9 Days in South Sudan Itinerary: Africa’s Forgotten World

South Sudan is one of the few remaining African countries that can be compared to this. There are some of the most conservative ethnic groups on the continent still practicing the ways of their ancestors in this uncharted and untamed world. This brief South Sudan trip delves into the tribal core of an incredibly interesting area of the continent, drawing on our personal experiences in the world’s newest nation.

We leave the bustling city of Juba and travel to the Mundari people’s homelands, where the distinctive tribal scarring is a common feature. We should be able to see one of these spectacular wrestling matches here since they happen regularly amongst their villages. However, we advise against participating!

After that, we’ll be traveling east to the Toposa homeland. This is a very traditional people , with ties to the Surma of Ethiopia and the Turkana of Kenya. Scarifications on the bodies and faces of Toposa people are so intricate that they seem to defy belief. Before making our way back to Juba, we have the opportunity to visit their villages and meet the tribe elders. The Boya and the Lotuko are among the other indigenous communities we stop at. Living here has taught us a lot, and we’ve gotten to see a side of Africa that most people will never get to see.

The road ahead isn’t always smooth. Despite the fact that the infrastructure is frequently inadequate and the tourists are almost unknown, it is guaranteed to be one of the most thrilling journeys you will ever take.

Detailed Itinerary: 9 Days in South Sudan

Day 1: Juba

Inside South Sudan’s Capital City

Reach South Sudan’s capital, Juba. You have the remainder of the day to yourself to explore this vibrant city or just unwind after your flight. The Royal Palace Hotel, or one like it, for the night.

  • Juba

The capital of South Sudan has an Old West vibe to it. Since gaining independence in 2011, the city’s infrastructure and construction projects have skyrocketed, transforming it into a modern African metropolis after years of neglect under Khartoum’s authority. It has changed over time.

Juba evolved from the 19th-century trading post of Gondokoro, which was the furthest south outpost of the Egyptian government before coming under joint Anglo-Egyptian rule. Samuel Baker and other explorers used it as a jumping off place for journeys to discover the Nile’s source; it was considered the final vestige of civilization before venturing into the uncharted territories beyond.

There aren’t many must-see attractions in Juba, but you can’t help not notice the steel bridge across the Nile. This is Juba’s sole link to Uganda, the country that supplies the majority of its imports. Another place worth visiting is the tomb of Dr. John Garang, a former leader of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army who unfortunately passed away in an airplane crash before his vision of a free South Sudan could come to fruition.

Besides South Sudanese, you will find a multiplicity of other ethnicities here in Juba, reflecting its boomtown status. Kenyans, Ethiopians, Chinese, Egyptians, and Europeans are among them. To meet the demand, new eateries and watering holes are cropping up all over the place, with the most picturesque locations right on the riverbanks, perfect for a sunset cocktail.

Day 2: Torit

To reach Torit, continue eastward via East Equatoria State. Occasionally, the road may be challenging, and we can come across tanks that are partially concealed by vegetation, which are remnants of the civil war. Staying the night at the Hotel Torit or one near by. This is BLD.

Days 3-4: Toposa Villages

Aerial view of a Toposa traditional village, Namorunyang State, Kapoeta, South Sudan

We visit the Toposa villages from Kapoeta, one of the most traditional ethnic groupings in the country. We visit adjacent towns and then go to the river, where locals sift through the sides of the river for tiny grains of gold by digging deep trenches. The Toposa are an intriguing people group that have maintained almost unchanged ways of living for hundreds of years, if not millennia, and who are linked to the Turkana of Kenya. Every night, we go back to Kapoeta. A night at Mango Camp or one like it. This is BLD.

  • Toposa people

One of the most fascinating ethnic groups in the nation, the Toposa are the main inhabitants of the Kapoeta area. Their economy is centered around livestock, and they are herders. They are closely related to the Turkana of Kenya and the Karamojong of northern Uganda. They have a history of conflict with other groups due to their cattle raiding habits, but this is less of an issue now that the country is independent and more stable. The thatched roofs of the Toposa settlements, which are constructed of wood and mud, are frequently decorated with the skulls of cattle.

The Toposa’s scarification technique is the most noticeable characteristic. Exquisite raised patterns, created by meticulous incision, adorn the upper arms, torsos, backs, and even faces of several of the men and women. Traditional dress is still practiced by many older Toposa, even though their customs are being eroded by modernity. Women typically wear animal skins around the waist, while men often go naked.

Although visitors won’t encounter any trouble with the ubiquitous AK-47s among Toposa men, we do ask that you listen to your tour guide when visiting the villages, as there isn’t much central authority.

Due to the low level of tourism and general lack of understanding of the concept, you can expect to be somewhat the center of attention among the Toposa, who are just as intrigued by you as you are by them.

Just south of Kapoeta, along a riverbank, the Toposa people pan and dig for gold. The amounts aren’t huge, but the resource has sparked a mini-gold rush, and seeing the traditional methods in action is fascinating.

Day 5: Boya Villages – Lotuko Village – Torit

Larim tribe village, Boya Mountains, Imatong, South Sudan

Head back west toward Juba. We take a detour into the woods near the Camp 15 roadside encampment to investigate the Boya settlements, which are positioned among rugged hills. While here, we will spend some time learning about the Lotuko people. We will visit one of their villages before making our way to Torit, where we will spend the night. Staying the night at the Hotel Torit or one near by. This is BLD.

