Inside Abri, a Nubian town in northern Sudan

Recently I decided to travel to Sudan from Egypt overland. This is how I found myself crammed between hundreds of boxes on a bus transporting cargo. All the boxes had to be unloaded and loaded again twice at the Egyptian-Sudanese border, which is why the journey took more than twenty hours. For me it was an experience that I will possibly never repeat, a travel adventure but many who waited at the border go down this route a few times a month.

The first village after the border crossing is Wadi Halfa. I had been advised by other travellers I met in Egypt to avoid spending a night there as the only available accommodation was a hotel where a night costs one dollar and rooms are shared with local men. This scenario was not appealing at all so I decided to continue my journey to Abri, a small town two hours away.

Initially I planned on spending only one night in Abri to relax and then continue my journey to Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. But, since the moment I arrived I was welcomed with a lot of kindness and I thought I had to stay longer to find out more about the culture and way of living of Nubians.

Streets of Abri (photo: Katarzyna Rybarczyk)

Nubians are an ethno-linguistic group of people found in northern Sudan and southern Egypt. They have their own non-written language, music, and customs, and are said to be one of the earliest cradles of civilization.

Nubian family (photo: Katarzyna Rybarczyk)

Life in Abri is simple. People work in farming or sell products at local markets. Most of the people grow their own food and rely on the Nile River for their water supply. People even drink water directly from the Nile as they believe it is not polluted.

The Nile River in Abri (photo: Katarzyna Rybarczyk)

Even though poverty is widespread in Abri, people are happy. They enjoy simple things in life such as spending time with their friends and families. Everyone would tell me that as long as they have something to eat and a place to sleep, they do not need anything else.

I never planned to go to Abri but my experience there was incredible. For a week I lived the way Nubians live, exploring a reality that was not previously known to me. Abri is a wonderful place that has, at least slightly, changed the way I look at what matters in life. Without any hesitation I would recommend visiting this small Nubian town to anyone who is thinking of traveling to Sudan.

About the author:

Katarzyna Rybarczyk is a Political Correspondent for Immigration Advice Service, an immigration law firm operating globally and providing legal aid to forcibly displaced persons. Through her articles, she aims to raise awareness about security threats worldwide and the challenges facing communities living in low and middle-income countries.

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