South Sudan travel guide

Welcome to the South Sudan Travel Guide, a resource for discovering the world’s youngest nation. Navigate through sections dedicated to planning, safety, regions, attractions, culture, cuisine, and practical tips for an enriching journey through this captivating land.

Planning Your Trip

Embarking on a journey to South Sudan requires meticulous planning and preparation. Given the nation’s current state of development, securing essential travel documentation and arranging logistics in advance is paramount.

Begin by researching visa requirements. Most nationalities require a visa to enter South Sudan, obtainable through the South Sudanese embassy or consulate in your home country. Allow ample processing time, as procedures can be lengthy.

Health precautions are crucial. Consult a travel medicine specialist well in advance to receive necessary vaccinations and discuss preventative measures for malaria and other prevalent diseases. Ensure you have adequate medical insurance coverage that includes emergency evacuation.

Engaging a reputable tour operator specializing in South Sudan is highly recommended. They possess invaluable local knowledge, can navigate logistical challenges, and provide enhanced safety measures throughout your trip.

Best Time to Visit

South Sudan experiences distinct wet and dry seasons, each offering a unique perspective on this captivating country. Selecting the ideal time to visit depends on your priorities and tolerance for varying weather conditions.

For optimal travel conditions and outdoor exploration, the dry season, spanning from December to March, is ideal. During these months, rainfall is minimal, and temperatures are relatively cooler, making wildlife viewing and navigating the terrain more comfortable.

However, the wet season, from April to November, unveils a different side of South Sudan. While heavy rainfall can make some areas inaccessible, migratory birds arrive in abundance, creating a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. The lush landscapes, rejuvenated by the rains, offer a contrasting perspective.

It is crucial to acknowledge that travel during the wet season can be challenging. Roads may become impassable, and some regions might be entirely inaccessible. Consulting up-to-date travel advisories and partnering with experienced local guides is essential during this period.

Safety and Security

While South Sudan possesses immense beauty and cultural richness, it is essential to approach travel to this young nation with a heightened awareness of safety and security considerations.

It is strongly advised to consult your government’s travel advisories for the most up-to-date information on regional security situations. Certain areas may be deemed unsafe for travel due to ongoing conflict or instability. Exercising caution and avoiding these regions is paramount.

Engaging a reputable tour operator specializing in South Sudan is highly recommended. They can provide invaluable local expertise, navigate potentially challenging situations, and offer enhanced security measures throughout your journey.

Maintaining a low profile, avoiding displays of affluence, and respecting local customs and traditions are crucial for personal safety. It is also advisable to travel in groups whenever possible, especially outside of urban areas.

Budgeting for Your Trip

Planning your travel expenses meticulously is essential for a smooth and enjoyable experience in South Sudan. While the country offers opportunities for various budgets, understanding the potential costs associated with accommodation, transportation, activities, and daily expenses is crucial.

Accommodation costs in South Sudan can vary considerably depending on the level of comfort and security you seek. Basic guesthouses may be available for budget travelers, while mid-range and luxury hotels, often catering to international visitors, come at a higher price point.

Transportation within South Sudan can be costly, with limited public transportation options available. Domestic flights, while convenient, can be expensive. Private car hires with drivers are a common choice, especially for traveling between cities and towns, but negotiate prices upfront.

It is advisable to carry sufficient cash in US dollars, as credit card acceptance is not widespread outside of major hotels and establishments.

Travel Tips

Navigating a journey through South Sudan requires adaptability, cultural sensitivity, and adherence to essential travel tips to ensure a safe and enriching experience.

Packing light is essential, prioritizing essential items such as comfortable walking shoes, lightweight clothing suitable for warm weather, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a wide-brimmed hat.

Respectful interactions with local communities are paramount. Dress modestly, especially in rural areas, and always seek permission before photographing individuals or sacred sites. Learning a few basic phrases in the local language, such as greetings, will be greatly appreciated.

