Juba, South Sudan

South Sudan is the newest country in the World and probably one of the most unstable. It is on the brink of collapse, with high inflation, hunger and a civil war that has been going on since 2013. I flew in to Juba Airport which pretty much was just some tents, chaotic with people literally fighting each other to carry the luggage for expats and other people who had just come in with the flight from Nairobi.

I changed some dollars with a rate of 1usd to 250 south Sudanese pounds whereas the rate used to be 1 to 1 with the dollar. Just like in Venezuela I could live as a king having dollars, but for the locals making money in pounds life is hard. Officials here make 3000(12usd a month). When driving on red light we were fined 1500pounds if we wanted to have a receipt, but we’re told that we also had the option of paying 1000 without a receipt. Just an everyday example of the endless corruption going on here.

During my time I stayed next to the Nile and luckily my host had a kayak so I could paddle upstream and have a look at the An-12 plane crash that had killed 37 in 2015, leaving only a man and a baby alive, with the man dying later in the hospital.

In Juba city center there is not much to see. There is hardly any tarmac or high buildings so it all just looks like a village. The only interesting place to see was the presidential palace where the walls were full of bullet holes.

I had asked my host if she could take me to the Jebel Mountain which was controlled by the rebels until the July battles broke out and she said she wanted to join me for the hike. We went right after sunrise and just after 30mins of climbing we were on the top with some great views over Juba City. On the way down we were met by some angry locals wanting a hundred dollars or to take us to the police station, as they meant that it was illegal to walk up the mountain alone. The discussion went from the threat of snakes and kidnappings, to accusations that I was a journalist (they are not allowed here and have mystically been disappearing in masses) before I changed the topic to how Norway was helping South Sudan, as one of the locals had a UNICEF and Norwegian Refugee Council logo on his T-shirt which he obviously had been donated. At the end we ended up paying them 1,5 dollars which was all the money we had and drove off. A typical South Sudan experience should you believe other travelers reports.

South Sudan has been quite an interesting experience. And even though I only got three days here in the capital there was not much more I could have seen. Getting out of the city as a foreigner is dangerous and strictly prohibited. Since 2013 it has been a curfew here from 6pm, which now has been extended to 10pm, not allowing people to walk on the streets after this time.

Leave a comment