Temples of Northern Sudan
Jul 25, 2005
For now, I wanted to share some critical info. At a later date, I will add more about traveling through Sudan. If you have questions, let me know! I'll answer the questions personally and then possibly add the info to the final version of this guide.
Photo Permits: You need a photo permit to take pictures in Sudan, and you can only get these permits in Khartoum. This presents a real problem for anyone traveling south. You can get in serious trouble for taking photos without a photo permit, so _be careful_. If you're only photographing historical sites, and people with their permission, you should be fine.
Permits for Historical Sites: You also technically need permits to visit any historical sites. But I can't imagine that anyone will be at any of these sights to check your permits. I visited only one of the sites in the below brochure. That was the pyramids at Jebel Al Bakal, just outside of Karima. No one was there except for a pair of young couples (it seemed like the big date spot). Certainly no one asked for a permit.
Meroe: Don't miss Meroe! It's fantastic. It doesn't compare with the massive temples of Egypt, but the sense of adventure of getting off a bus in the middle of nowhere and walking through the desert (only 700m) to pyramids, makes the experience very special. Here you do need a permit, but without one you should be able to just pay the gatekeeper. You can sleep in the sand beside the pyramids - and I highly recommend it. I slept terribly as the hard-packed, fine sand was surprisingly uncomfortable, but watching, and walking among, the pyramids before sunrise made it very worthwhile.
Beware the Sand Flies: These harmless-looking little bugs infest the deserts, villages, and towns surrounding along the Nile. They bite day and night. At first, you won't notice the bites, as they don't swell up for 12 hours or so. But, then they start itching terribly. The bites last for at least 4 or 5 days, so a couple of bites a day will quickly add up to being covered in bites. Some people seem to get bitten more than others. I was rather unhappy with a dozen itchy bites. I met a girl traveling south who had more than 50 of these bites and was absolutely miserable.
It's difficult to find good info about sightseeing in Sudan. The only guide that Lonely Planet current publishes for Sudan is Lonely Planet Africa, which has 12 pages about a country one quarter the size of the United States. Lonely Planet Sudan/Egypt from 1992 is a much better guide. The prices have obviously changed drastically, but otherwise it seems that Sudan hasn't changed much in the past decade.
I missed, or rather skipped, temples because neither the new nor the old Lonely Planet had enough information (often just a sentence or two) to make an educated decision about which ruins were worth seeing. A picture is worth a thousand words; Eventually, I found a brochure with photos of all of the historical sights in Northern Sudan. It was too late to be of any use to me, but I wanted to be sure to share it with other travelers as I don't think this info is available anywhere else on the web.
If you're heading through Northern Sudan, you need to print out these pages and take them with you.
P.S. There may be copyright issues with re-publishing this free brochure. I'll remove the pages if the copyright holders complain.