Travel to Sudan
Sudan is one of the rare travelled countries in the world. Get some facts by reading these frequently asked questions:
1. What is the country of Sudan?
Sudan, in northeast Africa, measures about one-fourth the size of the United States. Its neighbors are Chad and the Central African Republic on the west, Egypt and Libya on the north, Ethiopia and Eritrea on the east, and South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo on the south.
2. Is Sudan split into two countries?
Sudan country profile. Sudan, once the largest and one of the most geographically diverse states in Africa, split into two countries in July 2011 after the people of the south voted for independence.
3. What nationality are the people of Sudan?
Due to the process of Arabisation common throughout the rest of the Arab world, today Arab culture predominates in Sudan. The ethnic groups of Sudan are Arabs 70%, others being Arabized ethnic groups of Nubians, Copts, and Beja. Others (Fur, Nuba, Fallata).
4. How many states are there in Sudan?
Prior to 9 July 2011, the Republic of Sudan was composed of 25 states. The ten southern states now form part of the independent country of South Sudan. Two additional states were created in 2012 within the Darfur region, and one in 2013 in Kurdufan, bringing the total to 18
5. How many ethnic groups are there in Sudan?
Indigenous Sudanese include Nilotic or Negroid peoples, of whom the Dinka form the largest portion, and constitute about 52% of the national population; Arabs (an estimated 39% of the population); and Beja (6%). In all, there are nearly 600 ethnic groups.
6. What are the tribes in South Sudan?
The Nuer people are significant minorities in the Greater Upper Nile region, consisting of the South Sudan states of Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Unity. The region also has a significant presence from Dinka (and other Nilotic people), the Shilluk people, and Murle people, as well as Moslem Arab tribes.
7. What is the meaning of the word Sudan?
With regards to the name Sudan, originally it comes from the term`Bilad -al- Sudan` which means “Land of Blacks”. So the term is a mere derivation from the Arabic word ` Sauod` meaning ‘Blacks’ as an indication to the skin colour of the inhabitants living in the region.
Travel to Sudan – Visas
Sudanese travel visas are expensive and difficult to acquire for some nationalities in some countries or for people with an Israeli stamp in their passport. It is advisable to obtain a Sudanese visa in your home country if possible. Hours-long waits for customs clearance are not unheard of, and landing in Khartoum can be tricky. Entering or exiting by land usually goes smoothly. Alcohol is forbidden in Sudan, and attempting to import it could bring strict penalties.
Cairo is one of the easiest places to get one (usually a couple of hours after application), although for a lot of nationalities it costs USD100 (payment is now possible in Egyptian pounds). You will almost definitely need a letter of invitation/introduction from your embassy, and the time this takes varies from embassy to embassy.
It is also possible to obtain a visa in Aswan. Be advised that the Consulate has moved in the last year or two and is now located at 24°03’18.5″N , 32°52’59.9″E. As of May 2016, they require a copy of your passport, a copy of your Egyptian visa, 2 photos, and $50.
Getting a visa from the Sudanese Embassy in Addis Ababa is extremely unpredictable, although it is cheaper (around USD60). Your name is first sent to Khartoum merely for approval. An official has stated, “It could take two weeks, it could take two months.” Once your name has been approved, the visa itself only takes a couple of days.
Visa applications are submitted between 10am and 12pm and visa collected next day between 3pm and 3.30pm. Cost is 5000 Kenyan Shillings (US$50). Letter of support for application can be obtained from own embassy (e.g. British Embassy, charges 8200 Kenya Shillings, turnaround time depends on availability of the Consul who needs to sign the letter).
All foreigners are required to register within three days of arrival, although this may be done for you by immigration staff at land borders, depending on where you enter the country. You will also need a permit to take photographs and travel to certain areas outside Khartoum.
Photo and travel permits are now a single, combined document and once you are registered (at the border or in Khartoum) they can be obtained for free from the Ministry Of Tourism, Antiques And Wildlife
Travel to Sudan – Getting there and around
By plane: Khartoum Airport (KRT) is the main gateway into Sudan by air. There are also some international flights which use Port Sudan airport. Khartoum Airport is served by various European, Middle Eastern and African airlines.
