Travelling abroad to any country can be an overwhelming experience.
Frequent flyers often arrived to new airport destinations with an array of walkway tunnels, sign posted floors, horizontal conveyor belts to walk on and other spectacular airport engineering.
One of the first features that copulates the eye upon approaching Khartoum Airport is the redness of the landscape. The distinct orangy brownish colour, surrounded by lushes pastures of green fields is evident of a fertile land nourished well by the rivers surrounding it.
Khartoum is where the Blue and White Niles converge into the famous and biblical River Nile that runs through into northern Sudan, Egypt and eventually the Meditarrean sea.
As your flight approaches Khartoum Airport you will likely witness the meandering river of the Blue Nile weaving its way through the lands. From the mud houses of the rural areas to the villas and large building blocks of the city a quick look from the airplane window upon landing will give you a insight to the nature of the agriculture and urbanisation taking place.
Upon landing you will notice a few local passengers taking their seat belts of and looking for the luggage before the seat belt sign has been removed. This is standard Sudanese behavooiur and can be attributed to lack of understanding of signs and/or lack of flight experience.
First time visitors of Sudan should be aware of this type of niavity as it will arise again depending on your level of technological dependency and interaction with the Sudanese locals.
Before landing you will be handed landing cards to fill – ensure you have the correct one, national and non-national, both look similar so do a double check before you start to fill.
As soon as you arrive in the airport you will notice a different type of service offered from European and Gulf nations.
Khartoum airport is a 1 runway airport with single terminal and is small. Construction is currently underway on a new airport on the outskirts towards Jebel Awlaya but his is still has a long way to go.
The bus ride from the aeroplane to the arrival terminal is a 2 -5 min long journey, which will lead you directly to passports in the departures sections. On a busy day there might be 10-12 aisles open, with diplomats, locals and foreigners sections. The wait to the front of the queue may take upto 20-30 mins but do not be alarmed – if your paper work and VISA documents are complete there should be no hassle at all.
Next is collecting your luggage. Due to the shortness in duration between landing, disembarking and going through passport customs – claiming luggage can be the most patient enduring process. Most often then not you will be standing by a conveyor belt that is going round sheeplessly in front of fellow passengers.
Once a fellow passenger has identified a piece of luggage from the conveyor belt you are waiting on then let you mind rest because the rest of the luggage will arrive within 5-10 min timeframe.
If you are new to the country and coming on a work basis and worried about the procedure of passport, customs and picking up luggage – communicate to your company or Sudanese partner you are going to and they should be able to facilitate a considerable portion of the arrivals process at the airport.
However if you don’t and visiting family & friends and it is your first time, do not be alarmed, the immigration and customs procedure is the same as anywhere else in the world.
Before you leave the airport, feel free to pick up some duty free at the duty free shop – processed milk, sugar, coffee and other items you can buy in bulk and at a good price. Pick up your items and feel free to pay in dollars or Sudanese pounds.
Make your way to the arrivals gate, clearly signposted situated adjacent to the duty free shop.
Outside the Arrivals terminal building
Once outside the arrivals terminals you will see the taxi ranks and many possible riders offering to give you a ride. Do not be alarmed, make sure you convert your money before you reach this stage so you can pay the locals in Sudanese currency.
Although going through inflation today the Sudanese pounds is around 60 SDGs per 1 dollar. All trips in and around Khartoum should not cost more that 350 SDG and here I have calculated the premium rate that airport taxi drivers charge. I live in Riyadh which is a approx 3.5 km from the airport and that is a 150 SDG journey.
The yellow taxis in and around Khartoum go through rigours vehicle checks to ensure that they are driveable so do not be alarmed if you make a deal with a driver that looks like he has a un-drivable car. Air conditioning and reclineable seats are not common. My last flight to Sudan I arrived at 2.30pm in the afternoon, usually a sweltering time of day but luckily in winter it felt like a british summers day.
The smell of petrol fumes, whilst waiting at the traffic junction with the windows low took me back to my childhood when I used to visit as a young boy.
I still enjoy this experience and find the quality time between the airport and the ride home is great for getting to know the atmosphere of the country.
Visiting your hotel
A short conversation with your driver on arrival should give you a taste of the situation on the ground.
You should book your hotel in advance – if you haven’t and /or want to book for a room in Sudan check site www.sudan-living.com/product-category/properties/ for hotel, locations, rates and fares.
Switching “on” your telephone
It order not to incur significant charges on your international roaming, using a local SIM card is easy and cheap. All you need is form of identification to take with you the nearest ZAIN or SUDANI kiosk, located in most supermarkets and Malls – Afra Mall in Africa Street, and Waha Mall in Souq Al Arabi.
Local SIM cards can be bought for as little as 10 SDG per month and ZAIN, MTN and SUDANI have various payplan options that give you rewarding bundles of talk time, texts, call minutes and internet data.
Click on Mobile Service provider of location for store location
Short Video landing in Khartoum International Airport (with turbulance)