Wandering round the town itself and its small market won't take too long. Outside the town, if you climb the small hills nearby there are some fantastic views of the surrounding area and the edges of the Nuba Mountains. It's particularly nice first thing in the morning. There are some attractive spots that might be good for camping - although the police might not allow it. The hills are quite rocky and there are plenty of goats and cows lazing about. There are also some 'African style' villages with mud huts with thatched roofs nearby. The inhabitants were shocked, to say the least, to see a khawaja just wandering around.
You will have plenty time to wait for a bus out of Dilling (we waited three hours for the one bus to arrive from Kadugli, and another three for it to fill with passengers for El Obeid), so you can have a walk round the town. Head one way, and you'll find the University of Dilling, head the other way and you have the souq and the forest. The souq is fairly standard, nothing special if you've been to other places in Sudan, and not a patch on Kadugli's souq. The forest looks as if it could be a nice place for a picnic, but it was too muddy for us when we went.
Exit the bus station, and head straight on at the crossroads...you will soon spot a shawarma stall where the best shawarmas in all central Sudan are to be found. the owners were quite shocked at seeing two khawajas come in, and one of them almost fell off his seat when we ordered our sandwiches in Arabic! They sat and watched as we ate, along with a bunch of local schoolkids, and were further surprised when we asked for shotta (chilli sauce). Our crazy antics got us smiles and free lemon juice!
Dilling is a small town at the foot of the Nuba Mountains, 160 km to the south of El Obeid.
The bus station for Dilling (Mawgaf el Dillinj) is situated on the outskirts of El Obeid. The taxi drivers know it.
From there, you can travel in small buses. The trip costs SDG 12 and the bus only leaves when it is full. These buses are quite scrammed and not very comfortable. But you’ll probably make interesting encounters.
If you want to travel more comfortable, you can go by car. They take 4 passengers and charge SDG 15 p. person. They also leave only when they are full. If you are one or two, you have therefore to find other passengers or to pay for four.
We visited Dilling only for 1 day and we paid SDG 120 for the go and return trips, the driver waiting for us in Dilling, and for a few SDG extra, even drove us around town.
These cars are private cars (public buses and taxis have green number plates) and are not allowed to perform taxi duties. Don’t be surprised is our car suddenly turns in the desert and drives for a few kilometres over uneven tracks before returning to the road. They make this to avoid traffic checkpoints.
The road (it is a toll road) is very good and the trip is done in about 2 ½ hours.
You can get buses to Dilling directly from Souk Shaabi in Khartoum - but they're uncomfortable, a very long journey, and there's only one a day, leaving early morning. A better bet is to catch a bus to El Obeid and stay there overnight, then continuing early next morning to Dilling. There are a couple of buses a day between Dilling and El Obeid and it takes about four hours. There are also trucks going between the two which are cheaper but far far slower. Mine took about 11 hours between El Obeid and Dilling. Needless to say, I got the bus back! Dilling is a good stop off point on the way to Kadugli (if it's accessible) but it's not necessary as the El Obeid-Kadugli stretch can be done in one day.
There is transport from Dilling to El Obeid or Kadugli, and dilling is roughly halfway between those two cities, four hours from each. You will end up waiting a long time at dilling bus station though, as buses tend to have a hard time of it on the Kadugli road, and often fall apart en route. If it looks like it is going to rain, avoid the cheap buses as they leak, and you and your luggage will get absolutely soaked! Be warned that the road south is very bumpy indeed, so don't take seats near the back of the bus!
I can almost guarantee that at this point in time there are no mines anywhere in the vicinty of Dilling - or any village within an hour driving of Dilling. Having said that - my 100% guarantee is for the trodden paths/tracks/roads. Outside of that, I have been reassured by many locals on many occassions that their villages are mine free from El Obeid to 1 hour south of Dilling and east and west. Of course, local assurances are not necessarilly 100% proof.
While it's good to wander about and walk around the hills and surroundings, remember that this is very close to what has been one of the bloodiest war zones in Sudan. There's a ceasefire in the Nuba Mountains at the moment - and even during the war Dilling was pretty much unscathed - but there are dangerous leftovers from wartime. The Nuba Mountains themselves are littered with mines and are totally off limits even during ceasefire - and there are minefields and scattered mines elsewhere.
While I was there I had an interesting game of charades with a couple of soldiers after I told them I was going for a walk and they said an Arabic word I didn't recognise - they kept walking and then jumping up in the air. Once they added sound effects I got the meaning!
The immediate vicinity of Dilling is safe but don't wander too far off the beaten track. It's not certain any mines are nearby but many locals and soldiers told me there were and it's better to be safe than sorry. During my visit it was months since it had rained and the surrounding land was bone dry - but in the wet season it all turns to mud and mines can easily move about and change location.