taka mountains mosque kassala sudan

The Mountains & Markets of Kassala – Sudan

2013

The crazy humps of the Taka Mountains could be the wedding candles of Kassala.

For Sudanese honeymooners flock here to the mountain springs – believing the water will enhance their fertility.

panorama of gash river and taka mountains near kassala in western 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.

Markets of Kassala


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

busy street scene at markets of kassala in sudan
The market is massive and covers many blocks, selling everything … it’s most famous for fruit like mangoes, oranges, grapefruit.

Traders enhanced this mix from neighboring countries – such as Eritrea just beyond the Taka Mountains, and the Rashaida, who originate from Saudi Arabia (across the Red Sea).

women at kassala market in 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.

Travel Advice for Kassala


Getting to from Khartoum to Kassala takes about 7 hours by bus.

Getting to Port Sudan by bus also takes 7 hours.

map of kassala location in sudan
Kassala is located in eastern Sudan, very close to neighboring Eritrea (source: Google Maps)

The climate in Kassala is always hot – but it’s brutal in Summer when I was there.

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

You’ll drink plenty of water and need an AC in your room (in order to sleep. Although cool night breezes sweep thru rooms on upper floors with open balconies).

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

Finding cheap hotels in Kassala


Cheap accommodation is 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.

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

Simple tasty food is easy to find in the markets of Kassala


I highly recommend the BBQ chicken places (they serve the food hot and there’s plenty of locals there, so it’s unlikely you’ll get sick).

For around $US 2, you’ll get a tray of spiced chicken – tastes like India Tikka – with flatbread, rice, raw cabbage, onion, etc.

YUM.

BBQ chicken sudanese food at kassala market in sudan
You can’t go wrong with spiced BBQ Chicken!

But stick to bottled water.

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.

Walking to the nearby Taka Mountains from Kassala is easy


Just head in the direction and the route will evolve.

Khatmiyah Mosque in 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).

Or better still, get a taxi there (and walk back once you have your bearings).

Sit at one of the simple cafes on the slopes of Jebel Toti, with a coffee – and feast on the view.

Watch locals at the springs, gathering holy water.

Then walk back late afternoon to Kassala for some interesting – but dusty Sudanese suburban scenes.

tomb near taka mountains kassala sudan
Kassala Mountains + tomb.

Travels in Sudan – 2013

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