Sudan (Arabic: السودان Al-Sudan) is the third largest country in Africa and sixteenth largest in the world, bordering Egypt, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Libya, and South Sudan. Along the border of Egypt with Sudan there is the strange stateless limbo of Bir Tawil, which is not claimed by either state and thus legally the only piece of dry land outside Antarctica not belonging to or claimed by any state. Getting a visa for Sudan is an expensive hit-and-miss affair, but if you do manage to get in, and you stick to the safe areas, you will probably have a memorable experience. The Sudanese people are very hospitable, and you can visit some awesome tourist attractions without even seeing another tourist. Due to sharia law, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death, so gay and lesbian tourists should be careful and self-aware. Sunni Muslim mores are generally the norm.
Sudan was afflicted by civil wars for more than 40 years until South Sudan became independent in July 2011, following a referendum. When the colonial map-makers divided up Africa, they included in Sudan the predominantly Muslim people of the north (including Nubians and Arabs), who share much of their history and culture with Egyptians, and the largely Christian and Animist Bantu people of the south, who have more in common with the rest of sub-Saharan Africa than with their northern countryfolk. Minor conflicts still linger in the western region of Darfur, and hotspots do occur on the eastern front, next to the border with Eritrea. Since 1989, Sudan has been under the authoritarian rule of Omar Hassan Al-Bashir.
Sudan is as geographically diverse as it is culturally; in the north, the Nile cuts through the eastern edge of the Sahara: the Nubian desert, the site of the Ancient Kingdoms of Cush and Meroe, and the land of the Seti. Here, some modest farming and husbandry supplements the staple crop of date palms. The East and West are mountainous regions, and much of the rest of the country comprises savannahs typical of much of central sub-Saharan Africa. The vast majority of its population are Sunni Muslims and proselytization of non-Sunni beliefs is not allowed.
Sudan has nearly 600 different ethnic groups. Sudanese Arabs are the largest ethnic group and other ethnic groups include Nubians, Copts and Beja.
Sudanese travel visas are expensive and difficult to acquire for some nationalities in some countries or for people with an Israeli stamp in their passport. It is advisable to obtain a Sudanese visa in your home country if possible.
From Egypt: Cairo is one of the easiest places to get one (usually a couple of hours after application), although for a lot of nationalities it costs US$100 (payment is now possible in Egyptian pounds). You will almost definitely need a letter of invitation/introduction from your embassy, and the time this takes varies from embassy to embassy. The British Embassy charges 450 Egyptian pounds (UK₤45) for theirs and is situated only 200 m from the Sudanese one. The Canadian embassy does not issue these letters, but that the Sudanese embassy in Cairo will give visas to Canadians without the letter. This will present problems within Sudan when trying to obtain permits or renew visas, as these can only be obtained with a letter from the Canadian embassy in Khartoum which the embassy will not at this time provide. It is possible to obtain a sponsorship for the visa from the Cairo embassy and skip the letter from your own embassy, though this depends on who you are dealing with at the embassy.
From Ethiopia - getting a visa from the Sudanese Embassy in Addis Ababa is extremely unpredictable, although it is cheaper (around US$60). Your name is first sent to Khartoum merely for approval. An official has stated, "It could take two weeks, it could take two months." Once your name has been approved, the visa itself only takes a couple of days. Britons and Americans are generally given more of a run around, but no nationality is guaranteed swift receipt of a visa. Expect to wait a minimum of two weeks for approval. If your trip continues from Sudan to Egypt and you already have your Egyptian visa you may be given a one-week transit visa for Sudan in only a day, which can be extended in Khartoum (at a hefty cost, though). The British Embassy in Addis Ababa charges a steep 740 birr (over GBP40) for their letter of invitation/introduction.
Possibly out of date information: From Kenya - as in Addis Ababa, the Sudanese Embassy in Nairobi sends your name to Khartoum for approval. The time it takes is similarly ambiguous, although the embassy is far more professional and efficiently-run than Addis Ababa's.
From Kenya - visa applications are submitted between 10am and 12pm and visa collected next day 15:00-15:50. Price is 5,000 Kenyan shillings (Ksh) (US$50). Letter of support for application can be obtained from own embassy (e.g. British Embassy, charges Ksh8,200, turnaround time depends on availability of the Consul who needs to sign the letter). Sudanese Embassy is located in Kabarnet Road, off Ngong Road (10 minutes walk from Wildebeest Campsite accommodation in Kibera Road, and near Prestige Shopping Plaza). Google, Visa HQ, etc., show the old address (Minet ICDC building), which is not correct. Generally the experience at the Nairobi Sudanese Embassy is less confusing than in Egypt (with its jostling queues at three anonymous but different windows) however as at January 2010 the staff member dealing with the public is extremely unprofessional (even suggests putting false information).
