The crazy humps of the Taka Mountains are the wedding candles of Kassala.
For Sudanese honeymooners flock to the mountain springs, believing that a taste of the waters will enhance fertility.
The city is also famous for its multi-ethnic market, with tribes from all over northern Sudan trading in Kassala.
This mix is enhanced by groups from nearby countries such as Eritrea – just beyond the Taka Mountains, and the Rashaida originate from Saudi Arabia (across the Red Sea).
Kassala – Travel Advice
Getting to Kassala from Khartoum takes about 7 hours by bus. Getting from Kassala to Port Sudan by bus also takes 7 hours.
The climate in Kassala is always hot – but it’s brutal in Summer when I was there. You’ll drink plenty of water and need an AC in your room (in order to sleep. Although cool night breezes can sweep thru rooms on upper floors with open balconies).
Cheap accommodation is dotted around Kassala’s Mowgif al-‘Aam central bus station and the market. Expect to pay around $US 10 for a basic private room with bathroom, and water-fan AC.
Simple but tasty food is easy to find in Kassala. I highly recommend the BBQ chicken places (the food is served hot and there’s plenty of locals there, so it’s unlikely you’ll get sick. But stick to bottled water). For around $US 2, you’ll get a tray of spiced chicken – tastes like India Tikka – with flatbread, rice, raw cabbage, onion, etc (see the image below). YUM.
Kassala is also famous for fruit juices and coffee.
Walking to the Taka Mountains is easy.
Just head in the direction and the route will evolve. Or get a taxi there, and sit at one of the simple cafes on the slopes of Jebel Toti, with a coffee and killer views. Watch locals at the springs, gathering holy water. Then walk back late afternoon to Kassala for some interesting – but dusty – Sudanese suburban scenarios.