Accommodation

Hostels – Dorms cost around 25SDG ($1.04). Be aware that these aren’t hostels aimed at foreigners or backpackers but local Sudanese. They are extremely cheap but not very clean, unfortunately. 

Hotels – Mid-range hotels, where the Sudanese middle class stays, cost something between 100SDG and 175SDG ($4.10 – $7.30).

Food

A meal of foul costs 25SDG ($1.04). If you order chicken, your bill would increase to 40-50SDG ($1.70 – $2.10). A one-liter bottle of water costs 3SDG (13¢), whereas a cup of coffee costs 5SDG (27¢).

Transportation

These are the prices of some of the bus journeys I took:

Wadi Halfa to Abri (180km): 60SDG ($2.50)
Abri to Dongola (230km): 80SDG ($3.30)
Abri to Karima (200km): 60SDG ($2.50)

Sudanese money
Sudanese money! – Sudan travel guide

 

Sudanese food

Unfortunately, the food is not the highlight of backpacking in Sudan. Foul, which is a sort of black bean soup with plenty of peanut oil, is the national dish and what you are going to eat every day, to the extent that you will really get sick of it! If you are lucky, surprisingly, in some places, they add some sort of local cheese on top of it. One piece of advice. When your order foul, tell the waiter: Mafi Zed”, which means ”without oil”. 

Furthermore, in some places, grilled barbecue chicken can be found. Additionally, some restaurants in villages close to the Nile, also serve fried fish but, the day I ordered it, I saw that they had all the fish piled up in a dirty cupboard, without any sort of protection. For breakfast, it is relatively easy to find boiled eggs, accompanied by the delicious and strong Arabic coffee.

In Khartoum and Port Sudan, you can find a greater variety of food, including Western meals.

Read: Egypt off the beaten track

Sudanese foul, the staple food
Sudanese foul, the staple food – Sudan travel guide

 

Internet and SIM Card

Internet – Since internet connection is practically non-existent, in Sudan, it’s advisable to plan your trip ahead. On several occasions, I wasn’t able to connect and had some trouble finding a place or trying to remember the name of a hotel. Outside the capital, especially in the north, Wi-Fi doesn’t exist and the only way to connect is through a SIM card, which works terribly slowly, meaning that you’ll barely be able to browse anything.

Khartoum is the only place where 3G works OK. Update February 2018: According to Patrick from German Backpacker, 3G has improved, at least if you get an MTN Sim Card.

SIM Cards – They are sold everywhere. If you say you want a SIM Card, they might not understand you, so you should say: Shariha Sudani. A card should cost 5SDG, with a few calls. You need pay extra for having internet. There are several phone companies like  (Zain, MTN, and Sudantel), all of them offering different packages, always pretty cheap. MTN seems to be the most reliable one. Registration with your passport is always necessary.

 

Should you travel to Sudan? A real off the beaten track destination

Before backpacking in Sudan, you should know that this a real off the beaten track destination where tourism infrastructure is not even in an embryonic stage. Most of the country lacks tourist hotels and most restaurants are just simple shacks with very poor hygiene conditions. Internet connection is practically non-existent and you’ll barely meet other travelers or backpackers. My point is that, whereas Sudan is an unforgettable experience, this is not a country for beginner backpackers.

traveling in Sudan
A cool man coming from the market with his donkey – Backpacking in Sudan

 

Sudan Travel Guide – Ultimate Sudan itinerary

This Sudan itinerary goes from the north (Wadi Halfa, Egyptian border) to the south (Sawakin, Ethiopian border), with a few detours to the Red Sea (Port Sudan) and the border with Eritrea (Kassala).

I was in Sudan a little longer than two weeks, entering from Egypt and ending my trip in Khartoum. I would say that 85% of the most interesting sites in the country are located between these two points and, if you manage your time well, you can easily visit these places in just two weeks. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit Kassala and Port Sudan. If you want to visit them, you should add at least one extra week or ten days to your itinerary. 

