Sudan - Kingdom of the Black Pharaohs

This journey shows all the major archaeological sites of the Northern part of the country where the arid and wild region of extraordinary archaeological interest and beautiful landscapes becomes accessible even to those reluctant to sacrifice their comfort on an inspiring journey off the beaten track. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Embark on an experiential adventure into the heart of Sudan

Visit some of the most spectacular ancient UNESCO sites in Sudan

Stay in the best hotels and Mobile-set camps

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE KHARTOUM

Arrive at Khartoum Intl Airport where then you will be met and assisted for immigration procedures. Thereafter, transfer to the heart of Khartoum where you arrive and check in at the Corinthia Hotel

Overnight: Corinthia Hotel, Khartoum

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: KHARTOUM 

After breakfast, we begin our exploration of Khartoum first visiting the Archaeological Museum that, besides many beautiful objects, contains two beautiful temples rescued by UNESCO and moved from the Lake Nasser area, when it was flooded by the water. We then cross the confluence between the Blue and the White Nile near the Presidential Palace where in 1885 General Gordon was beheaded by the Mahdi’s troops and we reach Omdurman, the old capital of Sudan, where we see the Mahdi’s Tomb from outside. In the afternoon we visit the interesting Khalifa’s House which holds a small museum about the Mahdyia (only on Fridays and Saturdays). We then visit the colorful souk of Omdurman. At sunset time we move near the tomb of the sufi leader Ahmed al Nil to assist at the involving Whirling Dervishes Ceremony (only on Fridays).

Overnight: Corinthia Hotel, Khartoum

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 3: KHARTOUM / NAGA / MUSSAWARAT / MEROE

Overnight: Meroe Camp

Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner

We leave Khartoum this morning to begin our journey northwards. After about an hour's drive, we get into a
desert area covered with huge round granite boulders; these are the last offshoots of the rocky formations of the 6th Cataract. We leave the asphalt road and we drive for about 30km on a desert track among many camel thorn acacia trees to visit the two archaeological sites. The site of Naga is one of the two centres that developed during the Meroitic period. In Naga, in a typical Saharan environment with rocks and sand, we find
a temple dedicated to Apedemak, a wonderful building with bas-relief decorations depicting the god with a lion’s head, the Pharaoh, noblemen and several ritual images. A few metres away there is a small and odd construction with arches and columns, named "kiosk", in which we can notice Egyptian, Roman and Greek styles, all at the same time. Not far away we reach another temple dedicated to Amon with many statues of rams and beautiful gates decorated with bas-reliefs. We then go to Mussawarat, not far away from Naga. This settlement is located in a beautiful valley crowned by hills. Here the ruins of a very big temple are visible; it once played an exceptional important role. Its main characteristic, the “Great Enclosure” is made by many constructions and boundary walls which surround a temple built in the 1st Century A.D. The large number of elephants represented on these walls makes you think that this animal used to have an important role in this area. Beyond the big wadi there is another temple - restored by a German archaeological mission - dedicated to the god Apedemak. Picnic in the area and then we return on the main road and driving North and all of a sudden, we can glance at more than 40 pyramids, located on top of a hill, some of them perfectly preserved, which belong to the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. Arrival at the Meroe Camp with a beautiful view on the pyramids. 

DAY 4: MEROE

We dedicate the morning to visit the pyramids. The Royal Necropolis of Meroe is located at about 3km from the Nile on some hills covered by yellow sand dunes. Several pyramids stand out with their sharp shapes
against the clear sky. Each one has its own funerary chapel with the walls fully decorated with bas-reliefs that show the King’s life and offers to the gods. In the afternoon we move along the Nile to visit the ruins of the Royal city. The excavations confirm that the town of Meroe used to cover a large area and the Royal city was located in a central position, surrounded by suburbs and a boundary wall. Most of the area where the city is located, formed by many small hills covered by red clay fragments, has still to be excavated by the archaeologists. 

Overnight: Meroe Camp

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 5: MEROE / BAYUDA DESERT / KARIMA

After breakfast, we leave Meroe as we cross Nile with the ponton, the local ferry boat, to enter the Bayuda desert. These ferries are a hive of colourful activities. We find ourselves sharing space with people, donkeys, camels and goats. The Bayuda Desert is an area bounded by the loop formed by the Nile between the 4th and the 6th Cataract and characterised by sharp black basalt mountains, most of them volcanic and typically cone-shaped. They alternate with level pebble stretches and large valleys crossed by dry wadis where only little vegetation survives and dorcas gazelles can be seen. It is very likely to meet isolated groups of Bisharin nomads, who live in familiar groups in small huts made of intertwined branches close to the rare water wells,
with their caravans and herds of camels and donkeys. In the first part of the crossing we drive among sand dunes. After some kilometres on the asphalt road, the adventure continue following the Wadi Abu Dom,
driving on a sandy track among many acacia trees and some wells where it is possible to meet nomads. Arrival at Merowe, on the Nile, where we across the bridge to reach the comfortable Nubian Rest House.

