Sudan Scouting 2018






ARRIVING IN KHARTOUM

by JoMarie Fecci


KHARTOUM, SUDAN — It was after dark when my flight touched down in Khartoum, but as we de-planed the first thing I noticed was that it was considerably hotter than it had been in Egypt. The airport was smaller and less hectic than Cairo, too. Border formalities were simple and went off without a single complication despite all my pre-trip worries over the visa and travel permits… [read more]






THE MEETING OF THE NILES

by JoMarie Fecci


KHARTOUM, SUDAN — My introduction to Khartoum began with a geography lesson about the city itself. The river Nile is the center of the universe. Well, not really, but in this part of the Sahara, the Nile has been the center of civilization since the beginning of recorded time. People lived by its life-giving waters and built their civilizations around it. Sudan, like Egypt, has ancient roots. And the modern city of Khartoum has grown up and spread out, but the Nile remains the center separating the metropolitan area into three main sections: Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman … [read more]






KHARTOUM AND HISTORY’S LEGACY

by JoMarie Fecci


KHARTOUM, SUDAN — Getting a crash course in history via a few interesting museum visits today before we set off into the desert. Like most foreigners, I have a very limited knowledge of Sudan’s history apart from the largest outlines, and so am trying to play catch-up. Khartoum holds an eclectic selection of museums, including some rather unlikely ones for a tourist… [read more]






LEAVING KHARTOUM

by JoMarie Fecci


OMDURMAN, SUDAN — We left Khartoum early this morning but had several stops before reaching the desert highway. I am traveling with Sami and Gammal, and our small team needed to get some supplies at the sprawling market in Omdurman. Then we needed to air up our spare tire, so we made another stop at some sort of garage that had a large air compressor. And finally, our last stop was at the camel market… [read more]






ON THE DESERT HIGHWAY

by JoMarie Fecci


EN ROUTE TO DONGOLA, SUDAN — After leaving the camel market behind we were pretty much on the edge of the open desert. The paved highway was well-maintained and the driving was easy, so we could knock out some kilometers as the sun started to bake down through the windshield reminding me how hot it actually was outside … [read more]






OLD DONGOLA AND THE DESERT

by JoMarie Fecci


OLD DONGOLA, SUDAN — In the morning we left the dunes and continued across the desert the rest of the way to the ruins of the old city of Dongola. It seemed lost in the middle of nowhere in the desert and it was hard to imagine that there was once an important city there, or to even understand why it would be there surrounded by the Sahara’s sands and not much else… [read more]






ABRI AND SAI ISLAND

by JoMarie Fecci


SAI ISLAND, SUDAN — A bit of a marathon drive day today from Dongola to Abri, with an amazing finish on the island of Sai. The tar road north across the legendary gold fields of Nubia was well-maintained and we moved fast. I had no idea of the magical place that awaited us… [read more]






SAI ISLAND TO WAWA

by JoMarie Fecci


WAWA, SUDAN — The morning breeze was cool and refreshing as I watched the river from my perch outside the archaeological compound at Sai Island. Last night I stayed up a bit late just looking at the stars, while the guys spent some time with Sami’s friends from the mission. He had worked on this site for several months and knew the caretaker’s whole family. The rest of the archaeological team was on leave and apart from the caretaker and his family we had the whole site to ourselves … [read more]






ROCK ART, THE CATARACT AND TO KARIMA

by JoMarie Fecci


KARIMA, SUDAN — This morning’s “surprise” was a gallery of rock art hidden in plain site in a wadi not far from Wawa where we spent the night. The wadi itself was seemed to be just an ordinary dry wash passing between some rocky banks, but further inspection revealed the place to be quite special. There were probably thousands of engravings on the surrounding boulders and rock walls… [read more]






CROSSING THE BAYUDA

by JoMarie Fecci


BAYUDA DESERT, SUDAN — We headed back into the desert today crossing from the Nile to the Nile on the old route. One of the interesting things about traveling here is that it is actually possible to go from the Nile on the west to the Nile on the east to the Nile again still further east because of the way the river winds its way through the desert in a large s-curve. It can confuse navigation a bit until you see it clearly on a map… [read more]






ARRIVING TO MEROE

by JoMarie Fecci


MEROE, SUDAN — The sun came up over the silence of the desert where we were tucked in behind a hill of rocks and it was time to break camp before we ran out of shade. A nomadic family was grazing their goats under the acacia tree where I had been photographing yesterday afternoon, and the father had climbed high up into its branches and was gently shaking them with his staff to provide fodder for his herd. The children ran after some stray goats and tentatively came over to our camp, curious as to what brought us into their pasture land … [read more]






