Goes the legend: This thing dates back to the year when the River Nile was dug.
But for some researchers this adage is quite true to life. The late Scholar Abddalh Altayeb, an authority on Arabic, Literature and even on Sudan's ancient history, had said that geologists are of the view that the River Nile's mouth was at the Sabalouga Cataract, but an ancient monarch had commandeered his subjects to dig out a water way across the Sabalouga for the river water to flow on to irrigate the arid desert land to the North. From that date people used to chronicle things according to this event saying: "This is as old as when the river was dug."
The Sabalouga (geographically known as the Sixth Cataract) is one of Sudan's most important tourist destinations: Beautiful and captivating scenes, coupled with a lot of recreations; swimming, sailing, and wildlife hunting.
The Sabalouga Cataract (some 80 km North of Khartoum) is surrounded by the Garri mountains series that extend over an area of 7 kilometers and stick high 7000 meters above sea level.
A lot of river islands and hills dot the River, surrounded with wide expanses all along. The climate is semi-desert and the area's topography is mountainous and rocky in general.
The inhabitants are farmers, cattle herders or fishermen. Different bird species like doves and sand grouse roam the place.
This touching nature reflects on the cordiality, generosity and hospitality of the locals.
All these qualities have qualified the area as a tourist attraction of international standards.
Tourists (both national and foreign) frequent the area to swim and watch the water rush through the narrow waterway among the granite hills and rocks and enjoy the scenes of local and migratory birds as they fly or land here and there and the wildlife that moves around the place. Visitors enjoy water sports or take part in water sports contests. The district is also blessed with worthwhile historical places.
Geographically, the Sabalouga (or the Sixth Cataract) is one of six River Nile cataracts, five of them in the Sudan and the sixth is the Aswan Cataract in Upper Egypt.
A dignitary of the area, Mr. Faisal Alnoor Mohammad Fadl asserts that the Sabalouga is one of Sudan's closest tourist attractions to the Capital, Khartoum. Because of that, most of its visitors are members of the diplomatic missions and international NGO workers who call during holidays for recreation. In there they engage in boat trips around the area and catch Nile fish. The place is not far away from wildlife habitats where tourists go around hunting birds and antelopes.
"Sabalouga takes pride in the beauty of its virgin nature and is open for any ambitious entrepreneur who can make of it a tourist resort at international specifications. Such a project does not require much money or genius experts. It just needs the touches of an artist who can add to the features of nature without dissipating its natural beauty," said Mr. Fadl.
He said the area now houses over seven resorts in a addition to the major five star resort which is now to be officially opened. This major resort is now complete and is equipped with deluxe hotel flats.
In addition to the many sporting waterways, mountain climbing areas, the district also houses birds and antelope sheds that multiply in the area. There are crocodile pools, in addition to a shed for the little known exotic 'kadaloab' animal that looks like a rabbit and thrives on tree leaves and multiplies heavily in Sabalouga.
There is also the river human, a creature that looks like a human being or a monkey. It grows heavy hair on its body, has a tusk, but is not ravenous. It lives in water and feeds on small fish and steals the food and belongings of fishermen.
Fadl said the tourist activity in Sabalouga had started since the 1940s with a single guesthouse.
Historically, the Mahdi's rebels had used the Sabalouga mountains as a surveillance post in their war against the invading Anglo-Egyptian forces at the turn of the 20th Century. The area was also home to the first citadel built by Abdallah Alsiddig, a dignitary of the area, to face the invading British campaign after the killing of General Gordon in 1899. The citadel used to be visited only by ambassadors of European countries in Sudan and visiting European delegations and diplomats.
Tourism flourished in the area in the late 1990s whereby local tourists started to frequent it. After the cession of South Sudan, tourists started to pour in it in great numbers, in particular during holidays. The New Year and other religious holidays witness the biggest of festivities when tourism promoters and traders come in great numbers.
Sabalouga is also used as a watching spot for drowned bodies as drifting corpses get entangled in the river rocks of the area. So, whenever a person is reported to have drowned in the river, scouts scatter along the river banks with others rushing downstream to Sabalouga to watch for his body. Fadl says the locals do good work in this respect. Voluntary organizations also help in this by collecting money and food for the bereaved who come to the area in great numbers to look for the bodies of their drowned loved ones. This watch may take days, so the locals and volunteers have to help. The area's citizens also help bury decomposed bodies of drowned persons, no matter the faith. In case the family wants to carry the body of the deceased for burial in his home town or village, the locals help them maintain the corpse and move it in a special manner.