2 weeks Sudan itinerary

  1. Wadi Halfa
  2. Abri and the Nubian villages
  3. Soleb Temple
  4. Dongola
  5. Karima
  6. Meroë / Shendi
  7. Naqa and Musawwarat es-Sufra
  8. Omdurman (Sufi dancing and the camel market)
  9. Khartoum

Extending your Sudan itinerary

  1. Kassala
  2. Port Sudan
  3. Suakin

Map of the things to do in Sudan

 

Wadi Halfa

If you come from Egypt, Wadi Halfa will be your first point of contact with Sudanese society. This small town doesn’t have anything interesting to offer travelers but you will have to spend your first night here, exchange some money and, basically, chill out for a bit after your hectic journey from Egypt. By the way, bear in mind that, unless you come from Egypt, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to visit Wadi Halfa, as this is a mere border city.

Where to stay in Wadi Halfa – There are an endless number of basic hotels targeting local people coming from Egypt. Usually, these hotels offer rooms with five beds at 20-25SDG ($0.80 – $1.04). I stayed in Aleen Halfa. Be aware that these hotels are not very clean. Welcome to Sudan.

Read: How to cross from Egypt to Sudan overland

Wadi Halfa
Wadi Halfa

Abri and the Nubian villages

The Nubians, one of the most ancient civilizations in Africa, are an ethnic group which originated in present-day Egypt and Sudan. The Nubians have a long history that dates back to the Egyptian pharaohs and they ruled Egypt during the 8th century B.C. The Nubians have strong cultural differences, identified in their literature, music and poetry, and they speak their own language, which, even though it’s hard to imagine, is a non-written language. Today, Nubian people live spread across southern Egypt and northern Sudan, established on the shores of the Nile river.

Abri is the main town and the perfect base from where to explore the villages around the area. You should just follow the river, hopping from village to village, through the foul and palm plantations. In my experience, Nubians are the most hospitable people in the country. Visiting those villages was the highlight of my trip to Sudan, not only because of people’s kindness but also, because of the landscape, as you see beautiful, large green fields flourishing in the middle of the desert, thanks to the fast-flowing river.

For more information, read: Tales of the Nubian people in Sudan

Where to stay in AbriMegzoub Guest House – Definitely, this is the best guest house in Sudan. Megzoub is a great, wise man who offers double and single rooms with pretty clean toilets. However, his prices are quite high, compared to the country average. His rate may start at 250SDG ($10) but you could easily bring it down 100SDG ($4.10), at least for me and a friend who was there recently. You can contact Megzoub by calling any of his phone numbers: +249122886586 and +249911220984.

How to get to Abri from Wadi Halfa – There are minivans which leave at every hour, starting from quite early in the morning. Price: 60SDG ($2.50)

visit Sudan
A Nubian man – Travel in Sudan

Soleb Temple

One of the most well-preserved ruins in the country and, founded by Amenhotep II, Soleb temple was built to worship Amun-Ra. It is claimed that the architect might have been Amenhotep, son of Apu, whose mortuary temple can be found in Luxor. Soleb is located halfway to Dongola (the next destination after Abri). You could visit it on a day trip from Abri or on your way to Dongola

How to get from Soleb to Abri – Soleb is 50km from Abri. Megzoub, the owner of the guest house in Abri, can take you there in his car for 400SDG ($17, round trip). On the other hand, if you want to go by yourself, you should take a mini-van to Wawa. The temple is located on an island in the middle of the river. You can only get there by boat but there are local fishermen who can take you there cheaply. One-way bus ticket to Wawa is 20SDG costs ($0.80) and entering the temple 60SDG ($2.50).

Soleb temple - Photo by Ka Wing Chan
Soleb temple – Photo by Ka Wing Chan – Sudan travel guide

Dongola

Dongola is a city which does not have much to offer the traveler. However, if you are heading from Abri to Karima, probably, you will probably have to spend one night here, as there is no direct transport and the minivan service that runs from Dongola to Karima doesn’t run until very late. In this city, there’s not much to do besides wandering around the main bazaar, eating grilled chicken and socializing with the locals.

Note that there is no direct transportation from Abri to Karima but you can get a direct bus from Wadi Halfa to Karima, without stopping in Dongola.

Where to stay in DongolaAlnuallem is the only good hotel in the city. It offers double rooms at 175SDG ($7.30). These are the coordinates: 19.172898 30.468067.

How to get to Dongola from Abri – There are frequent minivans, being the last one leaves at around 5 or 6 pm, but you should double check with Megzoub. Price: 80SDG ($3.30).

