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"Salaam Sudan!" Top 5 Page for this destination Sudan by mafi_moya

Sudan Travel Guide: 1,196 reviews and 3,138 photos

A country with more questions than answers

I lived in Sudan for about a year, mostly working in the capital, Khartoum. Looking back, it was possibly the best (and certainly most interesting!) time of my life. Although I admit it didn't always seem like that!

Sudan can be an extremely difficult and frustrating country to live in. While there I often veered between loving and hating the place, my feelings changing from one extreme to another in a matter of minutes. Now that I've left I realise that Sudan has gotten under my skin in a way that no other place has quite managed, and it's a country I will always feel deeply attached to, and indebted to for giving me such a wonderful experience.

The friendliest people

While Sudan always had its ups and downs - and it was a real rollercoaster ride! - one thing remained constant: the overwhelming friendliness and incredible hospitality of the Sudanese people.

The Sudanese are difficult to describe as a single people as the country is so varied and immense. Sudan shares borders with nine different countries, as diverse as Libya and Egypt in the north to Congo and the heart of Africa in the south. Few countries in the world have such a mix of influences and cultures and that is part of what makes the country so fascinating. Of course it also partly explains why Sudan has suffered such a horrific civil war for much of the last 50 years.

The images of Sudan in the outside world, for those who know anything about it at all, are of bloody warfare, endless famine and Islamic fundamentalism. Osama bin Laden is probably the most famous ex-resident, and words such as slavery, genocide and persecution appear in nearly all conversations about Sudan. These images all have a certain amount of truth to them. However, for most visitors the enduring impressions are more likely to be the incredible welcome received from the locals, the stark beauty of the villages on the banks of the Nile, and of a country that deserves peace and prosperity for a change. Even if peace does work out Sudan is unlikely to feature on any package tours or become the latest fashionable destination, but if you're after somewhere unique and a genuine culture shock then Sudan is perfect.

Writing about Sudan is extremely difficult. I eagerly read pretty much every book I can find about the country (not that there's very many!) but none has managed to convey just what it's like to be there. It's a country that really has to be experienced first hand.

Summing up Sudan...

When people ask me to try and sum up Sudan I'm generally stumped - it's an incredibly complex country that I don't think can be easily defined or described.

But I always remember a journey sat on the roof of a truck across Southern Kordofan. It was undoubtedly the hardest trip of my life - the sheer discomfort, the unbearable heat, lack of water, and the frustration at the pace over roads that were no more than mud tracks (we covered under 100 kms in about 12 hours). To cap it all off I shared the truck with half a dozen soldiers returning from leave to the front line, who found it amusing to point their kalashnikovs at my head - "a joke" they said! Well ha ha, how very funny!

Just to make it even worse was the knowledge that, cheap though it was, as a white guy (a khawaja) the driver had overcharged me compared to other passengers.

But this being Sudan, every experience, no matter how bad, seems to have something to improve your faith in humanity, to make you appreciate the wonders of being here. In this case, we stopped for a meal about mid-day and the driver - the same one who overcharged me - insisted that as I was his guest he would buy my meal and drinks for the journey. The meal and drinks cost far more than I had paid for my ride - far from ripping me off, by taking me he actually finished up out of pocket.

Only in Sudan!

LATEST: Sudan has been in the news a lot recently because of the horrendous situation in Darfur at the moment. Which makes a change as Sudan has been home to the longest running civil war in Africa, in which up to 2 million people have died, and it's hardly warranted a mention in the rest of the world! It's so typical of Sudan that just as major steps to peace are realised in the south, more tragedy unfolds in the west. VT isn't a political site so I'll refrain from putting any opinions on my main page, but from a travel perspective all of north Sudan and parts of the east and middle remain perfecly safe to travel in. For latest information on the country I'd recommend

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The people, the history, going somewhere truly unique and intriguing
  • Cons:The heat, and if you need stunning sights and action-packed activity Sudan's not for you
  • In a nutshell:Leave your preconceptions at home and prepare to be amazed
  • Last visit to Sudan: May 2002
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (52)

Comments (28)

  • awladhassan's Profile Photo
    Jul 8, 2011 at 2:25 AM

    I have lived in Sudan for over 40 years, and find your pages a positive delight. People keep telling me to write a book, but of my experiences, but it would be rated as Fiction. You would understand though.

  • Aug 16, 2010 at 2:50 AM

    Really enjoyed reading these pages. I spent a few days in Khartoum and enjoyed it very much.

  • flynboxes's Profile Photo
    Nov 20, 2009 at 9:11 PM

    Liked your tip about Sudan Airways..funny but true. You have some of the most well written tips I have read here in a long time.

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Nov 15, 2009 at 11:35 PM

    Thanks a lot for your great story! It's a discovery for me! ><><><><

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 4, 2009 at 3:58 PM

    You surely dwelved into the culture here, and did a wonderful job of presenting this country and its people.

  • Jan 27, 2008 at 5:51 AM

    Spectacular page. I particularly liked the Local custom tips, especially the 12 hour working day one!

  • MichaelFalk1969's Profile Photo
    Oct 30, 2007 at 3:06 AM

    Mafi, you have built some great pages on Sudan. Plenty of information, well-written, good photos. I am considering to go to Khartoum/Omdurman/Meroe 2008 or 2009.

  • Aug 8, 2006 at 10:28 PM

    Hi!U have a very nice pictures!!!But a little bit sad...Greetings from Moscow.

  • mizzzthanggg's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2006 at 1:27 AM

    excellent pages!! very helpful. thanks very much ;-)

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Feb 18, 2006 at 6:34 AM

    Simply some of the best pages I've seen on VT.


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