Travel in Sudan is never cheap, or convenient. The railway used to be the main link, but nowadays is mainly used for transporting goods.
Travel to Port Sudan from Khartoum takes about an hour by air but nearer 12 hours by train and slightly less by road.
Travel to the north is still possible by rail though there are a few airports and a road has been started, already past Shendi , Merowe and destination Dongola.
Buses to the Gezira, Sennar etc are frequent.
Travel to the South is not possible at this time, except by air, and the service is irregular.
Travel to the west is either by bus-lorry which is fairly cheap but uncomfortable, by rail, or by road to El Obeid. There is also air travel to El Obeid, Elasher and Nyala.
In towns there are taxis, minibuses, buses and nowadays the pest of a 'ricksha'
I arrived around midnight on an Air Arbia flight from Sharjah. Customs was easy..they bus you from the plane to the arrivals hall. Considering the plane was a small A320 they had several immigration lines open so I got through in 20 min or so....much faster than Dubai or Lima for example.
Keep in mind you will need to pay a departure tax prior to checking in for your flight and they probably will not allow you to check in till 3 hours prior to your flight. You pay the tax at a desk/stand to the left as you enter the main entrance. The departure hall is small with no window but a small snack bar, gift shop, duty free and 4? free internet computers for emailing prior to your flight (I did not get to send anything as AOL was blocked).
The airport is small and the UN has the most flights (along with their own terminal). They are supposed to be building a new airport N. in Omdurman but that is at best another year off. Arriving two and a half hours prior to your flight should be plenty of time to catch your flight.
In the western province of Kordofan in the villages, the only way to move around easily apart from walking is on donkey or camel back.
These were the normal means of transport in many parts of the Sudan especially in rural areas. The nomadic tribes would pile all their possessions on the camels and move in search of grazing with their herds of animals. the women would sit in a covered tent on the camel's back.
Camels can still be seen in all parts of Sudan.
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Sudan Airways, as I havew alareday noted, scares me. The airline has had the following three fatal crashes of which we know:
1) December 6, 1971 - Fokker F27 ST-AAY - Tikaka - forced landing after hijack - 10 deaths
2) August 16, 1986 - Fokker F27 ST-ADY - Malakal - shot down by SPLA rebels - 60 deaths
3) July 8, 2003 - Boeing 737-200 ST-AFK - Port Sudan - 116 deaths
Also, it has an old fleet and, becasue of the civil war and embargoes, cannot get new planes or equipment. I also am concerned about the quality of mechanical servicing of this fleet:
3 Airbus A300
2 Airbus A310
5 Fokker 50 -- (40 years old)
3 Boeing 707-300C -- (Hey, at least these planes are only 35 years old!)
Beechcraft King Air 90
Sudan's major highway is the sealed road linking Khartoum with Port Sudan via Gedaref and Kassala. The routes from Khartoum to Atbara, Ed-Debbah and El-Obeid are also mostly sealed. Luxury buses run between Khartoum, Kassala and Port Sudan, and less comfortable buses run on the other sealed roads. In the rest of the country, 'roads' are mostly desert tracks and the only public transport is very hardy 'buses' adapted from trucks. In some instances your only choice is a truck; all the passengers sit on top of the cargo and pay a fairly standard fare for the journey. For shorter distances, and around towns, the transport of choice is Toyota pick-ups known as boksi.
Sudan Airways flies to all of Sudan's major cities (Ed-Debba, Dongola, El-Fasher, Al-Geneina, Juba, Khartoum, Malakal, Merowe, Nyala, El-Obeid, Port Sudan, Wadi Halfa and Wau) but be prepared for last-minute schedule changes and overbooked flights! So, not only are the planes frightening, but you also face the stress of being stuck in an equally frightening local airport.
Sudan shares borders with many countries, but not all are open. Overland travel to the Central African Republic, Congo (Zaïre), Uganda and Kenya is very dangerous as it involves passing through the war zones of southern Sudan. The frontier with Eritrea is closed to travellers.