Karima

Welcome to one of the most touristic spots in Sudan and where, probably, you’ll meet the first bunch of travelers (if you are coming from Egypt). Karima is a lovely area which is famous for being home to three of the most important archaeological sites in Sudan, containing a large number of Nubian pyramids, some of them in very good condition. The best about it is that you might have the pyramids just to yourself.

  • Jebel Barkal: The best-preserved group of pyramids and the site surrounded by the prettiest nature.
  • Nuri: The pyramids from this site are in a deplorable state but that’s the beauty of them.
  • Al-Kurru: Almost completely destroyed, as the locals took the stones to build their houses

For more information about the pyramids, read: How to visit the Nubian pyramids in Sudan

Where to stay in Karima – I stayed in Al-Nassr, a very simple hotel frequented by Sudanese. Price can be negotiated but I paid 100SDG ($4.10) for a double room with private bathroom. Update: In 2018, travelers are already paying 150SDG. Another alternative would be a fancy guest house called Nubian Rest House, which has double semi-luxury rooms. However, I heard that they are now charging $220 for just one night. They are crazy and target people who travel on a tour. In the Nubian pyramids article I wrote, I provide further details about the location.

How to get to Karima from Dongola – The minivans leave from the morning, but as very few locals use that route, you might have to wait for a while until the bus is full. Price: 60SDG ($2.50).

should I travel to Sudan
Jebel Barkal – Should I travel to Sudan?

Shendi

Shendi is just a small, unattractive town which you can use as a base to visit the pyramids of Meroë. The most interesting part of Shendi is its lively bazaar.

How to get from Karima to Shendi – To get there from Karima, you should first take a minivan to Atbara. They leave early in the morning and cost 130SDG ($5.40) for a 3-hour journey. From there, you can catch a 2-hour big bus to Shendi for 50SDG ($2.10). Alternatively, you could get off on the road, before getting to Atbara and hitchhike from there. That’s what I did.

Where to stay in Shendi – I didn’t stay but there’s a local hotel called El Kawther (16.696079, 33.424961), which is supposed to be good. Alternatively, you can also stay in a kind of apartment, which is close to where the bus dropped you, 50 meters from the green mosque. There’s no sign but it’s a pink building with many water tanks on top. It has fully furnished, 2-room apartments with fridge, TV, stove and pots. It costs around $10 per night, which can be split by several people.

 

Meroë

The only proper touristy place, meaning that here you’ll find an archaeological site surrounded by a fence where they charge an entrance fee and there are locals selling souvenirs. The royal cemetery of Meroë is composed of 100 narrow pyramids spread across a vast desert of orange sand dunes. Most of them are quite well-preserved and, at the end of 2016, the site was still under restoration. Ticket price varies and it will depend on your negotiation skills. For more information, read: How to visit the Nubian pyramids of Sudan

How to get to Meroë from Karima – The ruins of Meroë are located right next to the road, meaning that there is no direct bus going there. If you come straight from Karima, follow the same route as going to Shendi but get off 50km before. If you want to go from Shendi, take a bus to Kabushiya and then, you can easily hitchhike the remaining few kilometers.

Where to stay in Meroë -You have 5 options. First, you could stay in Khartoum and come to Meroë on a day trip, which is what most travelers do. Second, as I mentioned previously, you could stay in Shendi. Third, there are several resting places along the road between Atbara and Shendi, where the truck drivers spend the night for as little as 5SDG ($0.30). Basically, they have a bunch of deck chairs placed outside. I stayed here 🙂 Fourth, you may stay at the Meroe Tented Camp, which is a desert camp with relatively luxurious tents. They used to ask $42 for one night but, according to Patrick from German Backpacker, they now ask for $190. They are just crazy and, clearly, not targeting backpackers. And fifth, you could just set up your own tent among the dunes!

The pyramids of Meroë, Sudan
The pyramids of Meroë – Places to visit in Sudan

Naqa and Musawwarat es-Sufra

The most off the beaten track Nubian temples in the world, Naqa and Musawwarat es-Sufra are located in the middle of the desert, several kilometers away from the road. Getting there is a bit tricky as there are no signs and you need to go over sand dunes.

A traveler claimed that he went there on a small, normal car but you need a really good driver and, definitely, it’s better to go there on a 4×4.

