The Nubian Desert and the Red Sea  Tour

Sudan – The Nubian Desert Tour – a 16 day Small Group Tour.

Uncover Sudan’s ancient history on a small group journey that takes you to the remote and stunning pyramids of Meroe at the Royal Necropolis. Then cross the Bayuda and Nubian deserts through stunning landscapes and camp wild under huge skies.

Once across the Red Sea hills, embark on a fabulous cruise down a little visited stretch of the Red Sea coast exploring reefs, lagoons and pristine beaches. After finishing the cruise in Port Sudan we return to Khartoum.

On this Nubian Desert tour we will explore the warm waters of the Red Sea and the comparative isolation of this stretch of coast has resulted in a spectacular array of marine life. Soft and stony corals thrive to produce a wondrous ecosystem, providing home to innumerable crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms and fish.

Along the Sudanese coast, the water temperatures average 27 degrees centigrade. This is warm enough to reduce the planktonic and algal blooms that are more common further North. As a result, the sea is generally beautifully clear with visibility up to 30 metres.

For this part of the journey, we travel on the M/Y Elegante, a stunning 30-metre-long schooner, and completely renovated in 2009. The vessel is a classic two-masted schooner with tow fore-and-aft rigs, a jib, and a foresail. Built entirely from wood, she features 7 double cabins. All cabins have air conditioning and en suite bathrooms.

The ship features a wide sundeck area at the bow as well as a comfortable and spacious veranda astern with tables, couches and cushions. In the main part of the ship is a living area with a bar area, couches and tables where board games can be played. The crew is a professional team including a chef producing high quality cuisine.

Tour ratings.

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

Tour Pace


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.


Arrive in Khartoum and transfer to the hotel. No guided services or meals today. Overnight at the Grand Holiday Villa Hotel or similar. No meals are included today.

**Depending on the time of your flight arrival you may arrive very early on the morning of Day 2 and the room will be available for you at the hotel**

Breakfast at the hotel and later in the morning we visit the Archaeological Museum which contains two beautiful temples rescued by UNESCO and moved from the Lake Nasser area, when it was flooded by the water. Later we depart Khartoum and head north for about 200km through a desert area characterized by desert and granite rocky hills to the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. Overnight Meroe Permanent Tented Camp (BLD)

The Royal Necropolis of Meroe stands on a hill, with more than 40 pyramids, some of them in perfectly preserved condition. We spend the early part of the day visiting the Necropolis, giving us a fascinating insight into a culture and civilisation long since passed. The Royal Necropolis of Meroe is located about 3 kms from the Nile on some hills covered with yellow sand dunes. We will enjoy sunrise at the spectacular pyramids and explore this incredible archaeological wonder. Later we drive north to the town of Atbara before heading towards Port Sudan. After about 100 km on the tarred road we finally drive off across the Nubian Desert. Overnights wild camping. (BLD)

We drive towards the Red Sea Hills which run parallel to the Red Sea. Amongst wadis and desert areas we will meet some gold seekers. In recent years there is a gold rush happening in Sudan following the ancient gold reef. We will meet nomadic Beja people of the Bisharin and Hadendowa tribes. Overnights wild camping (BLD)

Visit Jebel Magardi, an unusual shaped mountain near Bir Nurayet. Here only recently, a Polish archaeological mission has discovered a large number of rock carvings proving that this area was inhabited thousands of years ago. We can also find in the area many pre-Islamic tombs of the Kerma period. Overnight wild camping (BLD)

We cross the valleys of the Red Sea hills surrounded by peaks of up to 2000m. We finally reach the Red Sea near the small village of Mohammed Qol which takes the name from an Arabian fisherman who moved here to start trading in the region. Here we will board the M/Y Elegante schooner, our home for a spectacular journey on a little visited part of the Red Sea. Overnight on-board. (BLD)

We begin the cruise this morning with a visit to Mesherifa Island and this will be our first opportunity to swim in the crystal-clear waters. At Manta Point we may be able to see large groups of rays. Mesharifa Island is only 4 miles out of the Red Sea cost and this will be our first opportunity to swim in the crystal-clear waters. We then reach Mayetib Island, also called the island of snakes, where an endemic species of not poisonous snake lives. We have here the possibility to do some snorkelling along the reef and have a rest on a gorgeous empty sandy beach. Overnight on-board (BLD)

