Wadi Halfa to Dongola
Hundreds of historic sites and some striking desert and river scenery line this 400km stretch of the Nile, while the many villages offer a fascinating taste of Nubian life. For many this is the highlight of Sudan. Buses and bokasi (minibuses) run fairly frequently between all these towns and Dongola and Wadi Halfa.
Karima itself is just a dusty Nile-side Nubian village. If it weren't for its extraordinary collection of ancient sites, which together have given the whole area Unesco World Heritage status, there would be little reason to stop here. As it is though, the majesty of Karima's past will probably remain with you for a long time.
Famous for its palm groves, the relaxed little town of Dongola is full of character and boasts good amenities. The east-bank ruins of the Temple of Kawa, which are almost totally buried under sand, are about 4km south of the bus station and are a little hard to find. Many people find the two-hour walk there along the banks of the Nile more of a highlight than the temple.
Suakin was Sudan's only port before the construction of Port Sudan. Abandoned in the 1930s, it's now a melancholy ghost town, full of crumbling coral buildings, demonic cats said to be cursed, and circling kites and hawks with a devil's shrill call. The ruins, connected to the mainland by a short causeway, are fascinating to explore.
Kassala, with its wonderful setting at the foot of the melting granite peaks of the Taka Mountains, is where half the tribes of northern Sudan seem to meet. Its huge souqs are an ethnic mosaic of colours, smells, noises and experiences. There are famous camel races annually in September or October.
If you're travelling in your own car between Dongola and Karima it's well worth making the short detour to beautiful, sandswept Old Dongola with its faded Christian glories and massive Sufi saints' tombs. The city was capital of the Christian kingdom of Makuria between the 7th and 14th centuries and at its peak it was home to dozens of churches.
Love is in the air! Wadi Medani, a couple of hours south of Khartoum, is every Sudanese newlywed's favourite honeymoon destination. Though you might not choose it for your honeymoon, it certainly makes a pleasant night stop if you're looping between Kassala and El-Obeid or Khartoum. Buses head to Khartoum (S£22.50), Kassala (S£41 to S£53) and El-Obeid (S£53).