Hours-long waits for customs clearance are not unheard of, and landing in Khartoum can be tricky. Entering or exiting by land usually goes smoothly. Alcohol is forbidden in Sudan, and attempting to import it could bring strict penalties.
Departing from the Khartoum airport, at passport control counter after you've paid your departure tax, and checked in with the airline, you will be turned back. There is a visa office in the same room who will require payment and a passport picture. With the proper amount of money in Sudanese Pounds, and a passport this took approximately 30 minutes.
Khartoum Airport is served by various European, Middle Eastern and African airlines. Among the cities with direct air links with Khartoum are Abu Dhabi (Etihad, Sudan Airways), Addis Ababa (Ethiopian Airlines), Amman (Royal Jordanian, Sudan Airways), Amsterdam (KLM Royal Dutch Airlines), Bahrain (Gulf Air), Cairo (EgyptAir, Sudan Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways), Damascus (Syrian Airlines, Sudan Airways), Doha (Qatar Airways), Dubai (Emirates, Sudan Airways), Frankfurt (Lufthansa), Istanbul (Turkish Airlines), London (British Airways, British Midlands, Sudan Airways) and Nairobi (Kenya Airways, Sudan Airways),Sharjah (Air Arabia low cost airline)
The airport is served by dilapidated yellow taxis that will routinely overcharge. Alternatively you can book taxis with a Khartoum taxi company called LimoTrip that use metered taxis and good vehicles at better rates - +249 183 591 313 or email@example.com.
One way to get in from Ethiopia is via the border village of Gallabat. The road crossing from Egypt periodically closes, depending on diplomatic and trading relations between the two countries. Check for information before trying this route.
The most reliable way to enter Sudan from Egypt is via the weekly ferry from Aswan in Egypt to Wadi Halfa. It runs on Mondays to Sudan and back on Wednesdays, and costs US$33 per person. The boat is old and crowded with people and goods (the best place to sleep is on deck amongst the cargo) but it takes in some magnificent views (including that of Abu Simbel). Food and drink are available on board. There are frequent ferries from Saudi Arabia. If travelling from the south, ferry tickets can be purchased at Khartoum's main train terminal in North Khartoum.
Apart from Khartoum, there are small airports in Wadi Halfa, El Debba, Dongola, Port Sudan, El Fasher, Wad Madani, Merowe and El Obeid, all served by Sudan Airways. Most flights operate from Khartoum. Be prepared for changing timetables and cancelled flights.
Although Sudan has one of the largest rail networks in Africa much of it is in a state of disrepair. There is reason for optimism about train travel in Sudan again. The Nile Express, with new trains brought in from China, now whisks passengers between Khartoum and Atbara on renovated tracks. More tracks are being renovated but for now other services are limited to local trains around the capital Khartoum, a weekly service from Wadi Halfa, timed with the ferry to/from Egypt, and a very sporadic service with Nyala. Sole operator of trains in Sudan is the Sudan Railways Corporation.
Driving in Sudan is chaotic but not especially dangerous by African standards. Visitors to the area who are inexperienced at international driving are advised to hire a taxi or a driver. In most of the country, a 4WD is essential; Sudan's main highway is sealed for much of the way but most of the roads in the country are dirt or sand tracks. Crossing in to Sudan from Egypt via the ferry from Aswan to Wadi Halfa now has the benefit of the Chinese financed tarmac highway covering the 400km south to Dongola, and then right through to Khartoum, another 500km. This road is quick for overlanders as there are few military roadblocks, and very little other traffic.
While buses do run frequently in the better travelled areas, in remoter areas people tend to use trucks or "boxes" (Toyota Hiluxes) - they're usually just as crowded as the buses but have fewer people sitting on top and get stuck in the sand less often. They tend to go whenever they fill up, which can take half a day or so. If you have money to spare, you can hire a whole one to yourself
It is possible to cycle around Sudan, legally speaking, although it might be advisable to forget to mention your mode of transport when getting your permit to travel. "Cycling" will often consist of pushing the bike through sand or rattling along corrugations but the scenery and the warmth of the Sudanese people may compensate for the physical and bureaucratic hassles. Check carefully the availability of clean, drinkable water. Theft is not a problem; it is generally safe to leave bicycles unattended in villages and towns. Flies, puncture-generous thorn trees and, in the far north, lack of shade, can be real annoyances.
The official languages in Sudan are Arabic and English, according to the 2005 constitution. English is not widely spoken except by officials and hospitality workers. In contrast to many places in the world, it is the older generations that tend to speak the better English, though highly-educated people among the younger generation can speak English.
In Khartoum/Omdurman you must see the Sufi ritual of drumming and trance dancing, about one hour before sunset and Friday prayer. These rituals take place northwest of the Nile river in Omdurman. Very welcoming, festive atmosphere.
