A Trip To Sudan - dswphoto
My trip to the African country of Sudan, getting to watch the Friday afternoon Nuba wrestling in east Khartoum, visiting the ancient pyramids of Meroë and wandering around one of the largest markets in Africa.

Day 0.

Arriving at Terminal 2 at Dubai International Airport (DXB) after work on a Thursday.

Grabbing a turkey & camembert croissant at an airside café.

Today's flight was a simple one-way on Flydubai to Khartoum International Airport.

Boarding the Flydubai 737-800. Flydubai have 13 flights a week to KRT versus only four on sister company Emirates (EK).

Flydubai is a LCC (low cost carrier) with all food & drinks extra. I had pre-ordered a meal of chicken kiev however for 40 AED (~$11).

Disembarking at KRT at ~22:30 local time. KRT is not a particularly busy airport and we were the only flight disembarking on arrival.

The hotel I was staying at had organised a helper for me, but the process of exchanging my entry permit for a visa on arrival took some time while we waited for the immigration guy to turn up. Next I had my bags x-rayed and they wanted to look at one of my telephoto lenses I had brought. I was worried they might think I was a journalist, but luckily they were ok with it and must have thought it was something else.

Catching a ride to the hotel that they had organised for me.

Outside the Acropole Hotel. The Acropole is the oldest hotel in Khartoum, founded in 1952 and run by the Pagoulatos family. It is the favoured place to stay for NGO's, UN organizations, journalists (CNN, BBC etc.) and of course tourists.

I got to bed just before midnight and had a decent sleep, ready for my first day in Khartoum.

Day 1.

The view from the balcony of the hotel early Friday morning. The Islamic weekend so pretty quiet.

The great breakfast at the Acropole, included in the daily rate.

After breakfast I caught up with Mike (centre) along with his brothers Thanasis (left) and George (right) to go through some of things I had planned for my trip. They were very friendly and of great assistance helping me organise everything and can definitely recommend the Acropole Hotel if you come to Khartoum!

With my travel & photo permit and some freshly changed Sudanese pounds, ready to head out and explore some of Khartoum.

The taxi's in Khartoum were all 1970's bright yellow Toyota's. The hot dry climate, Japanese reliability and a decent mechanic seemed to be key to their long life.

El Gamhuriya Avenue.

Omar al-Bashir (centre), the President of Sudan who came to power in 1989 when he led a group of officers in a bloodless military coup. Also currently wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity related to the Darfur conflict.

I then walked along Nile Street. Centre is Tuti Island and Khartoum North across the Blue Nile River.

A couple of Khartoum locals under the Tuti Island bridge.

First stop of the day, the Sudan National museum, which had some Pharaonic era stone carvings and other ancient antiquities.

The Statue of King Atlanersa (653 - 643 B.C.).

And some Christian frescoes from the pre-Islamic era.

Some kids cleaning windows at the traffic lights.

They quickly spotted me and wanted a 'soura' (photo).

The Corinthia Hotel Khartoum, designed to resemble a ship's sail. It was built and financed by the Libyan government in 2008 and is hence also known by the locals as 'Gaddafi's Egg'.

The beautiful atrium from the 14th floor.

The restaurant on the 16th floor. Unfortunately it was too early to have lunch.

The Republican Palace Museum, and formerly a church.

One of the former presidential cars, a Rolls Royce used by the Queen and Prince Charles when visiting Sudan.

I then walked to Al Shuhada park and bought a glass of sugary Sudanese tea for 2 Sudanese pounds (SDG), or ~25 cents.


The Great Mosque (Mesjid al-Kabir).

Corner tea shop.

Lunch was chicken and turkish bread for 40 SDG (~$4.50).

I then went for a wander around the Souk al-Arabi area.

Main Street.


White Van.







After chilling out back at the Acropole for a while, I then caught a taxi over the Nile to Sita Al Haj Yousef...

...to watch some Nuba wrestling.

Two big guys squaring off.

Every Friday two teams of wrestlers battle it out in front of several hundred spectators.

Trying to get the upper hand.

Pinned down.

The crowd watching on.

Getting tossed.

Riled up.

Looking for an opening.

Thrown to the ground.

The big comeback!

Everyone was very friendly and was a great way to see what the locals got up too on the weekend.

Up in the stands.

Carrying aloft the victor.

Cheering on the team.

Ringside with one of the wrestling teams. They graciously let me sit amongst them to get the previous action shots.

Up close and personal.

The crowd going wild!!!

After a great afternoon watching the wrestling, I caught up with my taxi driver for the trip back to the hotel.

Tasty fish from the Nile for dinner back at the Acropole.

Day 2.

Early morning outside the Acropole with the white Landcruiser for the day trip up north.

