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Holidays in Sudan

Understanding Sudan

Sudan is afflicted by civil wars which have been raging, on and off, for more than 40 years When the colonial map-makers divided up Africa, they included in Sudan the predominantly muslim people of the north including Nubians and Arabs, who share much of their history and culture with Egyptians, and the largely Christian and pagan Bantu people of the south, who have more in common with the rest of sub-Saharan Africa than with their northern countryfolk Nowadays, an Islamic state, operating Shariah law in the north Many in the south want independence or autonomy from the northern-influenced rule of Khartoum Although autonomy was briefly granted in an effort to still the civil war, it was later rescinded and the war flared up again The situation changes frequently but many areas in the West are currently very dangerous to visit South Sudan has officially signed a peace accord with the government in Khartoum and has had many refugees return home Hopefully this spells a better and safer future for Southern Sudan

Outside of conflict areas, however, the country is extremely safe to travel in; the Sudanese place great value on respect and honesty and this makes theft a rare occurrence Begging is unheard of outside Khartoum; the only hassle a traveller is likely to come across is from officialdom, in the form of bureaucracy

Much of the Middle East and Africa has a reputation for warmth and hospitality but Sudan is in a league of its own, making it a joy to travel in It is common to be invited to stay at someone's home and most rural Sudanese would never dream of eating in front of you without inviting you to join them Talking the afternoon away over a glass or five of tea is a serious national ritual, which extends to dealings with officials

Sudan is as geographically diverse as it is culturally; in the north, the Nile cuts through the eastern edge of the Sahara: the Nubian desert, the site of the Ancient Kingdoms of Cush and Meroe, and the land of the Seti Here, some modest farming and husbandry supplements the staple crop of date palms The East and West are mountainous regions, and much of the rest of the country comprises of savannahs typical of much of central sub-Saharan Africa

People in Sudan are actually extremely friendly to all the few travellers who get there People treat you as friendly as in any other African country, so be prepared to get spontaneously invited to lunch or dinner Most of the time people are very interested in you and they are often proud to show you their country and their hospitality As in any foreign country, you should avoid political discussion unless someone else brings up the topic in a discussion

Talking in Sudan

The official languages in Sudan are Arabic and English, according to the 2005 constitution English is not widely spoken except by officials and hospitality workers In contrast to many places in the world, it is the older generations that tend to speak the better English

What to see in Sudan

In Khartoum/Omdurman you must see the Sufi ritual of drumming and trance dancing - about 1 hour before sunset and Friday prayer - it is northwest the river in Omdurman Very welcoming, party like atmosphere, where prayer is a rite of celebration

A walk around Tuti Island, situated in the middle of the confluence of the two branches of the Nile, can take about 4 hours The less populated northern section is pretty, with its shady lanes, and irrigated fields, and there is a great little coffee stall under a tree on the western side

The pyramids of Meroe are 25hours north of Khartoum leave early to avoid Khartoum traffic On the same route visit the sites of Naqa and Musawarat In theory permits are required before visiting the sites and guidebooks say that you pay beforehand in Khartoum - but as of January 2010 - this appears to have changed - now you pay at each site - cost is 10 Sudanese Pounds Naqa and Musawarat are signposted beside the Nile Petrol station about 125hours north of Khartoum - and the track is fairly clear - but sandy - and probably good to carry a GPS to avoid getting lost in the bush

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 15 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 is day visitors

There is good diving near Port Sudan - either on liveaboads - or from the new Red Sea Resort north of Port Sudan Beware the windy season Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb unless you're not prone to seasickness 25 hours dingy ride from the coast in rough seas can be testing!

