Bujumbura, Burundi hadn’t originally been part of this trip to Africa. As the situation around Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, has deteriorated, I decided to cut short my time and see just my main focus: the ancient Nubian civilization that had been a contemporary of the Egyptian pharaohs.
Khartoum airport, visa on arrival, and another failed pick-up from the hotel. I’d just confirmed it 3 days prior, and calling the hotel phone yielded no results, so I got a taxi with some help from some foreign teachers who’d been on my flight (and told me to be really careful around Khartoum because of the government crackdown on dissent), and I was off to the famous Acropole Hotel that hosted an honorary Greek consulate and had hosted all the foreign press before they were booted out of Sudan (no one knows we’re violently crushing protests if there’s no media!!!).
I woke up the security guard outside (good security!) and the front desk guy to get my room key, asked about my tour for the next day, and the guy knew nothing. I set an alarm for early in the morning for breakfast and resolved to ask about the tour then.
The hotel owner said hello at breakfast and seriously didn’t remember that I wanted a tour that day, though we’d emailed multiple times. His wife packed a lunch for me, and they didn’t remember that I’d told them twice I was vegan, so they had to remake it. I wasn’t sure any of this was going to pan out, but I was wrong.
With surprising speed, there was a driver, packed lunch, and info book about the sites. We were off.
And I was out. I fell asleep pretty fast in the truck, considering I’d gotten to the hotel just before 3am and woken up at 6:30. I’d been told taking pictures in Khartoum wasn’t safe right now, anyway, so I wouldn’t have much to share, anyway.
After about an hour, I woke up, caught some sites, and then dug into my info book for the first stop: Naqa.
The carvings on the remains were amazing.
Next stop: Musawwarat-es-Sofra. Say that 3 times fast.
This one had a preserved building and multiple locations of people excavating. The temple here was really amazing. One of the site workers came over to tell me some info. Notice Horus and Isis, the Egyptian gods, on the murals.
The larger area away from the temple had these fun signs for where to go.
I was blown away by the remains here, imagining what it was lack back in its day…
They had traded, learned from, worked with, and fought with the Egyptians, and the influences are major. At one point, this had been part of Egypt under the most powerful pharaohs who expanded the kingdom far to the south.
Next stop was the most famous: the pyramids at Meroe. After seeing no foreigners, it was strange to pull up and see a Chinese tourist bus.
Unfortunately, the copper tops of most of the pyramids were stolen over the years.
The site was nonetheless amazing. It was pretty crowded, which surprised me a lot.
The pyramids were a later part of the kingdom, so the times of the ancient Nubian empire here are divided into pre-pyramid (Pre-Meroic) and post-pyramids (Meroic, when the capital had moved here to Meroe). Interesting!
Last stop: not far away from the pyramids, you need a place to live that isn’t the same as your graveyard, so there was this town at Meroe. It hasn’t been preserved as well over time, but it was still super interesting.
We drove back to Khartoum, which was now a good 4 hours away. This really was a full-day trip.
Back at the hotel, I think they were worried about me finding something to eat at dinner, so they over-did it. I had 2 veggie burger patties, fries, sautéed vegetables, AND veg curry + rice. Oh, and some soup for an appetizer. Geez. It was delicious, though.
The hotel wasn’t super full, so they’d allowed me to leave my stuff in the room for the day. I showered up and then cleared out of the room.
I killed an hour until time to go to the airport for my flight just after midnight. I had wanted to spend more time in Sudan, but the current situation in Khartoum just makes it not a good idea to be there walking around, meaning you need a tour, meaning more money, and the main sites are near where the police have been attacking the protestors, so you still would have difficulty visiting things. So, I had a short trip in, out to the desert, and off. I’d seen history, lots of camels & goats, and learned some interesting info through the broken English of my driver.
Sudan, I’ll be back. I want to see Khartoum’s amazing history with its mix of cultures, and I hear the diving out at the Red Sea coast is good. Some day!This entry was posted in Africa, Khartoum, Meroe, Sudan