FIVE reasons to visit South Sudan in 2022

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By Toby Prince

Forget the travel advisory. Never mind the scary single story in the media, there is a lot more to South Sudan than a crisis. Indeed, armed violence in the African nation remains persistently high and shows little sign of abating. The pace of violent events has remained steady, averaging 733 reported incidents annually since 2017. Violence in 2021 exceeded that of 2019 and 2020.

Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan in a report has a sharp warning that civilians are as much at risk as ever for atrocities including gang rapes, forced displacement and abductions. The civil war that ended in 2018 killed an estimated nearly 400,000 people, and millions of people are still struggling to recover. More than 4.3 million people have been displaced, with almost 80% of the population believed to be living in extreme poverty, and more than 7.2 million people experiencing food insecurity.

The United State strongly warned its citizens not to travel to South Sudan due to “COVID-19, crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict”. It added that “violent crime, such as carjackings, shootings, ambushes, assaults, robberies, and kidnappings is common throughout South Sudan, including Juba. Foreign nationals have been the victims of rape, sexual assault, armed robberies, and other violent crimes” adding that there is a very high level of COVID-19 in the country.

Ten years after its birth, however, it isn’t all doom and gloom. The baby nation is emerging as an admirable destination for business, tourism, and adventure in equal measures. Here are five reasons you should consider visiting.

Boma National Park

Heralded as the largest park or reserve in all of Africa, the Boma National Park should be your first stop in South Sudan. Located in the eastern part of the country near the Ethiopian border, it has established in 1977 and covers 22,800 km² of grasslands and floodplains

In Boma, there is an excellent wildlife migration between March to April and between November to January. The migration is unique as it involves the movement of about two million animals, including gazelles, kobs, and other antelope species. The migration starts from the Sudd and Bandingilo National Park, then progresses to Boma National Park and later to Ethiopia.

Bandingilo National Park

The park covers the erstwhile states of Central Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria. It was established in 1992 and has been a regular stop for many tourists. It spreads over an area of over 10,000 sq. km.

It is one of the most treasured national parks in South Sudan because it also attracts the great migration of wildlife. This park also brags its richness in biodiversity with a variety of animals for you to watch, including giraffes, reedbuck, elephants, lions, cheetahs, leopards, and gazelles, among others.] It also contains large marshlands stretching up into Jonglei state.

Wrestling at Bor’s Freedom Square

There are several tribes in the country but they all enjoy the game of wrestling. Wrestling is a traditional sport that is practiced among many of these tribes and is a uniting factor. You will undoubtedly love the view of bare-chested participants challenging each other for a duel in front of a large group of spectators. Winners get prizes summing up to several heads of cattle. You can only enjoy this thrilling sporting event during the weekends when you visit South Sudan.

Dinka Cattle Camp or Cattle Market

There is no chance that you will travel to South Sudan and fail to interact with the Dinka people. Why? Because they are the most influential and the largest tribal group in South Sudan. Even though many have lately moved to the capital and other administrative states, most of them have opted to remain nomadic pastoralists.

Among the Dinka, cattle are an integral factor for determining the wealth status of individuals and families. Some marriages among the Dinka attract a bride price of more than 400 heads of cattle. A cattle camp can accommodate more than 600 heads, which expresses how deeply the Dinka are rooted in their cattle. The cattle offer the owners nearly everything they need to survive. In Juba, you can always visit the cattle market in the city center to see cattle being taken to the market. The fully grown, long-horned white bulls are a sight you will love.

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