From Khartoum, the price would oscillate something between $100 and $150. It’s quite expensive.

Alternatively, in Shendi, which is the closest town to the temples, you could look for a 4×4 owner and ask this person to take you there. The cost would be significantly lower than from Khartoum. Andy, the same traveler who went there on a small car, said that he got a car for 400SDG ($20). He visited Naqa but, when he arrived in Mussawarat, they wanted to charge him $20 for visiting it and bargaining was not possible. Be aware of this.

The temple of Amun at Naqa by Retlaw Snellac Photography – Things to do in Sudan

Omdurman

Located very close to the capital, Omdurman is a city that has very little interest but is famous for having some of the most popular events among tourists:

Sufi dancing – Sufism is the mystical or spiritual branch of Islam. Their faith is not based on logic but on revelation. They are those Sunni Muslims who perform a spiritual dance while they get high on drugs. This psychedelic dancing takes place on Friday afternoons. Where? In Hamid El-Nil Mosque. You’ll be definitely meeting other tourists. For more information, check out this amazing photo essay from the Candy Trail travel blog.

The camel market – Personally, I didn’t go there, as I’ve seen several camel markets in the Middle East before, but if you’ve never seen more than 2,000 camels gathered all together, I am sure you are gonna love this one. How to get there? First of all, take a bus to Omdurman (either from Shendi or Khartoum). In Khartoum, buses depart from Al Araby bus station. The bus will drop you off at the main souk. From there, you should take another bus to Souk Libya (7km). Once in Souk Libya, take the last bus to Moelih, the actual camel market. You’ll know where it is because everybody else will get off there.

A revelation – By Biyokulule – Things to do in Sudan

The capital Khartoum

If you come from Egypt, you should arrive in Khartoum in two weeks, approximately. Khartoum is a city in which to rest and eat something different from foul and grilled chicken. Honestly, there’s not much to do besides visiting the confluence of both the Blue and White Niles. In Khartoum, one can have fun just wandering around the endless souks and hanging out with the locals. By the way, if you want to hang out in a nice hotel, Corinthia Hotel, the best one in town, has the best internet and you can spend as much time as you want in the reception area.

For more information, read: 24 hours in Khartoum

How to get to Khartoum – Al Araby is one of the main bus stations in Khartoum. From here, buses come and go in all directions. From Shendi, you can take a bus for 20SDG ($0.80). 4 hours, with traffic.

Where to stay in Khartoum – Couchsurfing is easy in Khartoum but also, there’s a hostel called Hostelling International Khartoum. These are the coordinates: 15.591484, 32.539680. There’s also a camping area next to the river, situated very close to the confluence of the Nile. It’s called Blue Nile Sailing Club. These are the coordinates: 15.611694, 32.534409

The following places (Port Said, Suakin and Kassala) are amazing to visit. However, you should add at least one week or 10 extra days to the previous two-week itinerary.

 

Kassala

Located at the border with Eritrea, Kassala is a city that lies at the foot of a beautiful peak belonging to the Taka Mountains. In Kassala you will find a large number of different ethnicities, including Beja and Rashadia. An interesting spice souk, plenty of colors and meeting different kinds of people are the things that make Kassala become a unique place. By the way, most likely, you’ll be the only foreigner wandering around this area.

For more information, check out this awesome photo essay from Candy Trail Travel Blog.

Tribal man, Sudan
Tribal man

Port Said and Suakin

Located on the Red Sea, almost 800km from Khartoum, these two cities are, geographically, culturally and architecturally, quite different from the rest of Sudan.

Suakin – With a peculiar architecture that dates back to the 19th century, Suakin was an important place during the Ottoman Empire, as it was the center of slavery exportation and where Muslims left from on their pilgrimage to Mecca. Today, the Turkish government is investing some efforts in restoring the buildings. Where to stay? There are a few hotels but, apparently, some of them might tell you that foreigners are not allowed to stay in Suakin. You can try but, if you want to be more comfortable, I suggest you go to Port Sudan, located just 60km away.

Port Sudan – Port Sudan is the place where you want to go if you wish to disconnect from the desert and swim in the bluest water. This is most cosmopolitan city in the country, as well as the cleanest. Where to stay? There is one expensive hotel called Coral on the Corniche. If you want something very cheap and basic, you can stay at Hotel Boheine (19.6118533, 37.2208425), near the sea, or at Hotel Alatoun (19.612733,37.213873), near the souk.