“Khors” is the Arabic word that means “natural fiords” and there are a few of them in this area. We spend today exploring natural fjords as well as lagoons with pristine sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. We also have the possibility to walk on land, taking breathtaking views over the desert and the sea. In the shallow waters of the see there are also mangroves trees. Overnight on-board (BLD)

Today we reach the Taila Islands located out of Shambaya. The three small islands have white-pinkish sandy beaches. The first two islands are connected by a sandy isthmus at low tide, while the third island is situated further east. Acacia trees are found on this island where ospreys nest. On the island we may also find coquina clams which our cook can then make into a delicious dish back on-board. Overnight on-board (BLD)

Spend the morning in the Taila Islands. After lunch we reach Gurna Reef, a wonderful reef that reaches the surface of the water in corals and fish where we can enjoy some snorkelling. Overnight on-board (BLD)

The reef in Sha’ab Rumi is considered to be one of the best in the world. A lagoon behind the reef contains the remnants of Jacques Cousteau’s Conshelf 2, where the famous oceanographer created an environment in which men could live and work at the bottom of the sea. We will enjoy some snorkelling and then reach the beautiful Sanganeb lighthouse, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we will enjoy breathtaking views from the top. Overnight on-board (BLD)

En route to Port Sudan we will stop at Wingate Reef where the Italian ship ‘Umbria’ sank here in 1940 and lies on its side at a depth of around 30 metres. The shallowest point can be explored by snorkelers. This afternoon we arrive at Port Sudan and drive to the ancient port of Suakin known in its glorious past as the Red Sea Pearl. It is now a crumbling ghost town although there are plans for restoration. Later we return to Port Sudan and our final night on-board. (BLD)

This morning we say goodbye to our boat and the crew. Time permitting, we take a tour of Port Sudan, the second largest city in the country and the most important port. The city has some colonial style architecture and a busy souk. Transfer to the airport in Port Sudan for a flight back to Khartoum. On arrival, you will have the use of a hotel room as flights out of the country tend to be late at night, or you can stay overnight (depending on flight schedules). The normal check-out from the room is 10:00 am on the 20th March. Day use / Overnight at Grand Holiday Villa Hotel or similar. (B)


– Local air companies are black listed from European regulations.
– You can also wish to depart from Port Sudan, anytime as from midday, today Day 16. Please contact us for details – a deduction for the non-used flight Port Sudan to Khartoum will be given.

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.

This group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 6 travellers.

Single Supplement from £210 – the supplement covers a single room at the hotel in Khartoum and sole use of a tent when camping. Accommodation on the Red Sea cruise is limited and generally single cabins will not be available. All travellers must be willing to share a two berth cabin.

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

Please note that at the end of the tour it is possible to fly out from Port Sudan rather than having to go back via Khartoum. Contact us for details.

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 £50 per person per night sharing a twin/double room and £75 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.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

Sudan - The Nubian Desert and the Red Sea 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 and camping equipment – If solo traveller, cabin on the Red Sea cruise will be shared
  • Domestic flight from Port Sudan to Khartoum and day/use overnight in Khartoum on Day 16
  • Transport throughout the tour with a driver (3 passengers maximum and driver per vehicle)
  • Services of English-speaking guide / tour leader
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner) and services of a cook
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
  • Visa support documents (letter of invitation)

Tour exclusions.

  • Compulsory Archaeological and boat fees, permits, passport registration, local tax in Port Sudan – currently EUR 260 or the equivalent in USD or GBP, payable locally in cash
  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa
  • Drinks
  • Sleeping bag, pillow and towel for the desert part
  • Snorkelling equipment (fins, mask and snorkel – can be rent and paid locally)
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)
  • Video camera fees at the archaeological sites (USD 20 per site at the moment)

I just wanted to let you know that the tour was way beyond my expectations – in passing, Carla is a real gem! – and to thank you for making special arrangements to accomodate my travel dates. I can hardly wait for my next annual holidays.


Grant Walter, Australia