Skip Navigation

Travel Guide Africa Sudan Khartoum

edit

Introduction

Khartoum (Arabic: الخرطوم) is the capital and largest city in Sudan and has approximately 2.3 million inhabitants but the metropolitan area is much bigger with well over 8 million people. The city is located in the central northeastern part of the country at the point where the White Nile, flowing north from Uganda, meets the Blue Nile, flowing west from Ethiopia. From here, the Nile flows north to Egypt and the Mediterranean sea. The city was founded in 1821 and nowadays is a lively mix of Arabian and African people, but not of particular interest for travellers. The main charm lies in the fact that you are in one of the least visited cities in this part of the world.

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

  • National Museum of Sudan - 1SDG, Nile Street (Next to the Friendship Hall, just west of the Libyan-financed Burj el-Fatih sail-hotel.). Open from Monday to Friday.. Surprisingly impressive museum that has recently had a bit of a revamp. The large hall contains exhibits that rival those in the ancient Egypt sections of the British Museum or the New York Met, however if you’ve arrived in Khartoum fresh from temple gazing in Egypt things may look familiar. The gardens contain three temples relocated from Aswan. The joy of the place is that you’ll have it all pretty much to yourself. Best visit in the mornings, and give yourself 2 hours, tends to close at 12 noon but not reopen at 3:00pm, contrary to the sign on the door
  • Nile Street - Probably the prettiest street in Khartoum. With the Blue Nile on one side, the street is lined with pretty, albeit decaying-looking, colonial buildings, most of which are used as ministries, schools and even a hotel, the Grand Holiday Villa Khartoum. The Presidential Palace, also fronting the Blue Nile, is a pretty building but you will not be allowed to walk in front of it - the guards will ask you to cross the road and proceed behind and around the building. You will also see the modern side of Khartoum along this street - the egg-shaped, Libyan-owned Al-Fateh Tower; Chinese-built Friendship Hall. The National Museum is also along Nile Street. The road is tree-lined most of the way (except towards the west) and has a sidewalk, so walking is quite pleasant. Many people sit on the concrete walls along the river.
  • Sudan Presidential Palace Museum - This Museum is located in the grounds of the Presidential Palace and is housed in the impressive century old Palace Cathedral. The palace contains many relics and pieces related to Sudan's administrative and modern political history, from paintings of Sir Gordon Pasha to the Presidential cars of more recent rulers.
  • Souqs/markets - The Omdurman souq is said to be one of the largest markets in Africa and you can get handicrafts here. The handicraft street is quite difficult to find - its towards the northern end of the market, near the gold section (not on the western side, as stated in the Bradt guide). The street is actually a covered lane between two buildings with gates at either end. Its not very busy (in comparison with the rest of the market) and they can lock up and go home in the evenings, and sometimes on Fridays also.

Top

edit

Weather

Khartoum is an extremely hot place and only from December to February is a bit bearable. From March onwards, temperatures start to rise and during the months of April to July it is over 40 °C on average but temperatures close to 50 °C are not unheard of. July to October is relatively wet time, although it does not rain that much, but the higher humidity combined with marginally lower temperatures of 36 °C to 38 °C is even worse.

Top

edit

Getting There

By Plane

Khartoum International Airport (KRT) receives international flights, among which are those with Sudan Airways, the national airline of Sudan. It has several flights within the region of North and East Africa, the Middle East and to London. Examples of destinations include Nairobi, Entebbe (Uganda), Dubai, Jeddah and Damascus.

Other airlines serving the airport are KLM to and from Amsterdam and onwards to Addis Ababa, Lufthansa from Frankfurt and airlines like Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian and BMI from London as well.

By Train

Railway lines link Khartoum with Wadi Halfa and Port Sudan via Atbara. Trains leave Khartoum main train station is in Khartoum North (Bahri).

By Car

The main tarred road goes south from Khartoum to Wad Medani then east to Gedaref (for the Ethiopian border at Gallabat), Kassala (for the Eritrean border, currently closed) and then to Port Sudan. South from Khartoum, a road also goes to El-Obeid, which then continues west towards the Chadian border via Darfur, which currently is a bit dangerous to use. From the north, the road comes in from Wadi Halfa via Atbara.

There are no road links to southern Sudan. The only option is to fly.

