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The Train from Khartoum to Wadi Halfa, Sudan
AUGUST 09 , 2007

The Sudan

No other country on our journey so far has instilled so much discomfort into us prior to our arrival. Africa's largest country is also it's least visited thanks to 60 years of civil war, extreme political tension, and endless kilometres of empty barren deserts. The media does little justince to this great country.

Most people are well aware of Egypt's Pharonic past, yet few know of Sudan's. Modern day Sudan is the site of ancient Nubia, the ancient kingdom of Meroe, and was home to the original Black Pharaoh's. So much history, most of it still undiscovered.

A little modern history, back in the 14th century the Turkish invaders introduced Islam to the Sudanese population. All was well until the early 1800's when the Egyptians, under British 'rule', conquered Northern Sudan, taking control of trade in the region. Towards the end of the 1800's the Sudanese finally fought back in the Mahdist Revolutions, driving the British out of Khartoum, and pushing east into the border areas of Ethiopia.

The Mahdi ruled for nearly 20 years before the British/Egyptian army took control again colonising the Sudan. All was well until the mid 1950's when Sudan, along with the rest of Africa, achieved independence. With Sharia law imposed over the whole of the country the non islamic population fought back resulting in 60 years of turmoil in the south and west of the country.

Australian Government Travel Warning

We strongly advise you not to travel outside of Khartoum because of the extremely dangerous security situation and the high risk of violent crime and civil unrest. Conflict can escalate and curfews can be imposed with little or no warning. Landmines have been laid in rural areas in many parts of the country.

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the capital Khartoum because of the high threat of terrorist attack. We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks against Western interests in Sudan. Attacks could occur anywhere at any time in Sudan.

If you are outside of Khartoum, you should consider leaving if it is safe to do so. Australians who decide to stay should ensure that they have personal security measures in place.

In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets. These include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as key transport installations including air, railways and sea ports, buildings associated with foreign governments and companies, hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, marketplaces, places of worship, outdoor recreation events and tourist areas. As security remains high at official facilities, terrorists may turn towards easier targets, such as residential compounds.

Statements by international terrorist groups have called for a “jihad”(holy war) in Sudan against Western interests.

The land borders between Sudan and many neighbouring countries are effectively closed. The Wadi Halfa border crossing between Egypt and Sudan is currently open, although this is subject to change without notice.

Permits are required for all travel outside Khartoum and can be obtained locally. Travellers without permits to areas outside Khartoum have been arrested and detained. Travellers must register with the police authorities within 24 hours of arrival anywhere outside the capital.

Landmines and unexploded ordinance remain a danger throughout Sudan. According to the United Nations, at least 11,000 kilometres of road are suspected to be mined or blocked by landmines. Australians are urged to only use main roads and paths labeled as cleared by a competent de-mining authority.

Roads and vehicles are poorly maintained in Sudan and public transportation is limited and basic.

Homosexual practices and extra-marital relations are illegal and subject to severe penalties.

It is illegal to import or consume alcohol, even in private.

In the north, there are penalties for preaching to non-Muslim groups.

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