A long and tough expedition with more than 1000 km off road through the Nubian Deserts to meet nomads, to look for a site of prehistoric rock engravings. Mainly a desert crossing with interesting encounters with isolated nomads not used to meet people, the Nile and with the visit of the famous archaeological site of the pyramids of Meroe, listed in the World Heritage Unesco sites. Overnights in wild camps.
1 O/N at Holiday Villa Hotel (4****) in Khartoum in BB
1 day use rooms available the last day at Holiday Villa Hotel till 21.00
all the camping equipment for the overnights in camp (igloo tent, rubber foam mattress, camping tables and chairs)
a cook in charge of the meals
Transport by Toyota Land Cruisers or Toyota Hilux double cabin (3 pax per car guaranteed) outside Khartoum; minivan or bus in Khartoum
guide English speaking
mineral water when on tour
meals as per itinerary
archaeological site of Meroe entry fee
day 1 / Khartoum
Arrive in Khartoum. Meet and greet with the guide. Transfer to the hotel.
NO meals included
Grand Holiday Villa Hotel
day 2 / Khartoum – Meroe
After breakfast we will spend the morning visiting the Archaeological Museum that, besides many beautiful objects, contains three full temples rescued by the UNESCO in the sixties and moved from the Lake Nasser area, when it was flooded by the water (the visit to the Museum can be moved on to the last day according to opening time). The expedition departs late morning heading north. We will come across the beautiful granite formations of the Sixth Cataract and we will then reach the sandy hills covered by the pyramids of the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. Dinner and overnight in wild-camp, not far from the pyramids. (B.L.D.)
The archaeological sites of the Meroitic Empire in June 2011 have been listed in the World Heritage Unesco sites.
In the morning visit the Royal necropolis of Meroe that is located at about 3 km from the Nile on some hills covered by yellow sand dunes. Several pyramids stand out with their sharp shapes against the clear sky. Each one has its own funerary chapel with the walls fully decorated with bas-reliefs that show the King’s life and offers to the gods. After the visit we keep travelling towards North till we reach the city of Atbara, we stop a while to stock up our vehicles with fuel, food and water and then we travel on asphalt road towards Port Sudan. After 100 km we leave the tarmac road and we enter the desert. Dinner and overnight in wild-camp (B.L.D.)
day 4–5–6-7 / Nubian Desert – the rock engravings of Bir Nurayet
Driving northward we come across a flat area dotted with isolated black mountains. Here it is possible to encounter many gold seekers searching for the precious metal with modern metal detectors. Indeed since few years ago in Sudan a new rush for gold has started and hundreds of people leave their villages along the Nile to look for it where the ancient Egyptians already dug. This is one of the driest areas of the Sahara. The chain of mountains that runs parallel to the coast indeed prevent the rains from reaching this area. In those areas it is common to meet small groups of Beja nomads from the Bisharin and Hadendowa tribes together with their animals. It is a very delicate encounter with these nomads who are not use to meet foreigners. The round huts made of acacia branches are usually in the middle of a circle made of stones that mark a tidy court yard. On the eastern side some rocks indicate the direction of Mecca. Women wear long and colored clothes, golden earrings and bracelets. These nomads live like 2000 years ago, isolated with no contacts with the outside world. They almost do not possess any plastic objects.
We reach Jebel Magardi, an unusually shaped mountain situated near the Bir Nurayet well. Only few years ago an archeological Polish expedition discovered a large number of rock engravings and Neolithic sites. This proves the existence of a thousands of years ago human life, probably along a caravan route that led to the Nile from the Red Sea. We try to find them and admire their beauty. Dinners and overnights in wild camp. (B.L.D.)
We move westward and we among the wild mountains where there are curious “craters” with white sand. The most spectacular is Wadi Hofra (in Arabic “bowl”), an huge crater of white sand surrounded by black mountains where there is only one narrow passage to enter. This crater is visible in satellite images. Among the acacia trees, close to the entrance, are often settled Hadendowa nomads. Dinners and overnights in wild camp. (B.L.D.)
day 10 -11 / Gold Mines of Wadi Onib – Nubian desert – Jebel Angib
We reach the narrow valley of Wadi Onib where we find the rests of an ancient gold mine (Onib mines) as reported on the old English maps. We will come across wonderful gorges, tumulus tombs and remains of others ancient settlements. The ancient houses of the miners were made by overlapping dry flat rocks of coming from the nearby mountains. Around the houses, still, lie abandoned many millstones with a central hole. Thanks to the particular rotational movement, these millstones were suitable to crush the stones that came from the gold-bearing vein. Unfortunately some of the present settlements of gold diggers are located right on these places and they disfigures the landscape. After few kilometers we reach the end of the Nubian mountain chain. We will then travel southwards among a vast plains of sand and pebbles where suddenly we meet the curious formations of huge granite rocks overlapped one to each other. We reach Jebel Angib an isolated mountain that rises from a level ground where a gulf shaped by the hills has created an amazing scenery with high and soft dunes. Dinners and overnights in wild camp. (B.L.D.)
day 12–13-14 / Jebel Angib – Abu Hamed – Bayuda Desert
We reach Abu Hamed. This small village is located where the Nile changes its course and goes south. Here we will take advantage of the basic shops available to stock up our vehicles with fuel, food and water for the following days. We will cross the Nile and reach Mograt Island, a large island, which divides the Great River in two branches. The people here are farmers taking advantage of the very fertile soil and the water from the river. We then cross again the Nile with a little bridge and enter the Bayuda Desert, an area bounded by the loop formed by the Nile between the 4th and the 6th Cataract and characterised by sharp black basalt mountains, most of them volcanic and typically cone-shaped. They alternate with level pebble stretches and large valleys crossed by dry wadis where there is little vegetation. We keep on driving across the desert where we might meet isolated groups of Hassanya nomads, who live in familiar groups in small huts made of intertwined branches covered with large camel wool blankets, near the rare water wells in the area. We will travel among an incredible volcanic area, where nomads gather salt from the edge of a green coloured pool inside a crater, Al Atrun. They will then sell it to markets of the towns outside the desert carrying the salt on camels caravan. An unbelievable place where it feels like the time has stopped to the Middle Ages. We will have a nice 3-hours walk in the central area of the Bayuda Desert till we reach the volcano Hosh El Dalan, it is possible to climb it (this climbing is a bit demanding). We then keep travelling southwards among the flat where only few acacia trees grow and we will also meet a water wells always crowded, as nomads and their animals come here to get water with nice ancient pulleys. Dinners and overnights in wild camp. (B.L.D.)
day 15 / Bayuda Desert – Nile crossing - Omdurman – Khartoum – departure
We drive cross the Bayuda Desert, we cross the Nile by a ferry and keep driving southward until we reach Khartoum. We reach the souk in Omdurmann for a short visit and where there is the possibility to buy some local handcrafts. At sunset time we move near the tomb of the sufi leader Ahmed al Nil to attend the involving Whirling Dervishes Ceremony (only on Fridays). ). Arrival in Khartoum, crossing the White Nile on the old British bridge. Check in at the hotel where the rooms are available in day use till 23.00. Dinner not included. (B.L.)