title2

The picture above is a sunset at Meroe.

 

Ancient Nubia (today it is in modern Sudan) is the name given by archeologists for the area to the south of ancient Egypt. It consisted of several major civilizations at different times in history.

 

Nubia consists now of desert, but for 4000 years, starting 7500 BCE, it had plentiful rainfall which produced grasslands, forests, much wildlife and numerous rivers. The peoples were rich from hunting and herding cattle.

 

Stone structures from planned villages, deep wells, and sites where cattle were sacrificed have been uncovered from 7000 years ago.

 

A royal cemetery was discovered in 1964 that began around 3800 BCE – 700 years before the First Dynasty in Egypt – that unearthed artifacts like painted vases, lamps and dishes for grinding pigments. Ancient Nubia was developing at the same time as ancient Egypt.

 

There are 300 pyramids in Nubia, far more than Egypt has. Egypt’s are larger.

 

The first Nubian kingdoms appeared about 3000 BCE and were very prosperous. Around 2500 BCE, the Egyptian pharaoh Kneferu’s army raided Nubia and captured seven thousand prisoners and 200,000 large and small cattle!

 

There are few tourists in Sudan today because of Sudan’s president’s “policies” that have resulted in sanctions against Sudan. The exchange rate for foreign currencies into Sudanese money is set by the government, there are no ATMs, and no credit cards can be used.

 

There is Sharia law in Sudan, as in Saudi Arabia. There is no alcohol anywhere.

 

These sanctions exist because al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape and pillage against civilians in Darfur in western Sudan. We have read that he has pitted groups against each other to keep them busy so they don’t go after him. Perhaps 400,000 have died. The civil war has displaced over 2.5 million people out of the 6.2 million in Darfur. In 2008, al-Bashir was accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The Sudanese government refused to acknowledge this indictment as they do not recognize the international court. The governments of China and Russia oppose the court’s decision as they want trade with Sudan, etc. Because of their veto power, the charges can go nowhere.

 

We made three “trial” headers for this Sudan website and couldn’t decide which to use.

So. We used all three. The one below is on top of Jebel Barkal.

 

 

title3

 

The picture below is at Naqa.

 

Title1

 

SudanGE

 

This map shows the northern part of Sudan, which is referred to as Nubia. We visited places along the Nile. The 3rd Cataract, upper left on this map, is just south of Egypt and Lake Nasser.

 

We did not go to the parts of Sudan where the people are really in miserable, dangerous conditions. West of this area, Darfur is well known for its problems. The same is true for the area to the south of Khartoum.

 

We experienced an extremely interesting ride from Karima to Meroe (skipping the big northward curve in the Nile) when we went cross-country for hundreds of miles on no roads whatsoever. The land was flat and mostly unchanging. That is where we saw two amazing scenes that involved getting water from deep wells for people and animals of which we took many photos and will always remember.

 

We started and ended our Sudan tour in the capital Khartoum (southernmost part of map).

 

If you’re not a backpacker, there are only two places for tourists to stay in Nubia (the northern part of Sudan). One is in Karima (Jebel Barkal), The Nubian Rest House, and the other is in Meroe, the Meroe Safari Camp. These are owned and run by an Italian tour company.

 

We travelled north to Old Dongola then eastward to Karima where we stayed for 4 nights, then moved to Meroe and stayed for 3 nights.

 

P1020171-Nat-Geo-Cover

P1020170Natl-Geo-Meroe

 

 

A couple of months after returning from this trip, the above magazine called our tour a “Tour of a Lifetime” at right showing the pyramids at Meroe. Somehow we doubt that even this news will help their tourism much.

 

P1080317

We were a compatible group of five travelers. We stand here by the confluence of the Blue and White Niles in Khartoum.

 

The others have travelled to many more places than we have, even going to Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen - recently.

 

The woman in the center is 80ish and a member of the Explorer’s Club. She has spent her life on SCUBA explorations. She has written two books, the latest named “Visa Required.”

 

The man by Yvonne is a nurse from San Francisco. He’s been everywhere. Really.

 

The man by Juergen is a retired Delta pilot. He also has been everywhere. He even went to Yemen last year without a guide.

 

We stayed in this hotel several nights.

 

It was built by Gaddafi when he was vying for a “King of Africa” title. He built very impressive hotels in many capitals in Africa.