The plan for today was to head north from Khartoum (A) along the main road just east of the Nile, then going offroad to see Musawwarat es-Sufra (B), then onto the ruined ancient city of Naga'a (C), and then back on the main road north to the Pyramids of Meroë(D).

Heading north on the main road at dawn with my driver Awed.

After 2 hours of driving and several police checkpoints to check my travel & photo permit, we headed offroad in the Landcruiser.


Some of the black volcanic hills of Meroë.

At our first stop, Musawwarat es-Sufra.

Musawwarat es-Sufra is a large Meroitic temple complex dating back to the 3rd century BC.

There is some debate about the purpose of the buildings, with suggestions including a college, a hospital, and an elephant-training camp.

The remains of a temple of Apedemak.

We then headed offroad again across the parched landscape.


The ruined ancient city of Naga'a.

The Temple of Amun at Naga'a.

Some of the relief carvings.

The main custodian at Naga'a.

Located to the west of Amun is the temple of Apedemak. Apedemak was a lion-headed warrior god worshipped in Nubia.

We then drove back to the main road again and drove north for an hour before stopping for lunch.

Where we had a big plate of fuul, goat, egg and Sudanese bread for 40 SDG (~$4.50).

And some sugary tea (you can see the half-inch of undissolved sugar at the bottom of the glass).

At our final destination, the Pyramids of Meroë.

The Meroë pyramids were constructed from large blocks of sandstone.

The first of the Meroe Pyramids were built about 800 years after the last Egyptian pyramids were completed.

In the 1800's an Italian explorer, Giuseppe Ferlini, smashed the tops off 40 pyramids in a quest to find treasure.

The southern cemetery at Begarawiyah.

And the obligatory camel ride.

We then headed off for the ~3.5 hour ride south back to Khartoum.

We got back at about ~6pm, and I went for a wander around night time Khartoum.

Chicken & potatoes for dinner back at the Acropole.

And some delicious dessert to finish.

Day 3.

The view from the balcony at the start of day 3. Much busier than it was on Friday.

I had run out of Sudanese pounds, so after catching up with my driver I had organised for the day, I got him to take me to exchange some USD at the black market rate (8.5 vs. 6.3 SGD per USD at the official rate).

We then headed over the White Nile bridge to the city of Omdurman. The view from the bridge where the White and Blue Nile meet.

Vegetables, meat and eggs.

We then drove out to the edge of city...

...to the Camel markets.

The main market day was the previous day, but was still plenty to see and photograph.

A fully grown camel sells for ~9000 SDG (just over $1000).

Resting in the shade.


Unfortunately I didn't bring along enough SDG to buy one.

We then drove back into Omdurman to see the Mahdi’s Tomb.

Next stop was Souq Omdurman, the largest in Sudan and one of the largest markets in Africa.



The locals were very friendly and were quite fascinated to see a (rare) tourist walking around the markets. This gentleman spoke english very well and we had a good chat.

Any and all sorts of goods for sale.



The sugary tea started to become addictive.


Prayer beads.




After a great time walking around the Souq, the driver then took me to a nice restaurant beside the Nile.

And had some fresh Nile Perch with Sudanese bread, tahine, spicy shatta and fresh watermelon juice for 90 Sudanese pounds (~$11).


We then drove on to the Omdurman boat builder.

To see the manufacture of traditional boats.

Last stop of the day in Khartoum North to see the remains of the Al Shifa Pharmaceutical factory.

The factory was destroyed in 1998 during Operation Infinite Reach from several Tomahawk cruise missles launched from US Navy warships in the Red Sea.

The key piece of evidence for the attacks was the apparent discovery of a chemical that could be used to produce VX nerve gas in a single soil sample taken outside the plant during a clandestine CIA operation.

American officials later admitted that there was no proof that the plant had been manufacturing or storing VX nerve gas, or had any links to Osama bin Laden.

'Shifa' means heal in arabic. The plant produced >50% of the countries medicines, including malaria and TB medication.

Millions of dollars in US bank accounts belonging to the factory owner, Salah Idris, were frozen by the US govt after the attack. After he filed a lawsuit in US courts, the US treasury quickly released the funds, implicitly acknowledging that they did not have evidence to justify their actions against him.

I then headed back to the Acropole hotel, where they graciously let me chill out in my room until the evening with a late check-out.

Going for one last walk through Khartoum before my evening flight back home.

And went for dinner at the Corinthia Hotel.

Tasty pizza and banana shake on the 17th floor for 70 SDG (~$8.50).

At Khartoum International for the 23:25 Flydubai flight back to DXB.

My passport with two full pages of stamps and stickers.

And about to board the Flydubai 737 at the end of a great trip to Sudan!

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