By train: There are no international trains from neighbouring countries into Sudan.
There is a weekly train from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum, which leaves some time after the weekly ferry from Aswan arrives. “Some time” can mean anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days but word usually spreads around town before the train leaves. There are a few different options for accommodation, and plenty of simple restaurants. The journey is scheduled for roughly 50 hours, but can vary greatly. To be on the safe side you shouldn’t make any other plans for your next 75 hours. You might not be able to find fresh water until you get to Khartoum, so it is advisable to stock up on water supplies before leaving Wadi Halfa.
By land: One way to get in from Ethiopia is via the border village of Gallabat. The road crossing from Egypt periodically closes, depending on diplomatic and trading relations between the two countries.
Driving in Sudan is chaotic but not especially dangerous by African standards. Visitors to the area who are inexperienced at international driving are advised to hire a taxi or a driver. In most of the country, a 4WD is essential; Sudan’s main highway is sealed for much of the way but most of the roads in the country are dirt or sand tracks. Crossing in to Sudan from Egypt via the ferry from Aswan to Wadi Halfa now has the benefit of the Chinese financed tarmac highway covering the 400km south to Dongola, and then right through to Khartoum, another 500km. This road is quick for overlanders as there are few military roadblocks, and very little other traffic.
By bus: It’s possible to travel from Egypt to Sudan by bus. Buses leave everyday except Friday from near Aswan station. It takes 2 days to get to Khartoum from Aswan. The bus stops overnight in Wadi Halfa. Tickets can be bought from hawkers nears Aswan train station or local hotels. The price depends on your negotiation skills. Anywhere from EGP300-500 seems to be the rate for foreigners.
As of 01/17, buses now leave Aswan and travel directly to Khartoum via the newly opened border crossing to the west of lake Nasser (22°00’00.0N , 31°09’14.6″E). These buses take up to 28 hours (depending on border crossing) and thus do not stop in Wadi Halfa. As with the bus above, it leaves between 0430 and 0730 from the Aswan bus station. Tickets may be bought from shops on the southern side of the square in front of Aswan train station for around 500EGP.
While buses do run frequently in the better travelled areas, in remoter areas people tend to use trucks or “boxes” (Toyota Hiluxes) – they’re usually just as crowded as the buses but have fewer people sitting on top and get stuck in the sand less often. They tend to go whenever they fill up, which can take half a day or so. If you have money to spare, you can hire a whole one to yourself
By boat: The most reliable way to enter Sudan from Egypt is via the weekly ferry from Aswan in Egypt to Wadi Halfa. Currently it runs on Mondays to Sudan and back on Wednesdays. Prices recently went up to USD33. The boat is old and crowded with people and goods (the best place to sleep is on deck amongst the cargo) but it takes in some magnificent views (including that of Abu Simbel). Food and drink are available on-board. There are frequent ferries from Saudi Arabia. If travelling from the south, ferry tickets can be purchased at Khartoum’s main train terminal in North Khartoum.
Travel to Sudan – Sights
Meroe Pyramids are a relatively popular tourist attraction and this is reflected in the attitude of the taxi drivers, Sudanese hospitality notwithstanding. Agree and confirm timings and prices beforhand.
In Khartoum/Omdurman you must see the Sufi ritual of drumming and trance dancing, about one hour before sunset and Friday prayer. These rituals take place northwest of the Nile river in Omdurman. Very welcoming, festive atmosphere.
After 4pm take a good coffee at The Egg hotel, with high altitude view over Khartoum, the Nile, and Omdurman, and stay to watch the sunset. Worthwhile.
About 1.5 hours south of Khartoum visit the dam. Just north of the dam (downstream) the Nile is also very wide; on Friday/Saturday the area is popular with day visitors.
There is good diving near Port Sudan, either on live-aboards or from the new Red Sea Resort (north of Port Sudan).
Get more information at Wikipedia.