Gonder to Metema road
In December 2015, there has been frequent fighting between local tribes along the road, at times this has led to the road being closed in both directions for up to a week or more, or the requirement to travel with military/police escorts.
We went through on the first day that the road was reopened; despite being told by the police commissioner that we were ok to go through, the local police at the first turning told us otherwise and tried to turn us away. So make sure you do check the current road conditions with the police HQ.
The road is 198km from Gonder to Gallbat and generally in good condition with a few potholes.
We left at around 7:30 and arrived at 10:30, taking about 3 hours in total, we were driving fast, and there was little other traffic on the road at the time.
More information on this, and the alternative border can be read here: Overland FB Group & here Ethiopia Gonder to Metema Road / Sudan Border – Fighting
- Go to customs on the right hand side of the road, there are several offices in container like structures, walk down the middle and take the first door on your left.
- Have your Carnet and TIP for electoral goods stamped out / cancelled, they will then check your VIN and engine number.
- Drive through the rope barrier and park in front of immigration on your left, they will take your photo and finger print you before stamping your passport.
- Next drive towards Sudan, there will be a check point where they will want to see your Carnet and passports.
- You are then free to go to Sudanese Immigration
In total it took us an hour to clear customs and immigration, (there were 1 x 4×4 and 2 Motorcycles, 5 x people), there was no-one else exiting or entering at the time.
- Go to immigration, the first building on your left, down the embankment
- They will check your passport and give you a form to complete
- They will take the completed form and your passport, about 5-10 minutes later you are free to go
- *Note we had COMESA insurance for Sudan
- Next go to customs, several buildings up, with flags…
- Enter the building and find a customs officer, they will take your Carnet and passport.
- Once processed they will return your passport, stamped carnet and a TIP with a nil value on it.
- They may search your vehicle (ensure you have no Alcohol)
- A few kms up the road there will be a check point where they will want to see your carnet, the TIP and passports.
*Keep the documents to hand as many of the police check points will request to view them.
Customs had issues with their computers, in total it took us 1 hour 20 minutes to clear the Sudan border.
Registering as an Alien
Upon arrival in Sudan, any foreign visitor is required to register as an Alien at the Aliens registration office within 3 days.
There are several places within the country where you can register, including a couple of places in Khartoum and at the airport.
We had heard that it was only possible to register at the airport on a Friday when the office in downtown Khartoum is closed.
However, we had no problems registering on a Thursday. Go into the departures area of the international airport, and ask someone to show you where the office is.
You will need
- The cost is 385SD pounds per person
- One passport photo
- Copy of Visa & Passport
They will then staple the registration card into your passport.
Travel & Photo permit
We have read that if you plan to travel around the country and take photos, you are required to obtain a Travel & Photo permit.
We had the police check the permit four times whilst driving through the country, once we gave them a copy, they would let us go straight away…
You can obtain the permit at the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife half way down Al-Mashtal street on the right hand side if you are coming from the airport GPS 15.580328, 32.566607
- You will need
- One passport photo
- Copy of Visa & Passport
They will provide you with an A4 stamped permit with your photo on
You should obtain photocopies of the following for police check points
- Photo page of your passport
- Alien registration and Sudan Visa
- Travel and photo permit
Gallabat to Gedaref
The road from Gallabat to Gedaref (157km) is potholed quite badly, Motorcycles may find it easy to avoid the potholes, however in a 4×4, it’s very hard to keep the speed up without hitting a few of them. There are a few stretches of new road, but generally it’s not a great road.
On route you will also pass a number of check points, sometime they stop you, sometimes they don’t, they may be customs, police or army, and might ask for either your passports or carnet. Be friendly and hand them over and they will let you move on quickly. Note some of these people are in plain clothes and do not have uniforms.
It took us 2 hours, driving quite fast.
Gedaref to Wad Medani
The road is tarred all the way (205km), not new, and quite a bit of traffic. 2 hours 30 minutes
Accommodation at the couple of hotels we tried was very expensive, $70usd (although others have negotiated down to $50)… we moved on…
Gedaref to Khartoum
The road is tarred but it is not new (185km), it has some wear and is quite bumpy in places. 2 Hours 30 minutes (at night)
Khartoum to Meroe to Atbara
Tarred road (220km) to Meroe Pyramids 3 Hours 30 Minutes. 96km further to Atbara, 1 hour 10 minutes. The road is not new, it took us a while to get out of town. Once on the open road you can increase your speed, however there are quite a lot of trucks using this route.
In Atbara, there are quite a few hotels costing between $10 and $40.. and a good pizza place!! At the Meroe Pyramids there is a place to wild camp.
Atbara, Karima, Dongola to Wadi Halfa
We were unsure of the state of this road, it was a nice surprise to be on brand new tar all the way!! To Karima 352km 3 Hours, To Dongola 175km 1 Hour 40minutes, To Wadi Halfa 395km
Accommodation in Wadi Halfa is quite dire… but cheap..
Fuel is significantly cheaper in Sudan than Ethiopia (Dec 2015 Petrol 5.44 Diesel 3.40) , the first fuel station selling petrol was just after the first check point (2-3km), they did not have diesel at the time, the next petrol station was around 100km further.
Mobile and Internet
You can obtain a sim card easily at any phone store, just show them your passport, complete a from and you are done.
Zion Mobile sells two types of sim cards, Data only or Data & Voice. For the latter you can purchase a weekly unlimited internet subscription for £18usd per week *126*7# to activate the subscription.
The phone signal across the country is good for voice calls, in major towns the internet is good, once outside the quality drops significantly but does work very slowly.
You will not be able to draw cash out from ATM in Sudan due to a US financial embargo… If you need to send money to Sudan your best bet is Western Union…
You will need to carry cash, preferably USD, as this appears to be also accepted in hotels at a rate of 10SD pounds to 1$
Like Argentina previously, there is a significant difference between the published official rate and that on the black market.
The official rates at the time of writing were the following (Dec 2015):
- USD Official 6.07SD to $1 / Black market 11SD to $1
- Birr Official 3.46birr to 1SD / Black market 2Birr to 1SD
You can easily change money around the Al Waha Mall in central Khartoum, you will see lots of people gesturing to you,(there is also a well-stocked supermarket)
Do not be tempted to change your money in Gonder as they will try and give you the current published rate and you will kick yourself once you have crossed the border!!
Make sure you do not change too much cash in to SD as you will not find it easy to change it back to USD at an equivalent rate.
Generally, the prices of accommodation in Sudan is expensive for fairly basic hotels, you are looking at between $30 and $100 per night, for really dire hotels you will be charged around $10. The Khartoum Youth Hostel costs 120SD per night for a double room or 50SD for camping. There is wifi but the rooms and facilities are terrible…. You won’t want to sleep in one of their beds… if you do take your own bedding, sheets & pillows!!
The German Guest house has been mentioned by others $120 per night inc 3 meals per day, or camping in the road outside for $20pp… The only real benefit is that they will arrange your Alien registration and Travel & Photo permit for you, but otherwise you can get a good hotel like Hotel 45 for around $60 per night inc breakfast…
Generally it appears quite safe to wild camp in Sudan, and there are quite a few opportunities to do so.
Outside of Khartoum you may be required to register with the local police before they will allow you to stay. We have not yet been asked to do this…
Khartoum food, on average at mid-range restaurants is between 30-60SDpp, generally the food is much better quality than in Ethiopia.