Overnight: Nubian Rest House, Karima

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6: KARIMA (JEBEL BARKAL & THE NECROPOLIS OF EL KURRU

Landmark in the Nubian Desert, Jebel Barkal ("Jebel" means mountain in Arabic) can be seen from a few dozen kilometres whilst still in the open desert. At the foot of this wonderful and isolated red sandstone
mountain, considered holy since the ancient times, there is a big temple, dedicated to the Pharaohs of the New Reign and to their patron, Amon. Amon's ancient "Pure Mountain", the Olympus of the Nubians, was the religious Nubian heart for more than 1000 years. Besides the ruins of the big temple there are still several
sculptured granite rams that were supposed to border a long avenue that probably led to the pier on
the Nile. In the mountain wall there is a big room decorated with bas-relief. The Jebel Barkal archaeological sites are on the World Heritage list. The Royal necropolis of the ancient city of Napata, the Nubian capital (from 800 to 400 B.C.) before the Meroitic period, had a large number of pyramids, located in three different places: few hundred metres north of Jebel Barkal; a dozen kilometres southwards from the holy mountain, in El Kurru; in Nuri, which is located on the other bank of the Nile. After lunch in the Nubian Rest House, we then move southwards to the village of El Kurru where there is one of the necropolises of the ancient capital, Napata. Here we can visit one tomb, which is excavated in the rock under pyramids - partially collapsed - and it is totally decorated with images of the Pharaoh, of the gods and multi-color hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Not far from here there is an interesting site of petrified wood, an ancient forest with hundreds of huge trunks.  

Overnight: Nubian Rest House, Karima

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7: KARIMA (EXCURSION TO OLD DONGOLA)

After breakfast, we begin a long day on the road but full of interesting encounters and visits. Early in the morning we will follow the Nile until we reach the archaeological site of Old Dongola. Here there are the rest of a Christian Coptic temple with marble columns as well as several suggestive ruins of churches situated on the banks of the Nile. This area is the central part of the Nubian region. Here the population lives in small villages amongst yellow sand dunes and palm trees they speak a different language from the Arabs and also the Islamic religion is not as "strict" as in other regions. The women don't cover their faces and readily speak to foreigners. Some houses in the Nubian Villages are painted with pattern of flowers, but most of them are completely white. We eat our picnic (with our food) in one Nubian house, but the tea and coffee will be
prepared by the Nubian family. In the evening, we return to the Nubian Rest House. 

Overnight: Nubian Rest House, Karima

Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8: KARIMA (CRUISE ON THE NILE & THE NECROPOLIS OF NURI)

After breakfast, we visit the market in Karima, where we can have a real experience of the life of Sudanese people. We then board a small motorboat for a pleasant cruise along the Nile to enjoy the beautiful sand stretches and cultivated islands along the river. A little further northward there used to be the beautiful
granite rocky formations of the 4th Cataract, which prevented the Nile from flowing slowly and formed many rapids that obstructed the navigation. In April 2008 the Dam of Merowee has been completed and the flooding of the artificial lake started. Picnic in the area.

 

After lunch, we visit the archaeological site of Nuri where we can see many pyramids among which there is also the one of the great Taharqa. Thereafter, we return to the Nubian Rest House. 

Overnight: Nubian Rest House, Karima

Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & Dinner

DAY 9: KARIMA / KHARTOUM

Today, we drive south along the tarmac road across the Western Desert. We stop for lunch in a simple “chai house” (a roadhouse where the local truck drivers stop for food and to rest) and in the afternoon, we arrive back into Khartoum where there is another opportunity for you to visit the interesting souq. 

Overnight: Corinthia Hotel, Khartoum

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

DAY 10: DEPART KHARTOUM

We bid farewell to an inspiring journey as we transfer to Khartoum Intl Airport for departure. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

Corinthia Hotel Khartoum is a state-of-the-art architectural masterpiece, set in the heart of Khartoum's commercial district. Situated at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers with greenery, waterfalls and deserts nearby, it's a location that has intrigued since the days of Dr Livingstone. 

Corinthia Hotel, Khartoum

Meroe tented Camp is located in Bagarwyia, overlooking the beautiful pyramids of Meroe. Accommodation consists of 22 twin-bedded tents tastefully furnished. Each one has its own private bathroom hut with shower and toilet, equipped with a veranda with
two comfortable chairs to relax in front of the astonishing view of more than forty pyramids. The electricity in the tents is supplied by a generator. 

Meroe Camp

The Nubian Rest House is a charming small hotel built in the typical Nubian style just at the foot of Jebel Barkal, the holy mountain of the old Egyptian and Nubian Pharaohs. It is surrounded by a large private enclosure, with a nice garden and leisure area. Each of the 22 air-conditioned rooms is characterized by a peculiar Nubian door with its own private
bathroom and a pleasant veranda. 

Nubian Rest House, Karima

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