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Dinder National Park, Sudan

Relicts and Rarities

£2,595 pp sharing

At a Glance

Dates: January 22nd - January 31st, 2022

Extension: No extension currently offered.

Prices: £2,595 pp sharing (£100 single supplement)​, excluding flights.

In a sentence: A rare opportunity to see both the wilderness and incredible ancient history of a little-explored corner of Africa.

Overview

Sudan is an enigma to much of the rest of the world. Hidden from view for decades by a brutal dictatorship, much of Sudan's wildlife disappeared as a result of unrest in the Darfur region and rampant poaching. When South Sudan claimed independence in 2011, it seemed as though the last vestiges of wildlife in Sudan had disappeared. However, since a popular uprising in 2019, Sudan's enigma has gradually been unravelled.

Sudan is now truly open for business, and this tour represents the first concerted effort to bring ecotourism to the country. Our focus will be in two key areas: the astonishing beauty of the Meroe Pyramids, and the surprising wildlife of Dinder National Park. Khartoum and Meroe are far less well-known than archaeological sites in neighbouring Egypt, but are no less impressive. The highlight is undoubtedly the incredible pyramid complex of Meroe. Unmissable, though, are the ancient city of Naqa, the gorgeous temple of Musawwarat and the legendary Sixth Cataract, a shallow rapid on the Nile.


Wildlife is rarely considered synonymous with Sudan, but we are sure that Dinder National Park will soon buck this trend. Situated in the far east of Sudan, on the border with Ethiopia's Alatash National Park, Dinder is home to a number of savanna species. Many of these were thought to be extinct in Sudan until recently, including the iconic Lion, until studies proved their continued existence in this remote corner of the country. As well as Lion, Dinder has populations of rare species including the elusive Heuglin's Gazelle and Blue Nile Patas Monkey. Visitors can also expect to see Buffalo, Bushbuck, Warthog, Waterbuck, Roan Antelope, Greater Kudu, Bohor Reedbuck, Oribi and Kob, as well as Senegal Galago, African Civet, Olive Baboon, Egyptian Mongoose, Spotted Hyaena, Striped Hyaena, African Golden Wolf, Crested Porcupine, Leopard and Tantalus Monkey. There is also the remote chance of encountering African Wild Dog and Bush Elephant in this special park.

Itinerary

Day One

Khartoum

On arrival into Khartoum, you will be met by a Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to the Akropole Hotel. For those arriving early enough, we will be happy to arrange a tour of Khartoum for an additional fee.

Khartoum is a beautiful city, with striking architecture and a bustling vibe mirrored across East Africa. Recent liberalisation has made exploring the city far easier, and there may even be the opportunity to explore the city's brand new nightlife, for those on the adventurous side.

Day Two

Naqa and Musawwarat

Those clients on the extension will head to Naqa early this morning to take in the remarkable ancient city, complete with the temples to Amun and Apedemak. The breath-taking temple complex of Musawwarat es-Sufra will also be visited this morning, with these sites (along with Meroe) forming a rarely visited UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

At lunch, we will visit a well where nomadic herdsmen congregate to water their livestock, and it is here that there will be an excellent opportunity to interact with Sudanese locals outside of Khartoum, a rare treat. After lunch, we will drive the c.30km to Meroe, where we will set up camp in anticipation of an early visit to the pyramids tomorrow.

Day Three

Meroe

A very early start this morning as we aim to be at the pyramids as the sun rises, giving us a superb view of a seldom visited site. Quite frankly, this view is one of the finest in all of Africa; just as impressive as the Egyptian pyramids, with no tourists in sight. We will have several hours this morning to soak in this sight, before heading off to explore the Royal City before lunch.

The Sixth Cataract will be our next stop, after lunch. This shallow rapid has a fascinating history, sitting the farthest upstream of any of the Nile's cataracts. A boat trip will allow us excellent photographic opportunities and we will bivouac nearby at Sbaloga.

Day Four

En route to Dinder National Park

This morning we begin our c.500km drive south-east to the Dinder National Park. The landscape in this part of the Sudan is beautiful, with the arid desert slowly giving way to greener, arable land, quite distinct from many people's expectations of this country.

We should expect to make slow progress today, as the road network outside of Khartoum is limited. Be prepared for plenty of bumps and lots of dust! By nightfall we will have set up at a comfortable but basic campsite en route to Dinder, with time to enjoy a homely meal under the African sky.

