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Book a flight to Khartoum with Qatar Airways and explore a city that is a classic example of modern life in ancient surroundings.
Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, is located where the White Nile meets the Blue Nile. It is a confounding mix of then and now. Its skyline, glittering with towering glass buildings, stands alongside colonial structures. While it may be home to Ancient Egyptian temples and historic palaces, it also embraces the present.
If you think pyramids are the exclusive domain of Egypt, think again. Khartoum has its fair share of these architectural marvels, classified as Nubian pyramids, which are smaller and have steeper sides than their Egyptian counterparts. These structures are believed to have been built around 2,700 years ago, during the Kushite dynasty.
Khartoum has more than 200 pyramids – far more than Egypt’s inventory – and the majority of them can be found in Meroë, the remains of an ancient trading hub. Up close, they are truly impressive to behold, with each pyramid bearing decorative elements from Pharaonic Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations. If you want the full experience, there are camping trips available, led by local guides. There is nothing quite like watching the sunset over these extraordinary monuments.
Most of Khartoum’s attractions are linked to Sudan’s history, such as Mahdi’s Tomb in Omdurman, a shrine to Muslim leader Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah. The Republican Palace Museum, which exhibits artefacts of cultural and historical significance, is also worth a visit. Alternatively, if you want to see some live action, Omdurman also hosts Nuba wrestling, which is considered a recreational sport.
While you are in the area, pay a visit to the Hamed el-Nil Mosque. Here you will witness the sensational spectacle of Sufi dervishes whipping themselves as part of a ceremony.
You can not take a trip to Khartoum and miss visiting the Nile. Not only is this river the lifeblood of Sudan, but it is also exceptionally beautiful. There are plenty of boat cruises available, but if you are feeling up to it, you can hire your own boat. Try boat rental places such as the Marin Water Sports Club. It is popular among tourists, so book well in advance.
If you would like to appreciate the local flora, you can not do much better than a visit to the Botanical Garden Park, one of the oldest gardens in Africa. You can book a trip in a felucca – a traditional, wide sailing boat – to take you across the Nile to the island. While motorboats and cruises can be fun, this method of transport is a must for any trip to Khartoum. Just remember to take plenty of mosquito repellents.
On your trip to Khartoum, it will be virtually impossible not to find yourself at a souq, bazaar or other street market. Among the silks, leather and spices, you will no doubt find street vendors selling food. The rule here is to be careful. While lamb and beef are excellent choices (you may even be tempted to some traditional kebabs) be wary of eating anything uncooked, such as salad.
As far as restaurants go, Khartoum has a fantastic selection, offering food from across the globe. From traditional Sudanese dishes, through to international cuisine such as Indian and even fast-food outlets, there is something for everyone here. Most restaurants serve a variety of local dishes including shawarma, kebabs, grilled chicken and lamb stews, all accompanied by plenty of bread.
On your visit, sample some foul medames, a traditional Sudanese recipe of cooked fava beans served with onion, tomatoes, lemon, parsley and garlic.
For an outdoor shopping experience in Khartoum, head to the Omdurman Souq. Your best bet is to get there early, around 9am, as it fills up fast and bargains go faster. Haggling is de rigueur, but never bargain unless you’re going to buy and make sure it is as good-natured as possible.
At Omdurman Souq, most people come for the ebony wood carvings, gold and silver jewellery, and clay coffee pots. However, there is much more to be found, including handmade goods, which are a trademark of this vibrant city. If you would rather go shopping more conventionally, then head to the Afra Mall.
Essential facts about Khartoum
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip