That is really not true in regard to unsafe especially in moving around. But credit cards are completely not accepted even in major hotels.
Moving around though is very safe especially in Khartoum and North Sudan, maybe a bit harder in west and south.
the people and safety are the most thing you will feel if you are in khartoum.
enjoy your stay and please tell me if i can be of more help
I went to Sudan in late Feb/early March 2009. Waleed Arafat, a tour guide and fixer in Khartoum, got me my visa. It wasn't easy and it wasn't cheap -- about $150. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his web site is www.lenditravel.com. I loved Sudan; I had a great time. Waleed could also advise you on how to rent a car if you want to visit the Meroe pyramids, etc., which are a long day's drive from Khartoum.
Fondest memory: I traveled around Sudan with my guide Waleed, cook Yahya, driver Yassir and a fellow American tourist. So many fond memories stand out, but I would say my favorite was when we were walking around the Royal City of Meroe, and a group of schoolgirls were also there. One of the girls ran after me and offered me candy from a plate -- just to be hospitable, because I was a guest in her country. This happened to me over and over again in Sudan. It is just an amazing place full of incredibly hospitable people.
As as in most of Africa..they don't take American Express here. Western ATMs do not work here. I took cash but the dollar sucks right now and wish I had Euros. There is an exchange in the airport that will give you a decent rate but when you are on the street you will need to bargain a bit. The larger hotels will take your dollars or euros as payment but the rate will probably be a bit lacking. If you want to shop for a good rate ask one of the many UN workers you will see in Khartoum as they have a reputation among the locals as being cheapskates. (Excuse me do you have a special UN rate???)
And when you pay for things and they say 5 or flash 5 fingers for payment..keep in mind that they may be forgetting a zero as they did when I went for a boat ride on the Nile near Meroe.
the rest of Sudan by City Trail publishing (www.thecitytrail.com). Hey LP books are great and I have more than a few of them on my bookshelf but for Sudan this one is the best IMO!
Why you ask? It is geared towards budget travel and the uniqueness of Sudan. Sudan is a tough place to figure out as a tourist since most of what is written about it tends to focus on the problem areas..this book while touching on those areas tends to highlite the best of Sudan with great tips, maps and even a few local recipes to make some cool Sudani dishes for your friends when you return home with you Kenyan souvenirs that you bought in the Omdurman tourist Souq.
If you are going to avoid the net while you are here - this is a great item to have in your pack.
Order it on the net at Amazon (or wherever you by books online) as I did not see it in any local book stores in Los Angeles. Luckily Brooke had a copy waiting for me when she picked me up at the airport in Khartoum...thank you B.
If you want to do much in Sudan you need a permit...a permit to travel outside of Khartoum and one to take pictures.With all the negative attention from the media in the west the Gov't had said no more to this crap..they don't want you going to certain places ie: Darfaur etc..and they don't want pictures taken of starving children...those can be taken in the US at a much cheaper cost.
Permits are free for the most part..just bring extra passport photos for your photo permit..(don't need one for the travel permit) and be prepared for the run around ie: officials not being in their offices when they are supposed to due to extended meetings etc.
Fondest memory: This is not one of them. The people you will deal with are not jerks so to speak but calling them helpfull would be a bit of a stretch....a friend in Sudan told me they just like being A..holes because they can. Be nice to them and be prepared to wait.
I ended up getting my travel permit in an office behind the National Museum after waiting a day and half..bring a local with you to proof it as it is printed in Arabic and check the spelling of your name. When I was in at the bus station in Khartoum getting signed off with security for my trip to Port Sudan the guy almost did not let me go because my middle name was not on my travel permit like it was on my passport....be prepared for this kind of hassle here
There are not a lot of maps of Sudan available. You might find some general maps on the Net.
On www.openstreetmap.org/ you'll find a quite good map of Khartoum.
In the Citytrail guide (see my tip "Guidebook") you'll find maps of Khartoum and several other cities.
On Google Eart you'll find quite good satellite pictures of most Cities. Some of my tips contain coordinates and you can find the corresponding places on Google Earth by pasting these coordinates in the search box.
It was quite difficult to find information about traveling in Sudan. Virtualtourist.com is the best site I found. But I like also to have a guidebook. This is handy when you travel.
After a lot of searching, I found a very good guidebook published in 2008. All the other guidebooks available (if they are still available?) are much older.
I can only recommend this guidebook:
Blake Evans-Pritchard & Violetta Polese
The City Trail Guide to Khartoum and the rest of Sudan
City Trail Publishing, 2008
I brought my GPS receiver with me wanting to add content to the OpenStreetMap of Khartoum and to draw one for El Obeid. But I soon realized that the GPS isn’t very precise. Taking the coordinates of exactly the same point with an interval of a few minutes, I got coordinates that where about 60m apart, despite a supposed precision of 8m. I suppose the USA don’t want to give Sudan the help of their precise system and switch it off over Sudan.
