A remote and challenging expedition is to cross Sudan's Bayuda Desert – a journey of around 280km – on foot and by camel, as the desert nomads have done for centuries.
On this adventure, you’ll travel by foot and by camel across Sudan’s epic Bayuda Desert. Do as the nomads have done for centuries and experience the hot days, cool nights, and the stunning canopy African stars.
Your path will match those of the ancient Meroitic civilization as well as the 1885 military march of the Gordon Relief Expedition. Embrace the silence and serenity of the desert as you travel through acacia forest, undulating sand hills, wadis, rocky outcroppings, and volcanic ridges on your way across the ancient Kingdom of Kush.
• Journey across the Saharan desert
• Follow the footsteps of the ancient Meroitic people
• Visit desert wells and interact with nomadic men and women from nearby tribes
• Learn to ride a camel
• Discover the many tombs and pyramids of the Meroitic
• Camp under African skies
• Be one of a very few westerners to visit this region
Your team’s aim on this expedition is to cross the Bayuda Desert – roughly 280 kilometres across. You’ll do so by foot and camel, just like generation of nomads have before you. Let go of modern life on this minimalist adventure. The camels will carry everything you need for the duration.
You’ll be assigned a camel and you can decide for yourself when to ride and when to walk.
The region you’ll be in is filled with the history and culture of the Meroitic people. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the Meroe and Nuri pyramids on the northern edge of the desert. This is the termini of the Bayuda Desert Route and was once the lifeline of the Kush Kingdom around 600 BC.
The country of Sudan is a place of diverse tribesmen, cultures, and languages. There are more pyramids in Sudan than in all of Egypt. You’ll also find that, contrary to current opinion, the Sudanese are friendly and welcoming.
This is the country that serves as the meeting point between the Arab and African worlds. Nomads are plentiful and seem to live almost untouched pre-industrial lives.
You don’t need a super human level of fitness for this adventure. People of all levels will find the trek enjoyable. The biggest challenge you’ll face will be the heat. You’ll need to be able to travel in a remote region without the benefit of external support.
You’ll also need a sense of adventure and a willingness to be a part of a group – all with the same goals in mind – crossing the great Bayuda Desert.
There is nothing like the beauty and vastness of a desert to provide you with some much needed perspective in this often chaotic modern world. This is the only expedition of its kind in this country, don’t miss your change to be a part of it.
Enquire today to learn more.
Why We Love This Adventure
- Explore the pyramids and tombs of the ancient Meroitic civilisation.
- Wild camp under the stars of the desert night sky.
- Experience the hospitality of a country rarely visited by western tourists.
Part of the larger and better known Sahara, the Bayuda Desert covers an area of 100,000 km² in North East Sudan. Sitting within a huge bend in the river Nile it is encircled on three sides by the river.
This journey will traverse ever-changing desert sandscapes, scattered with acacia trees and rocky outcrops, surrounded by a golden-hued colour palette of ochres and chocolate browns. Vast undulating sand-sheets protruded by volcanic mountains and ridges extend to the horizon, dotted with grassy savannahs grazed by nomads.
With the temperature easing and the stars taking centre stage, at night, the desert embodies a totally different tone. Far from the man-made light pollution our lives are so familiar with, the Bayuda desert sits beneath a canopy owned by the Milky Way, sweeping across the sky in a grand, breath-taking spectacle above the sand. There’s nothing like a vivid night sky to add a little perspective.
This expedition is run with framework itineraries, rather than as a guided tour with set daily plans. The following is the outline plan for this Sudan expedition – the ‘substance’ rather than the specifics. A fuller itinerary is provided in the Sudan Expedition Handbook which is available if you make a booking enquiry.
All teammates should arrive at the team hotel in Khartoum ready for a team briefing with the expedition Team Leader at 1800. After the team briefing and welcome team dinner head to bed for an early night, the real adventure starts the following day.
After breakfast the next day travel from Khartoum to Metemma by road via the Nile’s sixth cataract at Sabaluka and the town of Shendi on the banks of the Nile. From here cross the Nile by bridge to Metemma on the opposite bank where the team meet their camels and their handlers for a briefing on the art of camel-riding. Then it’s into the desert to make first camp.
Equipped with almost no modern technology, for the next nine nights you carry our entire world on camel-back and make camp each night in temporary camps. Moving at the steady pace of 4-5 km (2-3 miles) an hour, expect to cover an average of 30km (18 miles) per day, experiencing the desert in a way nomads have for centuries, a mixture of on foot and on camels.
