Nile Valley and Western Desert Tour

Sudan – Nile Valley and Western Desert Tour – a 15 day Small Group Tour.

The history of Sudan stretches back thousands of years, to a time when they rivalled Pharaonic Egypt as a powerful civilisation.

On this small group adventure, we explore some the highlights of Sudan’s little known ancient monuments on this tour, visiting collections of pyramids that few people even know exist and old temples lying in the desert sands.

The Sudan Nile Valley tour takes in some of the most beautiful areas of Sudan, from its deserts to the mighty Nile, lifeblood of the country, and by camping in this amazing landscape we gain a real sense of the overwhelming power of nature.

For the Sudanese themselves recent years have proved tumultuous. The end of Africa’s longest civil war preceded the exploitation of petrochemical reserves, partition from South Sudan, and most recently the overthrow of a much-reviled president.

After a sustained struggle it appears that a roadmap for democratic elections has been drawn.

Sudan’s tourism infrastructure is limited but growing. However, its archaeological wealth and the environment in which it’s experienced is a major reason to visit – the country has more pyramids than Egypt.

However, another reserve of richness lies in its people. Open, generous, interested and always ready to talk over a cup of aromatic sweet tea, Sudanese are an engaging nation.

For visitors, Sudan is a profoundly affecting destination, in most cases altering perspectives, in some, changing lives. Quite a recommendation for place that seems to operate solely on a diet of brown beans.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Start the Sudan Nile Valley tour on arrival in Khartoum. Transfer to the hotel. Please note that early check-in is included if your flight arrives in the early hours of the morning which is common for Khartoum. The rest of the day is at leisure. You may wish to view the confluence of the Nile from Mogran Family Park next to the White Nile Bridge or walk to Tuti Island across the bridge next to the Corinthia Hotel for a view of the confluence. Please note that it is forbidden to take photos from the bridges. Overnight Grand Holiday Villa Hotel or similar

After breakfast we take a short tour of Khartoum. Following the Blue Nile near the Presidential Palace, we pass the place where in 1885 General Gordon was beheaded by the Mahdi’s troops. Then we head to the Archaeological Museum, notable for two temples rescued by UNESCO and moved beyond the rising waters of Lake Nasser after the construction of the Aswan Dam (this visit may be moved to the last day, depending upon museum opening times). Afterwards, we cross the confluence of the Blue and the White Nile to Omdurman, Sudan’s old capital. Here we can see the Mahdi’s tomb and the Khalifa’s House Museum (closed on Mondays). Late in the morning we leave the city, heading northwards through the Western Desert. We travel for about 200 km on asphalt road and stop at Tam Tam where a ‘shay’ house, literally tea house, is a very spartan motorway service station in the desert where local truck drivers stop for a quick meal and some rest. Towards the end of the afternoon we leave the road and find a good place to camp under an incredible desert sky. Overnight in wild camp. (BLD)

We drive westward in the desert and reach Wadi El Milk, where we find many acacia trees and Bisharin settlements around the few water wells. During our desert crossing we reach a mysterious fortress in the middle of the desert: Gala Abu Hamed discovered by a German archaeological expedition and dated to the Napatean time (700-400 B.C.). The ruins of the fortress are mainly huge boundary walls about 100m high, now partially covered by sand. The place was probably used as a prison for slaves coming from Central Africa. It remains a mystery how the place could have been inhabited since there is no water at all. Driving northwest deep into the Western Desert we reach a curious mountain in the middle of dune desert called by our drivers Jebel Peak. From here, passing by small beautiful oasis rich in palm trees, we reach Dongola where we stock up for the following days. Overnight wild camping in the Western Desert. (BLD)

