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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Hotels in Sudan - What to Expect

If you're thinking about a trip to Sudan it might be helpful to get a sense for the kinds of accommodation you can expect as it runs the gamet from simple to luxurious. We opted for two  delightful Italian Tourism properties at Karima and Meroe and these are where most people on a group tour will find themselves. If you are traveling independently as we were, the only drawback of these properties is that you may run into (or feel run over by) larger groups. Additionally, should tourism in Sudan pick up these properties may become exclusive to clients of the Italian Tourism Agency. In Khartoum, not surprisingly  there's a wider choice of accommodation, we avoided the  five star Corinthia and  picked  more modest but characterful properties;  The Acropole and The Assaha both of which I've reviewed below and would recommend.

If you're heading further north, including to Soleb, your options are more limited but you can expect clean simple rooms in a traditional Nubian family compound. Theres a lot to cover so I'm going to cover the simple guesthouses and our one night camping in the following post.
This must be the loveliest hotel in Sudan and it certainly qualifies as a boutique destination, see photos above. Well designed and tastefully executed the Nubian Guesthouse at Karima exceeded our expectations, though this may have hinged on the fact that we'd spent the previous three days  without a private bathroom or a western toilet! Lets just say I was delighted to arrive in Karima! 

I practically had a conniption when we were welcomed with cold towels and homemade lemonades on the terrace, ahh I had found my spiritual home in Sudan and my happy place! 
When I discovered a shower and air conditioning in the room I was in heaven. How much better could this place get? Well they're building a swimming pool which will make it just about perfect. Finally a place in Sudan that could be listed in Travel & Leisure or Conde Nast!
The Meroe Tented Camp is well situated on a ridge not far from the famous pyramid field. This was the first Italian Tourism project and they're currently expanding and developing the property. As you can see it's very reminiscent of a tented safari experience. You have a private bathroom but it isn't connected to your tent so this is more basic than Karima. Below is the wing of private bathrooms behind the tents.
The property has a very particular charm that includes good food, a stunning sunset view and tea or coffee brought to your tent in the morning. Seeing the pyramids in the distance as the sun set was a delight. The staff and manager were excellent, though the Italian owner was clearly far too important for the paying guests and seemed harried and rude. The good news is you won't have to deal with her and with that exception the only thing that could have improved it was  a glass of wine, but it's not really their fault that Sudan is a no-alcohol Sharia state!
As you can see the tents were spacious and comfortable inside though you should note there's obviously no air conditioning and the camp is closed for  the extended summer season from the end of April through early October.

Khartoum
I highly recommend both The Acropole and The Assaha  which bookended our trip to Sudan. On arrival we stayed at The Acropole which is located right in downtown Khartoum, see above. This small hotel reminded me of the old school Africa of my childhood, with echoes of hospitality, small expat communities and local clubs. The owners of The Acropole could not have been more welcoming or helpful and it turned out they had strong ties to the Greek community in Alexandria and had been educated at Victoria College which was right next to the home my parents had when they lived in Egypt of a few years. 
This is an old fashioned place which I mean in the very best sense of it, they treat you like a family friend and have thought of things you might need like an umbrella or small packets of tissues. There are even soft drinks in a small refrigerator included in the cost of the room. They get an interesting combination of people including archeologists and academics, NGO workers, overlanders and some small tour groups. If you're traveling independently they offer a free tour on Fridays and also have privileges for the pool at the Greek club.
On our return to Khartoum I wanted the chance to review another property so we headed to The Assaha, pictured above and below. This is a charming place close to the Canadian Embassy. It's  more spacious and comfortable than the Acropole but it doesn't the personal welcome. 
As you can see the room was decorative and comfortable.
The big draw here is the attractive courtyard built in a  Middle Eastern  style and the excellent Lebanese restaurant which is packed every evening. You should make an effort to eat here even if you're not staying. The food is excellent, they often have music and it's very popular with expatriates,  affluent local families and business people.

If you haven't read my other Sudan posts you can find them here and as always our highest recommendation goes to our travel agent Waleed at Lendi Travel who made all of the ease we found in traveling in Sudan possible.



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