Epic desert traverse complete, the team bid farewell to the camels and their handlers. After visiting the pyramids and temples at Nuri and El Kurru, the group will drive south to Bejrawiyya – site of the pyramids of Old Meroë. Smaller than Egyptian pyramids but with steeper sides, these pyramids are the tombs of the ancient Meroitic kings and queens who reigned in Nubia from 300BC to 300AD. You’ll have the opportunity to enter some of the tombs including some which have hieroglyphic inscriptions and murals to rival those in Luxor.
After travelling back to Khartoum, the expedition officially ends after breakfast on the 18 March, but team mates can depart any time as some flights leave early on Sunday morning.
- Professional international expedition leader with full medical and communications kits.
- In-country Sudanese guides, support and vehicles.
- All accommodation throughout as described.
- All food (snacks and meals) and soft drinks from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 15.
- All transport as outlined in itinerary.
- Special permits and permissions if required.
What's Not included
- International flights to and from Khartoum.
- Travel insurance (obligatory – more details will be provided if you make a booking enquiry).
- Visas as required.
- Tips to local guides (discretionary).
- Personal equipment (full kit list in the Handbook).
- Beverages and any costs of a personal nature.
Trip Duration15 days
Start LocationKhartoum, Sudan
End LocationKhartoum, Sudan
Average Group Size12
You’ll stay in a comfortable mid-range hotel whilst in Khartoum at the start and end of the trip and at Karima at the end of your camel trek.
For the expedition phase you will wild-camp in the remote desert.
The team will be accompanied by a cook while in the desert who will prepare basic but filling local dishes. In Khartoum and whilst on the road you will eat in local restaurants and eateries. Buying local produce, eating local food and using local services ensure as much money as possible is retained within the local economy. Though sufficient calories will be provided by the organisers, you may wish to bring some of your own snacks to supplement the food provided and to help keep personal morale high.
International flights are not included. Once in Sudan, transfers between destinations will be made by minibus or 4×4 vehicle. Whilst in the desert, your trek will be on foot and by camel and each person will be allocated their own riding camel (you will not be obliged to handle your own camel).
This Trip is Suitable For
This expedition should be achievable by anyone with a healthy lifestyle and a good level of general fitness. The trek requires no special technical skills but you need to be capable of travelling in a remote region for the duration of the trek without external support. The most challenging aspect of this expedition will be the heat – with daytime temperatures of 30 – 40 °C. Team members should be willing to be part of a team working together to achieve the goal of the expedition. As a team member, you should have an adventurous and robust spirit.
Once you make a booking enquiry you will be send more details about the expedition including a Handbook with further expedition information.
The operator also offers suggested Expedition Training Advice and can help with any fitness, health, training or kit questions that remain. Teammates who arrive without meeting the agreed minimum fitness requirements can jeopardise themselves and the expedition’s goal so do take training seriously, prepare as appropriate and arrive fit and ready to go! Teammates must be comfortable with the following:
Minimum fitness requirements
- Trek or camel ride: up to 30km a day. You can ride or walk as much or little as you want but be aware that camel-riding is not a passive activity and requires fitness and agility.
- Daily activity: up to 8hrs daily on the trek phase.
- Carry: up to a maximum of approx. 5 kg (you will not have to carry your own kit or provisions, but a day pack with your water and immediate requirements is convenient).
- Terrain: a variety of desert terrain including rocky, sandy and sometimes steep terrain.
- Climate: very hot and dry (30 – 40 °C during the day), potential sandstorms, cooler nights.
- Swim: not required.
- Age: 21+
Kit List – The Sudan Expedition Handbook contains a full recommended kit list. Tents and sleeping equipment will be provided.
A route steeped in history
The great bend of the River Nile which confines the borders the Bayuda Desert sweeps in a 600km long meander to the east. For those with sufficient knowledge to venture into its wilderness, the 280km Bayuda Desert route has been an important shortcut, linking the Nile communities either side of the desert for thousands of years. In 600BC, the route through the desert was a lifeline linking the northern and southern districts of the Kingdom of Kush, and the evocative ruins of the Meroë and Nuri pyramids and temples still stand at its southern and northern termini.
More recently, in 1884–1885, the Bayuda Desert route was used as a shortcut by the Gordon Relief Expedition – a desperate military march across Egypt and Sudan to relieve General Gordon and the siege of Khartoum. After a journey of over four months, they arrived just two days too late. On our journey we’ll visit the Jakdul pool, the only open water pool in the Bayuda desert and used by the British team as a base during the relief mission.