 

This one is the Corinthia Hotel Khartoum and is situated on the Blue Nile very near to the confluence with the White Nile.

 

The Blue Nile starts in Lake Tana to the SE in Ethiopia and provides about 80% of the water in the Nile.

 

The White Nile refers to about 2300 miles of rivers draining from Lake Victoria, which is far to the south of Khartoum in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

P1070395

 

P1010907

This is the view from the hallway in front of our room down to the lobby. The glass elevators are to the left.

 

 

 

Muhammad Ahmad was born in 1885. He was in a religious order and proclaimed himself the Mahdi, the messianic redeemer of the Islamic faith.

 

This coincided with resentment of the locals over the oppressive policies of the Turco-Egyptian rulers. He led a successful military campaign against these rulers. There is much history about the English here that is too lengthy to present. After Sudan was in Sudanese hands, he modified Sharia law.

He is the most important person in modern Sudan’s history.

 

This is The Madhi’s Tomb.

P1070387

 

P1070372

There aren’t many places in Khartoum where tourists can/should eat so we wound up eating in this restaurant twice because they provide traditional food.

 

They cook on piles on small rocks that are placed on burning coals; this is their form of barbecue. They lay the meat on the stones.

 

Each of these areas has flames which are hard to see in the photos.

 

Juergen bought this cap from the lady who made it.

 

It was one of the most comfortable caps he’s had and he wore it all the time. As usual when he wears Islamic caps, some people think he’s Muslim.

 

So it goes.

P1070378

 

P1070401

Old Dongola was the capital of the Christian kingdom of Makuria from the 7th to the 14thC CE.

 

It controlled much of the Nile in Nubia as well as caravans passing through from Darfur.

 

Most of the building material has been used by locals. The only large structure existing is the so-called Throne Hall on the left. 

It was built in the 9th c. CE. Unfortunately we couldn’t go in.

 

In 1323, a Muslim was placed on the throne marking the end of Christian rule, and the building was converted into a mosque. This mosque was in regular use until 1969.

 

Remains of a dozen churches have been excavated in Old Dongola.

 

This is the Church of the Granite Columns, a cathedral, the seat of Old Dongola’s bishops.

P1070402

 

P1070418

Old Dongola has about 20 of these Islamic beehive tombs from post-Christian times.

 

We looked into one: it was empty except for a casket in the center, covered by the usual green cloth used by Muslims.

 

P1070462

From Old Dongola we drove to Jebel Barkal/Karima and checked into the hotel. It had been a very long day with lots of driving.

 

 The next morning we drove back westward on a different road to see the above 3rd Nile cataract (the first one is in Aswan)

 

The cataracts on the Nile prevented the river for being good for shipping or sailing. Boats couldn’t pass them.

 

Kerma is just south of the 3rd Cataract, north of Old Dongola.

 

An early culture started here around 2400 BCE, as is perhaps the oldest in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

The Kingdom of Kush was established after the disintegration of the New Kingdom of Egypt.

 

After a Kushite king invaded Egypt in the 8thC BCE, the Kushite kings ruled Egypt for a century as pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty.

 

This photo was taken in the museum.

P1070491

 

P1070495

There were three Kushite kingdoms. The first had its capital at Kerma (2600-1520 BCE). The second had its capital at Napata (1000-300 BCE) and the third capital at Meroe lasted until the 300 CE.

 

Nubia had no indigenous writing so far less is known of ancient times than is known about Egypt.

 

This large brick mound is called a “deffufa” and it’s unknown why it was built.  It was 60’ high and 150’ long. There was a temple on the top.

 

We climbed to the top (behind the tall pillars) and were astonished at the view of the ruins of this large city.

 

By 1700 BCE perhaps 10,000 people lived in Kerma.

 

There is a cemetery at Kerma that contains 30,000 graves.

 

Notice that we are the only visitors.

P1070507

 

 

P1070475

Three miles to the north of Kerma is Tombos, a New Kingdom Egyptian cemetery.

 

This discarded broken statue is just lying on the ground.

 

This is in the little museum at Kerma: Statues of Kerma’s rulers.

 

These were found in a box that had been hidden.

 

P1070487

 

P1010294

Searching and finding petroglyphs is always fun.

 

These are claimed to be prehistoric – from at least 1500 years ago.

