Sudan Tours & Holidays
At this stage we don't have any organised trips to Sudan.
Years of conflict have kept travellers away, but this vast country will surprise you. Sudan is a land of sweeping sand dunes and vast desert; bustling souks and camel markets; where the two Niles meet and become one in the nation’s capital. Venture north to the ancient desert cities that line the unified Nile and unearth a wealth of hidden treasures – pyramids, tombs and ancient ruins provide a fascinating glimpse into the mighty kingdoms that ruled before. Experience Sudan’s legendary hospitality, where just a smile and a few words of Arabic can open doors into teahouses and homes, and see firsthand how the warmth of the Sudanese people is matched only by their arid surrounds.
Sudan at a glance
Sudanese Pound (SDG)
Type C (European 2-pin), Type D (Old British 3-pin)
Learn more about Sudan
Local culture of Sudan
Hundreds of ethnic groups reside in Sudan, each with their own culture and traditions, although Arab culture predominates. This is particularly true in the north, where Sharia law rules the land, most of the population is Muslim and people tend to prefer traditional clothing to Western garb. Men wear long robes called jalabiya and women wrap a garment (called a thawb) around their entire body. This is worn for both religious reasons and to protect against the heat. Long, loose clothing offers greater relief from the scorching sun than shorts and t-shirts in Sudan.
African culture and traditional animist beliefs are more common in the south. Many speak local dialects or English rather than Arabic and brew a strong beer in their homes called marissa in direct defiance of Sharia law. Music and dance are an important cultural element for some groups, while wrestling is linked to the identity of Sudan’s Nuba people.
While lifestyle and culture can vary greatly across the country, all Sudanese people share a strong sense of hospitality and generosity. Locals will go out of their way to make sure guests are comfortable, offering their best food and drink, even when they can’t afford it; groups out to lunch will frequently invite complete strangers to join them; and people often keep a pot filled with water outside of their house for passer-bys in need of a drink. It’s a custom called sabeel and it originated as a gesture of kindness to neighbours who spent their days working in the fields (about 80% of Sudanese jobs are in agriculture).
Although Sudan may have a long way to go before it recovers from years of government abuse, famine, and civil war, the people who call this country home are among the friendliest you’ll ever meet.
Geography & environment
Located in northeastern Africa, Sudan is bound by Egypt to the north; the Red Sea, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east; South Sudan and the Central African Republic to the south; and Chad and Libya to the west. Two major tributaries of the Nile River – the White Nile and the Blue Nile – merge near the centre of the country in the nation’s capital, Khartoum. The unified Nile continues north to Egypt, separating the Nubian Desert, which occupies the northeast of Sudan from the Libyan Desert, which occupies the northwest. Desert gives way to open savannah, largely flat to the east, but rising to two plateaus to the west and south. The western plateau makes up the war-torn region of Darfur. Sudan also contains several mountain ranges – the Nuba Mountains located near the border with South Sudan and volcanic peaks that make up the Marrah Mountains in Darfur.
Shopping guide to Sudan
Shopping opportunities in Sudan are largely limited to street vendors and local markets, called souks. The capital has a number of souks worth checking out, though Souk Omdurman is the largest in the country and perhaps the best place to shop unique Sudanese items and handicrafts. Vendors line an endless maze of narrow alleyways selling a wide range of goods, often cheaper than elsewhere in the city. Local crafts to keep an eye out for include grass and straw products, carved wooden statues and masks, goods made from copper and brass and gold jewellery. Friendly haggling is the norm at markets and payment is always in cash.
Khartoum also has two relatively new shopping malls – Al Waha Mall and Afra Shopping Mall. Both malls house mostly independent shops that sell clothing, accessories, stationary and electronics.
Sudan festival calendar
Most festivals in Sudan are religious holidays and are celebrated privately with family and friends, although there are a few rowdy exceptions. Some of the biggest and most important festivals in Sudan include:
1. Mawlid an-Nabi (The Prophet’s Birthday)
The birth of the Prophet Muhammad is a national holiday in many Muslim-majority countries. In Sudan, Sufi Muslims celebrate the 12th day of the fifth month of the Islamic lunar calendar by throwing carnival-like festivals in public squares where religious scholars give public lectures, stories are told about the life of Muhammad and stalls sell food and sweets.