  • Boya people

The Boya are located to the east of Torit town, and their way of life revolves around a somewhat rundown community called Camp 15. The Boya women wear elaborate beading and decorate their homes with beautiful patterns. They live in picturesque communities surrounded by mountains and huge boulders. While scarification is still common here, it seems to be more common among younger women than older ones; the locals attribute this to following a “trend” started by their nearby neighbors, the Toposa.

After a Boya husband dies, his closest male relative takes full ownership of his wife and makes her mourn in traditional fashion by wrapping her in a wrap of animal skins around her waist and tying thin leaves around her arms and legs to create a striped pattern. Additionally, the Boya are skilled archers, and it is usual to observe youth groups outside of towns honing their bow and arrow techniques.

  • Lotuko people

Near Torit, the capital of Eastern Equatoria State, the Lotuko make up the majority of the local population. Lotuko communities are less traditional than those of other groups, yet many still reside in hilltop settlements concealed by rocks, where they sought refuge during the civil war. Because of their layout and positioning, the settlements are not easily discernible from a distance, and many of the buildings sit atop stone terraces.

Traditionally, the Lotuko would have a “rain-maker” as their spiritual leader. This person would mediate between the Lotuko and the spirits to ensure a bountiful harvest and a steady stream of precipitation. Even now, in certain towns, you can see the ancient stone enclosures that the men used to gather in to talk about community matters and problems.

There are around 100,000 Lotuko people. Compared to other groups in South Sudan, they have embraced modernity more fully. However, the most appealing part of visiting is getting to see their picturesque settlements, which offer a different perspective on life than the Boya or Toposa villages.

Day 6: Mundari Villages

Mundari Tribe of South Sudan Homestead

The Mundari people’s center in Terakeka is reached after a hard day of driving. Here we embark on a journey into rural areas in search of the Mundari, a traditional ethnic minority renowned for their distinctive facial scarring and age-old ceremonies. One of the many wrestling ceremonies that occur between the many communities is something we’re really hoping to witness. Camping for one night. This is BLD.

  • Mundari People

Northern Juba is home to the Mundari, who make their home in and around the little town of Terekeka. They remain mostly unchanged from generations before, surviving in small towns on farming and herding. Though the practice is officially prohibited by the government and is gradually dying out, it is nonetheless common for people over the age of 25 to flaunt a series of parallel V-shaped scars on their foreheads, as is customary for both men and women.

Mundari men are well-known in the area for their wrestling prowess; on specific days of the week, young men from nearby villages will come together to compete in these age-old contests. The men etch designs into their bodies and paint themselves with mud; they try to toss and hold each other to the ground; it’s quite a display. While cheering and singing along with the crowd, you can’t help but be captivated by their antics. You might not get another opportunity like this to experience Africa in its current form.

Day 7: Mundari villages

Spending the day immersed in Mundari culture and learning about their unique traditions. Camping for one night. This is BLD.

Day 8: Juba

Return to Juba for your last night of the journey after spending the morning with the Mundari. Spend the night at the Hotel Royal Palace or a comparable establishment.

Day 9: Juba

Make your way to the airport to catch your trip back home. Part B

End of the 9 Days in South Sudan Itinerary

Keep in mind that you are about to embark on a groundbreaking journey to uncharted territories that see very few tourists. A high level of adaptability is required to handle any unforeseen local circumstances because infrastructure is nonexistent for a significant portion of the journey.

What’s included

  • Airport transfers
    If you choose to book your own flights or have us do it for you, we will still include the transports to and from the airport. In order for us to arrange the transports, please inform us of the specifics if you are making the reservations yourself. An extra fee for the airport transfer may be required if you arrive before the first day of the tour and depart after the last day.
  • Accommodation
    Rooms according to the dossier. We will always do our best to maintain the same standards, but there may be occasions when we need to switch hotels due to the nature of the destinations we operate in. Because our business is growing in many nations where tourism is still in its early stages, the quality of the hotels you stay in may differ from your expectations.
  • Guides
    Typically, you will have the company of a single guide throughout the entire process. On the other hand, there can be scenarios where this isn’t feasible, as when your journey takes you to multiple nations. To make the most of each guide’s in-depth familiarity with the area, it’s usually best to have separate guides for each stop.
  • Meals
    Following the format of the itinerary/dossier: B for breakfast, L for lunch, and D for dinner. It makes sense to include all meals in some regions, but in others there is a good range of restaurants and we think folks would occasionally wish to “do their own thing,” so these will vary from trip to trip.
  • Entrance fees
    For the places we include in the itinerary, we have included the entrance fees. It would be entirely up to you if you wanted to visit any other sites.

What’s not included

  • Visas
    While we do not handle visa applications on behalf of our clients, we will assist you in obtaining an invitation letter if required. Just give us a call at any time if you need any help with visas, or you may contact a visa agency like Kabira Safaris.
  • International flights
    We don’t include international flights in the pricing of our excursions because many of our travelers arrive from different destinations. Still, if you’d rather have us handle the flight arrangements, feel free to give us a call and we’ll gladly go over your alternatives.
  • Travel Insurance
    Please let us know if you require any assistance with this. While we are unable to arrange it ourselves, we can certainly refer you to a reliable source who can.