Bus trip to El Obeid
Take the bus from the new bus terminal in the south of Khartoum (see my tip on this terminal).
The bus leaves around 7:15am. It is one of the new luxury buses and the ticket cost SDG 49 in July 2009. The bus is air conditioned and shows videos: one American movie (but with the sound turn low as everybody reads the subtitles) and one Arabic movie; plus a lot of Arabic video clips.
A meal is served during the trip. But beware of the cooked food and stick to the biscuits and the fruit. They serve also cold water (tap water!) and soft drinks. This is included in the price.
The trip lasts around 7 hours with one toilet stop (you’ll have to pay SDG 1 for not very clean facilities). If you have a flat tire and an accident with a parked car o the bus stop, as we did, it will last longer.
The bus travels first south to Kosti on a very good road. There, it crosses the White Nile and then goes west to El Obeid.
On arrival, they will check the labels on your luggage against the inscription on your ticket.
A lot of taxis are waiting at the bus stop. The trip to most destinations inside the town shouldn’t cost you more than SDG 6.
Located at N15 31.590 E32 32.624 on Google Earth
The beast of burden
In much of Kordofan the best means of travelling is by donkey, or better still by camel.
Merchants used to take camels in caravans [ and still do] to Egypt to sell for meat. For those who know, camel liver is delicious.
In el Obeid town there are cars and taxis, and lorries leave for Omdurman or Nahud and El fasher
The railway stops here, and there is an airport.
- Road Trip
El Obeid also serves as a stop-off point for journeys further south. At a different bus station to the one for Khartoum - on the southern outskirts of the city and you'll need a bus from the main souk to get there - you'll find buses and trucks heading south to Kadugli, Dilling, Darfur and even Wau.
Which of these you can get to depends on the current political situation of course. You head south from the city along a good tarmac road, which abruptly ends and then it's very bumpy cross-country from here.
There are none of the first class buses round here - they're slow, cramped and uncomfortable, with people hanging on the sides and regular stops to dig the wheels out of the sand. The trucks are even cheaper and you find yourself a 'seat' on top of whatever goods they're carrying and hang on under the burning sun.
For a taste of what you can see further south try my Dilling page.
- Adventure Travel
- Budget Travel
Getting there and getting out
Buses to El Obeid leave Khartoum from Souk Shaabi in the south of the city. All standards of buses are available and leave fairly frequently throughout the morning. First class buses cost about $13 and take about 7 or 8 hours on one of the country's best roads. Lower class buses are obviously a lot lot cheaper and a bit slower.
You'll arrive in El Obeid at the northern bus station from where it's a short (5 minute) walk south to the souk and the town centre and accomodation. Many people will offer you a lift when you get off the bus - they'll suggest it's for free (more believable than it sounds if you know Sudan!) but then demand outrageous amounts for a very short journey.
If you're coming by private transport, head south from Khartoum through White Nile state and turn west after Kosti. The roads are good and it's signposted.
How to get ripped off in one easy step!
As you descend from the bus at the central bus station, several drivers will grab your arms and steer you towards their vehicles. As a new arrival, unsure of the city layout, we accepted a ride in a taxi, and the driver promised to take us to a hotel. "Very far, too far to walk" he exclaimed, and stupidly we semi-believed him. The price he wanted was just plain absurd...10,000 pounds...I got him down to 5000, but even that seemed too much for a ride in any city. We drove out of the bus station, right past the unfortunately mis-spelt "Cum Arabic Factory" (I only hope they meant "Gum"!!!), and one minute later, pulled up beside a hotel. We could have walked it in under three minutes! If you're in a similar situation, march purposefully out of the bus station, turn left then right and you're practically in the city centre.
Buses to El Obeid
From Khartoum, several buses a day go directly to El Obeid, taking about six hours. The buses go via Kosti, so that is a convenient place to stop if you leave late afternoon and don't want to arrive in the dark. Buses stop at the most amazing service station in Sudan, waiter service, spotless loos, great-smelling food, but make sure you find out from your bus driver if food will be served on the bus...travelling on Ibrahimi Express (one of the most expensive), we assumed wrongly that ours did serve food, and ended up very hungry and miffed.
Heading south to Kadugli and Dilling, there is a special bus station south of the city (can't remember its name, but just tell a tea-lady where you are going and she'll set you right) where ageing haflas and lorries wait to be filled with passengers. Don't bother getting there too early...we arrived at 7am, only to wait for four hours for enough passengers. The trip to Kadugli is a long and bumpy 8 hours, so you might want to break the journey at Dilling, roughly halfway. El Obeid is also the jumping off point for Nyala and points west...this area is a wee bit unstable at the mo, but if you are determined to go, Land Rovers leave from another bus station...you will be accosted by drivers as soon as you arrive in El Obeid, so it is easy to find.