However, you can use GPS for general orientation, but don’t expect high precision.
In some of my tips I nevertheless add GPS coordinates for your information. You'll also find those places on Google Earth at the same coordinates.
No credit cards are accepted in Sudan. There are now a lot of ATMs around Khartoum, but they seem to work only with the banks own cards.
So you’ll have to carry cash with you. You can exchange US$ and Euro in most banks, even in the small towns. But it is worth to compare the rates. In Khartoum, the Bank of Khartoum gave me a good rate, in El Obeid, the same bank gave me a very bad rate (SDG 3.20 to the Euro compared to SDG 3.55 at another bank). So compare before you exchange larger amounts. And try to get small denomination banknotes.
After the double currency change in Sudan, there is still some confusion in the population. Most prices are quoted in the new SDG currency. But for small amounts, people (especially older and poor people, like the street vendors) will still quote you in the old Sudanese Pound, e.g. 500, 1’000 or 5’000 for SDG 0.50, 1 and 5. And for large amounts, they also like to use the old currency, 1 million old Pounds sound better than SDG 1’000.
Expect to spend 2-3 days on paperwork in Khartoum before you can go on to other destinations. The offices are open roughly from 9am to 2 pm, except fridays and saturdays.
Foreigners must register with the foreigner registration office after their arrival.
Try to have this done by your hotel. I tried to do it alone (and I get along quite well in Arabic), but they ask for somebody to acccompany you and vouch for you.
You'll need 1 passport picture, 1 photocopy of the main page of your passport and 1 photocopy of the visa page with the entry stamp.
The cost depends on your country of origin: for western Europe (I am Swiss) about SDG 105, for US citizens closer to SDG 200.
The hotel will probably add a fee.
- photo permit
You need a permit to take photographs. But even if you don't plan to take any pictures, get one for it is requested for the travel permit.
It is issued by the tourist office (Maktab Siakha) on Sharia Abu Sinn (besides the Dandas International Hotel) The office is marked only in Arabic, but the staff speak some English.
You'll need 1 passport picture, 1 photocopy of the main page of your passport and 1 photocopy of the visa page with the entry stamp.
No fee and the staff is friendly.
They might tell you that you don't need a travel permit for some of the regions (I travelled to North Kordofan), but it is better to get one anyway.
- travel permit
If you plan to travel outside Khartoum, it is better to get one.
It is issued by the office for Humanitarian Affairs (Shura al insani) on Sharia al Qasr, south of the railway.
They don't speak English.
You'll need 1 passport picture, 4 photocopies of the main page of your passport, 4 photocopies of the visa page with the entry stamp and 4 photocopies of the photo permit (in the end they tore up one of each of the copies, but it is better to have them anyway. They will also ask you to make 3 copies of the application form with your picture. There is a place for photocopies just outside). If you work for a company or an NGO, you'll need also a letter from your sponsor.
After having all the forms ready, youll be asked to go to several offices upstairs to collect signatures and stamps and finally be told to come back the next day.
I'm an American who recently spent two weeks traveling in Sudan. Khartoum and points north are perfectly safe, and you don't need a travel permit to go there. You do need permits to visit the archaeological sites, though they aren't expensive, and someone will always come up out of nowhere to collect them. It's not clear that you can buy the permits onsite. I had a local guide arrange the permits in Khartoum. I'd recommend Waleed or any of his crew at lenditravel.com.
The Sudanese people are very friendly, and you will receive a warm welcome. It will be even better if you speak some Arabic.
Fondest memory: The hospitality of the people is tremendous, a great lesson to the rest of the world.
The best thing about the Sudan is the people themselves. They are a gentle, friendly and, generous and hospitable nation. Life in the Sudan is very hard with shortages,a harsh climate, and being dubbed as being in the Axis of Evil.
I have met many travellers who say they have had their greatest holiday in the Sudan and never felt any hostility or danger.
I personally would recommend anyone to go to Bejrawiya [VT Meroe]. It can be visited in a day by road or bus. The pyramids are typical of the Meroitic Kingdom with their pointed , now topless, pyramids set on two spurs on either side of a wadi. So far there are not many tourists and little of the hassle found at archaeological sites in Egypt.
Fondest memory: I miss the friendliness of the people. Everyone tries to establish some point of common interest, whether relatives, friends, or just a shared interest. A guest will be treated as an honoured visitor, and not left alone , unless it is to rest or sleep. the nomad tradition is strong there as being alone in the desert could mean death.