 

This is in Sebu, near the 3rd Cataract of the Nile.

 

We all enjoyed our stops in villages where the guides shopped for supplies for our picnics.

P1070441

 

P1010207

Several times we stopped for our picnic at a place like this one (one of our three 4x4s is in the photo).

 

These places were on the road in the middle of nowhere and consisted of a big room with tables. A few snack foods for the locals could be bought, but no real lunch.

 

Maybe there would be an outhouse out back, maybe not.

 

It was hot and just going into the shade was delightful and relaxing.

 

Our picnics always consisted of hard-boiled eggs, water, bread, and some sort of salad/veggies.

 

The man to Yvonne’s right was the anthropologist/archeologist that was hired to accompany our tour. His reply to most of our questions was: “Read my book, everything you’d want to know is in it.” He had copies of his book for sale for $50.

 

 

P1070469

 

P1010261

We loved this “water truck” getting water from the Nile.

 

Even better than the water truck is this “gas truck”!

 

The donkey cart contains about six barrels of gas to take to an area without gas stations.

 

We’d guess this is the only gas station in 50 miles. This is probably one reason there are so few cars or motorcycles in northern Sudan.

 

The car on the left didn’t start. People had to push it and eventually it did start.

 

P1070453

 

P1070510

We loved this tradition in both Egypt and Sudan.

 

These jugs of water are maintained by the family who lives nearby and the water is provided free for passersby.

 

Our three vehicles at a “pee stop” somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

P1070437

 

P1070433

 

One of the disconcerting things we’re learning as we travel in Africa is the level of Chinese activity.

 

For example, in Mali they were building roads connecting Bamako to the capitals of all the surrounding countries.

 

In Ethiopia, all roads are being built by the Chinese. The ring road around Addis Ababa had already been built. This is for “free” of course.

 

All of the roads (there are only three) we drove in Nubia were built by the Chinese. Before that there were only dirt roads.

 

As we’ve seen in Mali and Ethiopia, the Chinese workers do not interact AT ALL with the locals. They are kept in these temporary Chinese-built “villages” that supply all their needs: rooms, meals, entertainment.

 

When the road in this area was completed, they moved on.

 

P1010247

 

This is hitchhiking Sudanese style!

The pickup was stopped and the standing guy has just climbed in the back and is moving to take a “seat” on the rail to the left – another guy has a similar seat on the right.

Talk about no seatbelts!

Our 4x4 was passing this pickup so the photo was taken very quickly!

Such fun seeing camels in a pickup!

 

 

 

The Nubians were known for decorations on walls. We saw very little of that.

 

Our Italian-built hotel in Karima (Jebel Barkal) did a good job of presenting the old style.

 

This is the gate to the Nubian Rest House in Karima where we spent four nights.

P1070512

 

P1070509

This lock is similar to the nice locks we saw in Mali.

 

The rooms of the hotel surround a large grassy area. The water is from a well as this is close to the Nile.

P1010401

 

P1010402

 

 

The hotel’s location is fantastic: walking distance to the main geologic feature in many, many miles in all directions: the holy Gebel (mountain) Barkal.

 

The ancient Kushites and Egyptians believed this mountain was the home of the god Amun.

 

At the foot of the mountain, on this East side, are the ruins of a temple.

 

The first Temple of Amun was built in the 15thC BCE by an Egyptian pharaoh (Thutmoses III). He was one of the first Egyptian kings to get this far south.

P1070514

 

 P1070516

Due to the sanctions against Sudan, no grants can be given to archeologists, and those who have worked there have the raised money themselves – the professor accompanying us pays his own way and his students have been paying theirs.

 

But now Qatar has offered a lot of money for archeology, and archeologists are here from many countries. It was a rare treat for us to be able to see them work. The season has just begun so they were just clearing away the sand they had put on the digs at the end of the last season. These “bucket brigades” tossing the removed sand were fun to watch!

 

We were not only allowed to walk freely, we were also given the opportunity to talk to different archeologists.

 

Sometimes different teams were working only a few hundred feet apart.

 

Here the four of us are watching. Our Sudanese guide (in the striped red shirt) is a recent Ph.D in archeology from the University of Lille in France. He is from Khartoum. 

P1070521

 

P1070579

This is the remains of the very large Temple of Amun. According to their tradition, Amun resided in the form of a ram inside Jebel Barkal.

