Wadi Halfa is a town on the shores of Lake Nasser in the north of Sudan. It marks the point of entry into Sudan for those coming in from Egypt. It is surrounded by the dunes of the Nubian Desert, the eastern edge of the Sahara, and has a population of around 15,000.
Historically, Wadi Halfa was Nubia‘s most important trading point, being the gateway between Egypt and Sudan. Today the city’s buildings are immaculate, surrounded by the golden dunes of the Nubian Desert. It is the stereotypical border town, small and full of paperwork, hassle, and dirt.
The town is actually the new Wadi Halfa; the original Wadi Halfa was submerged when the Aswan High Dam created Lake Nasser in 1971. Sudan’s military dictatorship forcibly removed the approximately 50,000 inhabitants of the area from their lands and relocated to the desert, where many died of malaria and other diseases. A few Wadi Halfans, however, remain along the Nile, the river that built their ancestors’ identities as fishermen and river traders, building new settlements several times and finally settling on the current location when the flooding stopped. Seasonal flooding still occurs.
Travelers may wish to visit the ancient archaeological sites of Nubia before they, too, are submerged by a series of dams under construction which threaten Nubia’s remaining pyramids, which predate those of Egypt.
Most people arrive in Wadi Halfa by the weekly ferry from Aswan across Lake Nasser in Egypt. South-bound departures are on Mondays and north-bound on Wedesdays. 1 The ferry docks at the Customs and Immigration terminal 5 km outside city centre. A sand track leads from the terminal to town, and several vehicles wait at the terminal, touting for business. It is also possible to walk or take a bicycle into town.