Atbara children

Travel to Atbara – The City of Iron & Fire

Located at the confluence of the Atbara tributary, and the River Nile, the town is on Sudan’s two main railway routes. The several colonial-style houses, now used as government offices, were built by British officials who settled here after the victorious battle against the Mahdists in 1898. Nowadays travellers come here to cross the Nile by local ‘ponton’ ferry – accompanied by camels, donkeys and curious locals.

The Atbara River is the last tributary of the Nile and rises in the highlands of Ethiopia. It has a distinct seasonal flow, rising between June to September. The first trade union in Sudan formed in 1946 among railroad workers in Atbara. The town is also home to one of Sudan’s largest cement factories (Atbara Cement Corporation).

As Sudanese towns go this one is quite famous locally. First and foremost, it was the centre of the Sudanese railway industry. Trains still trundle through on most days though, and the original station and unusual dome-shaped houses of railway workers remain.

Atbara is on the Khartoum to Wadi Haifa railway line. Local buses operate to Atbara and taxis are available in the town.

  • Visit the local souq to experience daily life in Atbara and buy fresh produce
  • Jump on the small ‘ponton’ ferry and cross the Nile
  • Check out the old colonial-style houses and tree-lined avenues


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