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Sudan: Naqa

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Naqa | Sudan | Africa

[Visited: March 2014]

As soon as I read about Naqa and Musawarat, I longed to see those places. Lost in the desert and at least partially surrounded by mystery, they sounded just like the sites I love. When we reach Shendi, we have the idea of renting a car for the afternoon and see Naqa, and leave Musawarat for the next morning, and thus see both sites at the best conditions. But finding a driver with a 4WD turns out to be very difficult - partly because of language problems, partly because people ask outrageous prices, and partly because we are sent all over town by locals who really want to help us, but just do not know how. Eventually, we have run out of time, and decide to first find a hotel. Which, then, turns out to be much more difficult than we ever imagined. At the only real hotel of town, we quickly learn that a soccer team has occupied all the rooms. We talk a little with them, and are advised to stay in a hotel on the highway. But that turns out to be full, too. The only locanda of town raises its price by 50% in just a few minutes - and we are still without a room. Going back to the hotel, the manager of the team is extremely helpful in finding a solution and thinking with us. Also, a car and driver are arranged to take us to Naqa and Musawarat the next morning. We are offered a bed in a private home, but when we arrive, it turns out to be in the middle of nowhere and without a real bathroom, and: nowhere to eat in the vicinity. We are now starving, and decide to eat first. The gentlemen at the table next to us are curious just like all Sudanese, go to prayer, and when they come back, they do so with a solution. There turns out to be yet another hotel a few minutes away, and when we reach it, we have a quick shower and fall into a deep sleep, enjoying a good night after the night before which we spent in the desert.

Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Temple of Amun in the early morning

The next morning, we are supposed to meet our driver at the police station. We know he does not speak a word of English, and wonder if he will be on time, of whether he will show up at all. When walking out of the hotel, we spot a new pickup truck, but there is no one inside, so we wait at the police station. I already start to fear no one will show up; it would be quite impossible to call the soccer manager now to help us out, and we might even miss Naqa and Musawarat altogether. I decide to walk back to our hotel, where I do not see anyone, but when I walk away, I hear someone call out "Mister". Sure enough, it is Mohamed, and the pickup truck that we saw before, is his. We are on our way, and he turns out to be a fast driver, who knows the road very well. We speed towards Naqa, and I fell all excited, until Mohamed asks me if I know the way. Well, no, of course not: Naqa is actually not easy to reach; there are tracks leading south from the highway, but there is only one sign which we already passed. Fortunately, we reach a police post, and the site turns out to be just a little ahead. Mohamed actually has to work in the area; he is supposed to drop us off at Musawarat. Now, it turns out he is in a hurry even though it is just after 7; he walks with us to the ruins of a temple, saying "sura, sura", urging us to hurry up. But we want to see the site, of course, and are just in time: the sun just started its climb into the sky.

Picture of Naqa (Sudan): The Kiosk has richly decorated windows

We first see the Temple of Amun, a small and richly decorated temple. The rays of the sun make the reliefs on the stones clearly visible. There are rows of rams sculpted out of stone, there are the usual depictions on the columns and walls. When we have seen the temple, we walk towards the car, and make Mohamed understand that we want to visit the other two sights of Naqa, too. They are just hundred metres away, but he insists we take the car to save some time. We open the fence, and walk towards the Kiosk. It is a small building, with richly decorated lintels and window frames. Behind it, we find the larger Lion Temple, with more than life-size figures of the Kushite god of Apedemak with its lion head, as well as depictions of rulers holding prisoners by the hairs, while lions are depicted eating those conquered and captured. Even Mohamed is impressed by the temples, and looks at them carefully, before he tries to urge us again to keep it short. Even though we would have loved to stay longer at Naqa, we also want to see Musawarat with decent light, and decide to leave. Nomads are at the big well, where camels, cows, and goats gather to drink. Mohamed knows the way now, and it does not take long before he drops us at Musawarat.

Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Side wall of the Lion temple
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Fragment of a column of the Temple of Amun
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Detail of the Lion Temple with the lion-headed god Apedemak
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Large figures carved out of the wall of the Lion Temple
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Figures carved out of stone at the Temple of Amun
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Decorated column at the Temple of Amun
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Decorated window in the Kiosk
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Early morning view of the row of Rams at the Temple of Amun with a hill in the background
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Ram at the Temple of Amun at Naqa
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Detail of the Lion Temple at Naqa with five-headed god
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Temple of Amun, with a row of rams
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): View of the Kiosk in the early morning light
Picture of Naqa (Sudan): Early sunlight on a fragment of the Temple of Amun

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Naqa (Sudan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Naqa.
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