With a long coastline on the Red Sea, Sudan is bordering with nine other African countries: Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. The etymology of his name, which means “the land of the blacks,” doesn’t reflect the reality; Sudan remains a country of multiculturalism.
The North, where the main religion is Islam, is a real contrast with the South, where the dominant religion is Christianity and Animism. Even though Arabic and English are the official languages, few people really know how to speak English. In the private life, the inhabitants sometimes communicate in Peulh, Nuer or Dinka language. The country where the White Nile joins the Blue Nile is gifted with natural wonders like the endless desert of sand (where the landscapes vary between yellow, gray and ocher), the astonishing oases, the Dinder National Park, the sumptuous pyramids of Meroe, multiple temples, white sand beaches, deep sea corals (exceptional for divers) and Arkaweet mountains which are perfect for hiking. Sudan with its diversity of tribes, traditions and folklore, is worth visiting.
Main attractions are:
The capital Khartoum known as the “‘the longest kiss in history’ ” (name given because of the meeting of the Blue and White Nile), Savannah, and wildlife. Follow in the footsteps of giraffes, antelopes, lions, or leopards, hiding behind the perennial herbs, and meet the inhabitants of the traditional villages of the desert. In July 2011, two independent countries, North Sudan and South Sudan will be formed. After long periods of civil wars, constant conflict between ethnic groups and religious struggles, this political act is supposed to finally revive peace. Famine, illiteracy, constant fear … the Sudanese will finally be able to enter a new era where their ethnic diversity will be perceived as an advantage and their diverse traditions as an extraordinary exoticism. Regarding transport, Sudan has a vast road network that is unfortunately not always in good condition, especially during rainy periods. If you rent a car in Sudan, make sure you have a 4×4. Buses and trains regularly serve the largest cities (Khartoum, Kassala, Sudan Port, Al Obayid, Wadi Halfa, Gedarif …).
Art and culture
Thanks to the high number ethnic groups, Sudan is a very rich country, despite the fact that this multiculturalism has often provoked tensions and wars. The folklore is rich there, but the modern culture is also developing little by little. In French literature, names like Tayeb Saleh, Jamal Mahjoub or Mansour Khalid, are famous. Painters Nezar Musa Noreen and Adam D.H. Hinawi are well known in the artistic world…
What to visit
Do not miss Khartoum and its presidential palace, Omdurman (the second largest city), Jebel Marra Deriba Lakes, the temples of Naga and Mussawarat, Old Dongola, the chamber and the tomb of the Mahdi Khalifa, Kerma, Suakin and the cities of Kassala, Port Sudan , Al Obayid and Gedarif. Visit Sanganeb National Park and Wadi Howar National Park. Go to the Archaeological sites of the Island of Meroe. For more culture, go to the Ethnographic Museums of Meroe and Wadi Halfa.
Best picks are: The desert and savannah, the Nile, the Western and Eastern mountains to the west and east and the necropolis of Meroe.
Gastronomic specialties in Sudan
Peppers, beef and potatoes are the common ingredients of typical dishes of Sudan. Sudanese cuisine is however little known in Europe. Enjoy the dama be potaatas, a thick soup with potatoes, chunks of beef and fresh tomatoes. Also try the copious peanuts macaroons. At the waterfront, grilled fish are just delicious. The country is also full of exotic fruits. Be careful to wash the fruits before eating. Water is usually not drinkable – buy the bottles or boil it before drinking.