A walk around Tuti Island, situated in the middle of the confluence of the two branches of the Nile, can take about four hours. The less populated northern section is pretty, with its shady lanes, and irrigated fields, and there is a great little coffee stall under a tree on the western side.
The pyramids of Meroe are 2.5 hours north of Khartoum (leave early to avoid Khartoum traffic). On the same route visit the sites of Naqa and Musawarat. In theory permits are required before visiting the sites and guidebooks say that you pay beforehand in Khartoum, but as of January 2010 this appears to have changed. Now you pay at each site. Cost is 10 Sudanese Pounds. Naqa and Musawarat are signposted beside the Nile Petrol station (about 1hours 15 minutes north of Khartoum) and the track is fairly clear but sandy. It is probably good to carry a GPS to avoid getting lost in the bush.
After 4pm take a good coffee at The Egg hotel, with high altitude view over Khartoum, the Nile, and Omdurman, and stay to watch the sunset. Worthwhile.
About 1.5 hours south of Khartoum visit the dam. Just north of the dam (downstream) the Nile is also very wide; on Friday/Saturday the area is popular is day visitors.
There is good diving near Port Sudan, either on live-aboards or from the new Red Sea Resort (north of Port Sudan). Beware the windy season (Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb) unless you're not prone to seasickness (2.5 hours dingy ride from the coast in rough seas can be testing!).
The currency of the country is the Sudanese pound (Arabic: جنية jeneh, ISO currency code: SDG). The pound is divided into 100 piastres (coins). The "G" in the currency code stands for "guinea".
The pound was introduced in January 2007, to replace the Sudanese dinar (Arabic: دينار dinar, SDD). The new pound is worth 100 old dinars.
Unfortunately, things are not so simple when it comes to price quoting. Instead of new pounds (which are hardly used for quoting) and dinars (more commonly used, especially when quoting in English), most people still talk in terms of the old pound, although there are no more old pound notes in circulation. One dinar is worth 10 old pounds. Hence, when a person asks for 10,000 pounds, they actually want 1,000 dinars from you. And just to add to the confusion further, people usually do away with the thousands when quoting in pounds. So, your taxi driver may ask you for 10 pounds, which actually means 10,000 old pounds, which is equivalent to 1,000 dinars, which should be referred to once again as just 10 pounds! To clear any confusion, you could try saying "new pound" or جنية الجديد jeneh al-jedid.
Easy summary: 1 new pound = 100 dinars = 1000 old pounds (long out of use)
Bring only foreign cash into Sudan, preferably US dollars (often accepted in hotels), Bank of England pounds and, to a lesser extent, euros are also fairly easy to exchange at banks in big cities. Travellers cheques, credit cards and foreign bank automatic teller machine cards are not accepted in Sudan, partly because of the US embargo.
There are many banks in Khartoum and throughout Sudan but not all of them have foreign exchange facilities. There are several money changers in Khartoum, especially in Afra Mall. There are also several Western Union agents in Khartoum which will do payouts for money transferred from overseas. Although the currency is not fully convertible, the Central Bank sets the exchange rate in line with market forces, hence there isn't really a parallel black market in forex. The Sudanese dinar and pound are closed currencies, so be sure to change them back before you leave the country.
Because of the US embargo, no credit cards can be used in Sudan. The only exception is Diners Club which is accepted by the Khartoum Hilton. All transactions have to be in cash making it unsafe as you will be carrying large sums of money with you. Carrying out on-line transactions while you are in Sudan can cause problems, as some merchants (especially American ones) will pick up your Sudanese IP address, and refuse to do business with you. If you attempt to use an American Express card for any on-line transaction while in Sudan, you are likely to have the card summarily cancelled.
Sudanese cuisine has various influences, but none of them dominates the regional culinary cultures. Among the influences are from Egyptian, Ethiopian, Yemeni and Turkish cuisines (meatballs, pastries and spices), but there are also numerous dishes that are common to all Arabian nations.
There are many modern restaurants/cafes such as Mexican, Korean, Italian, Turkish, Pakistani, Indian and Chinese in Khartoum and in Kharto North.
One of the main attractions is Sug al Naga (the camel market) north of Omdurman, where you can select your meat of choice and then hand it over to one of the ladies to cook it for you in the way which you prefer.
Islam is the official religion of the country, and alcohol has been banned since sharia was imposed in the 1980s. Sudanese people frequently drink tea, usually sweet and black. Sudan also has some refreshing drinks such as karkade (hibiscus) which can be served hot or chilled, aradeeb (tamarind) and gongleiz (made with the baobab fruit). The local energy drink is a carbohydrate-laden drink known as madeeda. There are several types of madeeda, made with dates, dukhun (millet) or other ingredients blended with fresh milk, and usually heavily sweetened with sugar, though reduced-sugar versions may be available if you ask. Sudanese coffee is available in most souks and is similar to Turkish style coffee; thick and strong, sometimes flavoured with cardamom or ginger with a powerful kick and altogether delicious. Not to be taken before bed though if you want an undisturbed night's sleep!