2. Sufi Holiya Festival
Social hierarchies and ethnic differences are put aside each October for this boisterous Sufi holiday meant to commemorate the death of a saint. Attracting Sufi Muslims from near and far, festivities begin with a parade and end with an all-night celebration where revellers dance and sing songs while traditional music is played.
3. Eid al-Fitr
This three-day festival, which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, is typically celebrated with friends, family and food. Beginning on the first day of the tenth lunar month, people collect sweets and eat plenty of porridge (aseeda) as they move from house to house visiting neighbours.
4. Eid al-Adha
Meaning ‘festival (or feast) of the sacrifice’, Eid al-Adha is the most important Muslim holiday. Traditionally, people are meant to sacrifice an animal as a symbol of religious devotion, however many in Sudan are unable to afford this. Instead, people spend this day feasting with family.
Food & drink in Sudan
Sudanese cuisine tends to be simple yet flavourful. Dishes rely heavily on grains and legumes due to the country’s dry climate and are flavoured with spices introduced by the Middle East and Mediterranean, such as cardamom, cinnamon and red pepper. Porridge and kisra (a Sudanese flatbread similar to roti) are dietary staples. Made from wheat, soghrum or corn flour, porridge is eaten like rice and usually served with a meat and vegetable stew (mullah).
Falafel is a popular vegetarian dish, although in Sudan it is called tamiya and is made from broad beans. Fava beans are a common breakfast choice. Stewed with various spices, you’ll find food vendors and restaurants across the country serving bowls of this national dish.
Meat is an essential part of the Sudanese diet and might be roasted, barbequed over charcoal, pan-fried or featured in soups and stews. A typical stew will contain chunks of beef or lamb, as well as sheep’s fat, onions, okra, tomato paste, yogurt or milk. Sheep organs (including the lungs, liver and stomach) are commonly eaten raw with onions, peanut butter and salt as an appetizer. In the south, fish from the Nile Rivers features more prominently in dishes.
Peanuts, dates and figs are also important ingredients in Sudanese cooking, which are used to add both taste and texture. Peanuts are frequently used in soups or to coat meat while dates are often added to porridge.
Sudan abides by Sharia law, which means alcohol is prohibited. Rather than alcohol, tea is the beverage of choice for most Sudanese. Turkish coffee is also quite popular.
Must-try foods in Sudan
1. Ful medames
Sudan’s national dish turns the humble fava bean into something rich and flavourful. Beans are stewed with tomatoes, onions and various spices, and are usually served with various accompaniments, including salad, tamiya, chilli sauce, tahini or sesame oil.
A Sudanese flatbread made from sorghum flour. This dietary staple accompanies most meals.
3. Goraasa be dama
Chunks of beef are simmered in tomatoes and flavoured with cardamom, cinnamon and garlic to create a stew that is served on goraasa, a simple wheat-based flatbread.
|What is the What||Dave Eggers|
|A Long Walk to Water||Linda Sue Park|
|Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur||Halima Bashir|
|Seasons of Migration to the North||Tayeb Salih|
|They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky||Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng and Alephonsion Deng|
Sudan travel FAQs
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
While Sudan’s north is dry for most of the year, the south is tropical and humid year round. Generally the shoulder and winter months from September to April are the best times to visit. Sudan is always hot but April to July are uncomfortably so, and this is also the wettest time of the year. You may encounter fierce dust storms from July to August and November to January.
While parts of Sudan continue to suffer civil unrest, political tension and the threat of terrorist attack, this risk is relatively isolated to specific areas. Most governments do not recommend travel to southern and western Sudan, though the northeast region of the country is considered one of the safest parts of Africa. The people are incredibly warm and hospitable. Rest assured, Intrepid would not take you anywhere unless we were convinced it was safe.
