Tailor-Made Holiday

The Temples and Pyramids of Nubian Sudan

11 days

from £2,995pp (excluding flights)

Uncover Sudan’s wealth of archaeological treasures: Nubian pyramids, Kushite temples and crumbling cemeteries – all engulfed by the golden sands of the eastern Sahara. Encounter the traditional Nubian culture of this remote region and explore ancient desert ruins, harking back to Nubia’s long-forgotten heyday.

  • Camp in comfort, amongst the sands of the Sahara, close to the black pyramids of Meroe
  • Admire the revered Jebel Barkal, once an important landmark for desert caravans
  • Embrace the oasis atmosphere of Karima and the quiet serenity of the nearby Kushite cemeteries
  • Explore the ancient cities Naqa and Mussarawat – impressive remains of a once-great civilisation

Begin this Nubian odyssey in Khartoum, but quickly leave behind Arab-dominated culture and raucous city life for the sandy Sudanese interior. Cross the endless desert towards the iconic Nubian pyramids of the ancient Kushite royal city of Meroe. Camp in comfort amongst the sand dunes of the Nubian Desert, with the jagged-tooth pyramids of Meroe silhouetted against the dusty horizon. From here, explore the isolated desert temples of Naqa and Musawwarat, once great Kushite cities and now impressive tributes to a forgotten civilisation.

Escape this harsh landscape for the Nubian town of Karima – a precious oasis for weary travellers. Stay in the relaxing Nubian Rest House, characterised by its traditional dome roofs. Set out into the desert to visit the myriad of impressive sites that litter the sands. Discover the crumbling temples of Napata, lying at the foot of the Jebel Barkal, as well as the royal Kushite cemetery of El Kurru. Finish with a visit to the markets of Karima, a cruise on the waters of the Nile and a final trip to the black pyramids of Nuri.

WHY WE LIKE IT

This journey explores a part of Africa that is rich in ancient treasures, uncovering magnificent sites that lie untouched in an oft-overlooked area of the world. Nestled amidst the sands of the eastern Sahara Desert, the ancient region of Nubia lies forgotten.

Once home to the mighty Kingdom of Kush, this barren area flourished for over 1,000 years, reliant on the invaluable waters of the colossal Nile. As the Kushite dynasty crumbled, its treasures became lost amongst the vast expanses of the Nubian Desert. They now lie beside earlier Egyptian relics – similarly engulfed by the desert’s sand and solitude, abandoned to the elements.

FIXED DEPARTURE DATES

This trip also operates on a group basis, departing at several times during the year. Departure dates include:

2017

  • 13th October 2017 – confirmed to run 
  • 26th October 2017 – confirmed to run 
  • 2nd November 2017 – three nights in Meroe (special) 
  • 16th November 2017 – confirmed to run with English/ German guide 
  • 8th December 2017 – confirmed to run 
  • 28th December 2017– confirmed to run

2018 

  • 12th January 2018 
  • 2nd February 2018 
  • 16th February 2018 - with English/German guide
  • 23rd February 2018 
  • 23rd March 2018 
  • 24th March 2018 – confirmed to run with English/German guide 
  • 30th March 2018 
  • 13th April 2018

ALTERNATIVE TRIPS

We are also able to offer some alternative trips in the desert, including the Red Sea, and we can offer a trip from Egypt to Khartoum

A 16-day trip to the western desert and the Nile Valley, starting in Khartoum, departs on these dates:

  • 20th October 2017 
  • 24th November 2017 
  • 23rd December 2017 
  • 9th February 2017 
  • 23rd March 2017

A 15-day trip cruising the Red Sea and then visiting Meroe and Karima starts in Khartoum on 2nd March 2018

A 15-day tour from Aswan in Egypt, cruising on Lake Nasser, journey along the Nile including Karima and Meroe departs on 25th February 2018 and 14th October 2018. 

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 2995 £ 500
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation
  • Internal flights
  • International flights as detailed
  • Sightseeing with private guide as per the itinerary
  • Transfers as detailed

what is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas

PLEASE NOTE THE COST SHOWN INCLUDES INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK, BASED ON AN APPROXIMATE AIR FARE. PLEASE ASK YOUR TRAVEL EXPERT FOR AN ACCURATE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT QUOTE. INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Doha overnight

Day 2

Fly Doha to Khartoum


Standing at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile, Khartoum is a melting pot of ethnicity. A trip here is a chance to explore, soaking up the city's diverse cultural influences and seeing how recent prosperity has brought change - the mixing of old and new.

Khartoum has a reputation as one of Africa's most laid back and friendly cities and a walk along the promenade will vouch for this.


You will be staying at Corinthia Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Drive from Khartoum to Karima (Road Journey)


Little more than a dusty market town, remote Karima is notable for its proximity to an extraordinary array of ancient sites. Together these Kushite treasures have given the entire area UNESCO World Heritage status.

The town itself is a quiet, slow-moving place, which is almost certainly as a result of its searing heat and lonely location. Livening up in the mornings, Karima plays host to a food market in its centre.


You will be staying at Nubian Rest House, Full board

Day 4

Visit Jebel Barkal
Meaning 'Holy Mountain' in Arabic, Jebel Barkal rises out of the flat desert landscape and was once an important landmark for caravans making their way along Nubian trade routes.

Explore the series of ruined temples that litter the area around the foot of the mountain. First established almost 3,500 years ago, these temples were extended and rebuilt over the following millennium. A number of impressive granite rams, which once lined an avenue towards the river, still survive.

Amongst the ruins is the Temple of Mut, built by Taharqa, the last Kushite king to rule Egypt. This rock-cut sanctuary preserves fine reliefs and unusual pillars in the shape of the God Bes.


