Egypt listen up, Sudan’s got something to say! If you think the Great Pyramids of Giza are the only pyramids around, then you’ve got another thing coming. Sudan’s ancient tombs, temples and pyramids are a stone’s throw away and come without the crowds.
Have we got your attention now? A mere 800 miles away from Cairo’s famous stone peaks is another ancient civilisation which also left some relics for adventurous tourists to discover. Around 2,000 years after the Great Pyramids were built in Egypt, Sudan recruited some Egyptian architects and artisans to built some pyramids of their very own. The Sudanese ones though, are much smaller but much more numerous. There are hundreds of them in Meroe!
Follow the Nile River down to Meroe’s Royal Necropolis and you’ll also find some 200 pyramids, palaces and temples, most of which have been excavated and containing the tombs of past queens and past kings. This area was once a buzzing hub city for trading with approximately 250,000 residents. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find more than a dozen people.
Why are the pyramids missing their tops?
You’ll notice that the pyramids in Sudan aren’t exactly pyramid in shape. We can thank one Italian gold-seeker for that! The pyramids weren’t discovered by Western explorers until the 1770s and sixty years later, an Italia named Guiseppe Ferlini went to Meroe in search of treasure and took the tops off of some forty pyramids. Other looters as well destroyed priceless relics that were buried there.
The Sudanese desert isn’t an easy place to reach but we can thank Osama Bin Laden for making it a little bit easier. You see, he was based in Sudan before being forced out of the country. While he was here, he poured in a lot of money to develop a better infrastructure, hence a new road from Khartoum, the country’s capital, to the monuments at Meroe.
In order to avoid a crazy amount of paperwork and roadblocks, it’s best to coordinate your flights to Khartoum with the help of a tour operator, who will also bring you to the pyramids.
On average, the site receives about 10 visitors a day, so you’ll be able to enjoy this UNESCO site all to yourself!