irrigation makes the land extremely fertile
Travelling on a Friday (the Moslem Sabbath) is never a good idea in Sudan. It takes almost 2 hours for a minivan (known locally as a boksi) to head to Dongola. The journey takes some 2 and a half hours to cross the desert to this oasis town.
Dongola is the capital of Sudan’s Northern State and at the heart of Nubian territory. It is an affluent town thanks to the rich agricultural, most especially dates.
The streets are ordered and some are sealed. There are a few supermarkets around town and even ice-cream can be found to cool you down during the heat of the day.
Foreigners all have to register with the police, but can check into accommodation first. The Head of police is a very affable chappie who kindly offers me dates and switches to BBC World as i wait for my affirmation.
Nile Perch is the main food on offer just north of the souq (market). It’s tasty and cheap – a whole plate with bread, greens and chilli sauce for SP6. Watch out for the bones though. I don’t know the Arabic for Heimlich manoeuvre.
rusting Nile boats
The ferryboat seems to have stopped running, but a walk along the banks of the Nile is pleasant. There are some ruins on the East Bank about 3kms down river.
The town seems to be plagued by small black flies during early morning and towards dusk which are an irritant.
local mosque close to the bank of the Nile
Rickshaws charge between SP1-3 to get around town.
There are a few accommodation offers and after my stay in the last couple of dodgy lokandas, i check into to the Olla hotel. Unfortunately there singles are full, so i splurge on a twin with attached bathroom and air conditioning for SP40. They have a nice shaded courtyard and an attached restaurant. The manager speaks good English. Cheaper, but dustier and without air-con is Lords Hotel just south of Olla on the main drag. A luxury new hotel is still under construction on the West Bank on the sealed road near the banks.
Those travelling south from Wadi Halfa, Dongola offers formal alien registration for SP103 at the Security Office.