Day Five

Dinder National Park

Today, we will complete the remaining distance to our destination, Dinder National Park. As we approach Dinder, the scenery will finally give way to open savanna, a sign of things to come in the reserve itself. Again, we will set up camp at nightfall, this time at the park headquarters. With luck, we may hear the famous residents of Dinder, including Lion and Spotted Hyaena, as we drift off to sleep.

Days Six to Seven

Dinder National Park

Over the next two days, we will almost certainly have the exclusive right to traverse the entirety of Dinder National Park. Whilst we cannot say for certain, if the ecoguards of the park look on us favourably, we may be able to head out on night drives and walking safaris, but at a bare minimum we will be undertaking a morning and evening game drive each day.

We will explore the park as much as we can over the course of the two days we have. Our main target will be the isolated population of Lion that can be found here. This area was considered devoid of large predators for many years, until a recent study conducted by the University of Oxford identified a viable population of Lion here, and in the neighbouring Alatash National Park in Ethiopia. Direct observations of these lions are made semi-regularly, including from the park headquarters. Rarer predators in the park include Leopard, Striped Hyaena, Spotted Hyaena, Serval, African Civet, Honey Badger, African Golden Wolf, Egyptian Mongoose, Common Genet, Slender Mongoose and White-Tailed Mongoose. Additionally, we will devote time to tracking down the few scattered Heuglin's Gazelle known to live here, with Dinder perhaps the only readily accessible area where this dainty species can be seen. Other species we may well encounter include Crested Porcupine, Kob (White-Eared or Ugandan, this remains to be confirmed), Savanna Buffalo, Warthog, Bushbuck,  Grey Duiker, Greater Kudu, Lesser Kudu, Bohor Reedbuck, Oribi, Roan Antelope, Waterbuck and Aardvark. If lucky, the recently described Blue Nile Patas Monkey, as well as Olive Baboon, Tantalus Monkey and Senegal Galago, may also be seen here.

If exceptionally lucky, we may encounter some species very rarely found in the area, including African Wild Dog and Bush Elephant.

Day Eight

En Route to Khartoum

We must sadly say goodbye to Dinder today and begin the two-day drive back to Khartoum. It will be an early start today as we aim to maximise the distance we travel on the c.500km route back to Khartoum. We will again bivouac en route, soaking in the last the Sudanese wilderness has to offer.

Day Nine

Khartoum

We will aim to arrive back in Khartoum by nightfall, checking in to the Akropole Hotel for a well-earned night's rest.

Day Ten

Tour End

Today you will be escorted to Khartoum airport for your homeward flight.

Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.

Dates and Prices

This tour will run in January 2022, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources, but ensuring our visit avoids the very warmest times of the year. The tour will run from January 22nd to January 31st.

The cost of this trip is £2,595 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are not included, but water is. We regret that we must charge a single supplement of £100 per person for the entire trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £700 plus any single supplement must be paid.

Flights and Visas

Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Khartoum at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.

British nationals do require a visa to enter Sudan. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Sudan will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Sudanese entry visa for UK citizens is £25 - these must be obtained from your nearest Sudanese embassy, which for UK citizens will be in London. To acquire a tourist visa for Sudan you will require a valid passport, a Letter of Invitation (provided by Pictus Safaris), a bank statement, a recent passport photo with a white background, and a copy of your itinerary. Be advised that your application will be refused should your passport contain any evidence (e.g. visa or stamps) of prior or intended travel to Israel.

Please also note that you are required to register with the Sudanese government within three days of arriving in Sudan. A Pictus Safaris representative will assist you with this on arrival. This registration costs around £35 in Sudanese Pounds. Clients will also need to pay for an exit visa on departure, which costs around £50.

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in Sudan in January is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 31 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 17 degrees Celsius.

A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat. 

Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.

Safety and Security

We understand that for some potential visitors, the security situation in Sudan is a concern. Pictus Safaris take the safety of clients extremely seriously and we are in constant communication with our ground operators to monitor the security situation in all of our destinations.

The security situation in Sudan has greatly improved since the unrest of 2019. We advise clients to take sensible precautions when travelling to Sudan, including avoiding photography near sensitive areas (e.g. police stations or airports) - with common sense, the vast majority of visits to Sudan are trouble-free.

All Pictus Safaris clients must have travel insurance to travel with us. As travel to Sudan is advised against by national travel advisory bodies, most travel insurance policies will not be valid in Sudan. We recommend High Risk Voyager insurance as it covers medial evacuation from remote areas. Please note that High Risk Voyager Insurance is not available on annual multi-trip policies to Sudan, so a single-trip policy may be required.

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