Internet access can be limited and unreliable in many areas. It’s advisable to purchase a local SIM card upon arrival for basic communication needs, but be prepared for occasional connectivity disruptions.

Regions and Highlights

South Sudan, a landlocked nation in East-Central Africa, encompasses a diverse tapestry of landscapes, from sprawling savannas teeming with wildlife to the White Nile, a lifeline flowing through the country. Exploring its distinct regions reveals a wealth of natural wonders and cultural encounters.

The Equatoria region, home to the capital city of Juba, serves as a starting point for many travelers. Here, one can delve into the nation’s history at the South Sudan National Museum or experience the vibrancy of local markets.

Venturing further, the Sudd, one of the world’s largest wetlands, beckons with its unique ecosystem and traditional Dinka cattle camps. Wildlife enthusiasts will find solace in national parks like Boma and Bandingilo, havens for elephants, giraffes, and an array of bird species.

Each region offers a glimpse into the soul of South Sudan, inviting exploration and appreciation for its resilience and natural splendor.

Equatoria Region

Encompassing the southern reaches of South Sudan, the Equatoria Region serves as a gateway for travelers, boasting a blend of urban dynamism and natural beauty. This region is further divided into three distinct states: Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, and Western Equatoria.

Central Equatoria, home to the capital city of Juba, offers a glimpse into the nation’s burgeoning development and cultural tapestry. Explore the Juba Grand Mosque, a testament to the country’s religious diversity, or delve into the South Sudan National Museum, housing artifacts that narrate the story of this young nation.

Venture beyond Juba to discover breathtaking natural wonders. Hike to the cascading waterfalls of Kinyeti, a sanctuary of serenity amidst lush greenery. Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures of the Mundari and Bari tribes, known for their traditional ways of life and intricate beadwork.

Bahr el Ghazal Region

Spanning the northwestern expanse of South Sudan, the Bahr el Ghazal Region captivates with its untamed beauty and cultural richness. This region derives its name from the Bahr el Ghazal River, a tributary of the majestic Nile, which winds its way through the heartland, nurturing life and tradition.

Comprising four states – Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes, and Warrap – the region showcases South Sudan’s diverse landscapes. Vast savannas dotted with acacia trees give way to rolling hills and the Sudd, one of the world’s most extensive wetlands, a haven for an array of birdlife and a testament to nature’s wonders.

The Bahr el Ghazal Region is also home to several ethnic groups, including the Dinka, renowned for their cattle herding traditions, and the Jur, known for their agricultural prowess.

Upper Nile Region

Embracing the northeastern reaches of South Sudan, the Upper Nile Region holds a captivating allure with its blend of historical significance, cultural heritage, and the lifeblood of the Nile River coursing through its veins.

This region, encompassing the states of Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile, is where the White Nile embarks on its journey northward, shaping the land and the lives of the communities residing along its banks. The iconic Nile River is not merely a geographical feature but a source of life, sustenance, and inspiration for the people of the Upper Nile.

While the region faces ongoing challenges, its potential for tourism, particularly ecotourism centered around the Nile and its biodiversity, remains promising. As South Sudan continues its path of development, the Upper Nile Region stands as a testament to the nation’s resilience and the enduring spirit of its people.

Things to See and Do

South Sudan, while navigating its early years of development, unveils a tapestry of unique experiences for the intrepid traveler seeking authentic encounters and untouched natural beauty.

Embark on a wildlife adventure in Boma National Park, a sanctuary teeming with elephants, giraffes, zebras, and an array of antelope species. Witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of the second-largest mammal migration on Earth as white-eared kob and tiang traverse the savanna in search of fresh grazing lands.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures of South Sudan’s diverse ethnic groups. Engage with the Mundari people, renowned for their cattle herding traditions and intricate body scarification rituals. Experience the warmth and hospitality of the Dinka community, guardians of the Sudd wetlands, where traditional fishing techniques and cattle camps provide a glimpse into their ancient way of life.

