The Nubian Desert in Sudan

The north of Sudan including Sudan’s capital Khartoum is part of the Nubian Desert. The River Nile separates North Sudan into a west and east part. While west of River Nile the part called the Libyan Desert, east of Nile the part called the Nubian Desert. However, the north part of Sudan belonging to the Sahara desert.

The Nubian Desert has a very arid climate. The average annual rainfall is very low. The fluctuation in temperature is huge. Between day and night. The variation can be more than 30 degrees. The landscape is mostly flat and rocky. Hills of lava stone from early volcanic activities are visible.

The vegetation is very rare, only some trees and little grass that’s all. However, sometimes children playing around and obvious people living here. Donkeys, sheep and goats are the animals appearing from time to time beside the road.

Along the banks of the Nile River, a green belt spread out. It’s the habitat for humans and varieties of flora and fauna. For instance, palm trees, banana trees, watermelon and some more agriculture. Five of Nile’s cataracts locate in the Nubian Desert. Only the first cataract locates in Egypt.

Compare to the desert in Saudi Arabia, in Sudan are fewer sand dunes but more rocks and hills. While the sand in the Saudi Arabian Desert has a yellow colour, the sand in the Nubian Desert is red. The landscape looks like a picture from planet Mars.

The Nubian Desert is the home of the Pyramids of Meroe. Around 250 pyramids built from desert stone near the banks of Nile River. However, the size of the Meroe pyramids is smaller. They built around 800 years later than the last Egyptian pyramids. Meroe was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries in ancient.

Sabaloka gorge or cataract number six

Al Sabalouga or also called Sabaloka gorge in English is the cataract number six of River Nile. The location is downstream approximately 100 km northwest of Khartoum near Meroe. Meroe was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries in ancient. The River Nile has six cataracts.

While only one cataract locates in Egypt the other five cataracts locate in Sudan. Today, cataract number five doesn’t exist anymore. It had flooded by the Meroe dam. Al Sabalouga is actually the name of the village nearby the gorge.

All the way from Khartoum was desert but then a green stripe along the river Nile. Palm trees, banana trees and other agriculture suddenly appear out of the desert.

Coming from Khartoum it takes roughly three hours to cross the Nubian desert to reach the sixth cataract on River Nile. However, the first part is an easy trip on the main road from Khartoum to the north. After that, somewhere on the desert highway the driver turned left and went off-road.

It’s hot and dry but still villages with stone houses appearing. Goats and donkeys take a rest in the shade of rare trees. However, in the far, some hills come closer and closer and the desert changes into rocky and hilly terrain.

The landscape around Sabaloka gorge is a rocky island out of the flat and dusty Nubian Desert. Early volcanic activities shaped the rocks. Anyway, today there is no more volcanic activity. In this place, the Nile breaks through the mountains. Above all, the banks are rocky and sloping down.

Sabaloka is a famous destination for weekend trips for people from Khartoum. Families fully equipped with each and everything come to this place to stay overnight. Locals offer shelters, fireplaces, and boats to rent. Fishermen catching fish for BBQ.

Khartoum the elephant trunk

Khartoum is the capital of Sudan. The country shapes the Northeast part of the African continent. In the West and North is desert. But in the East, has Sudan a long coastline on the Red Sea. Here join the West African, Central African and Arabic cultures together.

Compared with other cities in this region Khartoum is a very young city. Since found in 1821 the city grows very quick from a local military outpost to the capital of Sudan today. However, the city surrounded by deserts. In the east locates the Nubian desert and in the west the Libyan desert. Both are part of the Sahara desert. The confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile to River Nile locates in Khartoum.

The common meaning of Khartoum is “Elephant Trunk” because of the shape of the Blue Nile, locals told me. Indeed, the confluence has a deep impact on the city. The rivers divide the city into three parts.

Hot, dry and sometimes sandstorm because of the desert around Khartoum. The region has a hot and extremely arid desert climate. Sometimes the wind blows fine red dust picked in the desert into the city.

On such days the sky becomes cloudy. The colour of the daylight changes to orange or dark yellow. Such sand or dust storms aren’t pleasant. These days are strange because of the everywhere fine red dust. The dust finds always away to come from each gap into the house.

Desert, Nile and a mix of African Arabic culture give its own vibes to the city. Sudanese excellent hospitality is a great experience. However, the mix of African and Arabic culture the lovely Sudanese people shape a unique atmosphere. The fascinating Arabic bazaars and the hustle and bustle of the city have their own rhythm indeed.

Jebel Aulia dam and reservoir

The Jebel Aulia dam and reservoir is the second largest water reservoir in Sudan. The dam locates around 45 km upstream south from Khartoum the capital of Sudan. So far, it’s just one hour away from Khartoum by car. The White Nile feeds the reservoir and shapes the Jebel Aulia reservoir.

The source of the White Nile locates in Uganda. The confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile to River Nile is in Khartoum. After a long way across the Nubian desert and Egypt, Nile finally discharges into the Mediterranean Sea in North Egypt.

Moreover, a road is available on the dam crest to cross the dam. Additionally, the dam has a floodgate and a bascule bridge to keep the White Nile navigable. Irrigation, power generation and recreation the Jebel Aulia dam used for many things.