MEROE AND THE ROAD TO KHARTOUM

by JoMarie Fecci


KHARTOUM, SUDAN — We slept outside under the stars in the shadow of the Meroe pyramids last night, and I woke up early to catch my last desert sunrise for this trip. It was spectacular as I sat alone on a hilltop overlooking the necropolis as the first rays of light hit the broken pyramids turning them an almost neon orange … [read more]






THE CAMEL RACERS

by JoMarie Fecci


KHARTOUM, SUDAN — The street outside the Acropole hotel was quiet this morning. It is Friday and no one is out early apart from me, waiting excitedly for Sami and Gammal to join me as we head off to the Omdurman camel market to see the camel racing. I had no idea what to expect but I was excited anyway … [read more]






A SUFI CEREMONY

by JoMarie Fecci


KHARTOUM, SUDAN — Late in the afternoon we joined a large crowd gathered at the cemetery of the Hamed al-Nil Tomb where a Sufi sect meets every Friday for a ceremony of dance and prayer. The “dervishes” arrive from different directions amidst drumbeats and chanting and everyone is welcome to attend, participate or just watch … [read more]






KHARTOUM TO PARIS

by JoMarie Fecci


PARIS, FRANCE — A day of airports and transitions as I left Sudan early in the morning for my first flight to Cairo, and then on to Paris for the night. It was disconcerting to make such a rapid trip through such radical changes of space, climate and culture… [read more]






PARISIAN MORNING

by JoMarie Fecci


PARIS, FRANCE — It was bizarre to wake up so early in Paris. The sun was not yet up and the vendors were just beginning to set up the Puces des Montrueil along the edge of the peripherique. I was still on Sahara time in my head… [read more]






THE RETURN HOME

by JoMarie Fecci


NESCONSET, NY — Got home late last night completely exhausted. Was good to be home, but the Sahara was still very much top of mind. And despite my fatigue, the time difference meant I was up early, ready to begin the “process” of editing through all the photographs, notes and detailed information I have gathered over a month of travel… [read more]


ABOUT THE EXPEDITION


JoMarie Fecci, of USnomads, sets off on an independent scouting trip across Egypt and Sudan in preparation for an up-coming Sahara expedition. Driving locally-sourced Toyotas and working with small local teams in each region, she will traverse a winding route that jumps off from key points along the Nile as far south as Khartoum, where the Blue and White Niles meet. During the journey she will visit a series of UNESCO world heritage sites focused on the ancient civilizations that occupied the region and meet with local communities. The primary goal of this mission is to assess terrain, security, driving conditions, logistical concerns and approximate timeframes for future travel.


WHERE WE ARE


The Sudan in Northeast Africa is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west and Libya to the northwest. The country has a total area of 1.861.484 square kilometres (718.722 square miles), making it the third largest in Africa. The terrain is generally flat plains, broken by several mountain ranges. In the west the Deriba Caldera (3,042 m or 9,980 ft), located in the Marrah Mountains, is the highest point in Sudan. In the east are the Red Sea Hills. The name Sudan derives from the Arabic “bilād as-sūdān” or “the lands of the Blacks.” The population of roughly 37 million people is made up of 597 different ethnic or tribal groups speaking over 400 different languages and dialects. Sudanese Arabs are by far the largest ethnic group, estimated to account for 70% of the population. They are almost entirely Muslims. The majority speak Sudanese Arabic, with some different Arabic dialects, while many Arabized and indigenous tribes like the Fur, Zaghawa, Borgo, Masalit and some Baggara ethnic groups, speak Chadian Arabic. The nation’s official languages are Arabic and English. Sudanese history goes back to Antiquity, when the Meroitic-speaking Kingdom of Kush controlled northern and central Sudan and, for nearly a century, Egypt.


THE COMPLETE JOURNEY

Arriving in Khartoum
The Meeting of the Niles
Khartoum and History’s Legacy
Leaving Khartoum
On the Desert Highway
Old Dongola and the Desert
Abri and Sai Island
Sai Island to Wawa
Rock Art, the Cataract and to Karmia
Crossing the Bayuda
Arriving to Meroe
Meroe and the Road to Khartoum
The Camel Racers
A Sufi Ceremony
Khartoum to Paris
Parisian Morning
The Return Home
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