South Sudan Tourism: What Are Its Prospects?

IMG_8411.JPG?width=250In East Africa, bordered not just by Sudan to its north but also the Central African Republic, the Congo (the one that used to be Zaire), Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, this continent’s newly born 54th country and the world’s 258th is admittedly a hard case.  A largely black land of traditional religions, and some degree of Christianity, embroiled in civil war with the Sudan’s Muslim Arab rulers for most of the past half century, South Sudan has a population (thought to be around 8 million) that's one of the world’s poorest, with health indicators like maternal mortality among the world’s highest.

But assuming that peace with and noninterference from rogue state Sudan holds (and this is by no means certain), South Sudan’s oil and other natural resources, along with the already beginning influx of foreign aid money and private investment, definitely have the potential to help open this 967,000-square-mile (2.5-million-square-kilometer) country up to the kind of adventurous eco-oriented tourism that’s also been emerging in other recently strife-torn parts of Africa such as Sierra Leone, Angola, and Liberia.

MAP-COVER-FOLDED-front-498x1024.png?width=90The raw material is certainly there. While its historic monuments are relatively few, and mostly linked to the colonial and post-colonial eras, South Sudan’s natural riches have survived surprisingly unscathed by all those years of conflict.  The landscape ranges from semi-desert to grasslands, swamps, and rainforests, and there are rivers (including the famous Nile) with plenty of potential for ecotourism and adventure travel.  There are a number of national parks and refuges which boast pretty much the entire panoply of African fauna, from wild dogs and chimps up to elephants and lions. The potential jewel in the crown is Boma National Park, which harbors an estimated 800,000 animals, as well as the world’s second largest wildlife migration, a mighty, surging river of antelope. There’s also the beginnings of cultural and community tourism, getting to know the country’s various ethnic groups, such as the Dinka, Azande, and Avungara.

Sudan_Sudan_%28orthographic_projection%29_highlighted.svg?width=200The key of course is developing infrastructure such as roads, hotels, hostels, and tour operators. The capital of Juba is a minimum two hours’ drive from the wildlife areas, often along dirt tracks rather than paved roads, and there are as yet few good options out in or near the national parks; most visitors need to base themselves at one of Juba’s 40 small and medium-size hotels, most of them pretty basic by world standards. As far as flying in, you need to take a regional carrier from Nairobi or Addis Ababa.

We at Tripatini would like to wish South Sudan the best of luck as a country and also as a practitioner of responsible, sustainable tourism.

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  • No, I regret to say I have not but my interest is certainly very piqued!
  • Hi,


    Most promising indeed. Have you personally been there?



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