"Atbara- the former railway town" Atbara by uglyscot

Atbara Travel Guide: 13 reviews and 24 photos

The railway

What can I say about Atbara? We arrived off the ferry from Ed-Damer and drove up the steep slope. People , cattle, goats were waiting to take their turn on the boat. As we crawled up the hill, what did we see but a train passing in front of us. I always knew Atbara was associated with the railways. It was here that Kitchener made a bridge over the Nile to take the railway through to Khartoum on his way to defeat the Mahdist army. The bridge is still in use. the central area is for the railway, and there are two narrow lanes on either side for cars. Lorries find it difficult to cross except by ferry. Though now this will change with the new bridge at present under construction.
I first passed through Atbara by train on the way to Port Sudan. It was a major junction for trains going north and east. In 1946 the first trade union was founded , and the railway union was often a source of trouble for the government.


Atbara is now known for having the largest cement factory in the country. Now at least two new ones are under construction or have recently begun production. As a result of the oil industry, now there is a great demand for development in building both for industry and residential expansion.

A historic town.

On 8 April 1898 the Anglo- Egyptian forces , led by Kitchener defeated the Mahdist troops led by Mahmoud and Osman Digna. The two armies were fairly evenly matched in numbers [14,000 ] against the Sudanese with 12.000 infantry and 3000 cavalry. However, superior weapons won and in 45 minutes the Battle of Atbara was over. Mahmud was killed, and Osman Digna retreated with what was left of his men.
Only the bridge remains, soon to be superceded by a new one.

  • Last visit to Atbara: Mar 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (3)

Comments (2)

  • uglyscot's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2008 at 9:21 AM

    It was moored. They were looking at the progress being made on the new bridge - not visible in the picture.

  • evaanna's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2008 at 3:16 AM

    The ferry trip with donkeys etc. sounds very interesting. I wonder if the men are pointing to the other ferry afraid that it may hit theirs?


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