Sudan History Tour: An Exploration of Ancient Kush

Sudan
Sudan
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3527
  • TBA
  • 14 Days
  • TBA
  • Single Supplement: TBA

Tour Sudan: Travel by 4-wheel drive along the Nile and through the deserts of northern Sudan where towering pyramids, painted rock-cut tombs, and ornately carved temples await discovery.

For millennia Sudan has been the crossroads between Central Africa and the Mediterranean. Today the country is rich in diverse ethnic groups and dramatic remains of past cultures. The northern area of the country, along with southern Egypt, was home to several ancient civilizations. The first settlers in northern Sudan date back 300,000 years. It is home to the oldest sub-Saharan African kingdom, the kingdom of Kush, the most powerful state in the Nile Valley 4,000 years ago. The conflict between Egypt and Kush followed, culminating in the conquest of Kush by Thutmose I, but in the 11th century BC, Egypt withdrew and the Sudanese kings grew powerful again. In the 6th century, they invaded Egypt and ruled as Pharaohs uniting the Nile valley from Khartoum to the Mediterranean. The Kushites were expelled from Egypt by the Assyrians, but their kingdom flourished in Sudan for another thousand years.

Kush monuments and art display a rich combination of Pharaonic, Greco-Roman and indigenous African traditions, and two are UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Meroë and Jebel Barkal. Tall pyramids, imposing mud-brick buildings, rock-cut painted tombs, and ornately carved temples – all are present for us to discover.

Join Dr. Tim Kendall and journey through the northern deserts in search of these remarkable civilizations!

Any questions? Please get in touch.

Sudan archaeology tour led by:

Why explore Sudan with Far Horizons?

  • Private tours with archaeologists of Sudan’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites Meroë and Jebel Barkal, including the Temple of Mut
  • Private tour of El Kurru with archaeologists
  • Private tour of Tombos with archaeologists
  • Private tour of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity at Old Dongola with archaeologists
  • Private tour of Nuri with archaeologists
  • Limited to a maximum of 14 participants

Itinerary of your Sudan history trip

(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner

Day 1Depart for Sudan

Depart for Sudan.

Day 2Arrive in Khartoum

Arrive into Khartoum and transfer to the five-star Burj Al Fateh Corinthia Hotel, our home for the next two nights. Overlooking the Nile River, the hotel is an architectural masterpiece of steel and glass.

Day 3Khartoum city tour, Nuba wrestling

In response to the flooding from the Aswan Dam, whole temples and tombs were moved hundreds of miles to Khartoum to be reconstructed at the Sudan Archaeological Museum. Some of the remains displayed here, almost perfectly preserved, date back nearly 4,000 years while the Christian frescoes on display represent the richest collection discovered so far in the Nile Valley. We spend the morning in the museum. After lunch in a local restaurant, head to the north of the city to watch Nuba Wrestling, a national sport practiced by the Nuba ethnic group. Bouts are held in a local stadium and the goal is to push one’s opponent to the ground on his back. Enjoy a welcome dinner at the lovely courtyard restaurant Al-Assaha. (B/L/D)

Day 4Wadi Muqaddam

Begin the day followed by a leisurely cruise down the Nile to see the confluence of the Blue and White Rivers. Next, we take off into the Western Desert, crossing Wadi Muqaddam, a complex cultural area of great antiquity. Throughout it there are ancient Meroitic and post-Meroitic tumuli and cemeteries built of stone. Many of the graves are isolated and are perched on high promontories while others are clustered in small groups. Overnight for two nights at the Nubian Rest House, located in the small town of Karima. This charming boutique hotel was constructed in the Nubian style with ornate domes and arches, and each of the rooms has a private bathroom. (B/L/D)

Day 5Jebel Barkal, El Kurru

The holy mountain of Jebel Barkal, visible for miles across the plain, dominates this part of the Nile. Both ancient Egyptians and Kushites believed that this was the home of Amun, and the remains of a temple dedicated to this god lie at the foot of the crimson sandstone butte. First constructed by Thutmose III in the 15th century BC, each successive ruler added to it until it became the largest Kushite building ever constructed. Enjoy a private tour of this complex including the Temple of Mut, dedicated to the Egyptian goddess and consort of Amun. The Nubian capital from 800-400 BC, Napata, built a large number of pyramids in three different areas. Next, we visit nearby El Kurru for a private tour of the excavations with archaeologists working on the project. The site contains royal tombs with well-preserved wall paintings of the pharaoh, the gods and still intact hieroglyphic inscriptions. Jebel Barkal and El Kurru together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (B/L/D)

