What's it all about?
This is independence day in 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, 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.
Saturday 23rd May
- Own arrival in Asmara.
- Meet and greet at the airport and then you will be transferred to our hotel; the “Capri”.
- Some down time to change some money with your guide and get orientated.
- We will meet up at the hotel before heading out for our first group dinner and drinks in Eritrea!
Sunday 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 along Harnet street.
- Dinner and drinks to close out the Independence celebrations at a traditional restaurant, where you can sample local dishes.
- Overnight at the hotel in Asmara.
Monday 25th May
- After breakfast we will have a walking tour of the center of town. We will see the spectacular modernist buildings 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.
- We check out the Tank graveyard where we can see wrecked 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.
- Continue our tour of Asmara where we check out the various pre-Independence Day celebrations including modern and folklore dances.
- Walk up and down Harnet street where we will watch various dramas and performances.
- Festival continues into the night culminating in a massive fireworks show at midnight to celebrate independence.
Tuesday 26th 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.
- Arrive back in Asmara
- Head to the incredible bowling alley for a step back in time.
- Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Wednesday 27th May
- Hit the road for the 3 hour drive to Massawa
- On arrival we’ll check in at our seaside hotel
- We’ll visit 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 a traditional oven. This is a real local experience.
- After dinner we explore the nightlife of Massawa and find some bars.
- Overnight in Massawa.
Thursday 28th May
- 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.
- Those who have a diving license can experience a dive in the Red Sea! (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.
Friday 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.
- Dinner and group drinks in Asmara.
Saturday 30th May
- After breakfast we head to Keren city.
- Lunch in Keren
- Free time in this quaint town to check out the local markets and explore the lively streets.
- Drive back to Asmara and stop by some destroyed Ethiopian tanks along the way!
- Last group dinner and overnight in Asmara!
Sunday 31st May
- End of tour.
- Airport transfers available.