Australia: Yes – required in advance
Belgium: Yes – required in advance
Canada: Yes – required in advance
Germany: Yes – required in advance
Ireland: Yes – required in advance
Netherlands: Yes – required in advance
New Zealand: Yes – required in advance
South Africa: Yes – required in advance
Switzerland: Yes – required in advance
United Kingdom: Yes – required in advance
USA: Yes – required in advance
Travellers from most nations are required to obtain a visa to visit Sudan. Visa requirements can change at any time so contact your nearest Sudanese consulate or embassy for up-to-date information about visa requirements. Be aware that even if you have a visa, travellers with Israeli stamps or an Israeli visa in their passport will not be allowed to enter Sudan.
It’s generally a good idea to make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of six months following your departure from Sudan and has a few blank pages for stamps.
Tipping is not normally expected in Sudan, but is a nice way to show your appreciation. A service charge is usually including on restaurant bills, in which case, there is no need to leave an additional tip.
Internet access is generally good in Sudan, although the government is sometimes known to restrict access during times of civil unrest. Normally, even in small towns the Internet connection speeds are decent and prices are affordable. Most towns have an internet cafe and most midrange and top-end hotels have wi-fi. It's also possible to access the internet on your phone with mobile-phone data.
Mobile phone coverage is good in urban areas. Ensure global roaming is activated with your service provider before leaving home.
Both Western-style flushable toilets and squat toilets can be found in Sudan. It’s a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer as they are rarely provided.
Cup of tea = USD 0.20
Shawarma = USD 1.50
Lunch at a mid-range restaurant = USD 10-15
Dinner at a high-end restaurant = USD 20+
Tap water is not safe to drink in Sudan. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, pack a reusable water bottle. Your leader or hotel can tell you were to find filtered water or bring purification tablets.
Credit cards are not accepted in Sudan. Neither are debit cards, cash cards or travellers cheques, so expect to pay cash for all purchases.
There are no ATMs in Sudan that are able to access international funds, so make sure to bring enough cash to cover all your expenses.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1: Independence Day
Jan 8: Coptic Christmas
June 25: Eid al-Fitr
June 30: Revolution Day
Sept 1: Eid al-Adha
Sept 22: Islamic New Year
Dec 1: Birth of Prophet Muhammad
Dec 25: Christmas Day
Many of these holidays are religious holidays and change each year as they are celebrated according to the Islamic lunar calendar. For an up-to-date list of public holidays in Sudan go to: https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/africa/sudan/public-holidays.
Discretion is highly advised for LGBTQI-travellers in Sudan, where homosexuality is illegal and sodomy is technically punishable by death (though this has not been enforced for years). That being said, travellers should not encounter any problems if they are discreet and avoid public displays of affection.
For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or Smartraveller before you travel.
Sudan requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you are travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever. Many African countries pose a risk (including Ethiopia, South Sudan and Kenya), so if you are planning on visiting other nearby nations before arriving in Sudan, you may be required to get this vaccine. Visit your doctor or travel clinic for up-to-date advice and make sure to schedule your vaccination 4-6 weeks before your departure date, as some require time to become effective. No other vaccines are required in order to enter Sudan but some are recommended for protection against disease.
1. Hepatitis A (transmitted through contaminated water)
2. Typhoid (transmitted through contaminated water)
3. Yellow Fever (transmitted through mosquitoes). Yellow fever is a risk in Sudan south of Khartoum. Talk to your doctor or travel clinic about your travel plans to see if this vaccine is right for you.
4. Meningitis (bacterial disease transmitted by close contact with an infected person). Sudan is located in the ‘meningitis belt’ of sub-Saharan Africa. The disease is most common during the dry season, between December and June.
Malaria, yellow fever and Zika are all mosquito-transmitted diseases found in certain parts of Sudan. Zika can also be transmitted through sexual exposure. Since Zika has been tied to serious birth defects, pregnant women are advised to not travel to Sudan. You can protect yourself by wearing light coloured clothing, using a good bug repellent and taking anti-malaria medication. Talk to your doctor or travel clinic about your travel plans to determine what medication is right for you.
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
Go to: https://travel.gc.ca/
From the UK?
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
From the US?
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information. Go to: http://www.who.int/en/