An enthralling exploratory adventure to the untraveled Nile of the Kushite Kings!
If solitude and a deep sense of history call to you, embark with us on this unique MTS trip to Sudan, Egypt’s vaster and less tourist-trodden neighbor to the south. Despite five millenia of Coptic, Muslim, and Kushitic civilizations, and Sudanese hospitality renowned the world over, much of this complex country—one of Africa’s largest—remains unexplored. We offered our first-ever trip here just one year ago, and we can take you where few travelers have stepped. You’ll marvel at the evocative ancient pyramids of the kingdom of Meroë, the painted tombs of El Kurru, the holy mountain of Jebel Barkal, and the stunning temple of Soleb, richly decorated with hieroglyphics and bas-reliefs. You’ll travel to remote villages for meaningful encounters with the local tribes, and venture into the spectacular Nubian desert for three nights of camping under the stars. Join MTS for a true insider’s perspective on this amazing land—it won’t stay isolated or undiscovered for much longer.
12 days of archaeology, cultural touring, camping
- Explore the fascinating country of northern Sudan, recently split from it's new neighbor South Sudan.
- Discover the splendors of the ancient Kushite kingdom—more pyramids than Egypt, with far fewer tourists!
- Immerse yourself in the local heritage with visits to pristine archaeological sites, beautiful desert landscapes, colorful tribal markets, and whirling dervish performances
- Get off the grid with three nights of comfortable camping in the Nubian desert
Duration: 12 days Start Location: Khartoum End Location: KhartoumDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Khartoum
Arrive in Khartoum anytime today (most flights arrive late in the evening), where you will be met by your MTS guide and transferred to the Corinthia Hotel. Dinner is not included tonight because most flights arrive too late.
Day 2 : Khartoum, Whirling Dervishes
We'll have breakfast at the hotel followed by a visit to the archaeological museum that houses many wonderful exhibits, including two beautiful temples rescued from the flooding of Lake Nasser and moved here by UNESCO. Lunch will be at a local restaurant on the Nile. We later visit the vast Omdurman Souk, the largest in Sudan. At sunset we’ll move to a spot near the tomb of the Sufi leader Ahmed Al Nil in Omdurman to witness an impressive display of Whirling Dervishes. Dinner in a local restaurant and overnight at the Corinthia Hotel.
Day 3 : Khartoum to the Western Desert
After breakfast we begin the journey northward through the Western Desert. Along the way, we will stop at one of the many “chai houses”, which is Sudan’s form of very spartan truck stop or "fast food" restaurant. We visit Wadi Muqaddam with its many acacia trees and 360 degree desert views before crossing the Nile on the new bridge at Ed Debba. Tonight we will set up our wild camp among the sand dunes.
Day 4 : Old Dongola & Nubian Villages
After breakfast we will vist the archaeological site of Old Dongola, where a suggestive Christian Coptic temple with marble columns as well as several churches are situated on the banks of the Nile. We then head northward into the Nubian Desert. Here, we come to the central part of the Nubian region where people live in small villages scattered amongst sand dunes and palm trees. They differ from other Sudanese in language and their less strict form of Islam where women are not shrouded and can readily speak to foreigners. Hospitality is taken seriously and we'll often be invited not only to visit their homes, but possibly to share a meal or a cup of spiced tea. Overnight camping in the heart of Nubia.
Day 5 : Temples of Sesibi & Soleb
After crossing the Nile by ferry, we start driving north until we reach the temple of Sesibi. A bit further north is another temple called Soleb that is representative of the New Kingdom of Nubia and is considered to be the most beautiful Egyptian styled temple of all Sudan. The walls of the temple are covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions, bas-reliefs and with columns reminiscent of the Egypt’s Luxor temple. Dinner and overnight in a traditional and private Nubian House near the temple of Soleb.
Day 6 : Sebu and Tombos
Heading south we will pass near the Third Cataract. The Third Cataract used to be the third huge obstacle that the ancient Egyptians had to face when trying to sail on the Nile River. In Sebu, right on the riverbank of the Nile it is possible to visit one of the richest sites of rock engravings in all of Sudan, with hundreds of images from prehistoric to Egyptian times. We then head towards Tombos, home of ancient granite quarries and the remains of an enormous recumbent statue of King Taharka. We will camp out under the stars near Tombos.
Day 7 : Kerma to Karima
Today's journey takes us to the small village of Kerma where the remains of the “Defuffa” are. This ancient building, made by row of bricks, was probably a holy place for Kerma civilization. We then start crossing the Nubian Desert heading towards Karima. This desert is characterized by sand dunes, flat sandy plains and red rocky boulders eroded by the wind. We then reach the small town of Karima just at the foot of Jebel Barkal. Dinner and overnight at the Nubian Rest House.
Day 8 : Karima - Jebel Barkal & the Necropolis of El Kurru
The isolated red sandstone mountain of Jebel Barkal can be seen from a great distance from the open desert. At the foot of this holy mountain is a large temple dedicated to the Pharaohs of the New Reign and to their patron Amon. For over 1000 years, Amon was considered the “Pure Mountain,” the Olympus of the Nubians and the heart of Nubian religion. Besides the ruins of the temple, there are still several sculptured granite rams that border a long road that probably led to a pier on the river. In a nearby mountain is a large room carved into the rock that is decorated with many bas-reliefs.
