Bordered by Egypt, the Red Sea, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Libya, Sudan is as geographically rich as it diverse. You can explore Sudan’s massive capital city, Khartoum; see pyramids that Within its terrain you can find Napatan pyramids entombing the ancient kings of Kush; go diving in the Red Sea; visit one of Sudan’s finest souks in Kassala and more.
Khartoum – a capital of treasures
Situated at the confluence of the Blue and White Niles, Khartoum was founded in 1821 as a military outpost and is believed to derive its name from the Arabic word for ‘elephant’s trunk’ – khurtum – which the thin strip of land between the two rivers resembles. Following a period of rapid growth, Khartoum became the capital of Sudan in 1834 and also a popular base for European explorers heading into Africa. Together with Omdurman, the old national capital, and Khartoum North, the capital’s industrial area, Khartoum is one of three sister cities and is known as one of ‘The Three Towns’.
Museums of Sudan
Being in such a big city, you have access to a range of museums, such as the National Museum, in Khartoum, and the Khalifa House Museum in Omdurman.
The National Museum
Visit the National Museum, noted for its antiquities and artefacts dating back to before 4000 BC. The Christian Coptic period from the 8th to the 15th century is also well represented, while the museum’s gardens contain two reconstructed temples salvaged from the Nubian land flooded by Lake Nasser.
The Khalifa House Museum
The Beit al-Khalifa – the Khalifa House Museum – situated opposite the Mahdi’s tomb in Omdurman, documents the Mahdi’s reign from 1881-1899. Included within this is a selection of photographs of Khartoum during this time and its subsequent occupation by the British. The Mahdi tomb itself (rebuilt in 1947) is closed to outsiders but can be viewed from the outside.
Other places of interest
In Omdurman, you can visit the largest souk in Sudan. If you’re looking for something that little bit different, you can visit the camel market, which takes place on the far western edge of Khartoum. Many of the camels come from Dafur.
The Nubian pyramids
North of Khartoum, along the banks of the Nile can be found several whole fields of pyramids, where the ancient kings of Kush having conquered Egypt around 730 BC, adopted the pharaonic tradition of pyramid tombs. In Karima, you can find the remains of one of the most sacred temples in the Nile Valley, the Temple of Amun, built by the pharaohs in the 15th century BC at the base of the Jabal Barkal hill.
The three pyramid fields of Meroe are a far more accessible day-trip for visitors from Khartoum Dating from 300 BC to 350 AD, these fields too show a strong Egyptian architectural influence in burying the royal kings of Meroëe. The Sudanese authorities have done much to conserve this site and reconstruct some of the pyramids to their original state.
Port Sudan – a diver’s dream
The port city of Port Sudan, in eastern Sudan, is a good base for divers interested in the Red Sea with its transparent waters and variety of marine life. In fact, the Red Sea and its coral reefs are one of Sudan’s main tourism attractions, and there are several diving shops available to assist visitors. Other access points to the Red Sea include the Arous Tourist Village, and Erkowit, situated 1,200 metres above sea level in the coastal mountains amid evergreen vegetation.
Indeed, for a country commonly associated with extreme heat and arid desert, Sudan supports a wide area of fruitful land, oasis and park reserves. One such area is the Dinder National Park, southeast of Khartoum on the Ethiopian border.
Covering 2,500 sq miles, the park is home to a number of wild animals including lions giraffes, leopard and more, as well as birds such as pelicans, storks and kingfishers. For the nature enthusiast, there is a selection of three-day trips from Khartoum to the park organised during the high season from December to April
If possible, you should visit the Kassala, in the state of the same name in eastern Sudan. Built on the Gash River, it is host to an impressive souk selling a wide variety of fruit, for which the area is renowned, and silver jewellery. The jewellery is made by the veiled women of the Rashaida tribe who live on the outskirts of the city. The tribe are a nomadic people, and are closely related to the Saudi Arabian Bedouin, having emigrated from the Arabic Peninsula around 150 years ago.
With an Islamic government, and Arabic the officially language of the country, links to Saudi Arabia remain strong throughout the country. Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter to Sudan and the principle importer of exports from Sudan.