National Parks and Wildlife

South Sudan, despite the challenges of a young nation, harbors a wealth of biodiversity within its borders. National parks, though still in their infancy of development in terms of infrastructure, offer glimpses into this pristine wilderness, teeming with life.

Boma National Park, sprawling across vast savannas and grasslands, stands as a testament to the country’s natural heritage. Home to one of the largest mammal migrations on Earth, it offers a spectacle like no other as white-eared kob, tiang, and gazelle traverse the landscape in a breathtaking display of nature’s rhythms.

Bandingilo National Park, situated near the White Nile, presents a contrasting ecosystem. Here, the Nile River dictates the rhythm of life, attracting a diverse array of birdlife, including the iconic shoebill stork, a prized sighting for any avid birdwatcher.

Cultural Experiences

South Sudan, a mosaic of over 60 distinct ethnic groups, offers a profound immersion into a world rich in cultural heritage and traditions. Engaging with these communities provides a unique perspective on the country’s soul.

Witness the cattle culture of the Dinka and Nuer people, where cattle hold immense cultural and economic significance. Their long-horned cattle are not merely livestock but symbols of status, used in dowry payments and intricately woven into their social fabric.

For a deeper understanding of South Sudanese artistry, explore the intricate beadwork of the Mundari people. Their beadwork, adorning clothing and jewelry, reflects their cultural identity and often signifies social standing.

Historical Sites

South Sudan’s historical narrative, though complex and marked by periods of struggle, is etched into its landscape and reflected in the resilience of its people. While tangible historical sites might be limited due to the nation’s nascent development, exploring these vestiges of the past provides valuable insights.

In Juba, the capital city, the South Sudan National Museum houses a modest yet significant collection of artifacts, photographs, and historical documents that offer a glimpse into the country’s journey toward independence and its rich cultural heritage.

Beyond museums, engaging with local communities and hearing their stories passed down through generations offers a unique perspective on South Sudan’s past. Oral histories, often shared through song, dance, and storytelling, provide a vibrant tapestry of the country’s heritage.

Food and Drink

South Sudanese cuisine, often simple yet flavorful, reflects the country’s agricultural heritage and cultural influences. Staple ingredients like sorghum, maize, peanuts, fish, and meat form the foundation of many dishes, often accompanied by a variety of spices.

A culinary exploration reveals regional variations and unique preparations. “Kisra,” a thin, fermented sorghum pancake, serves as a staple accompaniment to stews and soups. “Walwal,” a hearty okra stew, often featuring dried fish or meat, embodies the flavors of South Sudanese home cooking.

For a taste of local refreshment, try “aseeda,” a porridge made from sorghum or maize flour, often enjoyed with milk or yogurt. Freshly squeezed juices from seasonal fruits like mangoes, guavas, and passion fruit provide a welcome respite from the tropical climate.

Local Dishes

South Sudanese cuisine, deeply rooted in tradition and resourcefulness, offers a symphony of flavors that reflect the country’s diverse culinary landscape.

A cornerstone of South Sudanese meals is “Kisra,” a thin, fermented sorghum pancake. This versatile staple serves as a base for scooping up stews, soups, and sauces. “Walwal,” a beloved okra stew, exemplifies the country’s love for hearty, flavorful dishes. Often made with dried fish or meat, it embodies the essence of South Sudanese home cooking.

For a taste of the Nile River’s bounty, sample “Kajaik,” a traditional fish stew. Prepared with dried fish, onion, tomatoes, and peanut butter, this dish exemplifies the resourcefulness of South Sudanese cooks in transforming simple ingredients into flavorful meals.


Beyond the culinary delights, exploring the beverages of South Sudan offers a refreshing insight into local customs and preferences. From traditional concoctions to modern-day refreshments, there’s a taste to quench every thirst.

“Aseeda,” a porridge-like drink made from sorghum or maize flour, holds cultural significance in South Sudan. Often consumed for breakfast or as a nourishing drink throughout the day, it exemplifies the resourcefulness of South Sudanese cuisine in utilizing staple ingredients.

