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Discover Eritrea: Highlands & Dahlak Archipelago of The Horn of Africa

Group Tour

9 Days From C$5,066

Overview

A land abundant in cultural diversity and contrasting landscapes, Eritrea is without doubt one of Eastern Africa’s most intriguing and compelling gems. From the rich coastal waters of the Red Sea to the fertile slopes of the Eritrean Highlands, this is a destination with old-style adventure written all over it. Largely undiscovered, its unique mix of natural and ethnic highlights make for a perfect off-beat destination.

Beginning amongst the captivating Art Deco architecture of ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

8 x Breakfasts
7 x Lunches
7 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use minibuses, 4WDs, boats and possibly trains.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip we will be in tourist-standard hotels in Asmara and Keren. In Barentu we will be staying in the best, albeit very basic, hotel in town. On the Dahlak Islands we will have a private camp replete with camp-beds, WC, shower, kitchen and dining tent. Think of it as an Eritrean-style “glamping” experience, and you’ll get an idea of what to expect. More information can be found in the Supplementary Information section further on. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low / Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

VERY HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Discover Eritrea: Highlands & Dahlak Archipelago of The Horn of Africa
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN ASMARA

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN ASMARA

Eritrea’s surprisingly enticing capital lies at the tip of an escarpment on the north-western edge of the Eritrean Highlands. Home to a captivating assembly of stunningly preserved modernistic architecture and Art Deco design, it can lay claim to being the first modernist city anywhere on the planet to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety. Due to the arrival times of our suggested flights, accommodation for this night is included in the tour cost. Those on the suggested group flight will arrive in the early hours of Day 2.

Midian Hotel or similar

DAY 2: IN & AROUND ASMARA

DAY 2: IN & AROUND ASMARA

Today we will start to explore the jewel of Eritrea, Asmara. One of the most entrancing cities in Africa and crammed full of Italian architectural gems of the 1930s it is a city of a bygone era. One iconic building that defines most of the notable Italian-era buildings in Asmara is the former petrol station, Fiat Tagliero building, one of the most photographed structures in the city. We will also get to visit two of the most prominent religious landmarks of the city, Asmara cathedral and Nda Mariam Coptic Church. Asmara Cathedral, thought to be one of the finest Lombard-Romanesque style churches outside of Italy, is a useful landmark for the city as its tall Gothic bell tower is visible from any viewpoint. A combination of Eritrean and Italian religious styles can also be found in the Nda Mariam Coptic Church, rebuilt by Ernesto-Gallo in 1920 it houses an impressive mosaic structure depicting various religious scenes. We'll finish our day with a visit to the cemetery of Asmara a place filled with light, colour and sound and one of the most important places to gain a historical insight into the Italian influence in Eritrea.

Midian Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: ASMARA - KEREN

DAY 3: ASMARA - KEREN

Subject to (admittedly erratic) availability we hope this morning to be able to take a short but stunning journey on-board Eritrea’s famed Asmara - Massawa railway. With construction having begun in 1897, the line dates back to the times of Eritrea’s colonial past and is considered an engineering marvel. If the train is not running, we will have more time to discover some of Asmara’s charms before, in any case, departing for the mountain city of Keren. Lying to the north-west, surrounded by an encircling ring of granite mountains, Eritrea’s second largest city plays host to the mainly Muslim tribes of the Bilen and Tigre people. A key battleground in both the Second World War and the more recent Eritrean War of Independence, the city can boast a number of interesting attractions including a 19th century fort, its former colonial railway station and the nearby 6th century Debre Sina Monastery.

Sarina Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: KEREN - BARENTU

DAY 4: KEREN - BARENTU

Before we leave Keren today – and one of our main reasons for coming here - we’ll pay a visit to the town’s famous weekly camel and livestock market, which sees villagers from across the highlands descending on the town every Monday morning to barter and banter with equal enthusiasm. An authentic slice of Eritrean life, the sounds, and smells, of Keren’s bustling market provides a chaotic and colourful highlight. From here we then head for the rich growing country around the town of Barentu, the capital of the north-western Gash-Barka region. On arrival in this region, which has only recently been able to be accessed by foreign visitors, we plan (subject to local permissions) to head out to a Kunama village before enjoying dinner locally.

Merhaba Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: BARENTU - ASMARA

DAY 5: BARENTU - ASMARA

A fascinating mix of indigenous and religious traditions, Barentu is largely home to the Kunama and Nara peoples. In recent years the town has grown to become a thriving hub for trade and the nearby market in Mogolo has become one of the largest in the region for the semi-nomadic Nara, who are particularly well-known for their skills with basketwork and saddlery. The afternoon then sees us retracing our steps to Asmara by road, to spend another evening back in the capital.

