"How on earth do people live here?!" Wadi Halfa' by maykal

Wadi Halfa' Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 3 photos

Wadi Halfa...gateway to Sudan, and what a gateway it is! Aswan's port is sleek, modern, well-organized...Wadi Halfa's is, erm, subtle. A piece of floating wood with a customs official on it. But calm appearances are deceptive...no sooner had we docked than the boat was flooded with blue-coated customs men who squeezed themselves into the depths of steerage class and threatened to whip anyone who dared to move an inch in the wrong direction. Chaos ensued, as boxes were passed one way, little old ladies in fast-unravelling tobes tried to go the other, and expansive men with wobbly bottoms stood with a dozen suitcases in the middle of the main thoroughfare.

"Yellow forms! Yellow forms!" cried the customs men, sweat dripping of their double chins, even though it was a fairly cool day. "Go get your yellow forms"

Back into the heaving crush of people, going against the flow, with a heavy rucksack on my back. Navigating the stairs in such a crowd is a daunting thing in itself, but rucksacks have a tendency to snag on bannisters and passing children's ear lobes, so the going was slow.

Yellow form in hand, I rejoined the melee, carried along with the tide until I was almost shoved off the gangplank. A rickety-looking shack transformed into a quiet spacious haven of calm, most unlike the Sudan of our experiences. All the khawajas (foreigners) were seated in an airy cafeteria sipping complementary tea while travel permits were issued.

Moments later, entry was stamped and we were officially in Sudan...a final baggage check and we were in Wadi Halfa...oh, where is the town? Is that it? Three or four huts in the sand?

Our travelling companions on the boat, a smiling Sudanese couple, a streetwise Egyptian trader from Alexandria, and a doddering old Jordanian, took us under their collective wings, and we set off for the best hotel in Wadi Halfa. The Jordanian elicited much sympathy...he'd been told the boat was a memorable journey, so hoping it would be memorable in a good sense, he duly cancelled his flight ticket from Cairo to Khartoum and made his way down to Aswan. By the time we met him in Aswan, he was bearing up well, although he looked a little taken aback by the state of the ferry. 2 days later in Wadi Halfa, Elias didn't look well at all, but he perked up considerably at the mention of the town's best hotel. He was conjuring up images of a five-star resort on the banks of the Nile.

The Hotel an-Nil was somewhat different. The shabby entrance gave way to an open courtyard of metal beds, and a communal washing area behind a waist-high wall. Elias' eyes were asking many questions..."where is the cinema? the swimming pool, the bar? jacuzzi?", but all credit to him, he didn't say anything.

Wadi Halfa is dust basically....dust with one or two eateries and a sandy railway station in the middle of nowhere. The train to Khartoum is supposed to meet the boat, but all was quiet at the station. In a small town full of tired travellers, all of whom intend to head southwards with no delay, gossip and rumours abound.
"The train is coming in an hour"
"The train is coming tomorrow"
"The train has broken down"
"The train has gone back to Khartoum"
"There is no train"

Three days later, it lamely limped into town, the weary passengers having seen better days.

Tickets were sold out...or at least that was what the ticket office said. Some people managed to find seats, but quite how I do not know.

More to come...tales of the boat and the train, as well as a few tips for survival in one of the dustiest, dullest places on earth...and a photo or two, if they come out. but you'll have to wait until the Sudanese immigration authorities see fit to release me into the big wide world.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Ummmm.....
  • Cons:You may be stuck for days!
  • Last visit to Wadi Halfa': Feb 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (8)

Comments (3)

  • fabrice's Profile Photo
    Apr 1, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    frightening but I would love to come

  • Herwig1961's Profile Photo
    Jul 6, 2009 at 3:04 PM

    Hi Michael,thanks for your comment on my Malaria thread!Interesting page here!Thank you for sharing!Greetings Herwig

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Apr 6, 2006 at 2:31 AM

    Fascinating stories in your travelogue, intro page and tips. I've just been reading Michael Palin's account, and was very interested to learn many more details in your version. You've convinced me not to go there, by the way.



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