 

One of the reasons the mountain was considered to be holy is due to the feature to the left.

 

That pinnacle is considered to represent the cobra that is at bottom front on the pharaoh’s crown, making the entire mountain the symbol of the pharaoh.

 

At the base of the “cobra” feature of Jebel Barkal is the Temple of Mut, dedicated to the Egyptian sky goddess, the bride of Amun. These two wonderful columns are about what is left of it.

 

After the archeologists were finished for the day we were allowed into the temple which is carved into Jebel Barkal.

 

The capitals of these two columns are carved in the image of the goddess Hathor, who personified joy, feminine love and motherhood.

 

The cult of Hathor predates the historic period. She is commonly depicted as a cow goddess with horns in which is set a sun disk. Here she is shown with cow ears.

P1070585

 

P1070611

This is perhaps the most respected archeologist doing work now. He is Dr. Geoff Emberling of the University of Michigan.

 

He arrived just two days before and was horrified to find that the column behind him was purposely shattered by someone. They have good relations with the villagers, but it only takes one person to do something like this.

 

 

 

We went into the Temple of Mut.

 

It was full of ladders and scaffolding and chemicals for cleaning the walls that the archeologists are using, but we got an impression.

P1070625

 

P1010390

Inside the “cave” that is the Temple of Mut.

 

Climbing Jebel Barkal for sunrise was a great experience. Only the ex-pilot and we climbed, accompanied by our local guide.

 

Behind us is the top of the pinnacle that represents the cobra on a pharaoh’s crown.

 

We are standing in a hole, one of several that were made by the ancients when they covered that pinnacle to make it look even more like a cobra.

P1010411

 

P1010413

This is the pilot taking his turn in the hole.

 

Do you believe that wonderful view? The Nile is in the distance and the width of the green area can be seen before it meets the desert.

 

 

 

With sunup, we could see the remains of the big Temple of Amun that is directly at the foot of Jebel Barkal.

P1010420

 

P1010431

This photo shows how steep the sides of Jebel Barkal are – looking directly down into the temple!

 

Wow. (Yvonne is terrified of height and this stuff is memorable to her!)

 

This is another fun “memory” photo of the experience!

 

This is our local guide who just got his Ph.D in France. He lives in Khartoum.

P1010434

 

P1010440

We stayed on top long enough to see the teams of archeologists arriving for the day’s dig.

 

It was fun watching them from the “sky” - they were like wee ants.

 

In this photo there are archeologists arriving at the small dig at the back as well as at the large Temple of Amun.

P1010445

 

P1010448

Yvonne did NOT stand here.

 

Visible below this are the columns of the goddess Hathor shown in a previous photo.

 

The pyramids of Nuri are in the distance.

 

Jebel Barkal can be seen for many, many miles.

P1010452

 

Still atop Jebel Barkal, this time looking west.

 

This shows the pyramids of the royal cemetery at sunrise.

P1010457

 

P1010583

This photo is from the west and was taken at sunset. Our hotel is on the other side of the mountain.

 

We climbed up the left end; coming down was a RIOT. That large smooth area at the left is a very large sand dune that the wind has been blown up against the mountain.

 

We RAN down from the upper left to the lower right! Now that’s what we call a good dune to run.

 

P1010585

Jebel Barkal served as a royal cemetery during the Meroitic Kingdom (270 BCE to 340 CE).

 

These pyramids were for Napatan kings and queens from the 3rd C BCE to 25 BCE). Napata is the term referring to this location.

 

 

 

These pyramids are the best preserved in Sudan; however some are damaged.

P1070595

 

P1070766

 

 

We took a ride on the Nile in this boat to see the 4th Cataract.

P1070667

 

P1070677

From the boat, we took this photo of a 4’ long monitor lizard on the shore.

 

Jebel Barkal is near the modern town of Karima, which is good, because it is used for supplies by the archeologists.

 

The men were friendly and Yvonne got to see even more of Sudan’s cute donkeys.

P1010471

 

P1010484

This is the typical mood of some men chatting in the market.

 

The donkeys in Sudan seem to eat well. People are always transporting alfalfa for them to eat.

 

Few look scrawny, fortunately.

P1010490

 

P1010494

More local mood.

