Referred to as "La Piccola Roma" - Africa's little Rome - by Mussolini, Asmara is still littered with 1930s-era Italian architecture, with…
Isolated and secretive, Eritrea is Ethiopia’s forgotten neighbour. Once synonymous with conflict, the country has now been peaceful for almost two decades. In spite of this, few tourists ever venture inside. And what a pity, for if they did, they would be greeted by volcanic landscapes, remarkable culture and an idyllic coastline.
Eritrea is a country where tourism is very much in its infancy. Standards are markedly different to elsewhere in Africa and there is practically no foreign tourism. However, after a successful group tour that departed in October 2018, we are now offering tailor-made trips.
Undoubtedly challenging and with its tourist industry barely classified as nascent, Eritrea is a place only suitable for those who are happy to tolerate the frustrations of exploring a young country, still firmly in the grasp of authoritarianism.
However, it is also home to a remarkable array of sights. Asmara, its capital, is still littered with Italian colonial architecture – the result of Mussolini’s desire to make it the centre of a second Roman Empire.
Away from the city, the country’s dramatic highlands mirror those of Ethiopia to the south, rich with towering escarpments and rocky peaks. And its Red Sea coastline – spectacular and deserted – incorporates the Dahlak Archipelago, with its uninhabited islands and pristine coral reefs.
“On a crisp early morning, old men tend the locomotive, oiling and stoking. We roll out of the yard and onto the plateau, through the prickly pears to the edge of the escarpment. Then, like a roller coaster of old, we are launched off the edge, between hills, over narrow bridges and through black, soot-lined tunnels. Such is my introduction to the bizarre and beautiful nature of Eritrea.”
A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.
Born in a small South African town, I have always followed my passion for nature and discovery. After studying Nature Conservation in Pretoria, I was one of the first women to complete a very tough cadetship in the Natal Parks Board. It was here where I cut my teeth in African wildlife management.
Despite being a poor country, Eritrea experiences low levels of crime, so you are unlikely to be at risk. However, it is still recommended that you take sensible precautions, such as avoiding unlit urban areas at night and not wearing expensive jewellery or displaying large amounts of cash.
There are some areas that are off limits due to the political situation in the region. Until recently, the area close to the Ethiopian border was considered unsafe. The border area close to Sudan should still be avoided. Check the FCO website for the latest guidance: http://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/eritrea
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