Day 6Kerma, Tombos

Drive to Kerma, the largest settlement along this stretch of the Nile and once the capital of the first kingdom of Kush. Archaeological evidence shows that the settlement dates as far back as 2400 BC. The site consists of Deffufa East and West, two enormous mud-brick structures that are more than 3,500 years old. Western Deffufa is possibly the largest man-made structure in sub-Saharan Africa. Surrounding Eastern Deffufa are massive tombs of Kerma’s former kings. This New Kingdom Egyptian cemetery contains several Egyptian-style mud-brick chambers, and both shaft and mud-brick tombs. Move on to Tombos for a private tour. Located nearby on the bank of the river, this is an important ancient granite quarry and necropolis. Under Thutmose I, a great victory stelae was created overlooking the river. A nearby boulder features the pharoah’s viceroy, Usersatet, along with Hekaemsasen, a dignitary well placed at court. Usersatet and Hekaemsasen are known to have both served King Amenhotep II, but the Tombos stela is the first monument to show them together. What is remarkable is that Hekaemsasen is presented as equal in status to the viceroy. Within the site museum are the statues of many former rulers of Kerma. Overnight for three nights at a pre-set camp in Tombos. Each dome tent with beds, foam mattresses, sheets and blankets, along with a small table and chairs. Shared showers and restrooms are a short walk from the tents. (B/L/D)

Day 7Sesebi, Soleb

Our explorations take us across the Nile by ferry to the west bank, the location of several ancient sites. Sesibi was a New Kingdom town founded during the 18th Dynasty and was the southernmost fortified town founded by Egyptians in Upper Nubia. Then it’s on to the well-preserved Temple of Soleb, built by Amenhotep III in the 14th century BC and the most beautiful Egyptian building in Sudan. Lying on the banks of the Nile, a processional way leads from the river to the complex. Admire the temple walls which are covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions. Relief carvings on the temple walls depict sed, the Egyptian celebration of the continued rule of the pharaoh. (B/L/D)

Day 8 Sebu, Sheikh Idris Qubba

Today we begin at the nearby rock art site of Sebu, where hundreds of prehistoric petroglyphs have been pecked into the rock. We continue on to the 3rd Cataract and cross the Nile to reach Saï Island, one of the largest islands in the middle Nile. This territory has an extensive history dating back to the Paleolithic era. Under the rule of Ahmose, the founder of the New Kingdom, the island fell under Egyptian control. They built a fortified town and a temple dedicated to the god Amun. In addition to these eras, the island’s vast history has been evidenced by discoveries from the Neolithic, Pre-Kerman, Kerman, Napatan, Meroitic, Post-Meroitic, Medieval and Islamic periods. Before returning to camp stop at the tomb Sheikh Idris Qubba, a pyramidal testament to a great Sufi scholar. (B/L/D)

Day 9Nubian villages,Old Dongola, Monastery of the Holy Trinity

Our morning drive takes us along a new road through the central part of the Nubian region. Along the way, we will pass several Nubian villages with the entrance doorways of community dwellings painted and decorated with patterns and flowers. Then its on to Dongola where the irrigated fields are filled with fruit and vegetables, and groves of date palm trees provide cool shade. Our exploration of Old Dongola takes us to Monastery of the Holy Trinity for a private tour, the remains of the Coptic Church along with a vast Sufi cemetery with qubbas (domed tombs) dating back to the 14th century. Overnight for two nights at the Nubian Rest House in Karima. (B/L/D)

Day 10Nuri, Market in Karima, Tea Ceremony

Meet with the archaeologists excavating the Royal Necropolis of Nuri for a private tour. Nuri’s pyramids are older than those at Meroë. The tomb of the great Napatan King Taharqa, one of the 25th Dynasty pharaohs of Egypt and probably the most powerful ruler in Sudanese history, is located here along with the tombs of other Kushite rulers. Move on to the local market and experience the hustle bustle of every day Sudanese life. This afternoon, enjoy a tea ceremony and traditional dancing.  (B/L/D)

Day 11Bayuda Desert, Monastery of Ghazali

Today’s journey takes us through the breathtaking lunar-like landscape of the Bayuda Desert. Along the way, we see the remains of the medieval Monastery of Ghazali, abandoned in the 11th century. Located on an old trade route, the monastery was surrounded by impressive protective walls. Overnight for two nights in the Meroë Safari Camp. Each of the furnished tents has beds and private separate bathrooms with a toilet and shower. (B/L/D)