 

The butcher shops owners were friendly and obviously proud of their work. Everything was clean and fly-free.

 

The veggies were always displayed as professionally as in our markets. The men there are equally proud of their nice displays.

 

When we pointed at the displays and gave a “thumbs up” there was always a big smile of appreciation.

P1070647

 

P1070747

Nuri has the oldest pyramids and they are crumbling.

 

Pyramid building started here in 664 BCE at the end of the 25th Dynasty.

 

The first pyramid built here, the largest, was for the Napatan king Taharqa and was 90’ on each side. He was probably the most powerful ruler in Sudanese history.

 

Before leaving town we stopped in the bakery to buy some local bread.

P1010613

 

P1010616

Qatar’s funding for archeology has brought them from Europe and the US.

 

We got to meet quite a few as we toured the sites.

 

This woman had always gotten her own funding. This was her ninth year. She is Italian and was very enthused about her subject.

 

The landscape in this area is not as barren as where we were first.

P1010627

 

P1070926

We had to cross the Nile to see the sites and this is the ferry we used.

 

At the rear of the ferry is the flimsy platform where we stood with the captain.

 

 

Here are our three vehicles about to drive off the ferry.

P1010756

 

P1010753

All of us were told to stand up on the platform with the captain because it was safer.

 

That it was safer is questionable. That pipe we are “leaning” on wasn’t securely attached.

 

Picnic under the trees.

 

The woman at the end of the table to the right is Italian. She is the manager of the hotel we just left and she traveled with us for three days.

 

Both hotels are owned by the same Italian tourist company.

 

She hadn’t visited any of the areas we were doing.

P1070797

 

P1070812

The tour company has made friends with the nomad family that lives in this tent and has arranged with them the possibility of visits for their tours.

 

It was amazingly cool and comfortable inside.

 

This is the kitchen, not too far from the living tent.

P1070821

 

P1070805

The girl in the middle is about to be married and female members of her parent’s families are here to help plan for the event.

 

Although he is a member of the extended family she has not met him as the boys and girls live separate lives. He is probably a first cousin as that is the best way to keep the wealth (animals) in the family.

 

They were all very shy but very friendly and clean.

 

The grandmother’s hands were interesting. She’s worn henna on her fingers for so many years that it has become permanent.

P1070811

 

P1080096

This is our tent at the Meroe Safari Camp. It was clean and the canvas was heavy enough that wind didn’t bother it much.

 

We had to sleep with the window flaps rolled up.

 

 

 

From the chairs in the above photo we took this photo of the Royal Cemetery at Meroe.

 

This is Sudan’s most popular attraction partly because it is only a couple of hours by car from Khartoum.

 

It was wonderful sitting in front of our tent with this view. We often saw camels walking in between us and the pyramids, and even guys riding camels.

 

Hard to see that anywhere else we’ve been!

P1070937

 

 

P1010822

There are two clusters of pyramids, the Northern and the Southern.

 

There are about 100 pyramids here, but some barely exist.

 

This photo is part of one cluster. Another cluster is visible in the distance.

 

These pyramids had buildings attached in front and were used as their temples.

P1010822

 

P1010831

The following are different views of the temples of the Royal Cemetery of Meroe.

 

 

P1080108

 

P1080143

 

 

 

P1080144

 

P1080136

 

 

 

P1080140

 

P1080152

 

 

This is the work of an Italian treasure hunter in 1834.

 

He was convinced the pyramids contained riches; he struck gold on his first attempt at pulling pyramids down when he found jewelry in the apex of a Queen’s tomb. This was unusual, because grave goods were normally placed with the body in the tomb chamber beneath the pyramid.

 

He blasted the tops off of many of the pyramids but found no more treasure.

 

Grave robbers were also here much earlier so little is known of the burial practices.

P1080139

 

P1080176

Yvonne hadn’t had a camel ride for some years so decided this was a good place as camels are used here by the locals and by tourists rarely.

 

This camel had a sweet face – really!

P1010827

 

P1010882

Sunset at the Meroe pyramids.

 

 

P1080265

 

P1010863

Tele shot from our tent towards the pyramids.

 

This is as close to sublime as it gets!

 

Our professor escort/guide rents a room in a local house right by his dig.

 

This is the daughter of the owner.

P1070942

 

P1010844

The markets were wonderful and ageless.

