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Best things to do in Sudan

by Martha Hales

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For many travellers, Sudan is uncharted waters - an African nation with hidden depths and a mysterious history. Even for those in search of an intrepid trip, Sudan might not be a familiar destination. But there are plenty of great reasons to add it to your wishlist, not least more pyramids than Egypt, a friendly capital on the Nile, and a huge treasure trove of archaeological wonders. Discover Kerma, home to what is believed to be one of the oldest man-made structures in sub-Saharan Africa, one of the biggest markets in East Africa at Omdurman, and the stunning Red Sea without the crowds. For history, culture and nature Sudan is a fantastic off the beaten track destination perfect for an adventure holiday away from the masses. 

Best things to do in Sudan: Kerma, Deffufa Castle

Here’s a quick introduction to some of Sudan’s most intriguing attractions.

Get to know Khartoum

Not traditionally known as a tourist destination, Khartoum is full of surprises for those who venture there. The National Museum is the jewel in the crown of the traditional sights, stuffed full of amazing exhibits including mummies, tombs, early Christian art and tomb statuary telling the story of 2,000 years of history. Another impressive event in Omdurman near Khartoum takes place on a Friday evening when the Sufi worship takes place, with trance-like whirling dances and chanting. Take a stroll to Sambat bridge where the two branches of the Nile converge. The Blue Nile flows from Ethiopia (and isn’t remotely blue), while the White Nile flows from Uganda and has a lighter colour. 

Explore Khartoum with our trusted local expert's Essential Sudan tour.

Best things to do in Sudan: Sambat Bridge

The other pyramids

The best known of Sudan’s tourist attractions is undoubtedly the hundred plus pyramids of Meroë. Mesmerising and beautiful, surrounded by desert, many of these steep sided pyramids are more than two and a half millennia old, and were constructed as memorials, some for royalty who were part of the dynasty known as the Kingdom of Kush. The corpses would have been accompanied inside their pyramids by a wondrous selection of treasures, but these have long since been looted, explaining the ruined state of some of the structures. Sudan’s Nubian pyramids are very distinctive and evocative, and what makes them even more magical is the lack of tourists and associated hassle.

Discover the Treasures of Meroë with our trusted local partners.

Best things to do in Sudan: Pyramids of Meroe

Diving in the Red Sea

Think Sudan, think arid desert scenery, right? Inland, this is a justified image, but few people associate Sudan with its Red Sea coast. The Red Sea is renowned as a great destination for diving, but Sudan has one of the least visited stretches of coast and offers some of the most pristine underwater scenery in the Red Sea region. Experienced divers can blaze a sub-aquatic trail through the clear waters to investigate shipwrecks, Jacques Cousteau’s abandoned underwater shelter, 400 species of coral, sharks, turtles and mantras as well as more than 1,500 different types of fish.

Experience these crystal clear waters with our trusted local expert's Highlights of Sudan trip idea as inspiration.

Best things to do in Sudan: Red Sea

Discover Old Dongola

The ruins of the ancient Nubian capital lie on the River Nile’s East bank, relics of the thriving Christian society that lived here for around 700 years until Muslim invaders took over in the 14th century and established their kingdom. The area today seems inhospitable but the ingenuity of the early inhabitants meant that from the 6th Century onwards agriculture was made possible by the use of irrigation systems powered by water wheels in the Nile. Remaining structures today date back more than a thousand years, for example the Church of the Granite Columns, other churches, Qubba tombs, palaces, and general housing. The houses were simple structures yet came complete with bathrooms, running water and rudimentary heating. The location and sense of history are breathtaking.

Visit Old Dongola on a group tour organised by our trusted local partners.

Best things to do in Sudan: Old Dongola

The mystery of Jebel Barkal

The small mount of Jebel Barkal was once considered sacred and because of this it is surrounded by an amazing array of pyramids and ruined temples which are often devoid of tourists, making the experience of visiting them even more magical. Explore the empty desert landscape, the relics of the Egyptian and Kushite statuary and even some hieroglyphic relics and bas-reliefs on the flank of the mountain itself. Though some of the pyramids are still standing, the temple and statues are barely discernible fragments in the sand. Nevertheless, discovering the sacred mount Barkal and its millennia of Nubian significance is a thrill.

Check out our trusted local partner's suggested inspirational itineraries and get one step closer to the magic of Jebel Barkal.

Best things to do in Sudan: Jebel Barkal

Make it happen

Encounter the warmth of the Sudanese hospitality as you explore this undiscovered East African gem. Our local partners are based in Sudan so they are perfectly placed to help you plan your trip with the benefit of up to the minute expertise and on the ground knowledge. Send them a few details and they will take the strain out of planning your Sudan holiday. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898. 

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