- Explore the charming capital city of Asmara, rebuilt as Africa's 'Little Rome' by Mussolini
- Visit the low-lying Red Sea coast and the dramatic highlands
- Admire Ottoman buildings, as well as Aksumite ruins, such as Qohaito
- Discover a wonderfully friendly country that remains isolated after decades of war
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.
Begin in Asmara, with its out-of-place Italian feel and architecture. Spend time exploring this fascinating city, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before escaping to the southern highlands, visiting the dramatically located ruins of Qohaito - once a thriving Aksumite settlement.
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.
From the mountains, drop down to the coast, to the historic port of Massawa – occupied for thousands of years. Here, board a boat on the Red Sea and spend a night camped on Dessei Island, in the idyllic Dahlak Archipelago. Also, visit the Aksumite-era port of Adulis, preserved beneath a flood of mud and sand. Finish by returning to Asmara and visiting its various churches.
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.
In October 2018, we successfully visited Eritrea for the first time. Read about Illona's experience here.
WILL IT BE SAFE?
Eritrea is a diamond in the rough and the areas we are visiting are deemed safe to travel to by the Foreign Office (at the time of writing) and the threat of terrorism is low. We are not travelling close to the borders of Sudan, Djibouti or Ethiopia.
HOW WILL I GET A VISA?
British nationals need a visa to enter Eritrea, and Steppes Travel will help provide the supporting documents for your application. There is an Eritrean embassy in London.
WHAT WILL THE ACCOMMODATION BE LIKE?
The quality of hotels in Eritrea is changeable. In every place, however, we have chosen the best available option. Rooms are generally clean and have en-suite bathrooms. The nicest hotel is easily the Albergo Italia is Asmara. Therefore, we have chosen to return here when feasible.
In contrast, the hotel in Adi Keyh is a local rest house, which is very basic with shared bathroom facilities. This is, unfortunately, the only available option, despite the proximity to some of Eritrea's most eye-catching landscapes.
WILL I NEED TO BE FIT?
You will need to be relatively fit, and will certainly need to be mobile. It is also essential that you are able to travel fairly light and manage your own luggage. There will be some walking involved, as well as the opportunity to swim and snorkel when on the boat.
WHAT WILL THE ROAD JOURNEYS BE LIKE?
The roads are largely asphalted, but may be quite bumpy and windy, making journeys slow and tiring. The days will sometimes be long and temperatures may vary, due to the difference in climate between the coast and highlands.
For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.