Journey to the Confluence

An Adventure into the Heart of Sudan

Venture beyond Lake Nasser into the far reaches of Sudan on this pioneering journey into the forgotten kingdom of Nubia. Visit the deserted archaeological site of Meroë with its tepee shaped pyramids and discover the holy mountain of Gebel Barkal. Cross the Nile to marvel at the enigmatic Temple of Soleb, built by an Egyptian pharaoh for the people of Nubia to worship him as a god. Get to know the warm and friendly people of Sudan both by checking out village life in Wawa and in the chaotic metropolis of Khartoum at the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile rivers.

Begin the journey in Aswan, Egypt by climbing aboard the Lake Nasser Ferry and stay in a range of unique accommodation from permanent tented camps at archaeological sites to homestays in small villages. Best of all, enjoy a land full of wonders and share it with no one except your fellow trip mates – cue the Indiana Jones theme song!


TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Venture into the heart of the Sudanese desert to the strange tepee shaped pyramids of Meroe, the last remnant of the kingdom of Kush
  • Embark on a boat trip across the Nile to the Temple of Soleb, built by Amenhotep III of Egypt for the people of Nubia to worship him as a god, sunsets here are spectacular
  • Explore the mud-brick fortress of ancient Kerma, former capital of the kingdom of Kush and see the relics of the Makoria kingdom in Old Dongola
  • Complete this iconic journey in Khartoum at the confluence of the Nile, and visit the Blue Nile Sailing club, from which many travellers have set out on similar epic adventures.
  • Stay in local family run homestays, Nubian houses, camp in the wilds of the Sudanese and Nubian deserts and stay at the site of Meroe in a permanent tented camp
  • The stuff of travel legend, catch the ferry from Aswan, Egypt to cross Lake Nasser into Sudan, if you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of the great temples of Abu Simbel from the deck

The Basics

Start: Aswan

Finish: Khartoum

Trip style: Signature

Max group size: 15

12 Days

ASWAN – KHARTOUM

$6890 AUD*

Departure date: 2 October 2023

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: JCAK *from

ITINERARY

Arrive in the sleepy Egyptian town of Aswan and make your own way to the hotel. Meet your trip leader and travel companions for a welcome meeting at 17.00 to discuss your tour to Sudan. After the meeting head out into Aswan to a local restaurant for dinner.

This morning, check out the unfinished obelisk of Hatchepsut, a queen of Egypt who became pharaoh in her own right. The obelisk, the largest ever attempted in Egypt lays abandoned in a quarry on its side due to a fatal crack in the stone. Next, we head over to the west bank of the Nile to check out the tombs of the nobles. Ranging in size, these tombs serve as the ‘houses of eternity’ for those who served pharaoh. Some of the tombs contain colourful scenes of the nobles performing their duties and of their daily lives.

In the afternoon we will head to Aswan’s relaxed bazaar for a stroll though and to grab some lunch.

The afternoon is free to explore Aswan on your own, if this is your first trip to Egypt you might want to consider a trip out to the spectacular temple of Isis at Philae – located on an island in the middle of the Nile.

In the late morning we will transfer to the port of Aswan on the shores of Lake Nasser and embark on the ferry between Egypt and Sudan.

Once the only mode of transport (besides flying) between the two countries, the ferry is a real experience and one that you will never forget. Our group will have private two-berth cabins; however, most travellers sleep in the hold or on the deck of the vessel.

Keep your eyes peeled while on deck. If we are lucky, we will spot the great temples of Abu Simbel, built by Ramses the Great along the way. The temples were designed to be seen from the Nile, to intimidate the people of Nubia and to make them tremble at the might of Egypt and force incursions north to turn back in fear. Very few people today see these temples from the vantage point from which they were designed.

* While the ferry from Aswan to Wadi Halfa is an amazing experience it is also unpredictable. The ferry runs once a week and is sometimes cancelled at short notice. In this instance if the ferry is cancelled we will transfer into Sudan overland with an overnight stop at Abu Simbel (no refund will be payable).

We will arrive in the northern Sudanese town of Wadi Halfa in the morning and proceed to our local hotel. On arrival in Wadi Halfa you will notice a marked difference in the quality of amenities, hotels and way of life. Life is much simpler here and the town of Wadi Halfa will make Aswan seem like a bustling metropolis.

We will spend the day in Wadi Halfa, Sudanese law requires all travellers to register their passports with the local authorities on arrival. Don’t worry your local guide and Inverted Atlas trip leader will assist with this process so we can begin our tour to Sudan with minimal hassle.

We will depart Wadi Halfa this morning and head to the small town of Abri, near the 2nd cataract of the Nile. The Nile ‘cataracts’ or rapids were once used by ancient sailors to navigate their position on the river. Once an immense danger to craft on the river, often sailors would remove their boat from the river and shift it overland around the rapid. Today the 2nd cataract has been completely submerged by Lake Nasser.

Abri is a town of approximately 40 000 residents, we will have a wander of the town and stop here in a local restaurant for lunch, before moving on to Sai Island in the afternoon.

The island is located in the middle of the Nile between the 2nd and 3rd cataract. It has a long and colourful history having intermittently been occupied by the ancient Egyptians during the New Kingdom, it was also the centre of a bishopric during the Makurian period, as well as by the Ottoman’s in the 16th century CE.

This morning we will explore the sights of Sai Island. We will travel to the north-east to visit a temple built by the Egyptians of the New Kingdom and visit the Ottoman era fort. On the island is also a repurposed building one of the stones of which, contains the cartouche of Amenhotep IV before he changed his name to Akhenaten.

In the afternoon we will travel to the village of Wawa and check in to our homestay where lunch will be provided.

