"Sudan" Top 5 Page for this destination Sudan by grets
Sudan Travel Guide: 1,196 reviews and 3,138 photos
Unfortunately, these days Sudan is mostly famous for its civil war, chronic political instability, adverse weather, famine and the fact that the government refuses to accept that genocide has taken place in the Darfour region. Many people asked me “Is it safe?” when we explained we were going to Sudan for our holidays.
There is a tale behind my desire to visit Sudan, going back some twenty years or so, when I first read about the pyramids in Meroe. I knew then, that one day I would make Sudan my travel destination. Also integral to the saga is my all-time favourite book: “The Impossible Journey” by Michael Asher, where he tells of his epic voyage across the Sahara from west to east with his new wife and a couple of camels.
When I discovered a trip on the net, travelling with a camel caravan across the deserts of Sudan, including a visit to Meroe, with Michael Asher as a guide, I knew my fate had been sealed. The holiday was booked and I was to meet Michael Asher AND see the pyramids of Meroe.
Local name: Jumhuriyat as-Sudan
The largest country in Africa with an area slightly larger than ¼ of the size of the US, Sudan is where the Arab world meets Africa, with an amazing array of different tribes. 80% of the population are nomadic subsistence farmers, wandering the great plains with their herds of camels and flocks of sheep, their way of life almost untouched by the outside. Although the country is dominated by the River Nile, arable land only accounts for 5% of the country. Large foreign debts, huge arrears and inflation in the high 20s continue to cause problems for the Sudanese economic progress. Exports include cotton, gum arabic , sorghum, textiles and sugar.
Life expectancy is 55, literacy is 46%, the official language is Arabic and 70% of the population are Muslim. The population is approximately 35 million.
With a rich heritage dating back several millennia, Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt, and once ruled over their more famous neighbours! Sudan gained independence from a condominium between Egypt and Britain in 1956.
Despite their obvious struggles and hardships, the Sudanese remain one of the friendliest people in the world.
Probably Britain’s greatest living desert explorer with two awards for exploration under his belt, Michael Asher has travelled 20,000 miles by camel. Having lived in the country for ten years, three of those with the Kababish tribe, Michael is an expert on Sudan and has written 15 books, mostly on or about the desert as well as presenting three documentaries for Channel 4.
Carrying with us all our worldly goods on the camels, we travelled at a steady pace of 2-3 miles an hour, covering about 18 miles a day to a total of 200 miles. For the first hour, everyone was expected to walk, after that you could choose to walk or ride, or a combination of both. We would start early to avoid the heat of the day, and break for lunch around 11.30. Around 2.30 in the afternoon we would continue our sojourn through the desert landscape, travelling from well to well. As well as Michael Asher, there were eleven intrepid explorers, five camel handlers, a guide and a cook. At night we would sleep under a blanket of stars, reflecting on the events of the day.
We were, as far as we know, the first group to partake in a trek of this kind. It was a great honour to be part of such a pioneering expedition.
The weather was extreme for the time of year, with temperatures reaching 45ºC in the heat of the day. The extreme conditions took their toll on me, along with seventeen blisters on my feet, saddle sores and a fall head first from the camelback, resulting in severe dehydration and eventual collapse from heat exhaustion. Deciding to curtail the trip was a difficult decision to make, and without outside communication, a courier had to be dispatched to the nearest village by camel to locate a suitable 4x4 transport to take us back to Khartoum.
- Pros:Friendly people, ancient monuments
- Cons:Hot, hot, hot!
- In a nutshell:An unusual but rewarding destination
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