By the way, like its neighbor Egypt, the Red Sea in Sudan is home really impressive corals, so here you can do some of the best snorkeling and diving ever.

How to get to Port Sudan and Suakin? – From Khartoum, there are direct buses but you could also go from Atbara, the city where you took a second bus, on your way from Karima to Meroë.

 

This is all you needed to know for traveling in Sudan. If you have any more updated information, kindly let everybody know in the comments section, thanks!

 

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59 comments

  1. Hi Joan,

    Excellent review. Stunned how the crime rates in tourist areas are among the lowest on earth. The US State Department never reported that one. Meanwhile, driving through the West End of my hometown in the States I am likely to get popped after dark. Crazy stuff. I met 2 young awesome South Sudanese kids recently who moved to the USA to play high school basketball. Both landed scholarships to prestigious Tulane University. What niche kids, embodying the generous spirit of the Sudanese people.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Ryan

    1. Hey Ryan, thanks for your refreshing comment. I’m really happy to hear that there are Sudanese kids who get scholarships for studying abroad. The youngest country in the world is going through quite a lot of struggles and it’s good to know that some its citizens get opportunities like this one. Cheers mate,

  2. Very interesting and useful article about a destination that not many people visit! I bet you didn’t see many tourists around you 🙂 Loved the photos too btw.

  3. Hey! Thanks for a ridiculously good guide which eased some of my concerns. Reading your take on it, it seems similar to the experience of travelling around Iran without an escort (outside of the large cities) and I would do anything to have more similar experiences.

    As I understand it, it has the same situation with ATMs and currency exchange as well. Can I assume the black market is merely people hanging out at some spot holding calculators, or is the set up different? Will they accept Egyptian pounds at the same advantageous rate? Is it possible to exchange on the Egyptian side and/or in intermediate cities as well? Grateful for any questions answered!

    1. Hey mate, hope you are all right. I assume you are coming from Egypt then? Right after crossing the border, the first people you’ll meet will be locals trying to exchange your currency. Yes, they accept Egyptian Pounds. To be honest, I didn’t exchange with them, as I thought I would find a better rate in Wadi Halfa, the next city. But actually, their rate was almost, as good as the one in the city, so you can exchange your EGP with them, and exchange your USD or € in Wadi Halfa. In Wadi Halfa, there are no people hanging around with tons of bills and calculators but you need to ask at the different shops, to see who is willing to exchange your cash. Don’t worry, they love foreign currency so it’s fairly easy to find them.

      1. Much appreciated! Yes, from the Egyptian border. I wanted to visit Ethiopia, but I dislike to fly as there is so much you miss in between. Therefore, I was more than happy to see that Sudan is not only an alternative but a seemingly interesting destination. Thanks again and good luck on your next trip!

  4. Hi Joan,
    This is a great site, thanks. My girlfriend and I are in Aswan waiting to collect Sudan visas. We were wondering if you can register in Abri rather than Wadi Halfa as we are hoping to go straight there. Did you hear of any option like this?
    Cheers
    Tim

    1. Hi, Tim!
      No, you can’t, unfortunately. If you didn’t do it in Wadi Halfa, you will have to do it in Dongola.
      But anyways, if you come by public transport, you can’t go straight to Abri but you have to spend the night in Wadi Halfa. The bus will arrive in Wadi Halfa pretty late and even the drivers always spend the night there. The people that go straight to Khartoum also must spend the night there. You can register in Wadi Halfa in the morning and then go to Abri. That’s what I did.
      Good luck!

  5. Hi Joan,
    Thanks for the excellent guide! I share your experience that the Sudanese people are some of the warmest I’ve come across. One thing though. Officially it is required – or at least it was required when I was there in 2011 – to aquire permits if visiting sites including the pyramids. Has this changed or do you simply consider there to be no need for permits? I didn’t aquire any when I was there, but on my way to Meroe I were asked for them at a checkpoint. I was told to turn around but after some discussion I was allowed to continue to the next city (supposedly to get a bus back to Khartoum). Since the bus driver couldn’t care less about permits he let me off at the pyramids which were amazing 🙂

    On a side note: Sudan has some of the best diving in the Red sea, which one could argue to be the main draw for tourism in the country…

    1. Hey Mattis!
      That’s surprising that you needed permits to visit the pyramids. I am pretty sure that you don’t need them anymore. No one asked me for any permit and didn’t meet any tourist who had an issue with that!