 

 

P1080208

 

P1010845

 

 

 

P1010849

 

P1080212

 

 

 

 

P1010846

 

P1080217

Some of the men asked Juergen to take their photo. All the photos were good.

 

 

 

Girls getting out of school.

P1080233

 

P1080255

Not only have the Chinese built all the roads in Sudan, but they also have built this railway which goes to Khartoum (about 100 miles).

 

We, like the locals, went to the tracks to watch it go by.

 

We went into an old quarry that is inside a hill.

 

There were lots of bats there.

 

These were very colorful.

P1080243

 

P1080250

Doesn’t the flying bat in the upper right part of the photo look like stealth bomber?

 

 

P1080246

 

P1080251

 

 

P1070989

From Meroe we drove south and visited the sites of Naqa (or Naga’a) and Musawwarat.  Naqa is an ancient city of the Kushite Kingdom of Meroe.

 

Naqa consists of several temples dating back to 4th century BCE - 4th century CE.

 

Naqa is one of the most important centers of this first civilization of Black Africa. The remains of various temples have been found, but the two largest and most significant temples of Naqa are the Amun temple and the Apedemak temple (also known as the Temple of the Lion), both of which are still well preserved.

 

Above is the entrance way to the Amun temple which is lined with rams. To the right is a close-up of one of the rams.

 

The first European travelers reached Naqa in 1822. In 1844, it was visited by a Prussian Egypt-Sudan expedition.

 

In 1958 a team from Berlin's Humboldt University visited Naqa and documented the temple and restored part of the site along with the nearby site of Musawwarat es Sufra in the 1960s and the German effort continues through today.

P1070964

 

P1070981

Amun was a deity in Egyptian mythology who, in the form of Amun-Ra, became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt.

 

Amun represented the essential and the hidden, while in Ra he represented revealed divinity.

 

Amun was self-created, without mother and father, and during the New Kingdom he became the greatest expression of a transcendental deity in Egyptian theology. His position as King of gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him.

 

With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods.

 

 

The temple was built by King Natakamani and his wife Amanitore and is considered a classic example of Kushite architecture.

 

 

Hypostyle hall of the Temple of Amun.

P1070983

 

P1080059

This second ancient Kushite temple at Naqa is dedicated to the lion-headed Kushite god Apedemak.

 

(With a bunch of camels roaming around we couldn’t resist taking this shot; it’s also the background of this report).

 

 

 

 

The front of the temple is an extensive gateway, and depicts Natakamani and Amanitore on the left and right exerting divine power over their prisoners, symbolically with lions at their feet.

Although the architecture of the main Apedemak temple is strongly influenced by Ancient Egyptian architecture, exhibiting some classic Egyptian forms, some of the depictions of the king and queen are fine examples of the differences between Egyptian and Kushite art.  King Natakamani and Queen Amanitore are depicted with round heads and broad shoulders, with the relief of Amanitore having unusually wide hips, which is more typical of African art.

P1080008

 

P1080017

Our local guide was this Sudanese archeologist with a Ph.D. gotten in France.

 

 

P1080011

Reliefs of the gods on the southern wall of the Temple of Apedemak.

 

These are almost twice life-sized.

 

P1070977

Min, the Egyptian god of fertility is often found in Egypt.

 

The so-called Roman kiosk is a small temple near the main temple building, which has strong Hellenistic elements.

 

The entrance to the kiosk is Egyptian and is topped by a lintel with a row of sacred cobras but the sides consists of columns with florid Corinthian capitals arched windows in the Roman style. It was probably devoted to the worship of Hathor.

 

P1070997

 

 

 

P1080062

 

The temple complex of Musawwarat es Sufra is the largest set of Meroitic remains in Sudan and dates back to the 3rd  c. BCE. Its exact purpose isn’t clear due to the incomplete understanding of Meroitic culture.

 

The site comprises of a large complex called the Great Enclosure, which consists of rambling walls and toppled columns, two reservoirs and a temple to Apedemak (lion god).

 

 

On the left are the ruins of the Great Enclosure in Musawwarat.

 

This is the front of Temple 100, which consists of two ruined tower-like structures.

P1080066

 

P1080071

One finds a lot of graffiti by previous visitors on many Egyptian and Sudanese archeological sites. On the left is an example.

