taka mountains mosque kassala sudan

The Mountains & Markets of Kassala – Sudan

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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.

gash river taka mountains kassala sudan
The weird Taka Mountains. Pictured here wedged between the Gash River and rebuilt flood embankments – made since a massive flash-flood turned this dry riverbed into a raging torrent that flooded the city, killing 30 and leaving tens of thousands homeless in 2003.

The city is also famous for its multi-ethnic market, with tribes from all over northern Sudan trading in Kassala.

street scene kassala sudan
Kassala’s market is massive and covers many blocks, selling everything … it’s most famous for fruit like mangoes, oranges, grapefruit.

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).

women at kassala market sudan
LEFT: Vendor selling the mega-colorful garments of the Rashaida Nomads (they don’t like photos here). Islamic female fashion can be very colorful in Sudan.
Sudan Kassala map
Kassala is located in eastern Sudan, very close to neighboring Eritrea (source: Google Maps)

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.

street-vendors-kassala-market-sudan
Street vendors in Kassala Market, selling ceremonial daggers and fried snacks.

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).

bbq chicken vendor kassala market sudan
The chicken serial-killer of Kassala … Spiced chicken cooked on hot stones.

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.

tea vendor kassala sudan
Shay anyone? Very sweet tea and coffee are big favourites in the Islamic world.

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.

BBQ chicken sudanese food
You can’t go wrong with spiced BBQ Chicken!

Kassala is also famous for fruit juices and coffee.

beja tribesmen kassala market sudan
I was invited to drink – enjoy! – coffee with these Beja tribesmen in the grain market at Kassala.

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.

Khatmiyah-Mosque-Kassala-Sudan
After the Taka Mountains and a strong coffee, wander to the ruins of the 18th century Khatmiyah Mosque, which houses the tomb of Seyyid Hassan, a local holy man who is buried in the roofless dome next to the mosque. (Note: this is still a functioning place of worship).
tomb near taka mountains kassala sudan

mountains kassala sudan
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