How to get to Meroe Pyramids by public transport in 12 simple steps
If you are travelling independently in Sudan, visiting Meroe Pyramids will presumably be on your list of must-do experiences. If you ask around in Khartoum or check the latest prices online, the quote to visit the pyramids at Meroe with a private driver or on a day trip is upwards of USD150-200 per person. That is an incredible amount of money, considering how affordable it is to travel in Sudan once you’re here.
We’re travelling on a budget so naturally, we wanted to try and visit the Meroe Pyramids in Sudan in the most economical way possible. We picked up some great tips from 15 years of travel and using public transport was one of them.
We never really considered paying up to $200 each to visit the pyramids as our budget to visit every country is $50 each per day. The only option we had was to find out how to get to the Meroe Pyramids by public transport.
Good news – it was quite easy to do and we’re going to give you all the information on how to get to Meroe Pyramids by public transport.
At the time of writing, 1 USD = 80 SDG black market rate (or 45 SDG official rate).
1. Get Cash – Where to change USD in Khartoum in Sudan
We changed USD at the SAUDI supermarket on Al Mashtal Road, Riyadh, Khartoum. This was conveniently located only 1km from our hotel and very easy to exchange for the best rate possible (rate mentioned above).
The Pyramids at Meroe (also known as Begrawiya) are approximately 250 km from the capital city, Khartoum. The journey takes around 4 hours each way.
We started early from our accommodation in Khartoum – Jori Vil Hotel. Room rates are from $55 double/twin, including breakfast. This hotel is clean, comfortable with fantastic wifi and it’s in a great location.
CLICK HERE to check availability and room details for Jori Vil Hotel on Airbnb.com. If you go ahead and make a reservation, here’s a $38 discount code from us to put towards your first Airbnb booking.
This hotel is located in the Riyadh district, very near to Khartoum International Airport.
2. Get a local sim card and download Tirhal App
Get an MTN Sim card with 1GB or 3GB of data when you arrive in Sudan. A sim with 3GB costs about 360 SDG at the arrivals area at Khartoum airport.
Download Tirhal App to make your travels in Sudan easier. This is a ride-sharing app, similar to Uber or Careem taxi. The only difference is that you can order Tirhal taxi and it quotes you a price for the ride, then you pay the driver in cash once you arrive at your destination. It’s also a good tool to work out how much you should be paying for a taxi from A to B so you don’t get overcharged.
3. Order a Tirhal taxi to take you to the ‘bus station’
To get to Meroe Pyramids by public transport, you must first get to the bus station. We ordered a Tirhal to take us to this address below (this is where the large buses go towards the city of Atbara – which is on the way to Pyramids at Meroe). It looks like a large parking lot with lots of buses and vans.
Address: Unnamed Road, الخرطوم بحري،، Sudan
Once you arrive, tell the guys here you are trying to get to Meroe Pyramids, so you need a bus to reach Atbara. They will point you in the direction of the right bus. It helps if you show them a photo of the Meroe Pyramids.
4. How much does it cost to get to Meroe Pyramids by public transport?
Our Tirhal taxi from Jori Vil hotel to this parking lot was 220 SDG ($2.80). We left around 07:15 and arrived around 08:00. Traffic can be pretty hectic in Khartoum, so it’s a good idea to leave early.
We were quoted 220 SDG ($2.80) each for the bus ticket to Atbara. Price seemed pretty fair for a 4-hour journey.
The bus filled up quickly and we departed at 08:30. The bus is comfortable, with A/C and curtains to block out the hot sun.
Around 11.30 am, we stopped at the town of Shendi for a 15 min rest stop. This is the last chance to grab any water or a quick bite to eat before you get to the Meroe pyramids by public transport.
How to get to Meroe Pyramids – Our bus to Pyramids at Meroe
5. Eat local food on the way to the pyramids at Meroe
We purchased two black coffees from the ladies here (20 SDG each) and a bowl of ful, a fava bean stew eaten with bread. It cost 50 SDG for a bowl and it was good. You need to eat quickly as you only have 15 min here to grab a quick tea/coffee, eat and go to the bathroom.
This is the last chance you have to purchase food and water as there are no options for this once you get to the Meroe Pyramids.
There is no official bus stop for the pyramids so make sure to remind the bus driver to drop you as close as possible.
6. Download an offline map before you get there
Download an offline map of Sudan or this area before you leave for the day. We recommend Maps.me. We use this App to navigate our way around many countries in the world.
Keep an eye on your Maps.me map or Google Maps if you prefer, and stand up when you’re about 1-2 km away and let the driver know you’d like to get out as close as possible to the Meroe pyramids. (If you don’t do this, he’s likely to forget).
We were dropped off and could see the pyramids in the distance, the walk was bout 700 metres.
As we approached what looked like the entrance, a guy came out and directed us to go further into the distance to reach another entrance.