The roads between Sudan and Egypt seem to be open, but there is no bus or any public transport across the border. It's easier to go by the weekly ferry that leaves Sudan's inland port of Wadi Halfa and sails along Lake Nasser to the port near the Aswan Dam about 20km south of Aswan in Egypt. Saudia Arabia is also an option by water, with regular ferry services running between Suakin and Jeddah.
The national airline was (and probably still is) a frightening and uncomfortable experience.
No service, no rules, taking off with people standing and in the bathroom, crowds in the aisles throughout the flight, cooking in the back -- you name it and the FAA will have banned it.
Although guaranteed to add a few 'good' stories to your vacation journals, buses might be better avoided for the reasons highlighted in 'Travel Warnings.'
I haven't had the opportunity to travel in Sudan by train yet, but this is the up-to-date information I've got about the railway network:
From Khartoum to Wadi Halfa
The train to Wadi Halfa departs from Khartoum Baharri every Monday at 10.30AM. It travels at approxomately 45 km/h and stops at Shendi for two hours and Atbara for 3 hours. The whole journey takes 34 hours for the 897 km trip inshallah (God willing).
1st class ticket - 6470 SDD
2nd class ticket - 5440 SDD
3rd class ticket - 4700 SDD
From Atbara to Port Sudan
The journey takes around 30 hours and leaves on the first Monday every month at 8PM.
1st class ticket - 3898 SDD
2nd class ticket - 3394 SDD
3rd class ticket - 2829 SDD
The rumours say that there really is no big differance between 1st and 3rd class tickets on the train and it's supposed to be a very uncomfortable and hot journey.
The main bus terminal is a few kilometres west of the city. You need to take a boksi or a taxi (400SDD) to get there. The pick up point for the trip to the Ethiopian border at Metemma is the Souq al Koda about 40 min east of town. Pick ups leave early (7.00 am) when full and will arrive at midday. The fare is about 500 –1000 SDD depending on your bargaining skills and if you will sit inside the cab or on the back. There are 4 or five police check points on the route – keep your passport handy! It’s a rough, hot and dusty trip!
Wadi Halfa is about 5 km away from the jetty where the ferry is landing. Transport is waiting outside the customs hall and cost about 300 SDD per person.
Wadi Halfa can be reached by train or road transport. The train from Khartoum / Atbara is supposed to join with the ferry. It leaves back south during the next morning. By tickets the day before.
Alternatively there are trucks leaving for Atbara or Dongola along the Nile in front of the Nile Hotel when full or the driver thinks it the right time for it, usually during sunset. It’s a rough trip!
There are different bus station in Khartoum. The chaotic Souq al Shabi south of the city serves destination to the east, north and south. Busses leave early when full. A taxi from the city will cost about 700 – 1000 SDD. Be prepared that immediately after your arrival touts will try to push you onto the bus they get commission for. Take your time and check prices, the type of vehicle (bus or converted truck) and how many passengers are already in so that you know roughly when it will leave.
There are smaller bus terminals serving routes within the city. The biggest one is at the Souq al Arabi on UN Square. From here are busses leaving for Omdurman. Like every other bus terminal its chaotic. Ask the drivers if the bus will be the right one for you!
Ferry – there is a ferry connection from Wadi Halfa to Aswan in Egypt once a week. The vessel has two classes: Economy and cabin class. Meals are included. The trip takes about 20 hours and offers a nice view at Abu Simbel (depending on delays).
Trains – the only still operating railway lines are north of Khartoum between Wadi Halfa – Atbara – Khartoum and Atbara – Port Sudan.
Three classes are available as well as sleepers. Trains are slow, about 30 km/hrs in average and delays are not uncommon. (The boat at Wadi Halfa will wait for the train).
Its free of charge to travel on the roof of the wagons – although foreigners are not liked doing that.
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
More Regions in Sudan