 

The inscription in the middle is:

 

KOENIGL. PREUSS. EXPEDITION März 1844

 

(Royal Prussian Expedition, March 1844)

 

Below that is a 1906 graffiti by one H. Schlierhack.

 

 

Relief carving of Horus at Musawwarat.

P1080083

 

P1080080

Apedemak temple in Musawwarat.

 

On the way back to Khartoum, we got another ride in a local boat. This time to see the 6th Cataract of the Nile. The rapids behind him are part of it.

 

 

P1080277

 

We often drove through seemingly endless deserts with few plants, no paved roads and mirages like the one on the below right. We just took off without roads; sometimes our 4x4s were in parallel to keep out of the others’ dust. This long ride is shown on the map at the beginning of this website.

 

P1010668

P1010651

 

And then we suddenly saw large herds of various animals. This was one of the most amazing couple of hours we’ve ever spent. We were allowed to wander anywhere and they acted like we didn’t exist (unless one of us wanted to interact with someone).

 

If what we watched happened in the west, there’d be someone yelling announcing who was next at the well, and lots of orders. Here there was none of that. They smiled while they worked steadily and efficiently. It was lovely.

 

Below right is a view of a tiny part of the scene to show the way the nomads have organized themselves. Each circle of animals belongs to one nomad family. They wait their turn at the well. Hundreds of animals were watered while we stood and watched, and none were rushed. Inside these circles, animals were often grouped by type: black goats together, sheep together, etc., as below left.

 

P1010698

P1010657

P1070842

P1070846

P1070922

The deep well could drop 4 “buckets” and they staggered the order. First they dropped the bucket (a thick plastic bag) down into the well. Then the herder moved it back and forth with the rope to fill it with water. Then the herder handed the rope to another to attach to animals that would pull the water up. Usually two donkeys were used; sometimes a camel. These animals had to pull the rope for quite a distance (the well was deep) which is shown at left. When the water reached the surface, the herder carried it to one of the troughs that were arranged around the well. These teams (4 of them, going in different directions) worked at a steady speed.

A (45 second) movie clip shows some of the operation. Click on Sudan Wells for an idea of what it was like being there.

In this clip the guys are moving the buckets back and forth (they’re at the bottom of this very deep well) until they feel the buckets are full. Each man will then tie the rope for a bucket to animals so they can pull the water up. Here a girl leads two donkeys that are pulling up the water.

The movie is great because you can hear the guys’ relaxed banter and see their smiles as they work. Behind the well, there are a bunch of animals moving away from the well. The animals arrived and left so seamlessly that we rarely noticed. There was so much to watch. None of the animals seemed to notice us moving around them.

The girl was the only one there. We wondered why, and thought maybe her father only had daughters. We asked our guide and he said he was from Khartoum (the city) and had no idea.

Below is a panorama of a portion of the circle with camels having their turn at the trough Usually the smaller animals were watered first, then the camels

P1070907

P1010674

P1010689

P1010734

P1010741

P1070828

P1070831

P1070833

P1070837

P1070840

P1070855

P1070859

P1070867

P1070888

P1070899

P1070903

P1070915

P1070920

P1070924

P1070916

These are sheep or goat skins used as water containers that they will take back to their camps.

While we watched we saw men and animals coming from far in the distance, and we watched the watered animals disappear into the distance after they left. It was interesting to see the newcomers just picking a place to set up their wait station.

What an unreal experience. It was absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, these photos have none of the action that we experienced seeing.

 

 

 

The second well experience was at Naqa. This well only had one log to attach the plastic buckets to, and far fewer animals needed water. Note from the vegetation that we’ve crossed the desert and are not far from the Nile when we saw this.

 

The first photo shows the well at the top of the rise and some groups around it. The population of men and animals at this well was a fraction of the first well we saw, but the group dynamic was just the same.

 

There was no frantic yelling or giving orders. There was just chatting, as necessary. Smiling even.

 

We travel quite a bit and we seek out non-touristy destinations as often as we can.

 

Sudan was a wonderful surprise to be able to experience these nomads who have not had to put up with tourism and acted so naturally in our presence. What a treat to have THEM asking US for photos!

 

P1010764

P1080032

P1080027

P1080042

P1080033

P1010788

P1010778

P1010784

P1080037

P1080056

P1010800

P1080044

 

 

 

Thumbnail1