Tour around Africa: Stage 35 - Merowe (HSMN) to Atbara (HSAT)
MS Flight Simulator VFR Flight Plan
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In this VFR - GPS Flight Plan we take off from the airport of Merowe (HSMN) [Sudan], fly following the course of the Nile, and land in the small aerodrome of Atbara (HSAT)  [Sudan] which was supposed to have a dirt runway, but FS2020 did not show it (see photos below).

Find below a short extract and screenshots of the main points of the route. In this journey around Africa I have used the Cessna 172S (Skyhawk)

Taking off from the airport of Merowe.

Merowe Airport (IATA: MWE, ICAO: HSMN) is an airport serving the town of Merowe in Sudan. It replaces the smaller Merowe Town airport 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to the west. (*1) 

Turning to the northeast and leaving Merowe to the right.

Merowe is a town in Northern State, Sudan, near Karima Town, about 330 kilometres (210 mi) north of Khartoum. It borders the Nile and is the site of the Merowe Dam project.

Merowe is 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) from Merowe Airport, and is served by a branch of the national railway network. (*1) 

Approaching Jebel Barkal.

Jebel Barkal or Gebel Barkal (Arabic: جبل بركل‎) is a very small mountain located some 400 km north of Khartoum, in Karima town in Northern State in Sudan, on a large bend of the Nile River, in the region called Nubia. The mountain is 98 m tall, has a flat top, and apparently was used as a landmark by the traders in the important route between central Africa, Arabia, and Egypt, as the point where it was easier to cross the great river. In 2003, the mountain, together with the historical city of Napata (which sits at its feet), were named World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The Jebel Barkal area houses the Jebel Barkal Museum. The Jebel Barkal pyramids are one example of Nubian pyramids.

Around 1450 BCE, the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III extended his empire to that region and considered Jebel Barkal its southern limit. There, he campaigned near the city of Napata that, about 300 years later, became the capital of the independent kingdom of Kush. The 25th Dynasty Nubian king Piye later greatly enlarged the New Kingdom Temple of Amun in this city and erected his Year 20 Victory stela within it.

The ruins around Jebel Barkal include at least 13 temples and 3 palaces, that were for the first time described by European explorers in the 1820s. In 1862 five inscriptions from the Third Intermediate Period were recovered by an Egyptian officer and transported to the Cairo Museum, but not until 1916 were scientific archeological excavations performed by a joint expedition of Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston under the direction of George Reisner. From the 1970s, explorations continued by a team from the University of Rome La Sapienza, under the direction of Sergio Donadoni, that was joined by another team from the Boston Museum, in the 1980s, under the direction of Timothy Kendall. (*1)

Jebel Barkal in Nubia
LassiHU - CC BY-SA 4.0
Pyramids, next to Jebel Barkal
Hans Birger Nilsen - CC BY-SA 2.0
Golden Bracelet found in the tomb of a member of the
Royal Family in Gebel Barkal. Meroic period, 250-100 BCE

Hans Ollermann - CC BY-SA 2.0

The Merowe Dam

The Merowe Dam, also known as Merowe High Dam, Merowe Multi-Purpose Hydro Project or Hamdab Dam, is a large dam near Merowe Town in northern Sudan, about 350 kilometres (220 mi) north of the capital Khartoum. Its dimensions make it the largest contemporary hydropower project in Africa. It is situated on the river Nile, close to and inundating the 4th Cataract where the river divides into multiple smaller branches with large islands in between. Merowe is a city about 40 kilometres (25 mi) downstream from the construction site at Hamdab. The main purpose for building the dam was the generation of electricity.

The dam has a length of about 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) and a crest height of up to 67 metres (220 ft). It consists of concrete-faced rockfill dams on each river bank (the right bank dam is the largest part of the project, 4.3 km long and 53m high; the left bank is 1590 metres long and 50 metres high), an 883-metre (2,897 ft)-long 67-metre (220 ft)-high earth-core rockfill dam (the 'main dam') in the left river channel, and a live water section in the right river channel (sluices, spillway and a 300-metre power intake dam with turbine housings). It contains a reservoir of 12.5 cubic kilometres (10,100,000 acre-ft), or about 15% of the Nile's annual flow of 84 cubic kilometres (68,000,000 acre-ft); the intended reservoir level is 300 metres above sea level, with the Nile level downstream of the dam being about 265 metres. The reservoir lake is planned to extend 174 kilometres (108 mi) upstream. (*1)

Overflying the Merowe Dam


After reaching the north-eastern shore of the dam we continue following the course of the Nile.


Flying over Abu Hamad

Abu Hamad (Arabic: أبو حمد), also spelt 'Abu Hamed', is a town of Sudan on the right bank of the Nile, 345 mi by rail north of Khartoum. It stands at the centre of the great S-shaped bend of the Nile, and from it the railway to Wadi Halfa strikes straight across the Nubian Desert, a little west of the old caravan route to Korosko. A branch railway, 138 mi long, from Abu Hamad goes down the right bank of the Nile to Karima in the Dongola mudiria.

The town is named after a celebrated sheikh buried here, by whose tomb travellers crossing the desert used formerly to deposit all superfluous goods, the sanctity of the saint's tomb ensuring their safety.

The Battle of Abu Hamed, a part of the Anglo-Egyptian reconquest of the Sudan, took place near the town on 7 August 1897. (*1)

In this area it is very common for the river to divide into several channels, forming large islands


Nice sunset above the Nile and the desert. At this point we had to change the time in FS2020 in order to continue flying with sun light.


The fifth cataract of the Nile and the confluence of the Atbarah river


It was impossible to see any trace of the supposed dirt runway of the aerodrome of Atbara.  In the above photo we are theoretically taxing by the runway, but only dirt and rocks are shown in FS2020. Fortunately the landing was possible without damages.

 Atbara (sometimes Atbarah) (Arabic: عطبرة‎ ʿAṭbarah) is a city of 111,399 (2007) located in River Nile State in northeastern Sudan.

Because of its links to the railway industry, Atbara is also known as the "Railway City'.

The confluence of the Nile and its most northern tributary, the Atbarah River (Bahr-el-Aswad, or Black River) was a strategic location for military operations. In the Battle of Atbara, fought on 8 April 1898 near Nakheila, on the north bank of the river, Lord Kitchener's Anglo-Egyptian army defeated the Mahdist forces, commanded by Amir Mahmud Ahmad. Kitchener's strengthened position led to a decisive victory at the Battle of Omdurman on 2 September 1898, giving the British control over the Sudan.

The town was the centre of the Sudanese railway industry. Few trains are made here now and rail traffic is much reduced. The original station and unusual dome-shaped houses of railway workers remain. The first trade union in Sudan formed in 1946 among railroad workers in Atbara.

Perhaps because of the influence of the railway unions, Atbara is also considered by many to be the home of Sudanese communism. Jaafar Nimeiri, Sudan's president throughout the 1970s, alternated between communism, capitalism, and Islamic fundamentalism – depending on who he was trying to get on his side and extract money from – and the communist phase had its stronghold around Atbara.

Atbara was also the starting point for mobilizations against the regime in December 2018. (*1)

Houses in British quarter - Atbara
Bertramz - CC BY 3.0
Traditional Beja tents alongside modern buildings
Bertramz - CC BY 3.0
Atbara Railway Station
Bertramz - CC BY 3.0

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(*1) Credits: The descriptive texts are mainly an excerpt of those provided by Wikipedia. Visit Wikipedia to read the full descriptions.

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