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Sudan Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

1,861,484 sq km (718,723 sq miles).

Population

34,847,910 (2013).

Population density

18.7 per sq km.

Capital

Khartoum.

Government

Federal Republic. Gained independence from Egypt and the UK in 1956.

Head of state

President Omar al-Bashir since 1989.

Head of government

President Omar al-Bashir since 1989.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two- and three-pin plugs are used.

Travel Warning: Due to sporadic demonstrations that occur throughout the country, the Foreign Office in the UK advises against all travel to Darfur, and all but essential travel to specific other areas of the country.

Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, is situated at the confluence of the Blue and White Niles. Among the tourist attractions here are the Omdurman camel market, the Arab souk and the National Museum. The main areas of archaeological interest are along the Nile, including the famous pyramids at Meroe.

The Red Sea, with the transparency of its water, the variety of its fish and the charm of its marine gardens and coral reefs, is one of Sudan's main attractions.

Sudan is bordered by Egypt, the Red Sea, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, the Central African Republic, Chad and Libya – and the newly independent South Sudan. Sudan has only recently been developed as a tourist destination, and communications and facilities are still limited outside Khartoum. Travel restrictions are also in force in parts of the country owing to civil conflict. The ongoing fighting and resulting humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region has, for obvious reasons, has negatively impacted upon the recent attempt to kickstart touristic growth in the country.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 26 April 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

The level of street crime in Khartoum and other major Sudanese cities, with the exception of Darfur, is low but increasing. You should take normal precautions against crime.  

Local travel

A state of emergency remains in place in a number of states, which gives the government greater powers of arrest.

There have been reports of arbitrary detentions in different parts of the country, including in Khartoum and including foreign nationals. Take great care around any areas which may be sensitive to the government, including military installations, border areas and camps for internally displaced persons. Don’t take photographs in these areas.

You must get a permit before travelling outside of Khartoum. Permits to visit tourist sites must be obtained from either the Ministry of Tourism, your hotel or travel agent. Travel outside of Khartoum for any other purpose must be checked with the Aliens Department at the Ministry of Interior.

Local travel Khartoum

Demonstrations can occur at short notice in Khartoum. You should try to avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people where possible.

Local travel Darfur States

The FCO advise against all travel to the 5 Darfur states (Central Darfur, East Darfur, North Darfur, West Darfur and South Darfur).

The security situation in Darfur is volatile and unstable. Banditry and lawlessness are widespread, and there are frequent violent confrontations between rebel and government forces, between tribes and over economic resources (land, gold). There are tensions within camps for internally displaced people, which have sometimes resulted in violence and fatalities. Armed robbery and break-ins of guesthouses and other buildings have been reported.

Humanitarian workers and UNAMID peacekeepers are possible targets of attack or for kidnap, and have been caught up in cross-fire and violent incidents. A number of aid workers and peacekeepers have been killed.

If you are in Darfur against FCO advice, you should respect any curfews that are imposed and make sure you are aware of any military operations, conflict and crime patterns. Make sure that you have co-ordinated your movements with UN Security and that all necessary parties have been notified. Anyone seeking entry to the Darfur area, for whatever purpose, must first obtain a special permit from the Sudanese government.

Local travel - rest of Sudan

Northern Kordofan, White Nile and Sennar States

There is a risk of conflict and violence spreading into White Nile, North Kordofan and Sennar states from neighbouring areas. You should maintain high situational awareness and avoid any areas in which conflict has been reported.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to areas west of the town of En-Nahud which border Darfur.

Sudan –Libya border (north of Darfur state)

Visitors should take great care in all areas close to the Sudan - Libya border. There are ongoing media reports of trafficking in people and goods as well as movement of armed militants between the two countries. In January 2015, the media reported that five refugees were killed fleeing border police. Visitors to the area should be aware that the FCO currently advises against all travel to Libya and the border is closed to non-African nationals.

Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei

The FCO advise against all travel to the Abyei Administrative Area. The security situation there remains tense and unpredictable as it is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan.

The FCO advise against all travel to South Kordofan due to continuing conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudanese People’s Liberation Army - North (SPLA-N).

Foreign nationals have previously been targeted for kidnap in South Kordofan .

Landmines and unexploded ordnance are a threat in areas affected by conflict.

Since the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in December 2013 there has been an increase in refugees entering southern Sudan.

East Sudan: Gedaref, Kassala and Red Sea States

The FCO advise against all travel to the Sudanese border with Eritrea in the Red Sea State. Although the situation is calm at present it has been subject to instability and could deteriorate rapidly.

Travel to eastern Sudan, particularly the major cities, is currently possible but foreign nationals need to get a permit. People trafficking is widespread in the area.

If you’re travelling by road in Kassala State, you should keep to the major roads especially near the Eritrean border where people trafficking groups are believed to operate.

Road travel

Road traffic accidents are common in Sudan. There is a high risk of being involved in a traffic accident when using public transport or vehicles for hire such as rickshaws and ‘amjads’. Use a reputable taxi firm or driver.

Road conditions are poor and many roads, even major ones, are not tarred or have potholes. Many roads are unsurfaced. At night, there is generally no street lighting and many vehicles have no lights. Roads are used by pedestrians, donkey-carts and rickshaws, as well as motor vehicles. .

If your journey doesn’t follow a major route you should travel with an experienced local guide. Many areas south of Khartoum become inaccessible by road during the rainy season from July to October. The wadis (dry riverbeds) are subject to dangerous flash floods and many are not passable during the rains except on a major road.

You can drive in Sudan using a full UK driving licence for a maximum period of 3 months. You can get a local driving licence from the police traffic department. There are no restrictions on women driving in Sudan. Although drivers should have a licence and insurance, many do not have these. Make sure you have adequate insurance.

Sudanese law prohibits the use of mobile phones while driving. 

Air travel

All airlines registered in Sudan have been banned from operating in the EU because of the high rate of accidents involving Sudanese airlines.

Sea travel

Incidents of piracy have been reported in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Be vigilant and seek local advice.

Political situation

Rallies and demonstrations occur, often at short notice, in Khartoum and in other major cities. There are sometimes protests in response to international events. These may be directed against foreigners. Keep a low profile, avoid crowds, monitor local media and keep away from any demonstrations. As a precaution, you should maintain several days’ stock of food and water, and stay indoors until any demonstration or rally in your locality has passed.

National elections are due to be held on 13 to 15 April. Protests are a possibility before, during and after the elections. Please check with contacts and local media for reports of protests and avoid them where possible.

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