However, while alcohol is strictly illegal in the Muslim north, locally-brewed alcohol is widely available in various forms and at various degrees of potency. A local beer (merissa) brewed from sorghum or millet is cloudy, sour and heavy and likely to be brewed with untreated water and will almost certainly lead to the 'Mahdi's revenge' (the Sudanese version of 'Delhi belly'). Aragi is a pure spirit distilled from sorghum or in its purest form, dates. It is potent and should be treated with respect, and beware that it is sometimes contaminated with the likes of methanol or embalming fluid to add flavour and potency! Be aware though that all these brews are not only potentially hazardous for your health but illegal, and being caught in possession can result in the full implementation of Islamic law punishments.
The general advice is not to drink tap water; in most rural areas, you will not be able to, as there are no taps. Where there are no bore holes (which often yield water that is fine to drink), water is often taken directly from the Nile.
Most larger towns and cities have affordable hotels, although not as cheap as you might imagine. Quality is generally consistent within the price range.
Basic hotels provide a bed and a fan with shared bathroom/toilet facilities. There may be more than one bed in the room but you are usually expected to pay for the whole room. The bigger the group of travellers, the more economical these rooms are, as more beds are often put in a room (within reason) to accommodate everybody without the price being changed. Some hotels have cheaper beds outside in the open as in smaller towns and cities. These hotels are not very clean but are cheap and perfectly acceptable for short stays.
Lower mid-range hotels - more likely to be found in Khartoum - offer the worst value for money. They may have en suite bathrooms, (mostly evaporative) air conditioning and satellite television, but for what you're paying (two or three times that of basic hotels depending on your bargaining skills) the rooms are extremely tatty and hotel owners will almost always subscribe to the philosophy of: 'Only fix something if the guest complains'. There will sometimes be rooms minus the bathroom/air conditioning/television for prices a little above those in basic hotels.
Upper mid-range hotels are the next step up, with spotless rooms of a far higher quality but prices (usually quoted in dollars) closer to what you'd expect in the West. You'll have little to find fault with, though.
Top-end hotels are commonly of the five star variety, and include the Hilton. The few are found mostly in Khartoum. They are much more expensive than the upper mid-range hotels.
Outside larger towns and cities hotels don't normally go above basic. That means bedframes with either simply a string mesh or with thin mattresses; that is not to say they are uncomfortable. They are offered (generally in fours or fives) in rooms where there is often a ceiling fan to keep things cool. The beds are usually cheaper - and more fun to sleep in - out in the courtyard under the stars, although there is obviously less privacy and security. As with the basic hotels in larger towns and cities, it is more often than not impossible to rent one bed in a room as you might in a dormitory. Hotel owners insist that you rent the whole room. Rooms become unavailable quickly at certain times (weekends, for example). Showers may be bucket showers, with water straight out of the Nile if your route follows that river.
Camping in the wild is easy in rural areas outside the south as long as the usual precautions are taken.
Safety in Sudan has many dimensions. On the one hand theft is almost unheard of, you'll never be robbed in the street and people will go to great length to ensure your well-being. On the other hand Sudan has a long history of conflict, the government is not particularly open or accountable, and under the surface corruption is rife. The information that follows highlights some of the potential dangers of which a traveler should be made aware.
Sudan was at 40-year civil war between the Khartoum based central government and non-Muslim separatist groups from the South, at the time when South Sudan was still part of Sudan. Relations between the two countries after the independence of South Sudan remain fluid and somewhat tense or complicated
The well-publicized conflict in Darfur is still taking place, making traveling to the western parts of Sudan totally inadvisable.
Sudan is one of four countries worldwide that do not to comply with international flight safety protocol. The official state airline, Sudan Airways fleet is mainly composed of 1950's era Soviet manufactured aircraft. Some planes have no navigation, lighting, or are missing critical pieces of landing gear. Over 27 fatal crashes occurred last year in the Northern region alone, making Sudan the most dangerous country for internal air travel.
Entering Sudan via personal car is also challenging. Sudan has a highly militarized border with its neighbor Egypt and Westerners are increasingly running into problems at the border if they wish to cross.
Bus travel is also not without its issues. Some buses are better than others - some are excellent, with icy-cold AC and complementary drinks, others may be less salubrious - there is nothing worse than sitting in a hot bus (did we mention no A/C?) with jabbering Egyptian tourists for nearly an entire day.
There is almost no likelihood of being physically attacked (mugged) for your possessions, but keep an eye on your things in public places, e.g. street cafes. Sometimes thieves operate in pairs: one distracts you while the other makes off with your stuff. There have been cases of pickpocketting in Sudan as well
Travel for solo women is relatively safe (in areas unaffected by civil war), if you dress and act appropriately for an Islamic country. You will raise a few eyebrows but will generally be treated with great respect. In general, it is best for women to travel in groups, and even better, with men.
You will see armed policemen and military personnel everywhere but you will not have any problems with them unless you have infringed some rule, e.g., taking photographs or filming in prohibited areas. Sudanese police are sometimes known to target travelers for bribes. So, If you are pulled over for whatever reason, be sure to pay them.
Sudan has very strict rules about taking pictures. First and foremost, you need a permit to take pictures (see "Get in" section above for details) which will tell you where you can and cannot take pictures. Photographing or filming military personnel or installations is a quick way to get into trouble. People have been arrested for taking pictures at the confluence of the Blue and White Niles in Khartoum.
Sudan is an Islamic country and consumption of alcohol is illegal. Homosexuality is punishable by death. The death sentence for homosexuality is mainly only enforced after the second or third repeated offense. Mainly the first offense it is usually imprisonment and about a thousand lashes for both men and women, (which is virtually the death penalty anyway, it would be surprising if anyone could survive that sort of harsh punishment). The government's form of punishing those convicted of homosexual acts is dealt with under the strict interpretation of the Islamic Sharia Law. If a foreigner is arrested for committing a homosexual act, that person may probably either be given a warning if "truly remorseful" or be dealt with in the same manner as the Sudanese national. Ask for consular assistance from your government if you are arrested.
Sudan is a malarial region, so be especially cautious during the rainy season. Poisonous snakes, spiders and scorpions are common to the southern areas.
Be cautious when drinking water. Make sure you choose bottled water, or use purifying tablets. Also, avoid any fruit drinks, as they are obviously made with the local water. And remember, that any ice cubes ( for example, in sodas) are only frozen local water.
On long trips (particularly during the hot season) on public transport it is often impossible - or would be expensive - to carry the amount of bottled water you need, and it may be scarce at certain remote stops. Therefore, keep plenty of your chosen means of purification close at hand (not in your luggage strapped to the roof!). Sanitation in some areas is nonexistent, so wash your hands frequently.
Food from streetside vendors is generally fine if it is being prepared and served frequently. Empty restaurants and street cafes often indicate that food is standing uncovered and unrefrigerated for hours at a time.
Sudanese currency is notoriously dirty, and even the Sudanese handle small bills as little as possible. A hint would be to carry antibacterial wipes or gel in your luggage to treat your hands after handling filthy currency notes or shaking too many unwashed hands.
Sudan has reported Ebola outbreaks in 2004 and it is not advised to take local hospital treatments unless there is a real urgency. If you have malaria-like symptoms, seek medical assistance when possible, medical treatment is also available in many private clinics with high standards and reasonable price here are some of these private clinics: (Doctors clinic, Africa St, Fidail medical center, Hospital road Downtown, Yastabshiron medical center, Riyadh area, Modern medical center, Africa St, International Hospital, Khartoum north-Alazhary St)
Schistosomiasis/Bilharzia - Avoid bathing or walking through slow-flowing fresh waterways. If you have been in contact with such water or develop an itchy rash or fevers after your return, seek medical attention. Doctors in the West may only think to test you for malaria - you may need to see a tropical medicine specialist.
Sudan is an Islamic nation, and the government has imposed a form of Sharia law. Alcohol and drugs are forbidden, though many people dip a kind of snuff, and a few make moonshine. Sudanese women tend to wear very conservative clothing and cover their heads, so foreign women would be wise to do the same, even if they observe other tourists who do not respect this custom. Men should wear long trousers, not shorts. If in doubt, play it safe and cover up.
The Sudanese do not expect foreigners to adhere to Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, but it would be tactless to eat, drink or smoke in public. (Many people, e.g., diabetics and those travelling more than a certain distance, are exempt from Ramadan, so it is possible to find open restaurants during the day but they are not well advertised.)
Be assured that any foreigner will be treated exactly the same as a local, and dealt with accordingly, in many cases, given a jail sentence of several months and a whipping, the minimum being forty lashes (it may be more, according to the discretion of the local cleric). Distances between towns or villages being far, and news may travel very slow because of the political unrest, so your government, if it even knows or cares to interfere, may not be willing or able to help you.
Do not under any circumstances show images/statues/figures etc. of the prophet Muhammad. A heated controversy erupted when a British schoolteacher in Sudan allowed one of her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad", prompting angry protests in Sudan. Although the British school teacher is safe in her home country and no fatalities were reported, other related controversies such as the Pope Benedict XVI and the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad drawings led to violence.
To show the bottom of your foot is an insulting gesture, as is the touching of the thumb to the index finger while extending the rest of the fingers (the North American sign for "O-kay"). Although Sudan is a moderate Muslim culture, foreigners are still discouraged from speaking directly to local women unless spoken to, and even then it would be polite to ask permission from the man accompanying her before responding. Try to avoid physical contact with women if possible.
