"Karima and Merowe - twin towns on the Nile" Kuraymah by mafi_moya

Kuraymah Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 42 photos

Where the Nile loops round in Northern Sudan, there are two small towns facing each other across the river - Karima on the northern bank, Merowe over to the south. This is one of the most beautiful areas of Sudan - for me it's the brilliant colours that make it so memorable. The golden sands of the empty desert contrasts with the clear blue sky, with nothing in between except the odd camel or pyramid. Along the Nile a 20 metre strip of lush, translucent green farmland sustains the town, before the immense desert abruptly takes over again. Against all this are the pristine white jalabiyas of the locals, hard at work in the fields or lazing around by the river. Both towns are small and sleepy, but, aside from the beautiful setting, there are plenty of things to see.


Karima is dominated by the historic Jebel Barkal mountain (see my Barkal page as well) which towers over the edge of the town. Every evening the locals make the short climb up the mountain to watch the glorious sunset. The edge of the town runs in to the desert, where there are some wonderful pyramids and ancient ruins. Karima is also the traditional ship-building capital of Sudan, although, like trains in Atbara, the industry is very much a thing of the past. The town is spacious and well laid out, and the people are very friendly, as usual in Sudan. The guys working nights at the huge power station in the town centre were my saviours when I first arrived - taking me to the hotel, showing me the sights, and just generally staying up all night talking and eating.

Karima is a main stop on Sudan's 'tourist trail' up the Nile to Ethiopia and as a result the dollar dominates far more here than most other Sudanese towns. Even the tourist trail has very few tourists so as yet the impact is fairly minor - kids asking for pens and so on. But I did get approached by some local men who expected me, a khawaja stranger, to buy them breakfast. Now that doesn't sound like much - and I don't want to come across all scrooge-like! - but anyone who's experienced Sudan will understand just how incredible that is!


I spent most of my time in Karima and Barkal, and just popped over to Merowe for an afternoon. Most tourists miss this one out, and it hasn't got the mountain or attractions that Karima has, but it's a very pleasant little town with, like most Nile settlements, a very friendly and community-led vibe. Again, it's very spacious and has the usual sights - interesting souks, a large empty square, simply decorated mosques. Down by the river, just west of the ferry station, are some attractive old colonial buildings and farmland ideal for wandering around.

This area can get extremely, mind-meltingly hot. I visited in winter, and Khartoum at the time was a lovely high 20s temperature and early mornings were actually cold. In Karima/Merowe in mid-December it was still about 45 degrees and blazing hot. In the summer the thermometers often top 50 degrees. Remember to pack the suncream...

  • Last visit to Kuraymah: Dec 2001
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (9)

Comments (4)

  • mvtouring's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2007 at 11:11 PM

    Very interesting place, but not sure I will visit ;-)

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2006 at 4:11 AM

    More interesting stuff of a place I'll never visit.

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2005 at 12:30 AM

    The white conical roofed buildings are usually houses for railway employees, built by the British in imitation of the traditional huts; never heard them described as being kilns before.

  • aussiedoug's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2004 at 4:38 AM

    Fascinating stuff. Boy am I envious of these genuinely interesting places you've travelled to. Feel like such a mundane tourist in comparison.


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