Buying stuff in Sudan


In January 2007, the government introduced a new currency - the Sudanese pound Arabic: جنية jeneh, SDG - the 'G' actually stands for Guinea - which will replace the Sudanese dinar Arabic: دينار dinar, SDD The new pound is worth 100 dinars basically, lob two zeros off the dinar amount and you get the pound equivalent The new pound will be divided into 100 piastres coins, though not immediately

Unfortunately, things are not so simple when it comes to price quoting Instead of new pounds which are hardly used for quoting and dinars more commonly used, especially when quoting in English, most people still talk in terms of the old pound, although there are no more old pound notes in circulation One dinar is worth 10 old pounds Hence, when a person asks for 10,000 pounds, they actually want 1,000 dinars from you And just to add to the confusion further, people usually do away with the thousands when quoting in pounds So, your taxi driver may ask you for 10 pounds, which actually means 10,000 old pounds, which is equivalent to 1,000 dinars, which, by the end of this year, should be referred to once again as just 10 pounds! To clear any confusion, you could try saying "new pound" or جنيةالجديد jeneh al-jedid

Easy summary: 1 new pound = 100 dinars = 1000 old pounds long out of use

Also easy March 2010: 1 US dollar = 24 new pounds most banks/changers/hotels etc exchange at exactly this rate

IMPORTANT NOTICE: the dinar will be in circulation along with the new pound until July 1, 2007, when it will be illegal to circulate or exchange the dinar If you still have any dinars after that, they may still be substituted for new pounds at banks, but the Central Bank of Sudan will stop doing this on September 1, 2007

Bring only foreign CASH into Sudan, preferably US Dollars often accepted in hotels, British Pounds and to a lesser extent Euros are also fairly easy to exchange at banks in big cities Travellers cheques, credit cards and foreign bank automatic teller machine cards are NOT accepted in Sudan, partly because of the US embargo

There are many banks in Khartoum and throughout Sudan but not all of them have foreign exchange facilities There are several money changers in Khartoum, especially in Afra Mall There are also several Western Union agents in Khartoum which will do payouts for money transferred from overseas Although the currency is not fully convertible, the Central Bank sets the exchange rate in line with market forces, hence there isn't really a parallel black market in forex The Sudanese dinar and pound are closed currencies, so be sure to change them back before you leave the country

Credit cards

Because of the US embargo, no credit cards can be used in Sudan The only exception is Diners Club which is accepted by the Khartoum Hilton All transactions have to be in cash making it unsafe as you will be carrying large sums of money with you Carrying out on-line transactions while you are in Sudan can cause problems, as some merchants especially American ones will pick up your Sudanese IP address, and refuse to do business with you If you attempt to use an American Express card for any on-line transaction while in Sudan, you are likely to have the card summarily cancelled

Food and eating in Sudan

Sudan is not renowned for its culinary prowess Fool, made from fava beans, is a common dish, eaten from a communal bowl sopped up with unleavened bread Fresh fruit and vegetables are thankfully very common Lamb is the main meat

Drinking in Sudan

Islam is in charge here , so the only thing that's frequently drunk in Sudan is tea; usually sweet and black Hibiscus tea called Karkadeyh red is a delicious alternative Sudanese coffee is available in most souks and is similar to Turkish style coffee; thick and strong, sometimes flavoured with cardamom or ginger with a powerful kick and altogether delicious Not to be taken before bed though if you want an undisturbed night's sleep! The general advice is not to drink tap water; in most rural areas you will not be able to, as there are no taps Where there are no bore holes which often yield water that is fine to drink, water is often taken directly from the Nile However while Alcohol is strictly illegal in the Muslim north but not in the semi-autonomous non-Muslim south locally brewed alcohol is widely available in various forms and at various degrees of potency A local beer merissa brewed from sorghum or millet is cloudy, sour and heavy and likely to be brewed with untreated water and will almost certainly lead to the 'Mahdis' revenge' the Sudanese version of 'Delhi belly' Aragi is a pure spirit distilled from sorghum or in its purest form, dates Potent and powerful it should be treated with respect and is sometimes contaminated with the likes of methanol or embalming fluid ! to add flavour and potency Be aware though that all these brews are illegal and being caught in possession can result in the full implementation of Islamic law punishments In the towns of south Sudan such as Rumbek and Juba, Kenyan and Ugandan beers are starting to appear in bars at inflated cross-border prices Fresh fruit juices are available throughout Sudan One of the local juices is "aradeab"