The ancient city of Napata, that was the Nubian capital from 800 to 400 BCE, is the site of a royal necropolis. A large number of pyramids are found a few hundred meters north of Jebel Barkal, others a dozen kilometers southwards in El Kurru, and in Nuri, located on the far bank of the Nile.
We now travel southwards to the village of El Kurru to visit one of two tombs that were excavated under the pyramids and that are now partially collapsed. The tombs are heavily adorned with images of the Pharaoh and gods and with multi-coloured hieroglyphic inscriptions. We continue to a desert site rich in fossilized trees and return by evening to Karima and our accommodation at the Nubian Rest House.
Day 9 : Nile Cruise to Nuri
After breakfast, we’ll first visit the local market to see some of the various tribes of the area in their everyday environment. Next is a relaxing slow drift in a motor launch down the Nile River that supports much of the country's agricultural life that stretches along verdant banks and a number of interesting cultivated islands. A little further north are the remains of what were the granite rocky formations of the 4th Cataract that once formed treacherous rapids that obstructed river navigation. In April 2008, the Dam of Merowee was completed, flooding the cataracts and creating a lake. After a picnic lunch, we cross the Nile to reach the Pyramids of Nuri where there is time for a leisurely walk before we then return to the Nubian Rest House for dinner.
Day 10 : Bayuda Desert to Meroe
Following breakfast, we leave Karima and cross the Nile, entering the Bayuda Desert. This desert is defined by the loop formed by the Nile between the 4th and the 6th Cataract and is surrounded by sharp black volcanic peaks. The land alternates between level pebble stretches and large valleys criss-crossed by dry wadis. In this hostile environment we can sometimes spot the hardy dorcas gazelle and isolated groups of Bisharin nomads, who live in small family groups near the occasional water well. The Bisharin live by herding camels and donkeys and provide transport with caravans to villages in the area. We arrive at Atbara, where we cross the Nile again to reach our comfortable permanent tented camp at Meroe.
Day 11 : Meroe
The Royal Necropolis of Meroe is situated about 3 km from the Nile River on top of a series of yellow sand covered hills. Several of the pyramids are particularly striking and stand out with sharp angular faces against the clear blue sky. Each has its own funerary chapel with the walls decorated with bas-reliefs that represent the Pharaoh’s life and various offerings to the Gods. In the afternoon, we move along the Nile to visit the ruins of the Royal City of Meroe. Excavations confirm that the city of Meroe used to cover a large area and the royal city is located in the center surrounded by a town and protective wall. The city covers many small hills littered with red clay fragments that are still waiting to be documented by the archaeologists. Dinner and overnight stay at the permanent tented camp.
Day 12 : Naga and Mussawarat
After breakfast at camp, we stop in the town of Shendi to visit the colorful and lively market. Then we spend the morning visiting two important archaeological sites. The first is the city of Naga, located about 30 km east of the Nile that represents one of two centers that developed during the Meroitic period. The surrounding lands were once verdant, but are now desert covered by rocks and sand. Nearby we find a temple dedicated to Apedemak (1st century C.E.). The temple is covered with bas-relief images depicting a god with a lion’s head, the pharaoh, noblemen and several other ritual images. A few feet away is a small and odd structure with arches and columns, called “kiosk,” which is unusual in that it combines Egyptian, Roman and Greek styles of architecture. Not far away is a temple dedicated to the god Amon with many granite rams and gates decorated with bas-reliefs.
We next travel a short distance to the ruined settlement of Mussawarat located in a pretty valley surrounded by hills. In the center are ruins of a large temple built in the 1st century BCE that must have played an important role in that time. The Great Enclosure of the temple is made up of many buildings surrounded by walls on which a large number of elephants are represented signifying their importance. Beyond the big wadi is another temple dedicated to the god Apedemak that was restored by a German archaeological team.
Late in the afternoon we return to Khartoum, where day use rooms will be available at our group hotel until 9pm, We will then transfer everyone to the airport for late departing flights. Dinner is on your own tonight because flight times will vary.
DATES: Best time to go: February, November Departures: Nov 13 - 24, 2014
$5,095 (6-14 members)
$5,095 (6-14 members)
Corinthia HotelKhartoum, Sudan
The Corinthia Hotel Khartoum is a five-star hotel in central Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, on the meeting point of the Blue Nile and White Nile and in the centre of Khartoum’s commercial, business, and administrative districts.
Meroe Tented CampSudan
Meroe tented Camp is located 142 miles north of Khartoum 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. The Camp is located 2 miles from the Royal Necropolis. Each tent is equipped with a veranda with two comfortable chairs to relax in front of the astonishing view of more than forty pyramids. The tents have electricity produced by solar power. A restaurant building is nearby. The Camp is managed by an Italian manager.
Nubian Rest HouseKarima, Sudan
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 room is characterized by a unique Nubian door and has its own private bathroom and a pleasant veranda. The decor and finishing have been carefully selected. They come mainly from Italy and provide an elegant yet rustic charm. A reception, a restaurant and a living room with decorated walls complete the wonderful setting.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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