Sudan sits south of Egypt in North Africa's Nile River Valley and has a long tradition of ancient civilizations that congregated along the river, using its plentiful water supply as a life force to sustain the population. But the Nile wasn't just a boon for ancient peoples; the river also helped thousands of animal species thrive, from the biggest beasts to the smallest insects, and the vibrant ecosystem remains intact today, making the country one of the best destinations in the world for nature lovers.
Life in modern Sudan is at a crossroads, with South Sudan voting for independence in 2011. The split made Sudan, originally the largest country in Africa, just the third largest country and saw 80% of the country's oil fields go to South Sudan. The remaining portion of Sudan is mostly Islamic, with religion playing a strong role in daily life and the culture.
A trip to Sudan begins in the capital city of Khartoum. The country's second largest city is at the confluence of the White Nile, which comes north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, which starts in Ethiopia—a true meeting spot. Don't miss the National Museum and shopping in Souk Omdurman (and don't be afraid to ask for directions if you get lost in its warren-like streets).
Relics from ancient civilizations, including the Meroë and Kouh, can still be seen in many areas, such as the Northern State, Shendi area, Begrawiya, Al-Naqa, Karima, Al-Berkal Mountain, and more. Another popular destination is Port Sudan, which is brilliant for scuba diving or simply soaking up the sun on its wonderful beaches. In addition, lots of travelers use it as a base before undertaking a Hajj to Mecca, as it offers easy access to Saudi Arabia.