Take a trip out to el Ain where the reservoirs are. There are , if I remember correctly , three. When we were there two had dried up and the third had very little left, so the town was being rationed and only getting water for a short time each day.However, in the rainy season the reservoirs fill up and are most attractive, drowning the trees and...more
Victory Park is is quite a good social place at night (see nightlife) and it's named after the Mahdi's defeat of the Anglo-Egyptian forces of Hicks Pasha. The Mahdi's nationalist and religious forces captured El Obeid in January 1883. With a large following in the area they quickly turned it into their capital and the base for their uprising....more
The museum is like a much smaller and regionally-specific version of the National Museum in Khartoum. There are lots of old artefacts of civilisations from thousands of years ago, going all the way back to the Stone Age, as well as more recent cannons, guns and a chainmail suit from the time of the Mahdi's insurrection against the British. Maybe...more
Depending on who you listen to this is either the biggest cathedral in Sudan or the biggest in the whole of Africa. I'm sure the first claim is probably right but I'm a bit sceptical about the second.Nonetheless, it is a striking cathedral with its distinctive striped design and unusual colour scheme. Large displaced communities of Southern...more
I know, I know, I keep wittering on about souqs being interesting in Sudan, but they are, and I'm not going to change that! El Obeid's central souq is large, although it takes a bit of time to find...for two days, I thought it was centred around a couple of streets selling nothing special, but actually it stretches almost as far as the bus station....more
A short walk from the cathedral (depending on whether you are given the right directions or not...we weren't, and ended up right the other side of town) is the Kordofan Museum. Entry is free, and the friendly guard will open it all up for you if you arrive a little late ( we got there just before closing time). It contains hundreds of artefacts...more
My travel guide described this restaurant as the only one worth to visit for a taste of 'International' cuisine.I took my friends there for my birthday. The place is richly decorated but the food is just about average, relatively expensive for what is served and the portions are small.The waiter/cook came with a lot of food stains on his...more
Asida is the city's most well known contribution to the culinary world. It is found elsewhere in Sudan but El Obeid is especially famous for it and you'll have lots of invitations to try it while here. It's usually described as porridge - but to anybody familiar with the British version of porridge that's quite misleading. It's a domed mound of...more
Victory Park, in the centre of town, gets its name from a battle during the Mahdist uprising (see must-see activities). Looking at the stalls, seats and rides in the park they seem to date from the battle itself! Its delapitated state belies its status as the premier night time hang out in El Obeid.Families, teenagers, old people, all hang out here...more
Technically I suppose the Turkish cafe should have gone under 'restaurants' as you go in to eat and drink. But given the paucity of nightlife in Al Ubayyid, it also acts as a place for the young and reasonably wealthy to hang out at night, gossip and as close as they can get to dating.To be fair, the shawarma kebabs and hot food is good. However,...more
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;...more
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 fasherThe railway stops here, and there is...more
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...more
On the street besides the Sudanese Central bank (not the street where the entrance is, but the side street), you’ll find a row of shops for meat and fruit & vegetables and several small super-markets. One of the super-markets has written “Welcome” in English above the door and the owner, a Christian Sudanese, speaks quite good English and is very helpful. He has an amazing choice of goods in his small shops a lot of them imported. He also has a lot of frozen goods in his freezers. But don’t expect the chain of cold to be respected in this hot country. Some of the frozen food might have been unfrozen and refrozen several times. But if you cook it well, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Opposite these supermarkets, you’ll find a bakery that has not only bread but a large choice of pastries. The owner is Egyptian and speaks English.
I wouldn’t trust the pastries and cakes made with cream, but the oriental pastries and dry cookies are quite good. Look at N13 11.052 E30 13.072 on Google Earth.
There are also a number of well stocked supermarkets in the Ryiad Area (close the the Ryiad Holliday Hotel, after the railway in the direction of Kordofan University) that cater for the foreigners who seem to live in this area
Outside of the city of El Obeid are countless small villages, becoming increasingly isolated and basic as they stretch far into the desert.
Quite near to the village of Kortaggat is a very small hamlet that seems to have a disproportionate number of fields and farmlands for its size. Apparently its inhabitants are descendents of an African tribe of witchdoctors and they practice black magic on anyone who dares offend them.
Many locals are terrified of them and children are warned from a very young age to stay off their land... or else!
Compared to Khartoum and the North, the good people of El Obeid have rather fewer scruples about taking your money off you. Whereas in many parts of Khartoum you can offer a shopkeeper a random bundle of notes and he'll return with the correct change, in El Obeid most won't have any qualms about taking it all.
If arriving by bus, don't get a lift off the people hanging around at the station - they'll offer a ride and then later demand a ridiculous fortune for it. That sounds like a no-brainer for most reasonably experienced travellers but in Khartoum such offers would probably be genuinely for free.
That said, there are still plenty of wonderfully friendly people who will genuinely help you. It's only in comparison to other parts of Sudan that I'm complaining - compared to most countries El Obeid is still a very honest place.
Just to point out... some things (bottles of pepsi, water etc) really are more expensive here than Khartoum (say 750 pounds instead of 500) because of the transportation costs - so don't think everyone is ripping you off!
The main souk is interesting to wander around for a bit but there's little to distinguish it from the souks of other cities. More interesting is a camel market that is held occasionally, a fair walk from the city centre.
I was never able to work out exactly when it's on as it seems to change constantly. I think it's supposed to be weekly but it seems more of an occasional word-of-mouth thing. It's also quite difficult to find if you don't know the way. But it is worth it if you've got the time to ask around and persevere. Wander up past the football stadium (walk out of town past Victory Park and you'll see it on your left) and keep walking along that road - you'll need to ask directions from here. There's a good chance one of the locals will walk you to it. Once you're there expect to see dozens of camels and traders from all over Western Sudan and the Libyan desert.
Sorry I can't be more specific about the details, but at least now you know it exists!
It took me quite some time to find an Internet Cafe in El Obeid. It isn’t advertised at all. People who need it probably know where it is. The one I found is in the street of the Bank of Khartoum under a sign saying “Al Hadi Mohammed Husein Krisnallah & Sons“ in a kind of small shopping mall. They have ADSL and several computers with headsets. The...more
I am fascinated by camels. They look so ungainly and supercilious. They are said to be capable of being mean or bad tempered. But there is something romantic about a herd of camels walking through the desert. Sudan was known, still is probably, for the camel caravans that took 40 days to reach Cairo carrying trade goods. The camels used a well...more
Apart from a few Catholic nuns (who get absolutely everywhere!) the only other 'khawajas' in town were Russian pilots flying Antonov planes to the south. The Russians were divided into two groups who couldn't stand the sight of each other!On the one hand was the group flying humanitarian assistance, who lived in a very basic and cramped house near...more