Updated: Mar 9
1. The black market is the place where you want to exchange money.
The difference between the official exchange rate and that on the black market is ridiculous, so you this is the only place to go. It might be located in a shady part of town where tourists shouldn’t be going, so you might need to get in contact who does the dirty work for you.
This situation might be changing now, since right after we came the U.S. took Sudan off the terror list which will allow the country to be less excluded from international affairs.
2. Your credit card could just as well be from a Monopoly game.
Since Sudan is cut off the international financial system, you will only be able to withdraw money and pay with cards from Sudanese banks. So, make sure you bring enough cash to Sudan and by cash, I mean US Dollars as their own currency it not worth much to the Sudanese.
3. If you need gas, bring time.
Petrol is a very rare thing in Sudan due to gas shortage. You will experience long lines in front of gas stations and by long lines I mean literally hundreds of cars, motorbikes, tuktuks and trucks, each assigned to their own lines going around multiple corners. Most of the time the drivers are not even in their vehicles, they will wait until word is being spread that a gas delivery is on its way. Talking to locals, they account for up to 2 days of waiting to fill up their tank. However, there is also a black market with so-called ‘black gas’, which is roughly 4-times the price but more accessible to those who can afford it.
4. Show me people who are nicer than the Sudanese and I’ll proof you wrong.
If you are of German origin or for that matter somewhere from the Western hemisphere of this planet, you will be speechless by the friendliness and helpfulness of the Sudanese. They will get out of their way to help you, before you know it you are invited for coffee into a stranger’s house and an hour later you will have dinner with the entire family. In Sudan, we found ourselves in the toughest situations but help was never far along - which even included money lending and upfront payment of our 5*-hotel.
5. You’ll find diamonds in the sky.
If you ever find the romantic in you, I suggest you spend a night under the starry sky in the Sudanese desert. Driving through small villages, you simply take a turn off the main street to find your camping spot behind some rocks in the middle of nowhere. Take out your chairs, wait for sunset and all the stars in the sky are yours.
6. Psssst - Sudan is the fourth wave coffee hot spot.
Ever had your coffee roasted and brewed right in front of you? Try the spiced coffee at one of the make shift street stands, freshly prepared batch by batch upon ordering and add any Oriental spice you can imagine: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger…you name it (or try to sign language it).
7. Hitchhiking is the most common mode of transport.
People in Sudan are poor and therefore mobility is a luxury only few can afford. On top of that, distances are far in a country that consists mostly of sand, so getting from A to B can be quite the hustle. But the Sudanese have accommodated, so if you need to get from one place to the other, you simply stand or sit at the side of the street, waiting for someone to pick you up and take you along. This might take 30 minutes, an hour or a day. You never know. But you’ll get there eventually.
8. You own an iPhone? Make sure you see the VPN guy.
Sudan is heavily subsidised by the Chinese - streets are being built and if there are investors in Sudan they are mostly from China. So, if there’s one thing that Chinese aren’t fond of, it’s probably Apple. The mobile market consists mostly of Samsung with the occasional Huawei, but you’ll rarely see an iPhone. This goes so far as that the set-up of your iPhone will need a specialist - the VPN guy. You will find him in the back office of some random mobile shop. Or he will find you.