ABOUT Although various ongoing conflicts mean much of this vast nation remains off limits, travel is possible in the northeast, and in parts of the south. Much of the Middle East and Africa has a reputation for warmth and hospitality but Sudan is in a league of its own, making it a joy to travel in. Sudan is the third largest country in Africa and sixteenth largest in the world, bordering Egypt, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Libya, and South Sudan. Getting a visa for Sudan is an expensive hit-and-miss affair, but if you do manage to get in, and you stick to the safe areas, you will probably have a memorable experience. The Sudanese people are very hospitable, and you can visit some awesome tourist attractions without even seeing another tourist. It is common to be invited to stay at someone's home and most rural Sudanese would never dream of eating in front of you without inviting you to join them. Talking the afternoon away over a glass or five of tea is a serious national ritual, which extends to dealings with officials. In Khartoum you must see the Sufi ritual of drumming and trance dancing, about one hour before sunset and Friday prayer. These rituals take place northwest of the Nile river in Omdurman. Very welcoming, festive atmosphere. Most shopping is still done in street markets or souqs. The souqs here are not as attractive those in other Middle Eastern countries but are still interesting enough for a glimpse of Sudanese economics. And you can certainly buy everything you need, including handicrafts if you are a tourist, from these markets. Prices are not amazingly low due to transport costs for imported (mainly Chinese) goods, but cheaper than in Afra Mall or proper shops. Upmarket, Khartoum has only one shopping mall with a supermarket, several shops and food outlets. A walk around Tuti Island, situated in the middle of the confluence of the two branches of the Nile, can take about four hours. The less populated northern section is pretty, with its shady lanes, and irrigated fields, and there is a great little coffee stall under a tree on the western side. The pyramids of Meroe are 2.5 hours north of Khartoum. On the same route visit the sites of Naqa and Musawarat. In theory permits are required before visiting the sites and guidebooks say that you pay beforehand in Khartoum, but this appears to have changed. Now you pay at each site. Cost is 10 Sudanese Pounds. Naqa and Musawarat are signposted beside the Nile Petrol station (about 1hours 15 minutes north of Khartoum) and the track is fairly clear but sandy. It is probably good to carry a GPS to avoid getting lost in the bush. After 4pm take a good coffee at The Egg hotel, with high altitude view over Khartoum, the Nile, and Omdurman, and stay to watch the sunset. About 1.5 hours south of Khartoum visit the dam. Just north of the dam (downstream) the Nile is also very wide on Friday and Saturday the area is popular is day visitors.

CLIMATE December and January, has an average high of 34 C with many days hotter. November, February and April the days average around 35 C and nights are a pleasant 21 C. The rest of the year, is at least 38 C every day. May-June is the worst, with daily temperatures reaching 49 C, often accompanied by dust storms. The storms continue into September, with heavy rainstorms also through July and September. Humidity is generally low, and nights are always cooler than days, though farther south, temperatures are a bit lower and humidity is higher.

BEWARE If you intend to travel in or around Khartoum, you should exercise caution, especially at night, and regularly change your patterns of movement. You should bear this in mind when considering attending prominent social events on predictable dates. There is a threat of kidnapping throughout Sudan. Westerners have previously been the target of kidnaps. You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. International news events can sometimes trigger anti-Western demonstrations. If you become aware of any nearby violence you should leave the area immediately. Demonstrations can occur at short notice in Khartoum, Omdurman and elsewhere.