During conversation, avoid asking direct questions about people's political opinions unless you know the person quite well and sense that they would be comfortable; repercussions could be serious for them. Tact is a necessity in a country that has suffered the trauma of more than 40 years of civil war, and refugees from affected areas are spread around the country, especially Khartoum.
Sudan's international direct dialling code is 249. Its international direct dialling access code is 00 although mobile phone users in Sudan will be able to dial overseas numbers by putting "+" in front of the country code.
Prepaid mobile phone packages are easily available in Sudan. The two telecommunications companies in Sudan are ZAIN (Tel: +249 91 230000) and MTN (Tel: +249 92-1111111). Zain has a cheaper prepaid package (SDG10) than Mtn (SDG20). The customer service line for MTN, should you need to call them for any problems, can be difficult to get through.
Sudan is vast, ranging from desert lands in the north to tropical forest in the south. Its wildlife rivals eastern Africa and it is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Africa. This is the only stand-alone guide on the market and delves deep into the country’s past, bringing to life its cultural heritage and history. Improved infrastructure has made the archaeological riches of the Sudanese Nile more accessible; the marine wonders of the Red Sea remain one of the world’s greatest diving sites.
An inspiring story of one doctor’s struggle in a war-torn village in the heart of SudanIn 2007, James Maskalyk, newly recruited by Doctors Without Borders, set out for the contested border town of Abyei, Sudan. An emergency physician drawn to the ravaged parts of the world, Maskalyk spent six months treating malnourished children, coping with a measles epidemic, watching for war, and struggling to meet overwhelming needs with few resources.Six Months in Sudan began as a blog that Maskalyk wrote from his hut in Sudan in an attempt to bring his family and friends closer to his experiences on the medical front line of one of the poorest and most fragile places on earth. It is the story of the doctors, nurses, and countless volunteers who leave their homes behind to ease the suffering of others, and it is the story of the people of Abyei, who endure its hardship because it is the only home they have. A memoir of volunteerism that recalls Three Cups of Tea, Six Months in Sudan is written with humanity, conviction, great hope, and piercing insight. It introduces us to a world beyond our own imagining and demonstrates how we all can make a difference.
After decades of war, South Sudan became an independent country in 2011. Though its people face struggles as they build their new nation, they do have reason for national pride. Their country contains Bandingilo National Park, which hosts one of the largest annual animal migrations. This title describes the birth of South Sudan and its efforts to create a national identity.
In 2000 the United States began accepting 3,800 refugees from one of Africa's longest civil wars. They were just some of the thousands of young men, known as "Lost Boys," who had been orphaned or otherwise separated from their families in the chaos of a brutal conflict that has ravaged Sudan since 1983. The Lost Boys of Sudan focuses on four of these refugees. Theirs, however, is a typical story, one that repeated itself wherever the Lost Boys could be found across America. It is a story of the countless challenges of "making it" in a strange new place after years on the run in Sudan or in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. Jacob Magot, Peter Anyang, Daniel Khoch, and Marko Ayii were among 150 or so Lost Boys who were resettled in Atlanta. Like most of their fellow refugees, they had never before turned on a light switch, used a kitchen appliance, or ridden in a car or subway train - much less held a job or balanced a checkbook. We relive their early excitement and disorientation, their growing despondency over fruitless job searches, adjustments they faced upon finally entering the workforce, their experiences of post-9/11 xenophobia, and their undying dreams of acquiring an education. As we immerse ourselves in the Lost Boys' daily lives, we also get to know the social services professionals and volunteers, celebrities, community leaders, and others who guided them - with occasional detours - toward self-sufficiency. Along the way author Mark Bixler looks closely at the ins and outs of U.S. refugee policy, the politics of international aid, the history of Sudan, and the radical Islamist underpinnings of its government. America is home to more foreign-born residents than ever before; the Lost Boys have repaid that gift in full through their example of unflagging resolve, hope, and faith.
Imagine you’re a young boy—maybe as young as three or four—separated from your family by civil war, traversing deserts and mountains with little food or water, no medical care, and no protection from wild animals. Imagine watching hundreds of boys perish around you from hunger, disease, or attacks by enemy soldiers and wild animals. To most of us, it is unimaginable, but this was reality for "The Lost Boys of Sudan," thousands of young boys who were separated from their families and forced to walk approximately 1,000 miles to reach safe refuge from war and certain death.
For the first time, this award winning book offers readers a chronological timeline of the epic journey taken by these children, beginning in their rural villages of Southern Sudan and ending with their arrival as young men to the United States. Narrated through the voice of Joan Hecht, one of their American mentors, whom they lovingly call "mom" or "Mama Joan;" "The Journey of the Lost Boys" is a compelling story of courage, faith and the sheer determination to survive by a group of young orphaned boys. Because of Joan Hecht’s personal relationship with them, she is able to portray their story in a way that most famous reporters and authors cannot. In addition to her extensive research of the political and historical events surrounding the long lasting civil war in Sudan, are the heart-rending personal stories and original drawings of the boys themselves. A must read for anyone interested in the the true story of the Lost Boys of Sudan!
