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For the full story of our travels, you’re welcome to have a look at the Blog on www.pictureafrica.org or http://africapicture.blogspot.com/. The purpose of this thread is to mention the places we stayed Sudan, how much we paid and how we found it. I’ll also mention the annoyances of the area to hopefully prepare future travellers a little better.
You will get an amazing array of different stories about how to enter Sudan and how much it costs. Most of them will be from people who are travelling from North to South and will somehow have horror stories about the Aswan/Wadi Halfa ferry. However, at our time of travel we reached the Galabad border post from Ethiopia and found it fairly easy: The formalities are, as with all other border crossings fairly straight forward for most of the part. First you see the man at immigration. It was confirmed that our time in Sudan did not start on the day the visa was issues. We were lucky enough to get a two month visa in Nairobi and our two months started the day we entered the country.
At Immigration they asked for a photo copy of the passport, the visa and one photograph. No money was needed and we asked the official to point us to the customs place.
At customs we saw one man who filled in the carnet and a register. He took 20 minutes to clean a chair for me to sit on before taking half an hour to write everything he needed to down. He then sent us to pay our tax, or carbon tax, or import permit or something. It was SDG 13.50 ($4.70). With receipt in hand you return to the guy in the first office who then stamps your carnet. Just as you think you are done, you get sent to another security office. That was a man who took down our passport details and sent us on our way. There was one more check of paperwork when we left the border. The total process took us 1 hour to complete. We did not register as aliens there as we were told that we had to do that in Khartoum.
Registration, travel permits and photo permits:
It took us 8 hours to find the right place to register in Khartoum. The man at the Blue Nile sailing Club was willing to do it for us, but wanted $15 for his efforts, which we felt was a bit much. The office, the right one, which will not move in the near future is at N15 33.532 E32 32.192 and not in any other place the various maps, gps’s and people may tell you. The cost is a total of SDG 110 per passport and the process, once you know where to go, takes no longer than 1 hour. You will need a photo and some copies of some paperwork which can be done there. You will also need a letter from your host in the country. At Blue Nile that was free and easy to get.
The roads we travelled we were never asked for travel permits and we did not have any. We also did not have a photo permit and was never asked for one. I took about 2 000 photos in Sudan including pics of people and markets and instead of people shying away from cameras; they openly encourage you to photograph them.
No bank accepted foreign cards when we were there. It is however easy to change US$ to SDG (Sudanese Pounds) and the rate at the forex places was about 20% better than the internet rate at the time. You can not really pay anything in the country with other currencies, but you can always find someone to change US$ if you need to. Don’t get caught without money though. We spared no expenses and saw all the sites and spent about $55 a day we were in the country. All the temples and sites are around $8 per person entry.
Fuel food and water:
Readily available and much cheaper than anywhere south of Sudan. We changed SDG at 3 to 1 US$ and diesel was SDG1.13 at the cheapest place and SDG1.45 at the most expensive. We travelled about 2 450km in total.
Every village had a market, but the selections are limited. You get tomatoes, aubergine, potatoes and onions everywhere and often carrots, cucumber and zucchini. Citrus is available everywhere, but we found it a little pricy. Bananas are easy to find and quite cheap. Meat is everywhere at about $3 per kg for beef and it seems clean and good quality.
Water is surprisingly easy to come by. You will see clay pots everywhere with water in. Those are communal water places where everyone is welcome to have a drink. Often you will a tap next to them with a hose pipe used to fill them. Be aware that the water all comes from the Nile river and mostly straight from it. We filtered it for drinking and our friends used purifying tablets. None of us had any issue. We also washed our hands outside restaurants, drank the local coffee and ate buckets of Fuul (Brown bean stew) without problems. We did find Sudan quite pricey on food compared to the countries further south though... However, if you hang around a village for long enough, you will probably get invited for a meal which you will not be able to pay for even if you try really hard!