Frequently Asked QuestionsWill there be phone signal or Internet?
There should be signal in Khartoum, however it is very unlikely that you will have signal in the desert. The expedition leader will have a satellite phone and radios for emergency communications only.Do I need to cover-up?
Women: Non-Muslim women are not expected to wear a veil or cover their heads, but should dress modestly and respect local customs and sensitivities.
All: Shorts are not appropriate for either male or female team members.Can I arrive a day late?
Due to group transfers from the start and end of the trek, the start and end dates for this expedition are fixed.Can we take photos?
Once in Sudan the leader will arrange all necessary permits for team members. This includes travel and photography permits. However, as in many countries, taking photos of government or military buildings or facilities is not advised and consideration should be taken when photographing people.Can I charge all my electricals?
There will be no access to power once the trekking section begins. Please ensure that you are self-sufficient in terms of charging your appliances by bringing things like spare batteries, lightweight solar panels or power packs to avoid frustration.Is alcohol allowed?
No. The sale and consumption of alcohol is illegal throughout Sudan and this prohibition applies to tourists as well.I’m Israeli / I have an Israeli stamp in my passport – will I be able to visit Sudan?
Unfortunately, Israeli citizens will not be issued an Sudanese visa. Additionally, if your passport has an Israeli visa or Israeli entry/exit stamps you will not be allowed to enter Sudan.Will my camera work in the heat?
Generally, cameras should not be that affected by the heat and dryness, but if it reaches over 45 degrees they might struggle (note that we do not expect temperatures this high in March). It is advised to keep your camera in its bag until you use it and don’t keep in the direct sunlight for too long. The main problem is the sand itself: Grains can easily get into the lens systems, particularly compact cameras with zoom lenses. Ones with electronic lens covers are most at risk. The best cameras to use are sealed waterproof cameras which have no external working lenses so no sand can egress them. If using an SLR, then take care to prevent sand getting into a lens housing. Using Prime fixed focal length lenses can help. Take a small paintbrush, a puffer bottle or, even better, a compressed air canister (probably bought in-country if flying in) to blow away sand and grit from moving parts. Take care around the sensor and never wipe this if sand is on the sensor. Take particular care if the wind is blowing or the sand is very fine.Will there be toilets or showers?
There will be no toilets or showers available during the trek. You should be prepared to duck behind the nearest sand dune ‘al-fresco’ and limit yourself to wet-wipe washes. Toilet paper is generally burned or packed out in sealed plastic bags. As we are carrying our own water into the desert here will not be enough to provide showers of any nature. Wet wipes are the way forward: and remember, you’ll all be in the same position.Is it safe to visit Sudan?
The organiser says that Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war in Darfur for several years and the UK Foreign Office advises against travel to certain parts of the country. However, the expedition organisers do not visit any of these areas. In fact, the Sudan is a place where violent crimes are rare and contrary to popular perception, the Sudanese are among the most hospitable and friendliest people in Africa. Whilst Sudan is one of the world’s poorest countries, they welcome visitors and trips like this generate much-needed income to the region. The expedition office run a a 24/7 operations room and you expedition leader will be carrying a full medical kit, and will have access to 4WD evacuation facilities in an emergency.Dietary requirements
All meals are included on this trip. Please advise when you make an enquiry you have any special dietary requirements.How can I find out more?
Complete a Booking Enquiry and we will send you the full details!
Dates & Availability
- 20 Jan 2019 – 03 Feb 2019
When it comes to getting off the beaten track these guys can’t be beaten. They lead pioneering expeditions to some of the most remote regions on earth. The organisers are dedicated to creating imaginative experiences for adventurers around the world and their team of expert military guides are some of the most experienced in the industry. Nowhere is off limits and no idea is too crazy. They have achieved ground breaking world firsts such as mountain biking in Afghanistan and mountaineering in Iraq and their first ever expeditions to walk across Madagascar and pioneer white water rafting in South Sudan both made the headlines…. and a bit of history.
Being wild and wacky is one thing but with their background as commanders in the British Army and experienced team of specialists in every kind of terrain and environment means that all of their adventures are thoroughly planned and the safety and security of teams is always their highest priority. Expeditions can be inherently risky, but they do everything possible to minimise potential hazards and for that, and the utterly extraordinary trips they put on, we salute them.
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