Robert D. Kaplan is one of our leading international journalists, someone who can explain the most complicated and volatile regions and show why they’re relevant to our world. In Surrender or Starve, Kaplan illuminates the fault lines in the Horn of Africa, which is emerging as a crucial region for America’s ongoing war on terrorism. Reporting from Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea, Kaplan examines the factors behind the famine that ravaged the region in the 1980s, exploring the ethnic, religious, and class conflicts that are crucial for understanding the region today. He offers a new foreword and afterword that show how the nations have developed since the famine, and why this region will only grow more important to the United States. Wielding his trademark ability to blend on-the-ground reporting and cogent analysis, Robert D. Kaplan introduces us to a fascinating part of the world, one that it would behoove all of us to know more about.
City Maps Omdurman Sudan is an easy to use small pocket book filled with all you need for your stay in the big city. Attractions, pubs, bars, restaurants, museums, convenience stores, clothing stores, shopping centers, marketplaces, police, emergency facilities and the list goes on and on. This collection of maps is up to date with the latest developments of the city. This city map is a must if you wish to enjoy the city without internet connection.
City Maps Khartoum Sudan is an easy to use small pocket book filled with all you need for your stay in the big city. Attractions, pubs, bars, restaurants, museums, convenience stores, clothing stores, shopping centers, marketplaces, police, emergency facilities and the list goes on and on. This collection of maps is up to date with the latest developments of the city. This city map is a must if you wish to enjoy the city without internet connection.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
There is increased military activity in the states along the shared border with South Sudan. Direct military confrontations in March-April 2012 have greatly increased the security risks. Fighting in the border regions has severely affected 480,000 people, according to UN estimates. You are advised to leave these areas immediately.
You should leave if you are in the Abyei administrative region, South Kordofan State or Blue Nile state State. Both Sudan and South Sudan claim these regions. Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and rebel groups has escalated significantly since the independence of South Sudan in July 2011. There is a heightened risk of attacks in the region. Armed groups have carried out attacks on foreign workers, including oil field workers. Militias and disenfranchised groups have stated on several occasions that they regard oil installations as legitimate targets, and have conducted recent attacks on oil infrastructure. Be aware of security threats if you are in the oil development region despite this advisory.
Travel to the region bordering Eritrea, including Kassala, should also be avoided as cross-border militant activity is creating a volatile situation. Foreigners working for aid organizations in this area have in the past been the target of attacks.
The conflict in Darfur has created a dangerous situation in western Sudan, particularly outside the major towns. It also affects other areas of Sudan and eastern Chad. Despite the signing of a preliminary peace agreement, the security situation in Darfur remains extremely volatile. The region has seen sporadic fighting between the government and the rebels, and carjacking and kidnapping remain a genuine threat to foreigners. Curfews are sometimes put in effect by the government. Recent violence has resulted in deaths, displacement of people, and general instability and insecurity. On July 13, 2013, unidentified armed assailants attacked members of the African Union-UN peacekeeping mission near the town of Khor Abeche, killing seven and injuring 17 others. Further clashes and regional violence cannot be ruled out.
If you are in Darfur, you should leave, and avoid this region until further notice.
A number of large anti-government and anti-Western demonstrations have taken place in Khartoum and other major cities over the past few years. Contact the Embassy of Canada in Khartoum for updates on safety or security risks. There is a credible threat of armed rebellion aimed at toppling the regime. Although Canadians may not specifically be targeted, there is the potential for Canadians to be caught up in violence, especially with the increase in inflation, food and fuel prices and unemployment following loss of oil revenue after the secession of South Sudan.
In September 2013, the lifting of fuel subsidies triggered demonstrations across Sudan, including in Khartoum. Clashes between protesters and security forces have led to casualties. Avoid all demonstrations, monitor local news and follow the advice of local authorities.
In 2013, the French military assisted the Malian government in efforts to repel armed rebels. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. While the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali has been supporting the transitional authorities in stabilizing the region since July 2013, citizens of countries supporting the intervention are still at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance in the region.
While the incidence of crime in Khartoum is low, incidents of petty crime are increasing.
Banditry is increasing throughout western Sudan, especially in the Darfur region (particularly the Chad-Sudan border region), where several incidents have resulted in deaths.
For national security reasons, individuals from diplomatic missions or international organizations could be subject to random searches of personal effects by Sudanese authorities.