      Yeah, I also heard that Sudan has very good divings. I don’t dive myself but perhaps I should include it in the guide. Thanks for the reco, cheers!

      1. Thanks, hopefully there’s no need! I may have been mistaken in saying that they are needed for the pyramids per se – I could confuse them with the photography permit that you needed to take photos in the country in general. Though I’m also unsure whether that is gone now, I never applied for it.

        Well there’s probably not much to be said about the diving guide-wise, since it’s all liveaboard diving and the majority of the boats start in Egypt. While I did meet a guy who jumped on our boat last minute, I think this is an exception to the rule of booking ahead. Cheers

        1. Hi Mattis and Joan.
          Unfortunately there is a need for a travel permit to see the pyramids and probably going anywhere from Khartoum. My girlfriend and I were stopped on the way a few days ago and made to get a bus back to Khartoum cos we did not have one. We were ok coming from the north all the way down to the capital though.
          The travel permit and photo permit are the same form. It is free to get at the Ministry of Tourism, which can be found here:
          15°35′52″N 32°34′37.52″E
          It is on Bashir Enefeidi Street, which is on the opposite side of the airport from downtown on the east side of the city. The office is on the second floor and a you’ll need a passport photo and copy of your passport and visa page. They are really nice there and have a photocopier and can make you copies of the permit to give to police at checkpoints. It takes about ten minutes and you can list all the places you want to visit and take photos.

          1. Hi Tim,

            Thanks for your feedback man!

            However, you were not asked a pyramid permit. You were asked a travel permit which is required for anyone leaving Khartoum. If you enter from Egypt or Ethiopia and you don’t pass by Khartoum, there is no need to have this permit. Also, if your final destination is Khartoum, which means that you don’t leave the city, you don’t need the permit either.

            In my Sudan visa article, I was explaining this process which you also explained very well: https://againstthecompass.com/en/visa-for-sudan/

            I know. It’s a non-sense law.

  6. Ah ok. Then no. Apart from the travel permit there was no need any other separate permit for the pyramid that we could see and we were not asked for one. Careful at the pyramid entrance they tried to charge SDG270 each or $20. But stand your ground and tell them it is 100 each.

  7. Hello Joan.
    I was wondering where you went after Sudan. Did you fly home? If so did you manage to find a cheap international flight?
    What do you think is the best way to get back to Europe from this part of the world?

  8. Hi Joan
    I am looking to cross from eygpt into Sudan in October as a solo female. Did u experience any issues along the way or did you feel relatively safe

    1. Hi! From a safety point of view, there is no problem at all. From a comfort point of view, it’s a fucked up journey :p But there are plenty of Sudanese women who will be more than happy to have a chat with you, you will have fun 🙂

  9. Hello Joan,

    I might be travelling to Sudan for work. I really liked your blog and posts related to your trip in Sudan. You give another perspective than what most embassies and newspaper give.
    May I ask you when did you go there? Things change fast there and it possible that the atmosphere today or next month are not the same as when you were there.

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    1. Hi Luna, I traveled there in December 2016. Yes, things change fast in Sudan but I wouls say that they change to good, as tourism is increasing day by day. Cheers 🙂

  10. Hi Joan, excellent helpful review. Can you tell me briefly what clothing you would recommend for female travelers in Sudan? Thanks, Terry

  11. Heyo

    Thanks for the source of information. I went Aswan (200 egp with ferry from Abu Simbel) – > Wadi Halfa (150 SDG minivan) – > Dongola (70 SDG bus that was going to Atbara) – > Karima (130 SDG minivan then 50 SDG bus from Atbara) – > Meroe Pyramids (15 SDG truck to Shendi and 70 SDG bus) – > Khartoum and going Ethiopia soon, which supposedly is 270 SDG to the border. Did not bargain any transport.

    Seems like you have kept updating things well. The SDG just had a hell of a week and the government seems to try stabilize it again. But we got 24 per USD and 1.35 per EGP (did not bargain this one) in Wadi Halfa last week. Which at the time made changing into USD first pointless and perhaps even a loss, but it has been crazy.