A guest will be offered a cold drink and tea, and then be invited to relax on a bed until it is time to share a meal.
I remember once I had been giving English lessons to a brother and sister whose elder brother had been a pupil of mine at a school where I taught. There were acute fuel shortages at the time, and after the lesson , they left and I waited for one of my daughters to come from university so we could go home. As we were leaving, I saw the pair still trying to find a way to get home. I offered to drop them off, as it would only be a short diversion. When we arrived at the house, the boy rushed out , and reappeared with his father, who duly insisted we go in. We agreed so as not to be rude. Women rushed off to bring us refreshment. Then when I heard the father telling the boy to go and buy a ram so that we could have lunch, I had to intervene and say my husband and other children were waiting for me to give them lunch at home. The man explained it was an honour for them to have their son's teacher visit, and he would be upset that I hadn't been treated properly. In the end we managed to get away with no hard feelings.
When I think how one would have been treated in Britain if I'd turned up near a meal time. I'd be put in a room to wait until the family had eaten.; and likely not even get a cup of tea!
it seems obvious in a hot country to start travelling early in the morning before the roads get busy and the temperature rises.
When I was teaching at the university, I sometimes had lectures at 7 a.m. and we lived outside the capital I learned to enjoy the early start, except in winter.
EARLY MORNING TRAVEL 
Pylons, posts and trees
Plunging into the horizon
And I press on
To meet them.
Hair streaming around me
Roar of the wind in my ears
Hum of the wheels
On the shimmering tarmac
Dun dust and thorns
And I press on
To escape them.
Opalescent light rises
To shimmer and sheen;
Dust clouds uplift
From the spinning wheels.
Urbanization creeps slowly upon me,
Commuters wait yawning beside the road,
Heavy traffic thunders towards me;
Music and singing are not usually associated with Islam, apart from the medih [religious chanting] which is not accompanied by instruments.
However, music plays a large part in social celebrations like weddings , engagements ,zar and general jollifications in Khartoum and the Central Sudan..
For engagements, women’s henna parties etc the singers are women and a drum, empty jerrican , tray or even a table are used to provide the rhythm. The guests are expected to join in by clapping to the rhythm, and joining in the chorus. Some of the women make up spontaneous verses about the couple and their families, or suggestive verses. There are some women who are particularly in demand for these occasions , like Gisma.
At Henna parties for men and at weddings a band will be engaged to play, often a military band with bagpipes. The type of music depends very much on the individual family. At a henna party some may just have a lone musician with a lute, others will have a jazz band or a performer like El Baewu who acts as he sings.
There are some big name singers that are in great demand, not just in the Sudan but internationally. I’m not a lover of Sudanese music but have heard of people like Kabli, Kamal Terbass, Mohamed Wardi, Sherhabil Ahmed, Mohamed el Amin, Abu Araki, Abdel Aziz Mubarak and others.
Dancing is very much a shuffle from foot to foot, except for weddings when women do the pigeon dance [neck dancing].
In other parts of the Sudan, like Kordofan and Darfur there is a lot of clapping which has a special hollow tone as if people were banging sticks together. I find this quite haunting..
In the South, the music is more African with lots of drums, half gourds floating in water and beaten like a xylophone. The latter too is pleasant to listen to. Dancing is very energetic unlike the dancing of the north.
for samples see www.m-huether.de/Sudan/sudmus
Fondest memory: A recent occasion was at a wedding when El Baewu performed. He was just so amusing and everyone was up dancing and having a great time. When you get a whole family really enjoying themselves at a wedding, even an unmusical foreigner like me cannot help but try to join in.
Goats are a mixed blessing in the Sudan. They can be seen wandering around town and countryside foraging for anything to eat. They frequent rubbish heaps, eat trees and plants when the gate to your house is left open. In some cases they eat the clothes off the rope and sheets off the bed.
But they are a blessing to the poorer people who depend on them for milk, and the young kids can be killed for meat if unexpected guests arrive when you have nothing else .
They are not the sleek attractive animal that can be seen in Europe but usually rather tatty beasts with shaggy hair. A mother goat may have a bag tied round her udders to prevent the kid feeding at will.
Animal lovers may disagree with me, but goats should be penned in as the damage they do/have done to the fragile Sudanese environment is tremendous.
Fondest memory: I miss the generosity and friendliness of the people.
I don't miss the heat or the dust, or the frequent power cuts.
Africa Road, P.O. Box 12290, Khartoum, Sudan
Good for: Couples
Cornich St, Port Sudan, 79800, Sudan
My wife and I lived in the Burj Al-Fateh Hotel for 5 months. The staff (and there's plenty of them)...more