We drive north-west crossing curious areas of rock overlapping granite boulders. We then reach the Nile near the Temple of Soleb, the most beautiful Egyptian temple in Sudan, testimony of the New Kingdom in Nubia, with many walls rich in hieroglyphic inscriptions, bas-relief figures and many columns. The first settlement was an Egyptian colonization dated back 1500 BC. The day after we continue north visiting Jebel Dosha where on a rock just on the Nile we can see some Egyptian stelae of Thutmosis III. We continue north to reach the Nile again near the vestiges of Amara West, an archaeological site currently being excavated by a team from the British Museum, where we visit the rests of an ancient Egyptian town. Dinners and overnights in wild camp. (BLD)

Continuing north we can see the rocks on the Nile that create the rapids of the Dal Cataract. In this area there are some nice Nubian villages and the people are not used to seeing foreigners. Dinner and overnight wild camping (BLD)

After breakfast we continue northward crossing the Nile by small ferry. These ferries are a hive of colourful activities. Continue south passing the village of Delgo reaching the granite boulders of the Third Cataract which used to be the third huge obstacle that the ancients Egyptians had to face when trying to sail on the Nile River and nearby we visit the remains of an Ottoman fort. We then reach the village of Tombos where there are the remains of ancient granite quarries and where we see a statue of the King Taharqa, simply left there in the desert 3000 years ago. We stop in Kerma to visit the majestic “Defuffa” and the rest of this ancient civilisation together with the little museum founded by Charles Bonnet. Continuing south along the Nile we arrive in the central part of the Nubian region. The population speaks a different language from the Arabs, and also the Islamic religion is not as “strict” as in other regions. The women don’t cover their faces and readily speak to foreigners. We visit the beautiful Nubian villages with their painted entrance doors with typical patterns and flowers. Enthusiastic hospitality abounds, people will often invite foreigners to visit their houses and share a meal or a cup of spiced tea. Overnights wild camping (BLD)

Driving south, we reach the archaeological site of Old Dongola where marble columns mark the site of a significant Coptic Christian church. Nearby, the ruins of several smaller churches lie on the banks of the Nile. At the small town of Karima lies Jebel Barkal, a landmark in the Nubian Desert. At the foot of this isolated red sandstone mountain are the remains of a substantial temple dedicated to Amon. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, evidence suggests the temple was the was the religious heart of Nubia for more than 1,000 years. Alongside the temple lie several sculpted granite rams that once lined an avenue leading to a pier on the Nile. Later, we visit the Kushite pyramids of El Kurru, a necropolis for the ancient capital of Napata. Here it’s possible to visit a tomb excavated in the rock under the pyramids. Though partially collapsed it is decorated with images of the Pharaoh and the gods, together with multicoloured hieroglyphic inscriptions. Nearby there’s also an interesting petrified forest with hundreds of huge trunks.  Overnight wild camp. (BLD) 

Please note: there is an option to upgrade to a lovely guesthouse where you can enjoy a warm welcome and some added comfort. Contact us as early as possible if you wish to upgrade.

Today we cross the Nile and we reach the Pyramids of Nuri. We take a cruise along the river and explore the small islands and sandy beaches along the Nile. Arriving on the other shore of the Nile we reach the site of Nuri where several pyramids stand out, among which is the pyramid of the great Taharqa. We then enter the Bayuda Desert, an area bounded by the loop formed by the Nile between the 4th and the 6th Cataract and characterised by sharp black basalt mountains, most of them volcanic and typically cone-shaped. They alternate with level pebble stretches and large valleys crossed by dry wadis, where a little vegetation can be seen. It is very likely we shall meet isolated groups of Bisharin nomads, who live in familiar groups in small huts made of intertwined branches close to the rare water wells, with their caravans and herds of camels and cattle. Just in the centre of the Bayuda Desert we reach Atrun Crater, where nomads gather salt from the edge of a green coloured pool. They will then sell it to markets of the towns outside the desert. We then reach the town of Atbara, located on the confluence between the Nile and the Atbara River. Here we cross the Nile for the last time. We start driving south where there are many small camel thorn acacia trees as far as we can see. And then in the distance we glance at more than 40 pyramids, located on top of a hill, some of them perfectly preserved that belong to the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. We visit the ruins of the Royal City. The excavations confirm that the town of Meroe used to cover a large area and the royal city was located in a central position, surrounded by suburbs and a boundary wall. Most of the area where the city is located, formed by many small hills covered by red clay fragments, has still to be excavated by the archaeologists. Dinners and overnights in wild camp near the pyramids (option to upgrade accommodation on Day 13) (BLD)