Midian Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: ASMARA - MASSAWA - DAHLAK ARCHIPELAGO

DAY 6: ASMARA - MASSAWA - DAHLAK ARCHIPELAGO

This morning’s destination is the port city of Massawa, located on Eritrea’s Red Sea coast. Once the capital of the Italian Colony of Eritrea, and reputedly one of the hottest places on earth, the city is our gateway into the rich island diversity of the Dahlak Archipelago. Famed since Roman times for their pearl fisheries and home to an abundance of marine and bird life, the islanders of Dahlak were amongst the first in the Horn of Africa to embrace Islam in the 7th century. Accessible only by boat and rarely experienced by visitors to the country, the Dahlak Archipelago offers a unique opportunity to discover a Red Sea culture and a landscape very different from that available from better known Egypt.

Private wild camp with shared facilities
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: DAHLAK ARCHIPELAGO

DAY 7: DAHLAK ARCHIPELAGO

Encompassing part of the Dahlak Marine National Park, the archipelago and its surrounding waters are a haven for dolphins, dugongs, sharks and turtles, as well as large numbers of seabirds and some 325 different species of fish. Enjoying the simple rustic charms of an island camp, we aim to spend our time here embracing the unique character of these islands, with a chance for swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters, island visits and interaction with the locals.

Private wild camp with shared facilities
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: DAHLAK ARCHIPELAGO - ASMARA

DAY 8: DAHLAK ARCHIPELAGO - ASMARA

At some 2,325 metres above sea level, Asmara is reputed to be the sixth highest capital in the world by altitude and the road back today takes us through some of the country’s most contrasting landscapes. From the coastal deserts of the Red Sea we head back up towards the highlands around the capital, passing through valleys, desert and bush as we meander our way back up towards the rocky plateau that separates the western lowlands from the eastern coastal plains. This evening we will have our final dinner as a group in Asmara, before those on the suggested group flights transfer to the airport for their flight departing in the early hours of Day 9.

Midian Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: TOUR ENDS IN ASMARA

DAY 9: TOUR ENDS IN ASMARA

Those on the suggested group flight will be transferred to the airport in the very early hours of the morning. For those with later flights the tour will end this morning after breakfast.

Breakfast

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Supplementary Information

Dahlak Cruise....

From Day 6 - 8 we will be cruising and glamping in the Dahlak Archipelago, during these nights we will be "wild glamping" on varying islands. Each day our boat will cruise to one or two islands with each cruise lasting anything from 30 - 90 minutes. Please note that there are no WC facilities on board the boat. Upon arrival on the island we will get the chance to explore the beaches and coral reef before setting up camp for the night. If the group is more than 6 people then the camp will already be pre-set up; however if the group is smaller it will need to be prepared on arrival. However no assistance is needed from you in the set-up process.

...and Glamping

Whilst glamping we will stay in large igloo tents with aerating windows (dimensions: 2.5m x 2.5m x 1.8m) which will include camp-beds, pillows, sleeping bags, camping chairs and mosquito netting. There will be shared WC and shower facilities for the group. Meals will be cooked in the camp kitchen and will include pasta dishes, fish, vegetables and seasonable fruit. Please note that whilst cruising the Dahlak islands it cannot be confirmed in advance which islands, or how many we will visit. The islands will be chosen each day and will depend on weather conditions and sea levels.  Please see alongside this text an example of the camping facilities you can expect.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
MS 778 London Heathrow (LHR) 14:00 Cairo International Airport (CAI) 20:40
MS 833 Cairo International Airport (CAI) 22:40 Asmara Intl/Yohannes Iv (ASM) 02:25
MS 834 Asmara Intl/Yohannes Iv (ASM) 03:25 Cairo International Airport (CAI) 05:15
MS 777 Cairo International Airport (CAI) 09:10 London Heathrow (LHR) 12:35

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies.

For this tour UK passport holders currently require a visa for Ertirea.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Ethiopia Northern Circuit

Why not combine your trip to Eritrea with a group tour or tailor-made trip to its neighbouring giant and sometimes friend, sometimes foe, Ethiopia.
Allow approx. 2 weeks.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

Eritrea can be visited year-round although summers can get very hot on the coast and sometimes quite wet in the highlands. As such autumn through to spring are generally considered the best months for travelling with daytime temperatures typically ranging from 20-30C.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, however, please note that tourism infrastructure in Eritrea is still quite limited so please don’t come expecting 5* facilities.

 

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour including all camping nights, when you would get your own tent.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room/tent. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking. 

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 6630 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION

WF SIGNATURE VIDEO

In this short film Wild Frontiers founder and MD explains the ethos behind the award-winning travel company.

REVIEWS OF THIS TRIP