Lucky for us, a few Indian tourists pulled up at the same time in their nice SUV cars and were told to drive around to the other entrance. The driver offered us a quick ride to the entrance to avoid us walking in the scorching sun. We gladly accepted. After only a few minutes of driving and we reached the entrance of Meroe Pyramids.
7. Pay the entrance fee for Pyramids at Meroe
How much is the entrance fee for Meroe Pyramids? A good question. We had read from past travellers that this can be up for negotiation, depending on how good a negotiator you are.
There are very few visitors to this site, yet the official price now for tourists is USD 20 per person. We had both USD and SDG currency with us.
As we approached the desk, the lady asked us if we were tourists or if we work in Sudan. Marty mentioned we are tourists and the lady quoted us USD 20 each. I quickly acted like she’d misunderstood us and commented that we were, in fact, working in Khartoum. She then quoted us 457 SDG each (or $5.50). Nice one! We paid her and started to make our way into the site.
We passed some men and kids selling some souvenirs at the entrance and also men with camels offering rides around to see the pyramids. They’re not pushy at all. You don’t need a camel to see the pyramids, it is easily walkable. Make sure to take some water with you, maybe a hat and sunscreen too – it’s hot out there.
How to get to Meroe Pyramids – The entrance of the site. 2 tourists were just leaving
8. Explore The Meroe Pyramids
We really enjoyed visiting the pyramids, however, they’re much smaller in size than I expected. The Meroe Pyramids are a collection of nearly 200 ancient pyramids. Many of them were tombs of the kings and queens of the Meroitic Kingdom which ruled the area for more than 900 years.
The Meroe Pyramids are not only much smaller but they also have very narrow bases and steep angles on the sides. It is estimated that there were built between 2,700 and 2,300 years ago. The Meroe Pyramids in Sudan are a Unesco World Heritage Site.
We were just happy to take our time and explore around. You will also notice that the pyramids have been damaged, many of them are missing the top layer. Most of the damage to the pyramids was done by the Italian treasure hunter Giuseppe Ferlini, who in the 1830s destroyed several of the pyramids in a ruthless search for ancient artifacts.
There are ‘guardians’ or a couple of local men that keep a watch to make sure visitors are not climbing over the pyramids and they also unlock the doors of some of the tombs so you can check out the inside. The hieroglyphics and ancient drawings on the walls are incredible. We explored the site for around two hours. We felt lucky to have the site pretty much to ourselves as there were no other tourists apart from the guys who offered us a ride to get here.
9. Hitch a Ride from Meroe Pyramids to Khartoum
From the entrance, we knew we had to walk back to the main road and try and catch a bus or van heading back to Khartoum that had two seats to spare. We figured, this is how we got to Meroe Pyramids by public transport, so now we just need to retrace our steps. At the entrance, we met the local driver of the Indian tourists from earlier. He told us that he’d be happy to offer us a ride to Shendi (the small town where all the buses stop and continue to Khartoum) if it was OK with the guys in both cars. They returned soon after and we asked them very nicely if they didn’t mind, could we hitch a ride with them to Shendi. No problem.
We rode with the guys in their very nice cars to Shendi, only about 30min drive. We thanked them and waved goodbye as we jumped out at this dusty, busy little town.
A local guy offered to help us flag down a bus going back to Khartoum. Sure. We’ve noticed over the past few days from our travels here that Sudanese people are naturally friendly and helpful.
10. Catch a bus from Shendi to Khartoum
Several buses passed us by, giving an indication that they didn’t have spare seats. It took a little longer than expected, but after 40 min of standing nearby the dusty road, a bus was heading to Khartoum with many seats available.
We paid 150 SDG each and had a comfortable ride back to Khartoum.
How to get to Meroe Pyramids by Public Transport – Rach waiting for the bus
11. Taxi back to our hotel
We arrived at the bus parking lot around 8 pm, we were tired. We thought about ordering a Tirhal car, but rather thought it’s best to check the price and then ask a taxi already there to match this fare and we’ll ride with him. It worked.
We paid 250 SDG ($3.20) to get dropped back to our hotel, about 35min journey time.
12. Total Cost To Get To Meroe Pyramid Using Public Transport
How to get to Meroe Pyramids by public transport – Important info:
Take enough water with you for the day.
Wear conservative clothes as Sudan is a Muslim country: For women, this means long loose trousers/skirt and shirt/long-sleeved top.
Take protection from the sun, including a hat, sunglasses, scarf, and sunscreen. It’s likely to be around 40 degrees Celcius out there.
Factor in the distance to the pyramids is 250km each way and bus journey is approx 4 hours each way. Start early!
And that’s it. This is How to get to Meroe Pyramids by public transport. If you have done it recently and have any updates, please let us know below in the comments.Ensure you’re covered with the best travel insurance policy when travelling in Sudan. We use and recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance.
Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 186+ countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.