Don't give money to begging children!
In Khartoum it's hard to avoid small hands reaching out for money, but please don't fall for their begging eyes and torn clothes. If you do, their parents will make sure that they continue begging which means that they won't be able to go to school, which we all know is a bad consequence. My best advice of how to handle the situation is to give them a friendly patronizing encouragement, a broad smile and say "al-hamdulillah!" which means something like "thanks to God" or "allah kareem". The reaction will most likely be that they laugh (I haven't figured out if it's because you say something in arabic or if it's because of the meaning of what you say) and leave you alone.
If you really can't stand to deny a child, buy him/her a bottle of soft drink and/or something to eat and then walk away with a good conscience. There are better and more effective ways to do something for the poor in Khartoum.
There is only one rule while driving in Khartoum: Try not to hit anything or anyone! I think that says it all. The traffic is chaotic, maybe not as chaotic as some other African countries, but bad enough so watch where you drive and where you walk.
If you're driving: Honking and flashing with the lights are the most common signs for "watch out, here I come". You should do the same, or people will drive right over you. Maybe they will anyways, but hey, what's life without taking risks?!
- Road Trip
When darkness falls
Although probably one of the safest capitals on earth it is wise to remember that crime exists everywhere, even in Khartoum. Walking alone late at night is not a very good idea, especially not as a woman. Many people that see a woman walking alone at night will have the oppinion that it would be her own fault if something happened to her. Taking the car, taxi, raksha or amjad is the best thing to do or - if you can't get hold of transportation which will be likely to happen a couple of hours after midnight - having company (rather male if you're a woman) while being outside.
I have heard rumours about increased numbers of attacks, rapes and robberies in the Khartoum 2 and Amarat area lately, but as everything in Sudan nothing can really be confirmed.
- Women's Travel
Get ready for the power failures!!
If you have stayed in Khartoum long enough, you will know that the electricity supply is not as reliable as you would like it to be. You will experience frequent power failures so you should bring a torchlight when you come here, and buy some batteries while you're at it. Batteries are available in Khartoum but like everything imported, they are not cheap. Also, it would be good to have an AVR (voltage regulator) with you especially when you charge your expensive electrical equipment e.g laptop because power surges often happen as well and that may wreck them
- Business Travel
No photos please!!
Please be advised that you are not encouraged to take photos or video recordings of public places in Khartoum, especially "sensitive" areas e.g government buildings, bridges, airport. I don't know why but take it from me, I got hauled to the police station after taking pictures in town on my first week in Khartoum. If you still want to, try not to get caught :)
- Business Travel
Brake a Leg - Not!
Before I came to Khartoum everybody told me to bring a torch, but hey.. who listens to that sort of advices? There are few paved roads in the city so most roads are simply sand, litter and holes which are ideal for trip in IF YOU DON'T HAVE A TORCH. There are street lightings but they never seem to be in use, so bring a torch unless you really really want to end up at Khartoum Hospital (I haven't been there myself, but I wouldn't recommend it anyway).... And besides, having a plastered leg when it's 45 degrees doesn't sound very tempting.
Being a white woman in Khartoum
As a white woman in Khartoum you can be sure to get loads and loads of attention. People are honking, yelling, staring, talking about you, pointing at you, stopping their cars to look at you and even take photographs of you when you're not looking. But Khartoum is generally a safe city, probably more safe for an alone woman than any European big city, and the attention you get is mostly based on curiosity rather than anything else. The sudaneses are very friendly and will be more than happy to invite you for a cup of sweet tea without expecting anything in return, something that would be very rare in Europe.
Also, even though Khartoum is pretty safe for women it is advisable to cover up if you're a woman. No need for wearing burkas, but don't wear sleeve less or cut low tops or skirts shorter than to your knees. You wouldn't get killed if you did, it's just a matter of showing respect.
- Women's Travel
Khartoum is hot, even in the winter it can be hot. Dehydration is a danger. You sweat so much that you must keep drinking plenty of water. Nowadays bottled water is readily available, but not so 10 years ago All small shops will have drinks like Pepsi, Coke and Mirinda, but drinking these only makes your thirst worse. Better , if you must, drink mango, grapefruit or lemon juice freshly prepared, though Sudanese love sugar and use too much. Try cold kerkade or aradeb , drinks made from local plants , and very refreshing because they are a bit tart rather than sweet
- Work Abroad
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
An unimaginably unpleasant way to go!
One of your greatest dangers as a visitor to Khartoum is watching where you walk. Large gaping holes in the pavements (and occasionally the roads) reveal the sewers underneath. In the daytime all this requires is an occasional glance where you're going, but at night most of Khartoum is a very dark city with little electricity on the streets. One wrong step and some of those sewers are deep enough to drown in!
Remember crime does exist
Because the Sudanese are so friendly and Khartoum is a very safe city it's easy to take this for granted and forget to take seemingly obvious precautions. Despite what many Sudanese will tell you, crime does exist - burglaries and break-ins are surprisingly common on tourists, as are pickpockets, although physical violence is very very rare. Also, although walking alone in Khartoum late at night is perfectly safe, there are still some no-go areas (at night anyway) - particularly in displaced settlements where there isn't always electricity. It seems obvious, but because of the incredible welcome you receive many visitors forget it.
It's a personal choice how to deal with this of course, but many people who live here, such as myself, avoid involving the police unless absolutely necessary. Burglaries often result in the random rounding up of any local Southerners, with who knows what consequences. And even if you catch a pickpocket in the act does it really deserve a hell of a beating? - because that's what they'll probably get.
As much as you'll be told otherwise, crime does exist in Khartoum, hardly surprising in a city with thousands of desperately poor refugees. Be careful when getting on buses during busy periods...that was how my wallet (no money in it) was stolen. But I haven't heard of too many instances of pickpocketting...most of the theft that happens here is from houses....if landlords have extra keys to your flat, then don't leave anything lying around...in the last month, my walkman, a battery recharger, and a friend's camera have all "gone walking" from behind a locked door! If you're staying long term, change the locks, or buy a padlock and keep all the keys yourself.
Money here is confusing, to say the least! The old Sudanese currency was the Sudanese pound, but a few years ago a new currency was introduced, the Sudanese Dinar. Basically, it meant that a nought was lopped off the end of all amounts.
Simple so far, but it is made confusing by the fact that people generally still quote prices in pounds...so if they ask for 1000, they want the note that says 100 on it. An extra twist is added by those who think foreigners don't know this, and quote in dinars for their benefit. If you don't know roughly how much items should cost, then it is difficult to know what people are quoting in!
Khartoum seem to be a pretty...
Khartoum seem to be a pretty safe city. I never had any problems there. I also felt safe as I had sudanese friends with me all the time. PHOTO: MY GUIDES IN KHARTOUM.