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FACTFILE


Time: GMT+2
Dial code: 00 20
Area: 1,001,450 sq km
Elevation: Lowest point: Qattara Depression -133m | Highest point: Mount Sinai 2,629m
Population: 81,714,000 (2008)
Capital: Cairo
Government: Republic
Language: Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes

SUDAN COUNTRY GUIDE


Once the largest and one of the most geographically diverse states in Africa, Sudan - located just south of Egypt - is a treasure just waiting to be explored. Sharing a border with the Central African Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Libya, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, visiting Sudan is a memorable experience. Travellers to Sudan will be greeted by arguably the friendliest locals on earth. Explore yellow-sand deserts, meet nomadic families, visit Nubian villages and some of Africa's most outstanding archaeological sites. Go on a camel ride through the bustling boulevards of Khartoum and explore the expansive Bayuda Desert or witness the crystal-clear waters & diverse marine life of the Red Sea. Whilst ongoing conflicts in Sudan means that some of its regions should not ventured into, it's northeast is one of the safest places on the globe.

Highlights

  • Khartoum - Bustling historical capital city, Hamed el-Nil Tomb & National Museum
  • Meroe Pyramids - High concentration of Pharaonic Pyramids
  • Karim - Jebal Barkal & Unesco World Heritage area
  • Soleb - Stunning Egyptian Temple of Soleb
  • Kassala - Massive souq & tribal meeting place
  • Old Dongola - Capital of the Christian kingdom of Makuria
  • Omdurman Souq - Chaotic, colourful and bustling marketplace

When to go

Owning a hot and dry climate throughout the year, Sudan's summer months should be avoided due to its sweltering, dry desert heat. A visit during December to April is recommended as temperatures generally halve at night. Scuba diving in the Red Sea is exceptional all year round apart from the months of July and August when the temperatures are at their peak. Travelling during the Ramadan period is also tricky, as many points of interest such as museums, shops and restaurants will be closed during this holy month, and many that are open have limited opening hours.

Geography

Sudan is the tenth largest country on the planet, stretching for an area of approximately 2,505,810 square kilometres. It's touched by Egypt in the north, Libya in the northwest, Chad in the west, the Central African Republic, the DRC, Uganda and Kenya in its southern regions as well as being joined to Ethiopia and Eritrea in the east. Having generally a flat relief, there are a few exceptions: The Darfur Plateau in the west and the mountainous regions around the borders of Uganda and Kenya in the south. Kinyeti is Sudan's highest peak, towering 3,187 metres above sea level. It coastlines are indented, without any bays and peninsulas.

Weather & Climate

Sudan has a dry climate, but this differs by region. It's generally stark and arid in the northern regions, with big seasonal changes - 5°C (41°F) in winter, 45°C (113°F) in summer. The southern region is more tropical - it's common to have sand storms in summer followed by a rainy season. The southwestern regions experience a lengthy rainy period, which can sometimes stretch for eight months. The best times to visit Sudan is during the spring or winter seasons which runs from December to February.

Click for Jerusalem, Israel Forecast
Khartoum
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Rain (mm)
0
0
0
0
3
7
53
71
18
5
0
0
Sun (hrs)
11
11
10
11
10
10
9
9
10
10
11
11
Temp (Max)
31
33
37
40
42
41
38
36
38
39
35
31
Temp (Min)
15
16
20
23
26
27
26
25
26
25
21
17
Days of Rain*
-
-
-
-
1
1
5
6
2
1
-
-
Hum (%)
37
28
21
18
24
38
57
67
55
38
34
38
* denotes number of days with at least 0.1 mm of rainfall

Money

Sudanese Pound (S£)

1 S£ = 100 Piastres
1 US$ = 6.69 S£ (April 2017)
1 UK£ = 8.34 S£ (April 2017)

Common Coins

  • 1 S£
  • 5 S£
  • 10 S£
  • 20 S£
  • 50 S£

Common Notes

  • 1 S£
  • 2 S£
  • 5 S£
  • 10 S£
  • 20 S£

Bring only foreign cash into Sudan, preferably US Dollars (often accepted in hotels), British 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.

Do not trust official currency rates listed online, these can be vey different from the actual rate obtainable in Khartoum or elsewhere, which are usually much higher.

There are many banks in Khartoum and throughout Sudan but not all of them have foreign exchange facilities. Bank hours are generally 0830-1200 Saturday to Thursday. 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. The Sudanese Pound is a closed currency, so be sure to change it back before you leave the country.

Holidays

Fixed Public Holidays

Independence Day - 1st January
Revolution Day - 30th June
Christmas Day - 25th December

Variable Muslim & Christian Holidays (2017 dates)*

Coptic Christmas - 82th January
Coptic Easter - 16th April
Ramadan - 27th May - 25th June
Eid Al-Fitr (Feast at the end of Ramadan) - 25th June
Eid Al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) - 1st - 5th September
Islamic New Year - 22nd September
Al-Mowlid Al Nabawi (Birth of the Prophet) - 1st December

*These religious festivals have no fixed dates and vary each year.

