Getting a Sudanese visa in Egypt and the boat from Aswan to Wadi Halfa

This post is up to date as of Sunday 22 December 2013.

Getting the visa is easy. The problem is the timing of applying for the visa and then buying a ferry ticket is a huge pain in the butt.

We applied for a Sudan visa in Aswan because I have read that it’s the easiest place to get one.

The consulate moved 3 months ago and they have posted a great notice with the new address (see below)

The exact location is now a bus ride for 1 Egyptian pound (see photo standing on the back of a bus below) or a cycle ride along the El Sadat road, about 10 mins away from the centre of town (see map below).

It is at the back of the Al Rudwan mosque and has the Sudan flag painted on the wall outside.

Take :
– Passport
– a photocopy of your passport
– 2 passport photos

AND Take 50 US dollars when you collect the visa

It takes at least 2 days and they are closed on Friday and Saturday.

So we applied on Wednesday but collected ours on Sunday. And the collection takes a bit of time as it has to be signed by one guy, and you have to pay another (who we waited for while he returned from the bank) and then half an hour for the lady to actually put the visa in the passport.

And then the ferry. The only ferry to Wadi Halfa leaves on Sunday each week (there’s only one per week)

You can only buy a ticket when you have the visa but you can reserve your ticket in advance at the ferry office near the railway station.

Unfortunately all ferry tickets were already sold out when we went to the office on Thursday. As we knew it would mean waiting another week, we went the ferry today to see if we could get on anyway.

It’s about 12km to cycle to the ferry.
You can’t take bikes over the high dam as the military police don’t want you slowing the traffic so we had to put them on the back of a pick-up truck. That bit was fun, and not the first time I have stood on the back of a truck so not as scary as you might think.

We arrived at the ferry at 1.30 as we had been told the ferry leaves at 5pm and they re-sell cancelled tickets from 2pm. We were there some time before the Sudanese guys told us to get our names on a list.

After 3 fruitless hours in the scrum or the ‘queue’, (in which one guy told us we were number 73), we were told that the tickets were finished.

I was gutted. Christmas spent stuck in Aswan for another week.

The only recommendation I can make to anyone attempting this route is to get to Aswan on a Monday to reserve a ticket and apply for your visa. And when you queue for the ferry ticket get your name on the list if there is someone there organizing some sort of queue.

You can try to buy a ticket later than monday but if you are unlucky you will be in Aswan longer than a week. We will be spending a total of 12 days in Aswan!

We went to the ticket office early Monday morning (8am), put our names on the list and 3 hours later, we had tickets for the next boat, next Sunday. There is a photo of a queue (yes, a queue in Africa!) below.

It’s a crazy non-system which seems designed to make life difficult but what can I do?….. TIA (This Is Africa)