Day 12Meroë

Flourishing between the 3rd century BC and the 4th century AD and thus coexisting with Ptolemaic and then Roman rule in Egypt, Meroë once formed the capital of an empire that stretched northwards to the borders of ancient Egypt and southwards to take in much of what is today central and southern Sudan. The remains of the Royal City are scattered along the banks of the Nile and encircling the royal palace and Temple of Amun. Famous in antiquity for its warrior queens, Meroë’s art and architecture show ancient Egyptian, Hellenistic and Mediterranean influences, as well as of those native to Sudan. Towering over the royal cemeteries is a multitude of spectacular pyramids, more than one hundred of them, including the tomb of Queen Shanadakhete, Meroë’s most powerful ruler and perhaps the first significant female ruler in history. (NOTE: The Royal City of Meroë is currently closed for reconstruction due to previous flood damage. Our group may only be able to visit the necropolis in February 2023.) (B/L/D)

Day 13Naga, Musawwarat es-sufra, Omdurman souk

Today, visit Naga, one of the cities of ancient Kush with superbly preserved temples still standing. Walk through an avenue of rams to the Temple to Amun, founded by King Natakamani 2,000 years ago, and the Lion Temple, dedicated to the lion-headed Kushite god, Apedemak. Continue to Mussawarat es-Sufra, probably a cult and pilgrimage center and the largest set of Meroitic remains in Sudan. The huge complex, known as the Great Enclosure, contains temples and other buildings. Many are covered with ancient carvings, often images of elephants. Later, we visit the Omdurman Souk, said to be one of the largest markets in Africa. Displayed to tempt us will be ebony wood carvings, necklaces, bracelets, beads, gold and silver jewelry, clay coffee pots, Sudanese baskets, food, spices and much more. Return to the Burj Al-Fateh Corinthia Hotel in Khartoum for one night. (B/L/D)

Day 14Depart Sudan

Transfer to the airport for flight home. (B) (NOTE: Most international flights depart in the very early morning hours.)

Tour Information

Tour Cost & Inclusions

Price is based on double occupancy and includes:

  • Internal flights during the trip (if applicable)
  • The accompaniment of your scholar throughout the entire trip
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Hotel accommodations (3 or 4 stars; or best available based in the area)
  • Ground transportation
  • Airport transfers for arrivals and departures
  • Most meals as noted in the itinerary
  • Entry fees to all included sites and museums
  • Gratuities to guides, drivers, and restaurant and hotel staff
  • Coordination for any private presentations or tours

Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.

Single Supplement

Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.

Exclusions

  • International round trip airfare
  • A separate donation check of $150.00 per person to a designated donation project
  • Passport or visa fees
  • Required vaccines or tests
  • Airport or departure taxes
  • Alcoholic drinks, beverages or food not included on set menus
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Personal tips and hotel incidental expenses
  • Laundry or other items of a personal nature

Donation Checks

As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.

Exchange Rate Fluctuations

Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.

Registration

A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.

Cancellation

Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.

Air Ticketing

International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.

Private Tours and Talks

The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.

Walking and Standing

Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for 2 miles or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging as much as 5 miles of walking per day. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 60 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking several miles every day, ideally including stairs and hills. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.

Expectations During Travel

This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. Sometimes we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.

Itinerary Changes

Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.

Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend that you consider purchasing travel insurance. Should illness or an unforeseen event force you to cancel your travel plans after your final payment or during your trip, it would be doubly unfortunate to incur a significant financial loss. Trip cancellation protection will enable you to be reimbursed for the loss of your payment if you are unable to travel for any of the covered reasons in the “Outline of Coverage” section, or should you have an accident or suffer from any medical conditions during the trip.  
Far Horizons offers customized protection plans through Travel Insured International (a Crum & Forster Company) with the following benefits:
 
• Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption for covered reasons
• Trip Delay
• Baggage Loss and Baggage Delay
• Emergency Medical Expenses and Emergency Medical Evacuation
• 24-Hour Accidental Death & Dismemberment
• 24-Hour Travel Assistance & Concierge Services
• Option to upgrade to ‘Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)’
 
We recommend reviewing the language in detail so you are aware of specific parameters; Depending on the policy, to waive the Pre-Existing Medical Condition Exclusion or to upgrade to CFAR coverage, the plan must be purchased within 14 to 21 days of the initial trip deposit, full trip cost must be insured, and traveler is medically fit at time of plan purchase. Otherwise, coverage may be purchased at any time prior to departure. 
 
To obtain a personalized quote and/or purchase a plan through Far Horizons/Travel Insured International, simply click HERE. For specific questions regarding the Worldwide Protector Plan, please contact Travel Insured International’s Customer Care Center at 1-800-243-3174 or by email at customercare@travelinsured.com, and refer to Far Horizons’ account number: 54070.

Travel in Sudan

Sudan’s tourism infrastructure is relatively undeveloped. Some hotels are simple and some nights will be spent in tent camps instead of hotels. We will be traveling by 4x4s over unpaved roads into very remote areas. At times we will be walking over uneven terrain and sand for distances that may exceed a mile or more each day; hiking boots are required.

Tour Map