Tourist facilities are limited. The locations frequented by tourists are the archaeological sites of Meroe and Jebel Barkal, and dive sites on the Red Sea. Note that there are no medical facilities to treat diving-related injuries in Port Sudan. You need to obtain authorization from the Department of Antiquities prior to travel outside Khartoum if you are interested in visiting archaeological sites. Consult the Entry/Exit Requirements tab for more information.
Road conditions are poor. Many roads outside the capital are sand tracks. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is required for overland travel except on the Khartoum-Kassala-Port Sudan, Khartoum-Atbara, and Khartoum-El Obeid highways. Only experienced and fully equipped travellers should undertake desert travel; basic equipment should include a shovel, metal ramps for heavy sand, a global positioning system (GPS), spare fuel and water supplies. Roadblocks are common. Have your identity and vehicle documents readily available. Unpredictable local driving habits, pedestrians and roaming animals pose serious risks.
Public transportation is limited outside of major urban areas.
Taxis are available in urban centres but are generally old and uncomfortable. Khartoum now has a metered taxi service though it is important to note that English is not widely spoken by the drivers and this may cause a problem for foreign passengers.
A weekly train service operates between Wadi Halfa and Khartoum. Trains are dilapidated, but service is punctual. Only top-of-the-line buses should be used; most other buses are irregularly scheduled, poorly maintained and very badly driven. Fatal accidents involving buses are routine.
The only regular surface access from Egypt is by ferry from Aswan (Egypt) to Wadi Halfa (Sudan). There are ferries to and from the Red Sea port of Suakin.
Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
If travelling by air, you should arrive at Khartoum’s international airport at least two hours before departure. Departure formalities are complicated and passengers must pass through three security check points in the airport.
The land borders with many surrounding countries are closed. Border closures may occur without notice. Check with local authorities for up-to-date information. Attempting to cross land borders is dangerous and not recommended.
Commercial overland expeditions occasionally cross Sudan’s land borders with Libya, the Central African Republic and Chad, but these routes are dangerous. There are landmines in many areas outside the main cities, including border areas.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters, and in some cases, further out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Central Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Central Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
In some areas in Central Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a tsetse fly. Tsetse fly bites are painful and if the disease is left untreated it is eventually fatal. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from bites especially in game parks and rural areas during the day. Avoid wearing bright or dark-coloured clothing as these colours attract tsetse flies. There is no vaccine available for this disease.
Visceral leishmaniasis (or kala azar) affects the bone marrow and internal organs. It is caused by a parasite spread through the bite of a female sandfly. It can also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sharing contaminated needles. If left untreated it can cause death. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from sandfly bites, which typically occur after sunset in rural and forested areas and in some urban centres. There is no vaccine available for leishmaniasis.
Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly. Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common during the daytime and close to running water. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in Central Africa, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.
Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.
Public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex are frowned upon. Overtly homosexual behaviour will render an individual liable to immediate arrest and imprisonment.
Religious proselytization is frowned upon and often leads to arrest for long periods of time and deportation.
Islamic Sharia Law is applied in the states of Northern Sudan and in Khartoum. It is prohibited to import or consume alcohol (even in private) in these areas and to import magazines or books of a sexually explicit nature. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Bags are routinely searched upon arrival and departure at the Khartoum airport.
A photography permit is required for all forms of photography. Even with a permit, it is strictly prohibited to photograph airports, military areas, bridges, drainage stations, broadcast stations, public utilities, slum areas or beggars. Any photography without a permit immediately draws suspicion of espionage. If you travel with your laptop, ensure that you remove any photo files that could be deemed by the authorities as suspicious or controversial.
It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
The work week is from Saturday to Thursday, however government offices are closed on Saturdays. Working hours are typically 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
By Western standards, Sudan is a traditional, conservative society. Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws and regulations. Women should dress conservatively. They should not wear short skirts, shirts with low necklines and should avoid displaying bare arms. Neither men nor women should wear shorts in public, and all should be extremely discreet when swimming in public.
The currency is the Sudanese pound (SDG). The SDG is non-convertible outside the country and its export is prohibited. You should carry sufficient funds in U.S. dollars, euros or pounds sterling to cover your expenses for the duration of your stay. You may have to pay for international flights booked in Sudan in U.S. dollars, euros or pounds sterling cash. Transferring U.S. or Canadian dollars to Sudan is difficult because of international sanctions. U.S. currency dated prior to 2006 is not accepted by most currency exchange units.
Credit cards are not accepted in Sudan. Hotel bills must be paid in cash. Traveller’s cheques are not accepted. There are automated banking machines (ABMs), but they only service local accounts. ABMs cannot be used to access Canadian bank accounts or credit card cash advances.
Sandstorms occur, particularly from July to October. Expect difficulties travelling overland. Local services and the availability of water and basic food may be affected. Take preventive measures and exercise extreme caution.
The rainy season in Sudan lasts three months, from July to September. Some roads may become impassable during this period. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.