Places we stayed: Gedoref Bushcamp (N14 07.043 E34 12.458)
Some people call it “free camp” some “rough camp” and some “Bushcamp” The basics are that you find a nice place, away from people where you can pitch your camp and stay for the night. This was our first stay in Sudan and we tucked in behind a hill, hiding us from the main road. We were still bothered by the noise of traffic, but it was really the only place in a big area where we could camp wild.
Blue Nile sailing Club (T4A N15 36.697 E32 32.076)
Honestly, it was a hole! The facilities were terrible and spectacularly dirty. In fact, before I could take my very cold shower in the faeces infested room I had to remove a used sanitary pad from the plug hole… The charge $5 per person and another $5 for the car for that pleasure and have a weak wifi signal which was average speed at best. Soooooo. Best to avoid it if you can.
Naqa Bushcamp (N16 25.417 E33 20.068)
The temples of Naqa and Amun are awesome in the late afternoon. The man selling the tickets will point you in the right direction of where to bush camp. The waypoint where we stayed was actually closer than allowed to the temple, but hidden behind a hill so the police could not see us. It was close to the Musawwarat Ruin which in our experience was not worth the entrance fee. The track to get to both places is fairly deep sand and 4 wheel drive is necessary.
Meroe Pyramids Bushcamp (T4A N16 56.001 E33 45.323)
The pyramids themselves are probably the most impressive site in Sudan. When we were there we were the only tourists in site and the ticket was valid for the afternoon as well as the next morning. The camping spot is behind a huge dune but with a view over the pyramids. You can hide a little from the desert winds there which makes it ideal as well. To get there you do need to brave fairly deep sand and 4 wheel drive is essential.
Jebel Barkal Bushcamp (N18 32.261 E31 49.203)
This place was a gem in deed. The only thing separating us from a tar road and some pyramids was a dine high enough to totally hide us from the outside world. It wasn’t a big place, but you could get at least two vehicles in there. We actually asked the police where to free camp in the area and they suggested this direction. As for the sites around Kerma, once again worth every penny and should not be missed.
Dongola Bushcamp (N19 06.342 E30 29.766)
This was fairly close to the Temple of Kawa which is totally buried under the sand, so not really worth a visit. The area was the first place we found without wind in the desert, but it also had thousands of little flies buzzing around. The good news was that they all disappeared after sunset.
Deffufa Bushcamp (N19 43.254 E30 25.061)
It is with great sadness that I have to say that this place has been used by too many travelers. I know this because of the amount of feces and toilet paper people left on the surface instead of busying it deep in the soft sand. The area however offers many opportunities for camping as it is covered in granite hills you hide in between.
Now Deffufa, the biggest mud brick structure in the world is not at all where any of our gps maps said it would be. In fact, none of our maps even showed any of the roads leading to the parking area which was at N19 36.015 E30 24.711. It is however pretty easy to find by simply following the most traveled road along the Nile north of town.
Sai Island Bushcamp (N20 43.084 E30 19.842)
We found a working ferry that ran from the mainland to Sai Island. The return cost for 4 people and one Land Cruiser was about $15. The position of the3 ferry moves around depending on corrosion of the banks, but we found it at N20 45.103 E30 19.938. The island itself had some interesting archeological sites and an active dig. There is nothing much else there, but it is a fantastically chilled place to hang out. The one thing to be aware of is that the ferry does not normally run of Fridays or Sundays. We had to leave in a Sunday and had to pay a bit of baksheesh to get the captain out of bed.
Wawa Bushcamp (N20 26.572 E30 22.078)
The area around Wawa is very flat in deed and very dusty as well. We found a track that led into the desert and drove until we found alone. We still saw other people around that afternoon, but no one bothered us in the slightest. The reason for staying there was to visit the Temple of Soleb, which was on the west bank of the river. To get there by vehicle we would have had to backtrack to Dongola to cross. If you have the time, that would be highly recommended!
If you don’t have the time, you can find a man with a boat at the bus station in town at N20 26.881 E30 20.584. For about $16 he gave us tea, lunch and a ride across the river to see the temple. The ticket man is his friend who also offered us food and drinks. There is a massive language barrier here, but somehow we got by. I’m pretty sure that if we asked we would have been able to sleep by the bus station.