Visit El Kurru
Head to the Kushite Royal Cemetery at El-Kurru, which is littered with fascinating tombs. These include a pair of rare Egyptian tombs, which are decorated with incredible murals and reminiscent of those in the Valley of the Kings.

At the present time, it is only possible to visit one tomb.


You will be staying at Nubian Rest House, Full board

Day 5

Market Visit and Nile Cruise
In the morning, explore Karima's lively market and gain an insight into everyday life in this remote town. Afterwards, board a small motorboat and take to the waters of the Nile River, which wends its way between sand banks and islands. Cruise this peaceful stretch of the river, located just south of where the Fourth Cataract used to be. In 2008, the Merowee Dam created a reservoir and this cataract ceased to exist.


Visit Nuri
Cross the Nile by boat (be aware that there may not be a jetty) and continue to the cemetery of Nuri. Older than those at Jebel Barkal or Meroe, these weather-beaten pyramids are slowly crumbling into the desert as nature reclaims them. The cemetery was founded by the Kushite King Taharqa and almost all the later Kushite kings are buried here.


You will be staying at Nubian Rest House, Full board

Day 6

Visit to Old Dongola
Leave Karima and follow the Nile until the archaeological site of Old Dongola. Here, a Christian Coptic cathedral and several other churches sit on the banks of the river.

During the day, have the chance to visit a private Nubian home for a picnic. Enthusiastic hospitality abounds in this region, and Nubians often invite foreigners into their homes. The Nubian people speak a different language from the Arabic used elsewhere in Sudan, whilst their interpretation of Islam is not as strict.


You will be staying at Nubian Rest House, Full board

Day 7

Drive from Karima to Meroe via the Bayuda Desert


Leave Karima and cross the Nile, entering the sandy terrain of the Bayuda Desert. Stop off for a picnic amidst this harsh landscape, which is characterised by its sharp black basalt mountains and dry wadis. The Bayuda Desert is a great place to encounter Bisharin nomads, who live in small family groups close to rare water wells. Inhabiting small huts woven from branches, the Bisharin raise herds of donkeys and camels.

After a picnic in the desert, head south to the town of Atbara, the site of the decisive 1898 Good Friday battle between Lord Kitchener's forces and the Mahdist Sudanese. Here, visit the town's Railway Museum, before continuing to Meroe.


The southern capital of the Kushite empire, Meroe was a rich metropolis that flourished due to its positioning on a number of major trade routes. Thriving for more than a thousand years, the city's heyday and that of its culture came to an abrupt end following its conquest by the Aksumite Empire in the fourth century AD.

The remains of this impressive imperial city can still be seen, but it is the ancient Royal Cemetery that captures most attention. More than 200 spikey Nubian-style pyramids, in various states of disrepair, are clustered in three groups around the city.


You will be staying at Meroe Permanent Tented Camp, Full board

Day 8

Full Day Exploring Meroe
Spend the day visiting Meroe's northern and southern cemeteries, crowded with steep-angled Nubian pyramids.

Unlike Egyptian pyramids, these constructions are built above rock-hewn tombs, rather than constructed around burial chambers.
Inside the tombs lie the remains Merotic kings and queens, as well as other members of the royal family. Each pyramid contains a funerary chapel and some of these are adorned with reliefs showing burial rituals, along with scenes of the afterlife.


Afterwards, head closer to the river banks to explore the royal city. These ruins include a number of temples, most importantly that of Amun. Although excavated on a number of occasions, much of the city still remains to be fully examined by archaeologists.


You will be staying at Meroe Permanent Tented Camp, Full board

Day 9

Drive from Meroe to Khartoum (Road Journey)


Evening Dervish performance
After arriving in Khartoum and checking in, experience a 'Whirling Dervishes' ceremony (Fridays only) as the sun goes down. Not originally intended as entertainment, this spiralling religious dance is practiced in order for the participants to attempt to reach a state of religious ecstasy.

Return to the hotel for dinner at your own expense.


You will be staying at Corinthia Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 10

Full Day Tour of Khartoum
Breakfast at the hotel, before visiting the Archaeological Museum. Besides many beautiful objects, this contains two temples rescued by UNESCO and moved from the Lake Nasser area, when it was flooded by water.

Afterwards, take a cruise to see the confluence of the Blue and the White Nile, before lunch at a local restaurant (included).

In the afternoon, take a trip to the Mahdi's tomb. Time permitting, also visit the Khalifa's house and the famous Souk in Omdurman.


Evening Wrestling Performance
Attend a demonstration of Nuba wrestling. Originating in the Nuba mountains of South Kordofan, this traditional sport revolves around attempting to slam an opponent to the ground.


Day room at Corinthia Hotel

Fly Khartoum to Doha

Day 11

Fly Doha to London overnight

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Nubian Rest House Karima

Nubian Rest House Karima

Incorporating local architecture and influenced by Nubian styles, this charming small hotel is surrounded by carefully cultivated gardens....

View Accommodation

Meroe Permanent Tented Camp

Meroe Permanent Tented Camp

Sitting three kilometres away from the Royal Necropolis, the Meroe Camp is located in the small village of Bagarwiya and offers beautiful sunset views of the nearby pyramids....

View Accommodation

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Sudan

Bridget Cohen, Travel Expert

"Bridget had a great knowledge of the areas being looked at and given I have spent time in both countries, it required someone who completely understood the type of camps preferred."

"Bridget's service was very personal and friendly whilst maintaining a professional manner. All my questions were dealt with promptly and efficiently."

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Illona Cross, Travel Expert

"Illona was quite simply brilliant. She listened and carefully noted what we thought we wanted, made suggestions and came up with an itinerary which suited us down to the ground."

"Excellent personal service; well-informed local knowledge; dependable outcome; quality of experience."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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