Khartoum – the very name makes most people’s phantasies go wild, since so little is known about the capital of Sudan. Well, there is actually a lot to explore if you take your time and we certainly did. The confluence of the Blue and White Nile is probably the most famous sight in Khartoum. Unfortunately, most visitors simply drive across the bridge and look down, since the closest place to the watch the two rivers merge is officially closed, Mogran Family Park. There used to be a fairy-wheel that provided a superb view, but it has been dismantled years ago, like all the other rides. That would not keep Kelly and me from going there anyway, what we discovered was the most bizarre place.
To stand at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile is an awesome experience, even though it is basically only two rivers merging, but given the many mystical stories that surround the rivers it is a truly touching experience. Having been at the source of the Blue Nile (Ethiopia) and the While Nile (Uganda) added to the excitement. And no, we did not noticed any difference in colour.
Ghost-like Mogran Family Park
has been closed for two years and the remnants of this former amusement park have come to form the most bizarre backdrop for the confluence of the two Niles. At the entrance two policemen make sure nobody enters, but for 50 SDG we were allowed in, a young soldier escorted us around enjoying the change of his dull job.
The rides have been dismantled and their parts have become slowly overgrown by the vegetation, the buildings locked up and deteriorating. Bits from the ghost train are strewn around like dead bodies.
A few people hang out there to keep the place from being completely eaten up by vegetation.
Mogran Family Park is not the only place on the banks of the Blue Nile that was closed by the government. The greenest, coolest and breeziest places of Khartoum, hard to comprehend. One of those deserted tea-houses we fell immediately in love with. The setting was almost paradise-like: green grass, trees, right on the river, a cool breeze, it had everything that the rest of Khartoum lacks.
A caretaker allowed us in and invited us to climb to the roof terrace of the former restaurant. From there we had an incredible view over the Blue Nile and Tutsi Island. It was heartbreaking to see all these places closed and reminded me of Isfahan, where the government closed all the tea houses along the Zayandeh River.
To be frank, at first sight Khartoum is not the most charming city, but is grows on you if you allow yourself some time. We ended up staying altogether six days in the capital that travellers usually flee from after a day.
Khartoum is spread out, dusty, with sidewalks either occupied by parking cars, piles of sands, street vendors or overgrown with vegetation. So one of my fancies, strolling around “to check out the place”, what a foolish undertaking. Besides, tourists are expected to move in big fancy cars, so two women walking round was an inexplicable sight for the locals to begin with.