Sudan is one of this countries that not many people choose to visit, mainly because their negative reputation after years of war and it´s authoritarian government ruled by sharian law. But those travelers who decide to go to this beautiful and historic country always end their trip satisfied for many reasosn, mainly because of the hospitality of its friendly people, the beauty of the desert life and the history of its ancient nubian cities.
But whatever, Sudan is a country where you must be aware of certain situations when you arrive to have a safety travel around there. This are 9 advices that is better to know before to travel to SUDAN:
- PERMISSIONS IN KHARTOUM. Every person arriving to Sudan must be controlled, so the first thing you have to do is to get permissions for everything you plan to do in he country. No matter you arrive by plane directly to the capital or overland crossing some of the borders with Egypt or Ethiopia, first thing is going to Khartoum. You need permission to stay in the capital, to move, to make pictures and declare what kind of photography, for which roads you will take, permission for leaving the country… You must know that few days must be reserved for this bureaucracy in a busy old building and even you can not apply personally, always need of a sudanese citizen.
- NO ATM AND NEITHER INTERNATIONAL BANKS ARE AVAILABLE. Sudan is under an international financial sanction, only cash will work for you as a foreigner. We couldn’t use our credit card nowhere. No posible to take money from the bank, no ATM, and at this moment we have no cash with us. In previous countries, Ethiopia and Kenya, use to pay with credit card our fuel and sleeping and eating for free in the missioners parish. In that moment what come to our head it was to go to the Spanish embassy and explain the situation. The consul borrow us some money from his own, enough to arrive to Egypt and then we make a transfer to his spanish bank account to give him back. It was big help and great solution for us.
- NO SHORT PANTS. Even if it´s the hottest day in middle of Sahara, no even men could show the legs. We discover this rule one day in the city when working in getting the permits to be in the country, then Manu enter in police station to get information. Was very hot day. We knew that Ivana can’t wear short pants, or naked arms, but we didn´t know that rule was applied also for men, we been in many different muslim countries and in some of them as hot as Sudan that was not a problem. As we enter in the station very fast come a policeman, catch Manu for the arm and bring him outside looking very angry. He told him very serious, go to put long pants than come, otherwise he could go in prisión. No jokes with that, ambassador and European people who live there told us that we were lucky with the policeman who decided to advise us. Once you step in a sudanese prisión is really hard to get out.
- TOURIST WOMEN CAN GO WITHOUT COVERING THEIR HEAD. Women can’t wear short pants neither short shirts, but there is not need to cover the head. That was much better in those hot days.
- SUDANESE PEOPLE IS ONE OF THE MOST FRIENDLY AND HOSPITABLE GUYS YOU CAN MEET ALL AROUND THE WORLD. Specially the people in the Sahara desert villages. Always smile, open them houses for us, invite us for tea, wants to show us their culture and making us to fell comfortable and welcomed. They are people who can be trusted.
- IF YOU ARE TRAVELING WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND OR WIFE GET USE TO QUESTION LIKE HOW MUCH PAID FOR HER. Once we slept in the house of a rich guy who had 3 wives and 12 children but he was looking for his fourth wife, that´s the limit in their culture and to reach to this situation where a man have four wives means he is a very successful man in his society. Then Manu joked about selling him to Ivana, but for this people this is not a joke and they will take it so serious. Very fast he started to imagine what would be to have a white foreigner wife living in that small village of Sudan, all the men around his community will be so jealous of him so he couldn´t stop to make offers to Manu, offering either camels or cash. Then we saw he was going so far and we have to cut the joke, whatever he insist to find him a European woman to sell to him when we will be back, he even make us a list of characteristics how he wanted her.
- BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU TAKING PICTURES. Even when the local people is very friendly and honest, the government is a dictatorship, very protective of their system and don’t trust anybody, so every visitor is a potencial spy. No matter if you get the proper permit to take pictures, there are limitations. Making pictures of buildings or bridges can be a normal act for a tourist, but in Sudan you can be arrested and obliged to give really good explications. We heard the story of a guy traveling with bicycle who was arrested for taking pictures from a militar convoy and was accused of spy, the sentence he got was prisión for life. Our advice is much better always ask for what is forbidden there and respect, they can be so strict with them penalties.
- COMBONI MISSIONERS. Those missioners use to have presence in the main cities of Sudan and they are happy to open their doors to world travelers offering a place to rest. They will be very helpful helping you with your documents and permits in the country. Also their education is very high and they know very well the story of this región from Africa so they are a very good source of information.
- THE PRE PHARAONIC RUINS FROM NUBIANS. You can find pyramids and temples of this ancient civilization open and free to visit in many locations along in Northern Sudan, you can set your tent surrounded by Nubians pyramids and the tombs of their ancient kings, under the saharan nights: Meroe, Dongola or Soleb are some of the locations where to find impressive temples and pyramids.