SUDAN TOUR: Nubian Desert and Red Sea Cruise

Our Sudan tour of the Nubian Desert and Red Sea  is an adventurous journey visiting ancient historical sites, nomadic tribal cultures, the Nubian Desert. The tour includes a cruise on the isolated Red Sea.

This one of a kind itinerary travels across desert landscapes, the unknown petroglyphs Bir Nurayet and the colorful Red Sea reef.

Travel overland through Sudan for seven days visiting significant archaeological sites such as the royal city of Meroe with its magnificent pyramids and the important Meroetic site Nagaa. We shall cross the Bayuda Desert and visit the Atrun Crater where nomads gather salt.

Additionally, travel across the Nubian Desert and continue towards the Red Sea Hills. Here we will meet nomadic Beja people of the Bisharin and Hadendowa tribes.

Embark on a cruise the Red Sea for seven days on the M/Y Elegante. This 25 ft schooner was built in 1995 and completely renovated in 2009. There are 7 double cabins with private bath/shower and air conditioning. It is under Italian management.

A talented chef will amaze you with his Italian culinary specialties. Trained PADI dive guides are available. In addition, fishing equipment (line fishing and trolling) is available on board.


  • Explore an undiscovered region
  • Observe camel caravans and desert tribal cultures
  • Visit Sudan’s pyramids and ancient city of Meroe
  • Connect with local people in desert markets and small, isolated villages
  • Seven Nights Cruise the Red Sea visiting pristine islands
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Nomad family

  • 1
    Day 1: Arrival in Khartoum

    Transfer to hotel for dinner and overnight.

  • 2
    Day 2: Khartoum-Meroe

    Tour Khartoum. Visit the Archaeological Museum and Omdurman, ancient capital of Sudan where we see Mahdi's tomb and explore the souk.

    We then travel north along good roads to the desert and Meroe. The pyramids of the necropolis of Meroe become visible among yellow sand dunes. There are more than 40 pyramids along the Nile in Sudan. Arrive at the permanent tented camp of Meroe, your base for the next three nights.

  • 3
    Day 3-4: Meroe - Atbara - Eastern Desert

    Sunrise at the pyramids and cultural visit of this amazing site of the Royal Necropolis.
    We then drive north to the town of Atbara to buy the last provisions before heading to Port Sudan. After about 100 km on the tarred road we finally drive off across the Nubian Desert. We drive towards the Red Sea Hills which run parallel to the Red Sea. Amongst wadis and desert areas we will meet some gold seekers. In recent years there is a gold rush happening in Sudan following the ancient gold reef. Overnights in wild camps.

  • 4
    Day 5-6: Eastern Desert

    We will meet nomadic Beja people of the Bisharin and Hadendowa tribes. The approach with these nomads is very interesting, but very delicate, because they are absolutely not used to seeing foreigners. The huts, round shaped and made out of acacia branches, are often at the centre of a circumference of stones that delimit a sort of courtyard. On the East side, some large flat stones placed along the circumference indicate the direction of Mecca. Women and girls wear long brightly colored dresses, gold earrings and gold bracelets and often decorate their noses with round plaques. Men with curly, puffy hair wear vests over white jallabies. These nomads live like 1000 years ago: isolated without any contact with civilization and consumerism.

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    Day 7-8: Eastern Desert - Bir Nurayet Petrogliphs

    We then reach Jebel Magardi, an unusual shaped mountain near Bir (Well) Nurayet. Only a few years ago a Polish archaeological mission discovered a large number of rock carvings mainly representing cattle, evidence that thousands of years ago people inhabited this region. Probably a caravan route that led from the red Sea to the Nile. This place was certainly a sacred place as there are also many pre-Islamic tombs of the Kerma time.

  • 6
    Day 9: Nubian Desert – Red Sea - board the boat

    We cross a few valleys amongst the Red Sea Hills. Some peaks are as high as 2.000 m. We finally reach the Red Sea near the small village of Mohamme Qol which takes the name from a Saudi Arabian fisherman who moved here to start trading in this region. When the British founded Port Sudan, in the 1900’s the old port in the North lost its importance. Here we board our Gullet - welcome drink and let the sea adventure begin.

