YPT are proud to bring back our tours to Africa for the third year! So join us for a truly off the beaten track experience to one of the planet’s least visited destinations – Eritrea.
This fascinating country falls well below most travelers’ radars, which makes it a unique and off the beaten track experience. Eritrea boasts a pristine coastline and untouched Red Sea islands as well as some of the best-kept colonial architecture in Africa. On top of all that we’ll take part in the two-day festival to celebrate Eritrea’s independence!
Having been colonized in part by the Turks and Egyptians, Eritrea took on a European flavor with the arrival of the Italians in 1885 during their belated entry in the “scramble for Africa”. The legacies of successive foreign forces, combined with a rich mix of nine local ethnic groups, have created a diverse cultural landscape that offers the best of African, Middle Eastern and European influences.
The Eritrean capital city of Asmara is like a film set from an early Italian movie, with vintage Italian coffee machines and outstanding examples of Art-Deco architecture. Although the country faces numerous hardships, it paradoxically remains one of Africa’s most peaceful, secure, and welcoming destinations.
This tour can be done as a standalone, or combined with our Somaliland Tour. As always, we offer discounts on group bookings and for returning Pioneers.
We take care of every facet of the Eritrean visa process. If you live in a country with Eritrean representation we assist you with collecting the visa. If not then all you have to do is collect the visa on arrival at Asmara airport with an invitation letter we provide you before the tour. It’s that easy. If these dates don’t work for you, no problem – contact us for info on organising your own independent itinerary for any date. We will also facilitate the visa process for you.
Combo group arriving from Somaliland get the 3:40am flight to Asmara from Dubai, arriving at 6:30am
For those just on the Eritrea tour, arrive at Asmara airport and meet up with the rest of at the airport and you will be transferred to our hotel “Ambassador Hotel”.
We will meet up at the hotel before heading out for our first group dinner and drinks in Eritrea!
Wednesday 23rd May
After breakfast we will have a walking tour of the center of town. We will see the spectacular art deco of Asmara built by the Italians at the turn of the last century, such as the Post office built 1916, Albergo Italia built in 1899, the presidential palace built in 1907, and the Hotel Hamasien built in 1916. Great photo opportunities!
We check out the Tank graveyard where we can see out-of-use tanks that were demolished during the war with Ethiopia.
Visit the City Hall to see various photo displays in commemoration of the thirty-years bitter struggle and the post-independence progress. The City Hall was established by the Italians in 1890, and is one of the oldest institutions in Africa. There will also be various inventions on display by young people.
Continue our tour of Asmara where we check out the various pre-Independence Day celebrations including modern and folklore dances, and even the Independence Day Marathon. Visitors are encouraged to join in, so bring your running shoes!
Pick up some amazing street food at one of the many festival stands!
Trip to the revolution square where we will watch various cinematographic dramas and performances.
Festival continues into the night culminating in a massive fireworks show at midnight to celebrate independence.
Thursday 24th May – Independence Day!
For those brave enough there will be a 6am 21-gun salute to mark Independence Day.
Free time to walk around the city after breakfast and mingle with locals.
There will be various art exhibitions along the pedestrianized streets of the Main liberation avenue.
After lunch, we join the celebrations at Asmara Stadium. There will be various displays by the Military music band and the Eritrean Air force will fly over the stadium in a spectacular color show! Various dramas will be shown by many artists during the afternoon.
The Eritrean President will deliver a speech on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee. The show will come to an end by about 7pm.
Dinner and drinks to close out the Independence celebrations at a traditional restaurant, where you can sample injera and local alcohols… Followed by a dance party!
Overnight at the hotel in Asmara.
Friday 25th May
After a mini sleep in and some breakfast, we will board a 100 year old train and ride all the way to Nefasit.
Along the way we will go through thirty tunnels. This is definitely a trip highlight!
On board the train we will be offered a traditional coffee ceremony.
After breakfast our male visitors will go to Debre Bizen monastery on the top of a nearby mountain.
Unfortunately the ladies are not allowed to enter so female visitors will stroll through the town of Nefasit or go hiking in the nearby mountains.
Drive back to Asmara.
Dinner at the best pizzeria in Asmara, “Spagetti and Pizza House”
Overnight at our hotel in Asmara.
Saturday 26th May
Hit the road for Massawa.
On the way we descend from 2400 meters above sea level to 0 meters. There will be a sharp rise in temperature, and we will pass through some incredible mountain scenery.
We have a coffee break on the way, and a late lunch of seafood injera. Arrival into Massawa at 4pm.
After some rest at the hotel, we’ll visit the town in late afternoon/ early evening and check out Gurgusum Beach, where we can swim and relax with local people.
Walking tour to take in the unique mixture of Turkish and Italian architectural design.
Dinner at the “Salam Restaurant”. Fresh fish prepared in traditional oven. This is a real local experience.
After dinner we explore the nightlife of Massawa and find some bars.
Overnight in Massawa.
Sunday 27th May
After breakfast we visit a local school in Massawa to learn about Eritrea’s education system and meet with the children.
Take a boat to Dahlac Marine National Park, the Red Sea’s largest archipelago of which just four islands are inhabited.
We visit ruins from the early Arabic/Islamic settlers of the 8th century, and also some local Tigranyan villages.
Those who have a diving license can check out Ethiopian weapons and vehicles dumped into the sea during the war. These have created large artificial reefs, which are great for diving (additional cost for diving). Don’t dive? No problem – snorkeling equipment is also available.
In late afternoon/early evening, we will make our way back to Massawa.
Dinner, drinks, and overnight in Massawa.
Monday 28th May
After breakfast we head to Kohaito archaeological site. Drive is again on hairpin roads in stunning mountain and village views which keep changing every few minutes.
We will take a coffee break in a small town on the way.
Up on arrival, we will have a picnic lunch and stunning view of “Grand Canyon”.
Tour around the ancient city and visit to the remnants of an old palace.
We will camp in Kohaito – bonfire, stars, local folk songs and conversations.
Tuesday 29th May
After a late breakfast, we will hit the road back to Asmara.
Arrival in Asmara at around 4pm – we will have free time in Asmara before joining up for a farewell dinner. We may be lucky enough to watch football in the famous Cinema Roma or, if interested, have a chance to briefly talk about your country or profession to young Eritrean students.
Farewell dinner and group drinks in Asmara.
Wednesday 30th May
Airport transfers for those who require, depending on flight times.