In the late afternoon we will take a small boat across the river to visit the Temple of Soleb, built by the Egyptian pharaoh, Amenhotep III. The temple is unique, in that it is the first temple to depict an Egyptian pharaoh not only as a god, but to depict him worshipping himself. We will return to Wawa in the late afternoon and view a spectacular sunset over the Nile.

In the morning we check out of our friendly homestay and head for the town of Old Dongola. Along the way we will stop at the Temple of Sesebi, founded during the reign of the Egyptian, breakaway pharaoh Akhenaten during the Amarna period. The Amarna period marks a strange period in Egyptian history where Akhenaten moved the entire Egyptian capital out into the desert and abandoned the country’s polytheistic religion for the worship of a single god, the Aten.

After we have visited Sesebi we will continue on to the archaeological site of Kerma, once capital of the ancient kingdom of Kush, long standing enemies of the ancient Egyptians. Today at Kerma stands an immense mudbrick fort. We will ascend to the top of the fort to survey the archaeological site of the city and the surrounding oases.

We will make a stop in the town of Dongola to grab some lunch and see some of the relics from the Christian Makuria kingdom before heading out into the desert to set up camp for the night. Tonight’s camp will be a wild camp with no facilities, dinner will be cooked by our guide over the fire and if the skies are clear we will be treated to a sky full of stars.

We will start our day by exploring some of the sites of Old Dongola and the Christian Makuria kingdom. The kingdom of Makuria once stretched from southern Egypt and into northern Sudan with Dongola as its capital. Makuria converted to Christianity in the 6th century and the kingdom reached its peak between the 9th and 11th centuries. We will visit the citadel which served as a royal residence and also the old church before continuing south to Karima.

On arrival in Karima, we will take a walk through the colourful local market and stop for lunch here.

After lunch we will visit the royal cemetery, view the sacred temple of Gebel Barkal and visit the Temple of Amon.

Our final stop for the day will be the Napata pyramids of Nuri across the Nile. Napata was a city of ancient Kush located at the 4th cataract of the Nile and was once the capital of the kingdom of Egypt when it was ruled by the Kushites in the 25th dynasty (747 – 656 BCE).

We depart Karima and continue south to the small town of Atbara where we will stop for lunch before continuing on to the royal necropolis of Meroe. Possibly the most famous of all sights in Sudan, Meroe was once the capital of the kingdom of Kush and capital of Egypt after Napata. At Meroe we will see steep, tepee shaped pyramids which dot the sand dunes, inside were buried the pharaohs, nobles and noble women of the kingdom of Kush.

We will spend this evening at a permanent tented campsite near Meroe to enable us to have plenty of time to explore this amazing and remote site.

Departing Meroe today we head for the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. Along the way we will stop at the so-called labyrinth of Musawwarat es-Sufra built by the people of the kingdom of Meroe. The complex whose purpose is still unknown, contains structures of a religious nature, a ‘great enclosure’ and reservoir. Elephants are depicted throughout the complex indicating that this animal played an important role in either the religious or commercial values of this ancient complex.

We will continue to drive to the location of the 6th Nile cataract and beyond to Khartoum and check in to our hotel for the night.

Today we start our exploration of Khartoum beginning with the end point of our journey, the Nile confluence where the ‘White Nile’ meets the ‘Blue Nile’.

After we will visit the archaeological museum and then continue on to the Blue Nile Sailing Club when many an adventurer (such as ourselves) has either used as a base, set off from on the journey north or even used as a weigh point on the epic journey from Cape Town to Cairo.

In the afternoon we will visit the bustling Omdurman souq, with free time for lunch and shopping before returning to our hotel.

In the evening we will head out into Khartoum to a local restaurant to reminisce about our adventure and say goodbye to your trip leader and travel companions.

Your tour of Sudan comes to an end after breakfast.

Journey to the Confluence | Tour to Sudan | Inverted Atlas
Trip Map – Journey to the Confluence

Details

Duration: 12 Days

Trip style: Signature

Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15

Trip code: JCAK

Cost: $6890.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $1195.00 AUD

Journey Rating – Adventure

This is a tour of Sudan, a country not at all accustomed to tourism. Despite this local people are warm and friendly and will be genuinely curious about you and want to make a good impression. The infrastructure in Sudan will not be up to the standards you expect at home and the difference between standards upon leaving Egypt will be pronounced. There are no banks that work with foreign ATM or credit cards, and you should bring US dollars, Pounds or Euros to exchange. Bathrooms will often be of an eastern ‘squat’ variety (not in hotels) or sometimes even a hole in the ground.

Sudan is an Islamic country and as such, there is a strict dress code for women who will be required by law to wear a head scarf and either long pants with a knee length kaftan or full-length long sleeve dress. The good news is, while in remote areas of the desert dress regulations usually are not enforced.

A note about fitness

To get the most enjoyment out of this tour to Sudan, at minimum you should be able to walk up to 2.5km during scheduled sightseeing and be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach or 4×4. You should also be able to use an eastern style ‘squat’ toilet (beware if you have knee issues). If you have trouble with hot weather, do be advised that Sudan, even outside the summer months can be extremely hot and small homestays and guesthouses are unlikely to have air-conditioning.

In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travellers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!

Please note that on this trip the single supplement is valid for hotels in Khartoum, Meroe and Karima only. It is also not possible to upgrade to a single cabin for the ferry or a single room/tent for small homestays and camping.

Trip leader description

Accompanying you along your tour to Sudan will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

Itinerary disclaimer

The itinerary for this tour of Sudan is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.

While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 18 years

Due to the remote nature and cultural sensitivity required on this trip, we are only welcoming those over the age of 18.

There is no upper age limit for this trip, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this trip.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

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