The Nubian Desert and the Red Sea  Tour

Sudan – The Nubian Desert Tour – a 14 day Small Group Tour from £3745 per person.

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.


Start your Nubian Desert tour on arrival in Khartoum on an early morning flight (usually between 02:00 and 03:00) and transfer straight to accommodation at hotel Grand Holiday Villa or similar. After a leisurely breakfast we visit Khartoum’s Archaeological Museum which contains two beautiful temples rescued by UNESCO from the rising waters of Lake Nasser following the construction of the Aswan Dam. Later we depart Khartoum and head north 200km to the Royal Necropolis of Meroe. Overnight Meroe Permanent Tented Camp. (BLD)

The Royal Necropolis of Meroe stands among yellow, sandy hills about three kilometres from the Nile and comprises more than 40 pyramids, some in perfectly preserved condition. We spend the early part of the day visiting the necropolis, an exercise that provides insights on a culture and civilisation long since passed. On the second morning we’ll witness sunrise at the pyramids and explore further. Later, we cross the Nile and enter the Bayuda Desert. At the Atrun Crater we may encounter nomads gathering salt, an centuries-old activity and trade still enduring today. Continuing to El Mogrut Island we cross the Nile by ferry to Abu Hamed. From here we enter the Nubian Desert. Overnights wild camping. (BLD)

Today we drive towards the Red Sea Hills which run parallel to the Red Sea itself. Among the wadis we may encounter opportunist nomads sifting the sands for gold. We may also have an opportunity to meet the nomadic Beja people of the Bisharin and Hadendowa tribes. Overnights wild camping. (BLD)

After breakfast we set out for Jebel Magardi, an unusually shaped mountain near Bir Nurayet. Here, a Polish archaeological mission recently discovered a rich collection of petroglyphs, proving the area was inhabited thousands of years ago. Nearby, many pre-Islamic tombs of the Kerma period may also be found. Overnight wild camping. (BLD)

Crossing the valleys of the Red Sea Hills, surrounded by peaks of up to 2,000m, our Nubian Desert tour finally reaches the Red Sea. Near the village of Mohammed Qol, which takes the name from an Arabian fisherman trader, we board our schooner, the MY Elegante, home for a spectacular journey through a little-visited part of the Red Sea. Overnight on-board. (BLD)

This morning we set sail for Mesherifa Island, a first opportunity to swim in the Red Sea’s crystal-clear waters. Later, at Manta Point we may be able to see large groups of rays. At Mayetib Island, also called The Island of Snakes for its endemic population of non-poisonous snakes, we have the chance to snorkel along the reef and explore pristine sandy beaches. Overnight on-board. (BLD)

Today we explore two natural fjords as well as lagoons with pristine sandy beaches and clear waters. Depending upon timing, we may head ashore and take in breathtakingly beautiful views over the desert and the coast. Overnight on-board. (BLD)

In the morning we reach the Taila Islands. The first two islands are connected by a sandy isthmus at low tide, while a third island, green with acacia trees, is situated further to the east. Ospreys inhabiting nests among the acacias tolerate our visit. Elsewhere, close to shore, it’s possible to find coquina clams, a delicious addition to our shipboard menu. Overnight on-board. (BLD)

After a leisurely morning in the Taila Islands, the Nubian Desert tour heads to Gurna Reef, where corals rise to break the water’s surface, for richly rewarding snorkelling among the reef’s multicoloured marine life. Overnight on-board. (BLD)


The reef at Sha’ab Rumi is considered by divers to be one of the world’s best for marine life. A lagoon behind the reef contains the remnants of Jacques Cousteau’s Conshelf 2, an undersea environment where researchers lived and worked. We enjoy some fantastic snorkelling and then make landfall at Sanganeb lighthouse where a climb to the top is rewarded by remarkable views over the Sanganeb Marine National Park – now a UNESCO site. Overnight on-board. (BLD)

En route to Port Sudan we drop anchor at Wingate Reef where the Italian ‘Umbria’, carrying a secret cargo of munitions, was scuttled by her captain on the day Italy entered WW2 in 1940. The vessel lies at around 38 metres and is considered by many to be the world’s best wreck dive. However, shallower areas can be explored by snorkellers. In the afternoon we arrive in Port Sudan. Having tied up, we head ashore and drive around 50km to the old port of Suakin, once known as the Red Sea Pearl, and abandoned a hundred years ago. Although there is now a modern ferry terminal serving pilgrim travellers en route to Saudi Arabia, for the most part Suakin is a crumbling ghost town. That said, plans for a Turkish-funded restoration are afoot. Later, we return to Port Sudan for a final night on-board. (BLD)

This morning we say goodbye to our boat and the crew before a tour of Port Sudan, the country’s second largest city and most important port. We explore colonial architecture and the city’s busy souk. In the afternoon we board a flight to Khartoum where use of a hotel room is available prior to airport transfers for late night onward flights. Depending upon arrival time in Khartoum there may be time to witness traditional Dervish grave dancing in Omdurman (Fridays only) before your Nubian Desert tour ends. (BL)

Dates & Price.

  • Tour Code
    Trip Status
  • Tour Code 21-01
    Start Thursday March 4, 2021
    End Wednesday March 17, 2021
    Available Seats: 6

    Adult ( 1 - 6 Pax ) £3,745.00 /Person

    - +

    Trip Extras:

    Sudan – The Nubian Desert and the Red Sea (SRS) Single Supplement
    £ 195.00 / unit

    Single travellers - we understand that in our busy world many people travel alone. Although we do charge a single supplement, if you are willing to share with another traveller then please contact us and we will do our best to match you up. Otherwise please select the applicable single supplement below.

    Learn More

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 £195 – 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.

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.

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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
  • Transport throughout the tour with a driver (3 passengers maximum and driver per vehicle)
  • Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
  • Domestic flight from Port Sudan to Khartoum
  • 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 fees, permits, passport registration – currently USD 290 or EUR 260 payable locally in cashInternational flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa
  • Drinks
    Sleeping bag, pillow and towel for the desert part
  • Snorkeling 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