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Trainline, Eritrea

Inside Africa's Forgotten Kingdom


Explore this nascent and isolated country, only officially recognised as independent from Ethiopia in the 1990s. From the Art Deco Italian architecture and Coptic churches of Asmara to the Aksumite ruins and dramatic canyons of Adi Keyh, Eritrea is alive with culture, history and natural beauty.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Cathedral, Asmara, Eritrea 1


Explore the charming capital city of Asmara, rebuilt as Africa’s ‘Little Rome’ by Mussolini.

Market, Keren, Eritrea 2

Camel Markets

Visit Keren’s lively Monday market, where livestock and goods are traded.

rock art, Adi Keyh, Eritrea 3

Ruins and Rock Art

Explore Aksumite ruins and visit remote rock-art sites near Adi Keyh.

Dahlak Archipelago, Eritrea 4

Dahlak Archipelago

Spend a night camped on the remote Dahlak Archipelago in the Red Sea

Why we like it

Eritrea has not yet been on maps three decades, yet it has a rich history and culture dating back millennia. From the outside, it is often seen as an isolationist state, but the few who have visited talk only of the warmth and friendliness of the Eritrean people. This, combined with the Aksumite history and the Art Deco architecture of Asmara, make it an incredibly rewarding destination.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Days 1-2


  • Day 3

    Asmara - Adi Keyh

  • Day 4

    Adi Keyh - Asmara

  • Day 5

    Asmara - Keren

  • Days 6-7


  • Day 8

    Keren - Massawa

  • Day 9

    Massawa - Dahlak Islands

  • Day 10

    Dahlak Islands - Massawa - Asmara

  • Day 11


Days 1-2



Explore the charming capital city of Asmara, rebuilt as Africa’s ‘Little Rome’ by Mussolini.

Day 3

Asmara - Adi Keyh

Ruins of Metera, near Adi Keyh, Eritrea

Ruins and Rock Art

Explore Aksumite ruins and visit remote rock-art sites near Adi Keyh.

Day 4

Adi Keyh - Asmara

Day 5

Asmara - Keren

Days 6-7


Market, Keren, Eritrea

Camel Markets

Visit Keren’s lively Monday market, where livestock and goods are traded.

Day 8

Keren - Massawa

Day 9

Massawa - Dahlak Islands

Day 10

Dahlak Islands - Massawa - Asmara

Train crossing bridge near Asmara, Eritrea

Spend a night camped on the remote Dahlak Archipelago.

Day 11


Roma theatre, Asmara, Eritrea
Asmara, Eritrea


Begin in Asmara, home to the highest concentration in the world of 1930s Art-Deco architecture. Simple geometric shapes are enhanced by slender horizontal curves and soaring stepped towers. Look out for portholes, loopholes and elongated windows; circular balconies and jutting wings.

Originally whitewashed, this beautiful city has been enriched by the colours of Africa. One of the greatest monuments is the Catholic Cathedral of Santa Maria, with its frescoed interior.

Visit the Medeber, a 200-year-old market, where artisans in small shops mould objects of all kinds by recycling metal. The Cemetery of Asmara, located on a small hill, allows an interesting insight into the Italian adventure in Eritrea. And of course, pass by the iconic Fiat Tagliero garage, built in 1938 by Pettazzi.

Ruins of Metera, near Adi Keyh, Eritrea
Adi Keyh, Eritrea

Qohaito and the Southern Highlands

Continue on to the southern highlands, visiting the dramatically located ruins of Qohaito – once a thriving Aksumite settlement.

Located over 2,500 metres above sea level, the ruins sit on the edge of a high plateau, at the very tip of the Great Rift Valley. The site is remarkable for the spectacular views over the rugged Eritrean mountains, as they fall away towards the Red Sea.

Sadly, Qohaito has yet to be fully excavated, but the visible ruins include the pre-Christian Temple of Mariam Wakino and the Sahira Dam, which might also be pre-Aksumite. Nearby, rock art decorates a number of sites, including several caves.

Camel market, Keren, Eritrea
Keren, Eritrea

Steam Train and Keren

Return to Asmara for a trip aboard a colonial-era steam train – remarkably preserved and operating along a short but incredibly beautiful stretch of track.

Then venture north, through the country’s highlands, to Keren. Famed for the decisive battle that took place here in World War Two, the city sits beneath mountain peaks.

Arrive in time for the Monday market – a highlight of any visit. Still of great importance, the market is the perfect place to mix with locals and merchants alike. It is an unforgettable experience and one that is alive with sounds, smells and colourful clothing.

Tent on beach, Dahlak Archipelago, Eritrea
Dahlak Islands, Eritrea

Massaw and the Dahlak Archipelago

From the mountains, drop down to the coast, to the historic port of Massawa. Although badly damaged during Eritrea’s bloody war of independence, the city is still dotted with older buildings, both Ottoman and Italian, that survived the Ethiopian bombing.

Here, board a boat on the Red Sea and spend a night camped on Dessei Island, in the idyllic Dahlak Archipelago. Have the chance to swim and snorkel off the reefs, where the marine life is spectacular.

Why a Steppes expert-led group tour

1.Experience Matters

We have been running insightful and groundbreaking group tours since our inception in 1989. We have worked with institutions such as the British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum and run wildlife tours in conjunction with conservation agencies such as Fauna & Flora International, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Orangutan Foundation, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and the Jane Goodall Institute.

2.Size Matters

Our average group size is typically eight to ten people, smaller than other group tours typically offered – a factor which many of our clients appreciate. Travelling as part of a smaller group provides a more intimate, personalised and relaxed atmosphere.

4.It’s about who you know

We have developed an enviable pool of expertise from which to choose our tour experts, who we carefully select based on their knowledge, companionship and personality. Often, these experts can use their influence to facilitate private access to sites not typically open to the public.

3.Like-Minded People

Steppes Travellers are like-minded people – interesting, interested and curious. Our group tours aim to create an easy and informal atmosphere – we have a lot of fun on our tours and many friendships have been formed.

5.Value for money

Our tours are well-priced to ensure you get real value for money. We include gratuities on the majority of our tours and do not pass on currency surcharges. We strive to look after single travellers as well as we can, keeping single supplements to a minimum.

6.Peace of Mind

When you travel on one of our group tours, you will be looked after by our local agents and your tour expert with the back-up of our 24-hour emergency number and duty manager. All our holidays are fully bonded and protected – our ATOL number is ATOL 6495.

Includes / Excludes

Important Information

Activity Level
Moderate Activity
Single Supplement

Travelling on your own? Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places provides security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour expert.


To allow flexibility, our group tours do not include international flights as standard. We can arrange international flights on your behalf, please get in touch with our travel experts for a quote. All international flights from the UK are ATOL protected.

What is included

  • Accommodation in the best available hotels
  • Breakfasts throughout
  • Meals and drinks when camping
  • English-speaking guide
  • Driver and vehicle
  • Travel permits
  • Museum entry fees
  • £25 to help fund the communities, conservation agencies and NGOs that we work with
  • £25 contribution to ‘Trees and Science’ in mitigation of your carbon emissions

What is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • Insurance
  • International flights
  • Lunches and dinners except when camping
  • Visa
  • Train ticket for the steam train

Reserve your place on this group tour

Our travel experts have a wealth of first-hand knowledge, so if you have any questions about this expert-led group tour, please get in touch. They would love to help. We hope you can join us on this tour.

01285 880 980

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Explore similar expert-led group tours

With an average group size of just eight to ten people our group tour itineraries enable you to travel to some of the most intriguing regions of the world in the company of experts guides in the field and, of course, with likeminded people.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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