Travel Letters

The Royal Pyramids of Nuri


Northern State

Republic of the Sudan

February 4, 2020

Not far from Karima and Jebel Barkal, the weather-beaten, yet charming royal pyramids of Nuri slowly reveal their hidden history and under-water treasure.

Owing to the effects of the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser in southern Egypt, the underground water levels of the Nile have risen and drowned the hidden chambers of the Nubian pharaohs and queens in northern Sudan.

The SCUBA-equipped underwater archaeologists gather buckets of mud from beneath the pyramid as they search for any evidence of the buried rulers.  The buckets are carried up from the base of the structure to other scientists who laboriously and patiently sift and discover.

National Geographic has published an article about the watery tombs.

Sudan continues to be a challenging and fascinating land for both determined scientists and curious travelers.

The Ruins of Karima and El-Kurru


Northern State

Republic of The Sudan

February 3, 2020

Dear Friends,

A solitary geological oddity, clearly visible from every direction, Jebel Barkal rises from the flat tan desert floor into the cloudless desert sky.   In the morning, my first glimpse of the mountain is from the south as I approach the site after a northbound 400-kilometer (250 mile) ride from Khartoum.  In the twilight I observe the now darkened mountain from the west as I cross the Nile to El-Kurru. 

Barkal Mountain is considered a “Small Mountain.”  With a flat top, it’s only 98 meters high (322 feet).  Apparently for the younger set, an easy climb.

Nubian Wrestling



February 1, 2020

Welcome to the Nubian Wrestling Arena in Omdurman, Sudan

The rules of Nubian Wrestling seem simple enough.


The object of the match is to throw your opponent to the ground to win the match.

A match can end quickly.

There is a time limit.  There may be no winner.






Sufi Spiritual Frenzy



Friday Evening

January 31, 2020

This report was filed by Ala Kheir, John Burns and Ibrahim Algrefwi for Brownbook part of the the Guardian Africa Network on February 5, 2016.

In Omdurman, the largest city in Sudan, the Qadiriyya Sufi order meets every Friday outside Sheikh Hammed Al Nil Mosque which houses the tomb of their 19th century Sufi leader. 

Sudan has one of the largest Sufi communities in the world. Sufism is a branch of Islam often seen as mystical due to its followers’ pursuit of a personal, inner path to G-d. What unites each Sufi order is the belief that a path to God can be found through dhikr – absolute absorption in worship during which prayers, dances and spins may be repeated with enough fervour to induce a trance.