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TOURISM IN SUDAN

Khartoum and Omdurman
The capital of Sudan, Khartoum is one of three sister cities, built at the convergence of the Blue and White Niles: Omdurman to the north-west across the White Nile, North Khartoum, and Khartoum itself on the southern bank of the Blue Nile.

Khartoum has a relatively short history. It was first established as a military outpost in 1821, and is said to derive its name from the thin spit of land at the convergence of the rivers, which resembles an elephant's trunk (khurtum). Khartoum grew rapidly in prosperity during the boom years of the slave trade, between 1825 and 1880. In 1834 it became the capital of the Sudan, and many explorers from Europe used it as a base for their African expeditions.

Today's Khartoum is a quiet, unremarkable city. It has peaceful, tree-lined streets, and in some ways still bears the unmistakable mark of an outpost of the British Empire. Its expansion to accommodate a rapidly-growing population, however, has added very little in terms of charm or atmosphere.

Places to visit in Khartoum
National Museum.
This contains antiquities and artifacts from several periods of Sudanese history and pre-history, including glassware, pottery, statuary and figurines from the ancient kingdom of Cush. Ancient Nubia's Christian period is well-represented, with frescoes and murals from ruined churches, dating from the 8th to the 15th century. The Museum's garden contains two reconstructed temples, which have been salvaged from the Nubian land flooded by Lake Nasser. These Egyptian temples of Buhen and Semna were originally built by Queen Hatshepsut and Pharaoh Tuthmosis III respectively. The temples have corrugated iron covers built over them to protect them from humidity during the wet season. The original concept was to roll back these covers during the dry season, but whether this ever happened or not is unclear. The covers are rusted into place and are now permanent and immovable!

Ethnographical Museum. This is a small museum which contains an interesting collection of items relating to Sudanese village life. These include musical instruments, clothing, cooking and hunting implements.

Places to visit in Omdurman
Souq.
This is the largest in the Sudan, and has an interesting variety of goods on display. Ivory and ebony candlesticks are carved by market craftsmen, goldsmiths and silversmiths fashion all kinds of jewellery in their shop-fronts, and the atmosphere is lively and bustling. The best time to visit is on Friday mornings.

Camel Market. This is situated about 2km north of Omdurman's main souq. Animals are mostly brought from eastern or western areas of the Sudan.

Tomb of the Mahdi. On the death of the Mahdi in 1885, his body was entombed in a silver-domed mosque in Omdurman. This was completely destroyed by Kitchener in 1898, when the Mahdi's body was burned and his ashes thrown into the river. In 1947 the Mahdi's son had the mosque and tomb rebuilt. Not surprisingly, it is closed to foreigners, but can be viewed from the outside.

Beit al-Khalifa. This is situated opposite the Mahdi's tomb. Once the home of the Mahdi's successor, the house was built of mud and brick in 1887, and is now a museum. It contains relics from Mahdiyya battles, including guns, war banners and suits of mail. An interesting collection of photographs depicts the city of Khartoum at the time of the Mahdi's revolt and its subsequent occupation by the British.

PORT SUDAN
Port Sudan still is the seaport that takes care of most of Sudan's foreign trade. The British founded the seaport in 1906 and although it has lost most of its spirit due to the war, it is still possible to catch a glimpse of the glorious past. In the old days, Port Sudan was also a popular port for passenger traffic. Nowadays, one can only spot sailers from various countries setting off with ships filled with cotton and gum arabic. Port Sudan is a good base from which to embark on a diving trip.

The harbor is in the mouth of a gulf continuing seaward through a coral-free channel 6085 feet (1826 m) deep. Imports include machinery, vehicles, fuel oil, and building materials. Cotton, gum Arabic, oilseeds, hides and skins, and senna are the chief exports. An oil pipeline about 528 miles (850 km) in length, between the port and Khartoum city, was completed in 1977. Port Sudan has a near-desert climate, necessitating the acquisition of fresh water from Wadi Arba'at in the Red Sea Hills and from salt-evaporating pans. The population, mainly Arab or Nubian Sudanese, includes the indigenous Beja, West Africans, and small minorities of Asians and Europeans.
 


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