By Bus

The chaotic Souq al-Shaabi used to be the main bus terminal for long distance south-bound buses in Khartoum, but a new terminal has been built which is more orderly. Buses leave for Port Sudan, Wad Medani, Kassala, El-Obeid and other cities. Going north long distance buses leave from Omdurman. Again, there are no buses to southern Sudan.

By Boat

There are no boat services along the Nile to destinations outside Khartoum.

Top

edit

Getting Around

Khartoum is both easy and difficult to get around. It is easy in that much of the city is laid out on a grid, with long straight roads and the airport and Nile as easy reference places. It is difficult in that the city (or indeed the 3 cities) are very spread out, making walking a long and tiring option.

By Car

Car hire is available and costs a bit above the African average, around 150 SDG per day for a Corolla, and 300 SDG for a 4x4 (with compulsory driver). However if you want to head off in to the desert the costs mount further, as the 100 km is standard, and then its 1 SDG per additional kilometre, hence a trip to the Meroe pyramids adds 400 SDG to your costs. Fuel, however, is cheap, at around 1.8 SDG per litre (March 2008). ‘Limousine’ is the Arabic for car hire – try along Airport Road or Ibed Khetim Road (east of the airport) for car hire places.

Taxis come in three flavours; bright yellow and often beaten up Toyota Corollas Model 1977, small 6 seater minivans, and modern comfortable air conditioned metred cabs (operated by LimoTrip 00249 183 591 313 or info@limotrip.net - rates are reasonable by meter only and saves the haggling; the cabs are also radio controlled). Apart from metered taxis, taxi drivers always overcharge the foreigner and SDG 10 is the usual starting price for negotiations for short trips around town.

By Public Transport

Minibuses are the cheapest way to get around Khartoum, especially between the three cities. There are easily thousands of minibuses and seeing all of them gather near the Great Mosque and Souk al-Arabi is a sight to behold. They are however quite complicated to use. None of them bear destination signs and you will have to be able to speak a little Arabic with their conductors to determine which minibus to take. They are also always packed to the brim. Fares are always less that SDG 1, even cross-river.

Most of the minibuses leave from the square near the Great Mosque (Mesjid al-Kabir) or nearby in Khartoum proper.

There is a ferry service between Khartoum proper and Tuti Island, a rural islet in the middle of the Blue Nile. In Khartoum, boats leave from the river bank along Nile Street opposite the Friendship Hall to the west of the city center. A ferry also runs between Tuti and Omdurman (except on Fridays).

Top

edit

Eat

Khartoum has a good sprinkling of restaurants, with new ones popping up every couple of months – other than restaurants attached to hotels there is little quality eating to be had in Khartoum’s city centre. Amarat hosts the majority of the better eateries, although Ridyah and Khartoum 2 also have some places. Omdurman and Barhi have a light sprinkling of simple restaurants. All restaurants have about 15% government tax and 3-14% service charge.

Top

edit

Drink

It's best to prepare yourself to be alcohol-free for your stay: there are places serving 'special tea' dotted around and non-alcoholic beers are available, but in general it's more hassle than it's worth to track down alcohol during a short visit. For long-termers, however, the market does exist - via diplomatic bags and other routes apparently.

Top

edit

Sleep

Note that a 5% tourism tax and 15% VAT may well be added to your bill - Khartoum's hotels are inconsistent in telling you about these taxes in advance, and (especially for cheaper hotels) inconsistent in paying this money to the tax authorities. Remember to ask if there are any hidden extras before booking.

Top

edit

Keep Connected

Internet

Your best bet of internet connections will be in Khartoum, where there are places with wifi.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Sudan's international direct dialling code is 249.

Prepaid mobile phone packages are easily available in Sudan. The two telecommunications companies in Sudan are ZAIN (Tel: +249 91 230000) and MTN (Tel: +249 92-1111111). Zain has a cheaper prepaid package (SDG10) than Mtn (SDG20).

Post

Sudanese postal services tend to be slow, cheap and fairly reliable. Your post will eventually arrive in the country of destination.

Top

Contributors

as well as Hien (8%)

Khartoum Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Khartoum

This is version 5. Last edited at 9:34 on Jul 11, 17 by Utrecht. 16 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License