The Jebel Aulia dam builds up an approximately 45 km long reservoir. The history of the dam dates back to the year 1930. The dam built by a British company to avoid Nile floods. The 4,4 km long dam had finalised in 1937. One part of the dam has a brick wall. While a second part of the dam has a mound o stones and soil.

However, the main purpose of the dam is to control the level of the River Nile downstream. In particular, in times when the Blue Nile has low level Jebel Aulia increase the discharge from the reservoir. One of the interesting places on the dam is the fish pass. It’s funny to watch how the fishes try to jump step by step upstairs. It seems the White Nile is very rich in fish. For the fishermen, it’s a slight matter to catch one.

On the west bank, many trees spend shadow there. It’s obviously, many locals enjoy the weekend in this area. However, one of our Sudanese friends invites us to visit his house near the dam. With our bought Nile fish we got a wonderful lunch. We spend the afternoon in the shadow of huge mango trees. Delicious freshly prepared mango juice and Sudanese style coffee make the day perfect.

Annular solar eclipse on 2010 January, 15

An annular solar eclipse on 2010 January, 15 occurred in Africa. However, the eclipse is visible only as a partial eclipse from Khartoum the capital of Sudan. The eclipse starts early morning and ends at noon. It is the longest annular solar eclipse of the millennium and the longest until December 23, 3043.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers the Sun’s center but leaving the Sun’s outer edges visible. The result is a “ring of fire” or an annulus around the Moon.

All in all, the maximum length of the annular solar eclipse is 11 minutes and 7.8 seconds. This time only applies to the centre of the path. Unfortunately, my location is too much north. Therefore, the eclipse will not appear as a annualr eclipse.

In fact, the annular solar eclipse starts in Central Africa in Chad. The eclipse stretched up over the Indian Ocean crossed the Maldives and reached India. Finally, the annular solar eclipse ends in the north of China. However, the eclipse is visible as a partial eclipse only. But over a large area across Africa, the Indian Ocean and South Asia.

In my location in Khartoum, I can only experience a partial eclipse. Accordingly, the occultation in Khartoum is 45% in maximum only.

A perfect sky

My viewpoint is not the best of all or most favorable because of the river Nile. The Nile flows between our location and the point where the sun comes up. That’s why a lot of humidity above the Nile makes the view misty and blurred.

I’m really worried about the view. But I’m lucky because after sunrise the mist and fog disappeared quickly and the sky cleared up. So far during the partial eclipse, the sky was cloudless and the eclipse was visible excellent. That was the longest annular solar eclipse of the millennium.

I tried to capture some pictures with simple tools. Because I had no tripod so I took the picture right out of my hands.  The 300 mm telelens I used is a bit of short. I didn’t get the sun big enough to the sensor as I wish. So far, the images are good but not perfect. Finally, a wonderful partial solar eclipse was visible in Khartoum and gave me a great experience.


Annular solar eclipse  on 2010 January, 15

Common information (Time = UT):

Maximum phase: 0.920

The beginning of the partial eclipse: 4h 5m 16s
The beginning of the total eclipse: 5h 13m 45s
Maximum phase: 7h 6m 21s
Ending of the total eclipse: 8h 58m 50s
Ending of the partial eclipse: 10h 7m 20s

Maximum eclipse:
Longitude: 69° 20.9′ E;  Latitude: 1° 37.2′ N

ET-UT = +75.0s

Local circumstances (Time = UT + 2.0h):

Partial (Is not visible completely.)
15 Jan 2010 AD
Maximum phase: 0.585

The beginning of the partial eclipse: –
Maximum phase: 7h 35m 18s
Ending of the partial eclipse: 9h 8m 50s

Position angles:
The beginning of the partial eclipse: –
Ending of the partial eclipse: 101.6°

The confluence of River Nile

The confluence of the River Nile is one of the most interesting things to know about Khartoum. Actually, the River Nile merged from the White Nile and from the Blue Nile. The source of the White Nile locates in Uganda. While the source of the Blue Nile is in Ethiopia. The confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile to River Nile locates in Khartoum. From this point in Khartoum, the river called River Nile or Great Nile..  and flows now in the north direction.

After a long way across the Nubian Desert, the river passing the famous Nile cataracts. Then River Nile left Sudan and cross through Egypt. Finally, the Nile discharges into the Mediterranean Sea in North Egypt.

The common meaning of Khartoum is “elephant trunk” because of the shape of the Blue Nile locals told us. Indeed the confluence has a deep impact on the city. The rivers divide the city into three parts.

In the west locates Omdurman and Khartoum city in the south-east. While in the north, of course, Khartoum North or Bahri locates. Omdurman is the biggest city of all, while Bahri is the industrial centre. Above all Khartoum is the capital.

In the middle of the confluence, the Blue Nile shapes Tuti Island. Actually, the island is the home of a village. The island mainly used for agriculture by the villagers. A brand new built bridge spans over the Blue Nile and connects Khartoum with Tuti island. However, there is a plan to develop Tuti island for tourists.

The Nile Road is a famous road in Khartoum. The road winds along the south bank of the Blue Nile and gives a fantastic view of the river. A lot of facilities locating along the Nile road. For instance, restaurants, churches, museum and gardens.