    Sleeping in the desert by the pyramids is fine as well, even without a tent. Got a bit chilly due to the wind around 3 AM or so but better than superheated rooms with mosquitoes. Although I did have a beetle roll a ball of shit up to me. We asked to get off at “Bayyarawaya” or some similar pronounciation. Use it in combination with Haram (which means Pyramid in Arabic, but also “religiously forbidden” depending on pronounciation). Saying Meroe just confused them as there is a town opposite Karima named such.

    Did registration overdue at the airport for 535 SDG, less than 20 minutes work and the airport is so central. Didn’t even give them photos but they charged me 5 SDG to copy passport and visa.

    Youth Hostel in Khartoum is 70 SDG per night atm in dorm and they can give you a paper to help in the registration, but I don’t know if it changed anything.

    I HIGHLY recommend taking busses and not minivans if you are even remotely tall or value space. Unfortunately not always available and more of a point to point form of transportation.

    When it comes to food, I never had foul as expensive as 25 SDG, outrageous! :] Always hovering around 15 and often satisfying two people. And those 5 SDG falafel sandwiches sure could use some vegetables or sauce added to it…

    So here are some ramblings from me. But all you already have here is more than sufficient to navigate Sudan and feel somewhat confident in doing so. Thanks!

    1. Hey, thank you so much for this trip report! Really appreciate it 🙂
      Good to know that this currency devaluation won’t last for long. I will keep an eye on it!
      Also didn’t know that you could register at the airport. Enjoy Ethiopia 🙂

  12. The information is good. However, fuul is not the national dish – although it is eaten frequently (maybe a sandwich in the western world is a suitable comparison). Aseeda or kisra would be considered as more of a national dish. They will put a sauce over it such as tagiliya (closest comparison I can give is bolognese) or bamiya (gloopy okra based). There are other sauces, including a kind of chicken curry but I don’t know the names of these. I think it is a bit of a misconception that it is not possible to get good food – although it can be difficult as a tourist unless you have a local to help or speak Arabic. Often the best food is in peoples homes rather than restaurants.

    1. Hi James, I am so jealous that you tried this dish! Yes, I fully agree that, in this part of the world, best meals are ALWAYS eaten at home, so in Egypt and many other Arab countries 🙂

  13. Dear Joantow,

    I visirde Port Sudan end of December.

    There is only the expensive top hotel Coral on the corniche (avenue along the coast). Stayed in Boheine hotel at 450 sdg (19.6118533, 37.2208425) near the sea. Also at Alatoun ( 19.612733,37.213873) near the souk. Both already basic.

    Suakin was a disappointment. Only piles of coral stones remain on the island and two reconstructed mosques and the customs house. Lots of poverty and waste everywhere.

    Best regards,

    Jozef

  14. Dear Joantow,
    A short update from Khartoum.
    If you do not like the accomdation @ the Youth Hostel, in the same street about 100 meter west there’s affordable Kh2 hotel run by hospitable Khaled, who speaks fine English.

    Omdurman heading public transport leaves from Jackson bus station west from the Train station. In Omdurman, you find Imam Al-Mahdi tomb at GPS code 15.639591, 32.488507, while Named Al-Neel tomb, where the sufi chanting/dance takes place can be found at GPs 15.625162, 33.464271.

    Best regards,

    Jozef

    1. Hi Andrew, I have no idea about drones but cameras, you are supposed to get a camera permit but seriously, nobody asks for it… I didn’t get it and was my whole journey with a camera hanging from my shoulder.

  15. Not sure if I posted this one before:
    I have an Egyptian-licensed car, and was told in Automobile Club in CAiro that I need a “Carnet de Passage” (called Tryptique now in Egypt) to cross to Sudan. It cost around US$150 (plus a bigger deposit) there. Is it recognized (useful) by Sudan? In the past I had the experience (in Syria) having bought this but not being recognized and having to buy again on the border.
    Or is it better I wait and buy it at the border? Is it cheaper there?
    Thanks,
    Michel

    1. Hi Michel, sorry but I can’t help you with this as I don’t really know about this… I guess that the company should have experience in border crossings from other clients right? They should know that

  16. Arthur Schmidt

    First of all thank you very much for your information.