The Royal necropolis of Meroe is located at about 3 km from the Nile on some hills covered by yellow sand dunes. Several pyramids stand out with their sharp shapes against the clear sky. Each one has its own funerary chapel with the walls fully decorated with bas-reliefs that show the King’s life and offers to the gods. In the afternoon we reach Mussawarat El Sufra. This settlement is located in a beautiful valley crowned by hills. Here the ruins of a very big temple are visible; it once played an exceptionally important role. Its main characteristic, the “Great Enclosure” is made by many constructions and boundary walls which surround a temple built in the 1st century A.D. The large number of elephants represented on these walls makes you think that this animal used to have an important role in this area. Beyond the big Wadi there is another temple – restored by a German archaeological mission – dedicated to the god Apedemak. We then move to the beautiful site of Naga for our last camp. Overnight wild camping. (BLD)

We begin the day exploring the ancient site of Naga, which is located 30 km to the east of the Nile and it is one of the two centres that developed during the Meroitic period. In Naga, in a typical Saharan environment with rocks and sand, we find a temple dedicated to Apedemak (1st century A.D.): a wonderful building with bas-relief decorations depicting the god with a lion’s head, the Pharaoh, noblemen and several ritual images. A few metres away there is a small and odd construction with arches and columns, named “kiosk”, in which we can notice Egyptian, Roman and Greek styles, all at the same time. Not far away we reach another temple dedicated to Amon with many statues of rams and beautiful gates decorated with bas- reliefs. Lunch – picnic on the way. In the afternoon we reach Omdurman and visit the Souk and on a Friday we will also be able to witness the ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes (not possible on Christmas departure). Check in at the hotel in Khartoum where rooms are available for day use until 23.00. Late in the evening transfer to the airport as we end the Sudan Nile Valley tour. (BL)

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

These departures are based on a mixed group, with travellers joining the tour from other companies and countries. The tour will include an English speaking guide, but may also be guided in one other language.

Single supplement from £125.

Return flights from London to Khartoum start at £455. Contact us for a quotation.

Transfers are included on the tour arrival and departure dates shown. Outside of these dates, airport transfers can be included from an extra £30 per person (based on 2 people travelling together) if you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation at the hotel mentioned in our tour dossier.

Extra night accommodation pre and/or post tour in Khartoum costs from £70 per person per night sharing a twin/double room and £125 per person in a solo occupancy room.

Please note that the prices quoted above are for the category of accommodation and hotel used for this particular tour. Depending on the hotel eventually confirmed there may be some difference in the rate advertised by the hotel, and the prices available through Undiscovered Destinations. It should be noted we will not apply a surcharge should more expensive accommodation be used. At the same time in the event that a lower rate is available for the confirmed hotel we are unable to offer a refund.

Upgrade to the Nubian Rest House in Karima on day 11 and the Meroe Camp on day 13 for £70 per person per night based on twin/double or £100 per night for a single room.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

Sudan – Nile Valley and Western Desert Tour Map

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • All accommodation
  • Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
  • Visa support documents (letter of invitation)

Tour exclusions.

  • Compulsory Archaeological fees, permits, passport registration – currently USD 290 or EUR 260 payable locally in cash
  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)
  • Video camera fees

Excellent English spoken by the guide who also had great archeological insights.

Jane Eagleson, USA

The trip was excellent, the drivers, cook and guide great. Even with limited communication (cook and drivers) we had a great time with all the support team. They made sure to do everything possible to make our trip to Sudan memorable.


Hazel Eyton-Jones, UK