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The village capital

Larger Khartoum is the second largest city of Muslim North Africa. But apart from the colonial downtown, there is very little here differentiating it from villages around the country. Low scale one-storied houses stretch out for miles in all direction, out from the river junction that has given the capital its name.
Paved streets are rare. Upper class quarters have now shrunk in, and has more in common with the surroundings that higher middle class live in elsewhere in the Arab world. Khartoum could have been a melting pot for all of Sudan's peoples, but has become a blender. Clothes worn, by women in particular, still manage to fascinate, but that's more or less it. When people here have managed to put up a house, just enough to give shelter and some feeling of privacy, then there are few incentives to move them on. A shop or a stall selling basic commodities will be the most advanced act.
Brown is the colour of Khartoum. It's some red in it, but basically it's only brown. Black, white and blue are the other three colours. Black for people, white for clothes, and blue for a sky that can make you forget about a phenomenon called clouds.
Things don't work all that good in Khartoum anymore. This place was some decades ago, a vibrant place where many things happened, and foreigners visiting it, were attracted by its mixture of the exotic, the pleasant, and the easygoing attitude. The system and the peoples of Khartoum now seem to be put under some sedative. Offices shut down just as you're about to enter. Slow-moving men sit in front of museums, and from the few answers you get from them, this person could be the manager, just as well as the guard, or even a casual bum.

Khartoum. Bahri closest, main Khartoum on other side of river
But it's the paradoxes that make Khartoum worth the visit. Inevitably you ask yourself: How come there are millions of people living right here? What keeps them alive? The conclusion can be: Khartoum is the world's largest waiting room.
The name Khartoum means 'Elephant's trunk', and it is the shape of the meeting point of the White and the Blue Nile, that shall resemble the trunk of an elephant.

Eat and Sleep
Good eating, accommodation is excellent, satisfying all, and this time it's ALL, budgets.

There are uncertainties on whether you need travel permits to move on from Khartoum. There has been such regulations, and getting these permits have been difficult. Connections are better in Khartoum than in any other Sudanese city, but sadly enough this often don't count for much. Trains, buses, and taxis of different kinds are your choices. If you look apart from having to cover long distances, to get the stations (train station is in the centre), things work all right. Airplanes would be a strange choice, as this system hardly works

Going Next
Across the river: Omdurman
600 km east: Kassala
200 km south: Wad Medani
600 km southwest: El Obeid
150 km north: Shendi

By Tore Kjeilen