  • 7
    Day 10: Cruise: Mohammed Qol – Mesherifa Island

    The Red Sea warm waters and comparative isolation have resulted in a spectacular array of marine fauna. Soft and stony corals thrive to produce a wondrous reef, providing home to innumerable crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms and fish. Along the Sudanese cost, water temperature average 27-28°C. This is hot enough to reduce the planktonic and algal blooms that are so common further north. As a result the sea is generally clear with visibility of up to 30 m depth. Mesharifa Island is only 4 miles out of the Red Sea cost and this will be our first opportunity to swim in the crystal clear waters. Here we find also the famous Manta Point where it is possible to see large groups of Manta Rays.

  • 8
    Day 11: Cruise: Inkeifal Khor

    Khor is the Arabic word for natural fiord and there are a few of them in this area. This is quite different from other beaches and lagoons we have seen thus far. Inkeifal Khor consists f to lagoons with white sand beaches with crystal water. We can enjoy walks with ice views over the desert as well as the sea. In the shallow waters there are mangrove trees.

  • 9
    Day 12: Cruise: Taila Islands

    After cruising for 15 miles out of Shambaya we reach Taila Islands. These are 3 small islands with white-pinkish sandy beaches. The first two are connected by a sandy isthmus on low tide, while the third island is further east. It appears green with acacia trees where ospreys nest. On this island we may also find coquina clams that will be a great addition to our pasta dish prepared by the cook on board!

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    Day 13: Cruise: Gurna Reef

    This morning we move to Gurna Reef, a wonderful reef that reaches the surface of the water revealing corals and fish. We then reach Sha’ab Rumi. The reef here is considered one of the best in the world. A lagoon behind the reef contains the remnants of Jaques Cousteau’s Conshelf 2, where the famous oceanographer created an environment in which men could live and work on the bottom of the sea. Possibility of snorkeling.

  • 11
    Day 14: Cruise: Sha’ab Rumi – Sanganeb Lighthouse

    We then reach the beautiful Sanganeb lighthouse. From its top, we can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Sanganeb reef has been declared a World UNESCO site.

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    Day 15: Cruise: Umbria shipwreck – Port Sudan - Suakin

    On the way to Port Sudan we stop at the Wingate Reef where the Italian ship “Umbria” sank in 1940 and lies on its side. The shallowest point can be explored by the snorkelers.

    In the afternoon we arrive in Port Sudan and with a minibus we drive to the ancient port of Suakin. In its glorious past it was known as “the Red Sea Pearl,” now it’s a ghost town recently being restored. The modern port of Suakin is now used for the Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. In the late afternoon return to Port Sudan and our boat.

  • 13
    Day 16: Port Sudan – Khartoum - Depart

    Today we say good bye to the boat and the crew. We visit Port Sudan which is the most important port where all the goods arriving via sea are transiting. The ancient name of the city was Theon Soteiron during the Ptolemaic times. The city still has colonial buildings and a busy souk. In the afternoon we fly to Khartoum with a local airlines. Late in the evening transfer to the airport.

  • Trip Length

    16 day trip begins and ends in Khartoum

  • Dates

    March 17-23, 2023
    March 15-30, 2024

  • Land Cost

    2023: $5455 per person on minimum 8 people.
    2024: $TBA

  • Accommodations

    4-star hotel in Khartoum
    Exclusive Italian permanent tented camp in Meroe
    Five nights in wild camp
    Seven nights aboard Gullet

  • Group Size


  • Included Meals

    All Breakfasts, 15 lunches and 14 dinners

  • Duration

    16 days

  • Extend Your Trip

    Historic Ethiopia & the Wild Omo Valley Precedes Sudan

Khartoum sudan

Meroe sudan

Nubia’s Mountains

Bir Nurayet

Nubian Desert

Red Sea

Mohammed Qol

Mesherifa Island

Sha’ab Rumi


Port Sudan



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