Sudan - The Kingdom of the Nubian Pharaohs

The barren sands of Sudan have secrets to tell in voices worn weary by the passage of time. Known by the Greeks as Aithiopia (Ethiopia) and by the Egyptians as Kush, this desert region was a flourishing center of trade and culture for centuries, facilitated by the coursing of the mighty Nile River. From the confluence of the Blue and White Niles, to the mystical peaks of Jebel El Barkal, the source of kingship for ancient royalty, you will delve into the past. Stand in awe of the pyramids at Nepata and Meroe, wander the bones of a once great medieval city in the north, and take in the fierce power of the Nile from the walls of an Ottoman fort. Feel yourself stepping back in time with every footprint left in the Sudanese sand.

Degree of Difficulty - Three Paws

Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.

Weather Reports - When To Go

The Northern Sudan regions have a desert climate, with high thermal range between day and night. For our trip the best periods are the winter months, from October to the end of April, with a dry and sunny climate. The rest of the time, it is very hot in the desert and visiting the pyramids and archaeological sites can be oppressive. February can be windy. The temperature ranges from 75 to 100 during the day, but can drop to 40 degrees in the evenings, particularly during December through February. From February to end of April (and occasionally even earlier) there may be lots of “nimitti” which are small, harmless, but extremely annoying flies in the north (Tombos, Soleb area) – these flies are the ones that pollinate the palms. We will provide fly nets to wear over the face and we suggest you bring long sleeves with you to cover exposed skin.

On the extension, Ethiopia is blessed with mild temperatures year-round. The highlands average below 70 degrees and the lowlands can soar past 90 degrees. The heaviest rains are traditionally between June and October. Right after the rains, the highlands take on a beautiful green sheen with a plethora of wildflowers.

Days 1/2

WASHINGTON, DC/KHARTOUM

Fly to Khartoum and transfer to your hotel. This evening, you will be treated to dinner with your fellow travelers as a welcome to Sudan. Next day, head out for a tour of Khartoum. Begin at the National Museum of Sudan, a wonderful repository of relics of the Kushite Kingdom as well as two complete templesbuilt by Queen Hatshepsut and Pharaoh Thutmose III. Cross the confluence of the Blue and White Niles on your way to Omdurman, which was made the capital during the Mahdist War (1881-99), where you will have lunch. Afterward, visit Khalifa’s Wax Museum and the local souk (market). At sunset, you will be privileged to a ceremony performed by Whirling Dervishes near the tomb of Ahmed Al Nil. CORINTHIA HOTEL KHARTOUM. (B,L,D)

 

Day 3

Khartoum/ Western Desert / Karima

Head into the expanse of the Western Desert, a sprawling and stark 360° horizon that fully immerses travelers in an unchanged ancient landscape. You truly get the impression of being in an ancient landscape which hasn’t changed much since the beginning of time. Stop at an authentic chai house (tea house) for refreshment along the way, before arriving in Karima on the banks of the Nile in the late afternoon. NUBIAN REST HOUSE KARIMA.  (B,L,D)

 

Days 4/5

Karima~ Old Dongola~Nubian Villages/Tombos/Sebu/Soleb

Today’s first stop is the archeological site of Old Dongola, the capital of the medieval Christian kingdom of Makuria. This city thrived in the medieval era and is full of ruins to explore, including Coptic churches and arabesque columns. Enjoy lunch with a local Nubian family in their home, where you can truly engage with locals in a way few tourists do. End your day in Tombos, with its ancient granite quarries and the remains of a statue of King Taharqa.  Through the desert and to the river next morning, you will take in the sight of the legendary Third Cataract of the Nile from an Ottoman Fort atop a nearby hill. Then, explore the rock art site of Sebu, where hundreds of images, ranging from prehistoric to Egyptian times, remain immortalized in the rock. Further north is the Temple of Soleb, the most beautiful Egyptian temple of all Sudan, rich with hieroglyphic inscriptions, bas-relief figures, and elegant columns.  RUSTIC PRESET CAMP IN TOMBOS. (B,L,D Daily)

 

Day 6

Tombos/Kerma/Karima

Journey back in time as you set foot in Kerma, home to an early civilization that flourished from around 2500 BCE to about 1500 BCE in Nubia, in Upper Egypt, and northern Sudan. This was the first capital of the Kingdom of Kush and home to seven remarkable statues of the Kushite Pharaohs. Time permitting, visit the mysterious Eastern Defuffa in the middle of the Necropolis. NUBIAN REST HOUSE KARIMA. (B,L,D)

 

Days 7/8

Karima~Jebel Barkal & The Necropolis Of El Kurru/ Nile Cruise/Necropolis Of Nuri

Venture out to the foot of Jebal Barkal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, often referred to as the Mount Olympus” of the Nubians. Alongside the remarkable ruins of the big temple at its foot, there are still several sculptured granite rams. After lunch, travel southwards to the village of El Kurru and the ancient city of Napata, to explore an excavated tomb beneath the pyramids. Tonight in Karima, enjoy traditional Sudanese music and dance over dinner. Spend some time wandering the Karima market the next morning before embarking on a pleasant cruise along the Nile. Enjoy a picnic lunch and arrive at the pyramids of Nuri, among the oldest in Sudan. This site features a cemetery for Nubian royalty with a pyramid field where 21 kings and 52 queens and princesses were interred. NUBIAN REST HOUSE KARIMA. (B,L,D)

 

Days 9/10

KARIMA/BAYUDA DESERT/MEROE

Cross the Nileand enter the Bayuda Desert. This region of volcanic cone-shaped mountains of black basalt, occupies a pocket formed by a great bend in the Nile River. Drive past the simple huts of the nomadic Bisharin, pastoralists who tend camels and domesticated livestock. Take a pontin (ferry) and mingle with locals and their assemblage of goats, camels, and donkeys as you float across the world’s longest river. Your camp overlooks the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. The next day, enter the necropolis and the Royal City. The necropolis sits atop yellow dune capped hills which are punctuated by the piercing apexes of 40 incredibly well-preserved pyramids. This site is an archeological treasure trove as it marks a point in time where Nubians began to depart from Egyptian influences. As a result, many inscriptions are in Meroitic script and not hieroglyphics, yet to be deciphered today, and much of the site is still to be excavated. MEROE CAMP. (B,L,D)

 

Days 11/12/13

MEROE/NAGA/MUSSAWARAT/KHARTOUM/USA

Spend time at market in the town of Shendi and drive on to the first of two archeological sites in Naga and Mussawarat to see the temple dedicated to the Egyptian god Ammon and another to the Nubian lion-headed god Apedemak. At a small building called the kiosk, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman stylistic flourishes are present due to Meroe’s status as a center of trade in antiquity. Drive back to Khartoum and enjoy a farewell dinner. Next morning is at leisure for your last-minute shopping and exploring Khartoum on your own.  Later, transfer to the airport for your overnight flights back to the U.S. (B,L,D; B,Meals Aloft)

 

After forty day’s journey on land along the river, one takes another boat and in twelve days reaches a big city named Meroe, said to be the capital city of the Ethiopians.” -Herodotus

 

EXTENSION TO ETHIOPIA

Explore more of ancient Aithiopia with a visit to modern Ethiopia. Begin in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia and home to the African continent’s largest open-air market.  Travel to Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile, and observe its thunderous cascades at Blue Nile Falls. The history of Christianity in Ethiopia is on full display in the venerable island monasteries of Lake Tana and the hewn rock cruciform churches at Lalibela. Taste coffee in the land of its origin, take in the scents of berbere and niter kibbeh, all the while being serenaded by the voices of history.

Prices starting at $6,795. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.