Abri Bushcamp (N20 48.319 E30 20.627)
No visit to the village of Abri would be complete without running into Magzoub, the self appointed tourism chief of Nubians. He came up to us in town, helped us to buy some vegetables and invited us to stay on his land. We camped out right next to the Nile behind a mud brick wall protecting us from the wind. He is also busy building a guest house in town which would be great to stay at when it is finished. Oh yeh, he never asked for money and when we offered it he refused…
Wadi Halfa Bushcamp (N21 45.307 E31 23.679)
Wadi Halfa is a tiny little dusty place and no one should spend more time than necessary there. We were told that the “Kilopetra” hotel was the only place clean enough to put the bad mattresses on the floor, so we decided to rather stay in the desert. The place we chose was only a fifteen minute drive away and far enough from the main road so that we could not be seen. The whole area is deserted and anywhere will probably be ok.
Magdi’s House (N21 47.718 E31 23.037)
I’m pretty sure anyone who enters or leaves Sudan will have something to do with the infamous Magdi. We heard and read one or two horror stories about the man, but can report only good things. We met him at the Kilopetra Hotel in the morning before our ferry departed and he immediately sprang into action to get our paperwork sorted. Be bought our ferry tickets, sorted out our immigration and got our Carnet stamped. We stayed in his house and ate his food and drank gallons and gallons of hot drinks. The day of departure he walked us through the process and right onto the actual ferry without once asking for money. I had to leave the keys to the car with him as the cargo barge was not there yet. He drove it on the next day and left the keys in a pre determined place. The total fee for our accommodation, food and all services was $30 and his was worth at least three times that.
The leaving process:
Much has been written about the dreaded ferry from Wadi to Aswan and the opposite way around. Our experience was very straight forward and could not have been easier. I can not help but think that had a lot to do with Magdi himself, but for those who would like to brave it themselves, the process and costs are like this:
First you have to see the Immigration office in town to fill in some paperwork. If you arrive at the ferry port without it, you need to backtrack the 8km to go get it. The office is right behind the Kilopetra Hotel. It is a turquoise building around N21 47.972 E31 21.005. Once you have that piece of paper you can buy your ferry ticket. We did not bother with a cabin and did not really regret it either.
I’m not sure where Mr. Carnet in Wadi is as Magdi dealt with all that the day before we left. I’m guessing he is at the port. The day of departure you can start your boarding process at 14:00. The boat does not actually leave before 17:00, but it’s a good idea to leave a couple of hours free. In the port you will do the final immigration and security clearance. You’re vehicle will be looked at by the customs guy and then you can march onto the ferry. When we traveled I counted a total of eight people on the deck. It was winter though, and apparently going the other way is usually chaotic and people struggle for space.
Coming from Sudan you will be used to eating Fuul and bread, so the food on board is actually fairly nice. You get one meal included in your ticket price, but can buy breakfast the next morning. The toilets were nowhere near as disgusting as everyone told us they would be.
Now the cost. Bottom line for two of us and one Land Cruiser, including the $30 fee for Magdi was $471. The car was $340 of that. Remember that you can not get money in Sudan, so in your budget, allow for at least that to get you into Egypt.
A few additions to Dawie's detailed post - February 2011 going in the opposite direction (from Wadi Halfa to Ethiopia) - note that photo and travel permits were checked in our case:
1 month tourist visa obtained in Cairo. It allows 1 month from issue to enter Sudan.
Time taken: 1 day. If handed in at 9am, it may be possible to collect at 2pm. Otherwise collect next day.
Sudan Embassy: 3 Al Ibrahimi Street in Garden City. GPS Lat: 30.039452, Long:31.233873
Letter of introduction from our embassy in Cairo (see below) + copy
Visa application form + copy
Passport + copy
2 passport photos
To make photocopies, turn left out of the Sudan Embassy. A kiosk is on the opposite side of the main road. LE0.25 per copy
Letter of introduction
Cost varies across embassies. British Embassy in Cairo charged LE 275 p/p. For couples, the Sudanese Embassy accepts one letter + a copy (it's not personalised).