Accommodation in Sudan

I Larger Towns and Cities

Most larger towns and cities have affordable hotels, although not as cheap as you might imagine Quality is generally consistent within the price range

Basic hotels provide a bed and a fan with shared bathroom/toilet facilities There may be more than one bed in the room but you are usually expected to pay for the whole room The bigger the group of travellers, the more economical these rooms are, as more beds are often put in a room within reason to accommodate everybody without the price being changed Some hotels have cheaper beds outside in the open as in smaller towns and cities These hotels are not very clean but are cheap and perfectly acceptable for short stays

Lower mid-range hotels - more likely to be found in Khartoum - offer the worst value for money They may have en suite bathrooms, mostly evaporative air conditioning and satellite television, but for what you're paying two or three times that of basic hotels depending on your bargaining skills the rooms are extremely tatty and hotel owners will almost always subscribe to the philosophy of: 'Only fix something if the guest complains' There will sometimes be rooms minus the bathroom/air conditioning/television for prices a little above those in basic hotels

Upper mid-range hotels are the next step up, with spotless rooms of a far higher quality but prices usually quoted in dollars closer to what you'd expect in the West You'll have little to find fault with, though

Top-end hotels are commonly of the Five Star variety, and include the Hilton The few are found mostly in Khartoum They are much more expensive than the upper mid-range hotels

II Outside Larger Towns and Cities

Outside larger towns and cities hotels don't normally go above basic That means bedframes with either simply a string mesh or with thin mattresses; that is not to say they are uncomfortable They are offered generally in fours or fives in rooms where there is often a ceiling fan to keep things cool The beds are usually cheaper - and more fun to sleep in - out in the courtyard under the stars, although there is obviously less privacy and security As with the basic hotels in larger towns and cities, it is more often than not impossible to rent one bed in a room as you might in a dormitory Hotel owners insist that you rent the whole room Rooms become unavailable quickly at certain times weekends, for example Showers may be bucket showers, with water straight out of the Nile if your route follows that river

Camping in the wild is easy in rural areas outside the south as long as the usual precautions are taken

Cities in Sudan

abu jubayhah  abu zabad  babanusah  bara  barbar  bentiu  doka  galgani  gogrial  juba  kaduqli  kapoeta  kassala  khartoum  kinanah  kusti  kutum  ler  malakal  marabba  marawi  maridi  rabak  raga  sawakin  sinjah  sinkat  sinnar  tabat  talawdi  tambul  tambura  tandalti  tawkar  tonj  torit  umm durman  umm jarr  umm kaddadah  umm ruwabah  uwayl  wad madani  wad rawah  wagar  waw  yambio  yei  yirol  

What do you think about Sudan?

How expensive is Sudan?
Meal in inexpensive restaurant2.4 USD
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)17.04 USD
McDonalds meal9.61 USD
Local beer (0.5 draft)1.11 USD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 11.02 USD
Cappuccino2.41 USD
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)0.45 USD
Water (0.33 bottle)0.29 USD
Milk (1l)1.47 USD
Fresh bread (500g)1.52 USD
White Rice (1kg)1.4 USD
Eggs (12) 2.56 USD
Local Cheese (1kg) 6.19 USD
Chicken Breast (1kg) 5.79 USD
Apples (1kg) 4.06 USD
Oranges (1kg) 1.68 USD
Tomato (1kg) 1.5 USD
Potato (1kg) 1.09 USD
Lettuce (1 head) 1.99 USD
Water (1.5l)0.62 USD
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 2 USD
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)1.98 USD
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 5.7 USD
Cigarettes1.9 USD
One way local bus ticket0.33 USD
Monthly pass for bus34.78 USD
Taxi start1.72 USD
Taxi 1km0.33 USD
Taxi 1hour waiting2.72 USD
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.06 USD
Utilities for a "normal" apartment62.37 USD
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 38.68 USD
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 464.98 USD
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 133.7 USD
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 798.04 USD
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 516.96 USD, your travel companion

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