See the pyramids of the Royal Necropolis of Meroe rising from undulating dunes, then spend the night at a furnished, permanent camp in view of these Nubian wonders.. Get a glimpse of life in the time of the Pharaohs in Naga’s temple complex, marvelling at the detail still visible in etchings carved almost 2000 years ago.. Watch a unique Sudanese form of wrestling called nuba in a match at a small stadium, mingling with local spectators as two young men grapple and battle with sticks. . Connect with Sudanese locals throughout your journey, from a unique rest stop with a family who live in the Bayuda Desert to a traditional henna ceremony.
What a shame that when many people think of the world’s great archaeological sites and ruins, so few consider North Africa. Discover the remnants of great empires among the desert, from the Nubian pyramids and tombs etched with Meroitic symbols to the 3300-year-old temple at the foot of Jebel Barkal. Experience powerful history in museums, ancient cities and necropolises, and encounter modern Sudan in souks, chai houses and perhaps a Bisharin nomad camp. Along the way, be awed by the welcome and hospitality of the Sudanese people.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 4
Welcome to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Your adventure begins at 6 pm during a welcome meeting at your hotel. Tomorrow you’ll enjoy a full day tour, so perhaps for today simply settle in to your accommodation and get to know your fellow travellers.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then embark on a tour of Khartoum. Our first stop is the National Museum of Sudan, which houses – among other things – ancient Egyptian temples relocated from Lake Nasser and arranged in the museum’s gardens. Continue to Omdurman via the Nile, crossing the great river where the Blue and White sections meet, and visit Khalifa’s House Museum. This ethnographic museum contains artefacts from the Mahdi period, when religious leader Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah declared himself the harbinger of the Day of Judgement. In the afternoon, visit a colourful souk to wander between stalls. As the daylight begins to fade, journey to the tomb of Hamed el-Nil to watch the weekly Sufi ceremonial celebration of the whirling dervishes. This ritualised dance-like worship is captivating to watch.
Old Dongola / Karima
Breakfast early then begin the 6-hour journey northward over flat desert, crossing the dry water channel Wadi Muqaddam. Along the way, make strategic rest stops at ‘chai houses’ – essentially the Sudanese version of a truck stop – for snacks and drinks. Arrive in deserted Old Dongola and explore this once thriving Nubian city. You will be able to see the ruins of the seventh-century Church of the Granite Columns, plus the defensive structure archaeologists call the Throne Hall and more. Continue travelling along the Nile, moving through picturesque villages with painted doors and flower murals. Stop in at Gadder village, then arrive in Karima in the afternoon. Settle into this evening’s charming accommodation, a boutique Nubian-style hotel which sits beneath the iconic, spiritually significant sandstone mountain of Jebel Barkal.
Jebel Barkal / El Kurru / Karima
Prepare for a full day of exploring various archaeological sites. First visit the World Heritage-listed archaeological sites that surround sacred Jebel Barkal. See the temples, large and small, that lie beneath Jebel Barkal, as well as sculpted rams and pillars that remain. You will also have the chance to enter a room carved into the side of the mountain. Enjoy lunch at your accommodation, then move southwards to the village of El Kurru to visit the Royal Necropolis of the Napata dynasty. See an excavated tomb decorated with hieroglyphic images that depict pharaohs and gods. While you’re in the area, take in the beauty of a petrified wood forest, the return to your accommodation at Jebel Barkal for an included dinner. Travellers who want to enjoy a bit of local-style pampering can choose to partake in a henna ceremony tonight and be decorated with a temporary tattoo while sipping Sudanese coffee.
Nuri / Meroe
This morning cross the Nile for a brief visit to Nuri, where more than 20 ancient Nubian pyramids remain. Continue into the Bayuda Desert, where sharp black basalt mountains, most of them volcanic and cone-shaped, spring from the valleys. Make a unique rest stop en route to enjoy refreshments with a local family. Continue to the town of Atbara, which sits along the confluence of the Nile and the Atbara River. Cross the Nile for the last time and watch as more than 40 pyramids come into view. Located on top of a hill, these well-preserved pyramids are remnants of the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. Arrive at the permanent tented camp in Meroe and settle into your accommodation, which consists of furnished tents with private bathroom huts and a veranda with views of the pyramids.
In the morning visit the pyramids of the necropolis, exploring the structures among the sand dunes. Each pyramid has an attached funerary chapel and many of the original bas-reliefs that decorate the walls are still visible. Enjoy lunch at your camp, and in the afternoon continue along the Nile to the ancient Royal City of Meroe. Excavations have confirmed that the Royal City was once the centre of Meroe, surrounded by suburbs and a boundary wall. Much of the city has not yet been excavated, making this an exciting place still full of mysteries yet to be uncovered. Enjoy dinner this evening at your permanent tented camp and fall asleep in the tranquillity of the desert.
Mussawarat / Naga / Khartoum
Eat breakfast at camp and then drive south to Mussawarat, located in a valley nestled in the hills. Here you’ll have the chance to see a temple complex that includes structures first built in AD100. See temple walls covered in Meroitic script, Greek and images of animals. Elephants are particularly well-represented, leading some scholars to speculate the area was once used as an elephant training camp. Go just beyond the valley to Naga and visit a first-century temple – restored during a German archaeological mission – dedicated to the god Apedemak. Admire bas-reliefs that depict Apedemak, the Pharaoh, noblemen and several rituals. A few metres away there is a small structure called the ‘kiosk’ that appears to have Hellenistic elements. Continue to another temple dedicated to Amon, where many ram figures and beautiful gates remain. Enjoy a picnic in the area, then journey back to Khartoum. If time permits, stop at Sabaloka Gorge en route. This evening, watch a nuba match at a small local stadium. Nuba is a style of wrestling and stick fighting unique to Sudan and taking in a match is the perfect way to cap off your time in the country.
Your Ancient Sudan Experience comes to an end today after breakfast.