Time taken: 45 minutes.
British Embassy open Sun-Thurs 10-13h.
Entry point: Wadi Halfa
Time taken: 1 day (can take 2-3 days)
SDG 30 - port tax for 4WD – varies by gross weight on carnet
SDG 22 – to stamp carnet
SDG 20 – for local fixer (who happens to be the brother of the head honcho at Customs) to help with process. He was found for us by Mr Magdi who is the Fixer in Chief of Wadi Halfa and met us on the ferry in the dining area on docking.
Street changers in Wadi Halfa. We have subsequently been warned about using street changers in other towns because of police. The rate they offer is 10% better than Khartoum banks.
Immigration 1 - Entry form (handed out on boat) + Yellow Fever Certificate + passport taken to a window on the outer edge of the ferry. Passport stamped and temperature taken in ear!
Immigration 2 - When the boat docks, Sudanese officials hand out more forms to complete in the cafe. This is where Magdi, the local 'fixer', will assume control of the vehicle process. Keep hold of your carnet if you don't want to use his services, though often the authorities won't deal with anyone but him. Check when the cargo barge is likely to arrive.
Into Wadi Halfa – In an open Land Rover pick up. Cost: SDG5.
Vehicle customs + carnet stamp (1.5hr): The process was arranged through Mr Magdi, and straightforward. After driving the vehicle off the barge, it is checked for chassis number against the carnet, and then the carnet is stamped. Forms to fill in are Sudanese Customs forms #2, #48, and #62. They are filled in by the fixer in Arabic. After paying the carnet fee and the port tax (both have receipts), the process is complete.
Where: Following the tarmac road out of town, the police station is a few hundred metres from the main square, on the right hand side (blue metal fence). There's a photocopy shop next door.
Time taken: 30 mins
Cost: SDG115 (some have paid SDG105 or SDG110 at other borders, so not clear whether there is an extra “handling fee” added in – no receipt was forthcoming despite asking – hence the suspicion)
Needed: passport + copy of passport + copy of Sudan visa with entry stamp
Opening hours: police station closes at 15.30
Available from the tourism office, a few hundred metres further along the tarmac road going out of town. A green/blue building on the left hand side. GPS: N 21.801230, E 31.355885
Passport and passport photo needed
This permit was checked at the Nuri pyramids in Karima.
Cost: SDG 26
Basic hotels: Nile (SDG7); Cleopatra (SDG15).
A few food shops (but expensive – cheaper in Egypt), restaurants, and a good market. Next good place for food is Dongola.
For travel to several areas including Kassala and Port Sudan, a combined travel & photo permit is required, and checked on entry into the town. Available for free from the Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Wildlife on Al-Mashtal Street in Riyadh, Khartoum (GPS:N 15.580482, E 32.566490). One passport photo, copy of passport and Sudan visa page required. It is worth being explicit about every town that may be visited. Copies are needed for handing out at the police checks
A further (free) permit is required to travel to the Red Sea Resort, 30km North from Port Sudan on the new road to Egypt (border not open to tourists). Available from the Coral Hotel (formerly the Hilton) in Port Sudan. Photocopy of passport and visa page needed. Photocopies of permit needed at the checkpoints en route. This permit only allows travel to the Red Sea Resort – so not clear there is any flexibility to travel further North.
Diesel varied from SDG 1.45/litre in Khartoum to SDG 1.67/litre in Kassala.