For exact dates of holidays and festivals for the coming year please click here.

Religions

Religion plays an important role in Sudan. The vast majority of the country adheres to Islam, with approximately 97% of its population being Muslim.

Vaccinations

We do always recommend that you seek professional medical advice when considering holiday vaccinations but the ones that are normally recommended for travel to Sudan are listed below:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Tetanus
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow (A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required when arriving from an affected area)

For direct, up-to-date information on vaccination requirements for Sudan please click here

Customs

  • Sudan is an Islamic country and operates under Sharia Law. You should therefore dress conservatively, particularly women. This is most important when entering mosques (shorts are not allowed), churches, and bazaars. If you would like to find out more information on specific dress codes in the Muslim world then please view our Muslim country clothing guide.
  • When it comes to communal eating and social interaction, remember to always use your right hand. As with a lot of the Arab world, the left hand is for toilet duties. If you are lucky enough to be invited into a local's house to eat, you must remove your shoes before entering and make sure to wash your hands before eating.
  • Alcohol is not permitted under Sharia Law.
  • Haggling - although alien to many western tourist, haggling completely normal in Sudan. It's important to remain friendly and always barter with a smile for the best results. Street sellers are common, but do be careful as what they are trying to sell you may not always be what you think it is.
  • Always be considerate when taking photographs - it's simply polite manners to ask somebody's permission before taking pictures of them. Naturally, it's against the law to photograph anything of a military nature such as bridges, railway stations, airports and other public works.
  • When men greet each other, they shake hands and tap each other's shoulders at the same time.
  • A hug and rubbing of cheeks may be exchanged between Sudanese ladies and their loved ones.
  • When it comes to food, a Sudanese day generally starts with a cup of tea. Breakfast is eaten mid to late morning and consists of beans, salad and bread.
  • Henna is a stunning Sudanese tradition. Henna is a paste made from the leaves of the Henna bush. Their leaves are picked and turned to powder. Water is added to create the paste. The paste is used to create beautiful drawings on the hands and feet.
  • As in many other countries, tips are always appreciated and you can offer a decent tip from around 10% - 15% of the total bill amount.

Security

It's always advisable to get local consular advice for the most updated security information before heading off on your journey. Whilst there are ongoing conflicts in Sudan, which means that some of its regions should not ventured into, it's northeast is one of the safest places on the globe.

Crime is very low throught the north of the country. Incidents of bag-snatching (including motorbike drive-by bag snatching) and petty theft do occur. You should remain alert and take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Try not to leave any valuable items on display in vehicles whilst travelling. If you're stopped you should avoid confrontation.

Know before you go

In association with the 'Know Before You Go' Campaign, we are working with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to do all that we can to help British travellers stay safe overseas. Before you go overseas, check out the FCO website at www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. It is packed with essential travel advice and tips, and up-to-date country information.

Know before you go

Visas

British, European, American, Australian and New Zealand citizens are required to have a visa to enjoy the beauty of Sudan.

The Sudanese authorities refuse entry and transit to holders of passports that contain visas for Israel (either valid or expired). You must register with the Aliens Department within three days of arrival for a fee of approximately £35 (which can be paid in Sudanese Pounds). You need to bring two passport-size photos.

If you don't register within 3 days of arrival, you may be fined. Some of the larger hotels will do this for you but you should ask when you check-in. You'll need to get an exit visa at the Aliens Department to leave the country.

We always recommend that you check visa regulations with your nearest embassy, if you are in any doubt, or for peace of mind, we advise you to obtain your visa before leaving your home country.

How to get there

By air

Sudan is home to two international airports, but the country's main one is the Khartoum International Airport, located in its largest and capital city of Khartoum. Port Sudan New International Airport is Sudan's second largest international airport in terms of air traffic and international destinations served.

All our Sudan tours start and end in Khartoum and there are around 12 international airlines flying in and out of Khartoum, including Qatar Airways, Emirates, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Qantas and many more.

Flying from the UK:

Their are no direct flights from United Kingdom to Khartoum. So you'll have to do a stop over somewhere like Istanbul, Cairo or Dubai, depending on your airline, which will add some extra travel time to your journey. Flights to Khartoum generally take around 10 hours including stopovers, however in some cases, cheaper flights often have longer stopover periods. Fares range from around UK£400 to UK£600 if you book well in advance, but do increase significantly during busy periods.

Where to book:

We hold an ATOL, and you are welcome to book your flights with us. Please discuss your ideal dates and departure airport with our sales staff, and we will send you a selection of airlines, flight times, and prices. You can then choose whether to book your flights through us, or to make your own arrangements. If you book your own flights, we will still include both your arrival and departure airport transfers.

By land

One way to get into Sudan from Ethiopia is via the border village of Gallabat. The Wadi Halfa road crossing from Egypt is another land route into Sudan, however it periodically closes, depending on diplomatic and trading relations between the two countries. Check for information before trying this route.