Sudan and South Sudan: From Wadi Halfa to Juba (Summer 1969)



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During the summer 1969, I went by boat from Marseilles to Alexandria in Egypt. From there I traveled mostly along the Nile River down to Juba (now the capital of South Sudan), by train and by boat. At that time southern Sudan was already in turmoil and I had to fly from Juba to Entebbe in Uganda.


From Aswan in southern Egypt I took a boat on Lake Nasser (the lake created by the Aswan dam) to reach Wadi Halfa in northern Sudan. From there an old train brought me to Khartoum across the desert of Nubia and then another train further south to Kosti. In Kosti I boarded a boat on the Nile for Juba, a one-week trip across a huge waterlogged swamp.


In 1969, the southern portion of this trip (mainly between Malakal to Juba) was part of Sudan. Since 2011, it is part of the newly independent country of South Sudan.


On the boat from Aswan to Wadi Halfa. The boat was actually an assembly of 5 to 6 smaller boats, with one providing propulsion and the others equipped with passenger cabins.



Arrival in Wadi Halfa, a quite desolate place.



The train station in Wadi Halfa.


From Wadi Halfa the train did not follow the Nile, but crossed the desert of Nubia straight toward the town of Atbara. The desert was flat and extremely hot, and the train was very slow, probably not faster than a running man.


Train station in Khartoum.


Fruit stand in Khartoum.


Man drinking tea and policeman in Khartoum.


In 1969 Khartoum was mostly an administrative city (and may still be today). A more vibrant and atmospheric town was Omdurman, just across the Nile.




In the town of Wad Madani located on the Blue Nile.



In Wad Madani, a nice man, who thought my trip was dangerous, offered me an amulet. He demonstrated the efficacy of the amulet, a wristband, by putting a scorpion in his hand.


Like the boat on Lake Nasser, the boat from Kosti to Juba was also an assembly of several smaller boats. For most of the trip the White Nile runs through a flat marsh and has no river banks. It floods quickly in the rains and carries much vegetation with it. In some places, navigating across this vegetation did not seem easy. The boat made no long stops along the way, except in Malakal. All photos below were taken from the boat.











Villages along the way.




In Juba.




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