Khartoum: Almotkamil Motor Repair Centre (GPS N 15.546298, E 32.549835). South 1km along Africa Road from the Afra shopping centre, and turn right at the Canar building (the domes), 500m on the right. Safwat Sidgi who runs it is a traveller himself, speaks fluent English, and boasts an amazing collection of tropical fish. Tel: +249 912 139 058
Wawa: ferry man for Soleb temple: N 20.448045, E 30.343143
El Kurru Tombs: N 18.410648, E 31.771798
Ethiopian Embassy: now near the SE corner of Farouq Cemetery in Khartoum: GPS: N 15.580400, E 32.541980
Much road building has taken place where maps haven't kept pace:
Junction near Karima for highway to Atbara: N 18.324253, E 31.761728
Junction near Khartoum for highway to Kassala: N 15.433647, E 32.813720
Yes - a new tar road runs along the east side of the Nile (mostly within a km or so of the old dirt road that runs through the riverside villages) from Wadi Halfa to Dongola. From there it turns east to Karima and via a newish bridge just south of town, to Atbara. From here the highway to Khartoum takes in the tourist sites (Meroe Pyramids and Naga/Mussawarat temples). Not sure whether the road heading S/SE from Karima to Khartoum is paved, but that would miss out on the tourist spots above.
And next would be my notes on Egypt after spending almost two months in the country around the revolution. The way I feel right now is to simply say: Don't go there.... Perhaps a 60 hour ferry ride will change my mind.
Not sure whether this strictly qualifies for the Sahara forum, but for completeness, here are the exit details for Gallabat-Metema border with Ethiopia.
All the offices are on the right hand side of the road as you approach the border, and are completed in the following order:
1) Police regsitration exit: passport details taken. Free
2) Customs: More details taken, Carnet stamped - SDG27.85
(cashier at back of the customs building)
3) Immigration: Fill out immigration form. Free.
Sudan Police registration exit: Gallabat: N 12.958117, E 36.151067
Sudan Customs: Gallabat: N 12.958550, E 36.150450
Sudan Immigration: Gallabat: N 12.959300, E 36.148467
Fixers around - but none are needed.
The Gedaref-Gallabat road now has a toll of SDG5 (with receipt) near Gedaref.
Overall, we spent one month and drove 5000km in Sudan, and enjoyed every bit of it - truly wonderful people.
Zero hassle if you have your paperwork sorted.
Yes, I'm aware that visa/mastercard isn't going to work in Sudan.
But I've been told many times and read in many places this "fact" that you can't get money in Sudan, and it simply isn't true. It's people offering opinions, and these opinions get repeated so many times they become "facts".
I agree that the best idea is to carry a stash of US$ to cover you for the length of time you want to spend in Sudan. It's what I did.
But sometimes people will have unforseen expenses, like mechanical emergencies, and I think it's useful to know in those circumstances that you can get money in Sudan.
Try the Youth Hostel, 35 per person (6 euros if you choose a good 'bank' to change money at) for shared rooms, great location, secured shaded parking under a huge mango tree with a sweet old guardian, clean and well run, air con and fans. Even a working fridge in each room and a shared kitchen to use. Loads of good restaurants etc around.
CAMPING IS POSSIBLE for 1.5 Euros per person (10SP), some shade, can sit in the air con reception area, wifi (sometimes!) etc
Rooms have between 2-6 beds in them, I am sharing a 3 bed room with my 'wife', so we effectively end up with our own room for a decent price.
We tried camping at the 'National Camping Residence' which is nice, clean toilets and showers, but hardly any shade and its a long walk to anywhere being right on the edge of town. Khartoum is bloody hot (1st week of March here = 43 degrees in the shade) so definitely worth spending a little more - the Youth Hostel works out at only about $1 more than camping at the Blue Nile (constant bad reviews).
If no suitable rooms are available couples may have to sleep in separate rooms as it is strictly separated by sex per room etc
Worth a try, I'm enjoying the electricity for my laptop, cold fridge, pizza from the Deli next door and the gentle hum of aircon after a hot day of mechanics. Walking distance to Saudi embassy, ferry companies for Aswan or Jeddah etc etc
Having looked at all of the Khartoum options in my combined 2.5 weeks here, I seriously recommend the Youth Hostel, a really great place for the money.
For internet I bought a Zain sim card for 5 Sudanese pounds for my smart phone, added some credit and then subscribed to their 3g internet service at 1 pound per day. Fast and easy. When I want to use it on my laptop/usb modem you can usually get them to work by dialling *99# using 'internet' as the username and password. Fast in Khartoum, fine everywhere else....
Worth the hassle of getting a 2 month visa, great people, lovely places....
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