For a taste of something sweet and refreshing, indulge in freshly squeezed juices from seasonal fruits. Mangoes, guavas, passion fruit, and citrus fruits abound, offering a vibrant burst of flavor and a welcome respite from the tropical climate.


While South Sudan’s tourism infrastructure is still in its nascent stages, accommodation options are gradually emerging to cater to the needs of intrepid travelers. Juba, the capital city, offers the widest range of choices, from basic guesthouses to more established hotels.

When selecting accommodation, it’s essential to prioritize safety and security. Opt for establishments with reliable security measures, particularly if traveling outside of Juba. Consulting with reputable tour operators can provide valuable insights and assistance in securing safe and comfortable lodging.

It’s important to note that amenities and services may vary considerably compared to more developed tourism destinations. Electricity and running water can be unreliable in some areas, and internet access may be limited.

Areas to Stay

When choosing where to stay in South Sudan, Juba, the capital city, emerges as the primary hub for travelers. While accommodation options are limited in other parts of the country, Juba offers a range of choices, each catering to varying budgets and preferences.

For those seeking convenience and proximity to amenities, the central areas of Juba, such as Hai Neem and Tong Ping, provide a concentration of hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants. These areas offer relative ease of access to government offices, markets, and transportation hubs.

As South Sudan’s tourism industry develops, it’s advisable to stay informed about emerging accommodation options in other areas of interest. Consulting with reputable tour operators who possess up-to-date knowledge of safe and reliable lodging options is crucial, especially when venturing beyond Juba.

Types of Accommodation

South Sudan’s accommodation landscape, though still evolving, offers a range of choices to suit varying budgets and travel styles. From basic guesthouses to more established hotels, the key is to set realistic expectations and prioritize safety and security.

For budget-conscious travelers, guesthouses and smaller hotels offer basic amenities such as a bed, shared or private bathrooms, and occasionally, breakfast. These options provide an opportunity to interact with locals and experience a more authentic side of South Sudanese hospitality.

Larger hotels, primarily located in Juba, cater to business travelers and those seeking a higher level of comfort and convenience. Amenities may include air conditioning, internet access, restaurants, and security services.

Getting There and Around

Reaching South Sudan typically involves air travel, with Juba International Airport (JUB) serving as the main gateway to the country. Several international airlines operate flights to Juba from major hubs in Africa and the Middle East.

It’s essential to check visa requirements in advance, as most nationalities require a visa to enter South Sudan. Visas can often be obtained upon arrival at Juba International Airport, but it’s advisable to inquire about the latest regulations and fees beforehand.

Internal travel within South Sudan can be challenging due to limited infrastructure. Domestic flights are available between major cities and towns but can be infrequent and subject to weather conditions. Road travel, while improving, can be time-consuming and require careful planning, especially during the rainy season.


For most travelers, air travel is the primary mode of reaching South Sudan. Juba International Airport (JUB), located just outside the capital city, serves as the main gateway to the country, connecting South Sudan to regional and international destinations.

Several airlines operate flights to Juba, including Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, RwandAir, and FlyDubai. These carriers offer connections from major hubs such as Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Kigali, and Dubai, providing travelers with multiple options for reaching South Sudan.

It’s advisable to book flights well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, as availability can be limited. Utilizing flight comparison websites and subscribing to airline newsletters can help secure competitive fares and stay informed about any schedule changes.

Transportation Within South Sudan

Navigating South Sudan’s vast terrain requires careful planning and an understanding of the available transportation options, each presenting its own set of advantages and challenges.

Domestic flights offer a relatively convenient way to traverse longer distances between major cities and towns. However, flight schedules can be infrequent and subject to change, particularly during the rainy season. It’s advisable to reconfirm flights closer to departure and factor in potential delays.

For those seeking greater flexibility and a chance to witness the countryside, road travel is an option. However, road conditions vary significantly, and some routes may become impassable during the rainy season.

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