More information about Bayuda Desert

Find out more about Bayuda Desert and discover one of the great wonders of Sudan.

However, for travellers, the main attractions of the Bayuda Desert are not its wildlife. Rather, it is the discovery, in crossing, that it is indeed – and has for centuries been – the home of a number of Bedouin tribes, among whom the largest is the Bisharin. Descendents of the ancient Bejawi people, and ethnically a part of the Beja, not all the Bisharin are nomadic (those settled along the Nile are agriculturalists), but the majority, together with smaller tribes, are pastoralists, their trade routes, grazing ranges and watering holes the source of a culture as rich as it is fascinating.

Add to this the fact that the Bayuda Desert marks the southern half of what was once Nubia, and as such played a crucial role in the formation of one of the world’s first civilisations. The Nile, though faster, and shallower, and therefore not as agriculturally productive as it was in Egypt, proved the source of everything, of water, of invention, of irrigated lands, of crops, of villages, towns and eventually – in first Napala, near Kamila, at the foot of Jebel Barkal, and then iron rich Meroe – of cities the size the world had never seen. Indeed, recent rock art findings suggest that Egyptian-Nubian civilisations were preceded by complex Neolithic societies. The Bayuda Desert clearly was not always an inhospitable place.

At one point the centre of not just Nubia, but also of Egypt in its entirety, the Bayuda Desert was also source of much of Nubia’s gold, and many of current small scale mining and smelting operations are living examples of methods practiced 7000 years ago.

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