    If you plan to update the Sudan part maybee you think about to mention that a Sudan visa has to be used max. 60 days after beeing issued. That is what different sources in the internet tell.

  17. Hey Joan,
    I just wanted to thank you for the probably most amazing travel guide to Sudan out there. I’m planning on travelling there in winter and sure will use your great ideas for my trip.
    Cheers, Felix

  18. I have some Updates:
    THE TRAVEL PERMIT TO MOVE AROUND THE COUNTRY IS NOT LONGER NEEDED
    I red that at Lonely Planet Travelforum and I went to the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife in Karthoum and they also told me its not necessary anymore.
    1$ at the black market was between 38 SGD in Wadi Halfa and three weeks later in Karthoum about 45 SGD ( July 2018)

    Crossing Sudan to Egypt Overland:
    Bus from Wadi Halfa to Aswan 250 SGD
    132 SGD leaving fee
    130 Egyptian Pound Entering Fee (and 25$ for Visa on arrival)

    Save travel!

  19. This is excellent! I’d love to go but I’m terrified of the logistics once on the ground. And my fiancé is 6’4” and probably wouldn’t like the minibuses very much…

    Also, in the first part of the article (before the list of destinations), you wrote Kalassa a couple times instead of Kassala. 🙂

    1. Hi Sarah! Yes, to be very honest, Sudan involves a bit of hard-backpacking… However, I met quite a few people above 50 who were traveling with a private guide and absolutely loved it. Would you travel with a guide?

      Thanks for the correction. I will change it right away!

    2. Sarah,
      Just a quick response – I’ve been traveling in Sudan twice now (once with my girlfriend) and I am 6’33. Normal coaches (quite nice ones at that) are common on most major routes and I don’t find Sudan to be any worse than most other places in that regard. Granted the world does not seem to be built for my size but what do…

  20. Hey mate,

    Thanks for some wonderful articles on your blog! I’m going to Sudan in about a month and a half after traveling through Egypt.
    I’m so excited and reading your few articles just makes me think I’ll have a great time off the grid.

    I have one or two questions if you don’t mind 🙂

    Did you sleep at some people’s house?
    Did you just have a sleeping bag for your whole trip?
    Do people ask money when you hitchhike? (although I don’t mind giving since they welcome me and i use their oil :D)

    Thanks mate!
    Peter

    1. Hi Peter, great to hear that you are going to Sudan!
      Here my replies:
      1 – One day, a random house invitation.
      2 – I always travel with a sleeping bag but didn’t use it there. Mine is too warm
      3 – They never asked me for any money
      Cheers!

  21. ihi great read thanks… one thing… i need to gett a visa from the UK to travel to sudan in January 2019 . Do you know anyone who can supply the letter of invitation?

  22. A standard source is Hotel Acropole in Khartoum. Not a “backpacker” price, but pleasant place with owners very useful other bureaucratic tasks.

  23. Hi!

    Thank you so much for some really great articles on your blog! I’m going to Sudan in november through Egypt. I’ve wanted to go for a long time, and your blog is what made me decide that its really is possible to do it! 😀

    I just have a few questions if you don’t mind; Approximately how much money (dollars) do you think I need for lets say 3-4 weeks in Sudan travelling the same route as you did?? I dont really like to travel with a lots of cash but I understand its necessary. I´m planning to cross the border from Sudan to Ethiopia after, so I hope to change the rest of my SDG to Birr on the border.

    If I understand correctly, you don’t need a photo permit anymore?
    I’m a photographer, planning to taking lots of pictures, in your experience how did most people react to this? I’m not looking for still pictures.. Travelled a lot in West African countries before, where it mostly were no problem.

    Im travelling alone, anyone else travelling in Sudan in Nov-Dec of this year?? Or anyone with some extra tip, please share 🙂

    Victorya
    x

    1. Hi Victorya! I would say that a backpacking budget would never be higher than 20-30USD a day. As per the photo and travel permit, yes, it is not needed anymore according to quite a few travelers. As per the photos, everybody is pretty cool with that, except for some women. However, since you are also a woman, I am sure that it will be different.

  24. FYI I will be there from the start of January and will be getting visa from somewhere in East Africa in Nov/Dec. Acropole Hotel has been brilliant and helpful.

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