Eritrea was my last country in the world and one of the most difficult ones to visit, but it is very well possible to visit this former Italian colony. You can see the Italian influence in the food and in colonial buildings. It is also a much cleaner country than many African nations. Walking the streets of the capital, Asmara can feel like walking around an Italian village or town. At the time of my visit in 2016, journalists were hardly allowed. Only in rare cases when the government is involved, and they get questions beforehand. They control it very carefully. Eritrea ranked last in the press freedom index of the world some years ago. Second-last was North Korea.
The visa is difficult to obtain and can only be obtained in your home country or nearest Eritrean embassy to your home country or on arrival through a tour operator. I first tried at their embassy in Cairo, but they couldn’t help. Having read a negative story about their embassy in Stockholm (my nearest Eritrean embassy), I decided to contact a tour operator. Damera Tours was my tour operator of choice. They did my visa letter and were an excellent company to work with from beginning to end. Guide, Mehretab is one of the best guides I have seen anywhere in the world. I can recommend requesting him for a personalised tour of Eritrea.
There are no great hotels in Eritrea as such. The best is probably Asmara Palace, but according to my contacts, it would barely be a 3-star hotel in Europe. I stayed at Sunshine Hotel and Midian Hotel, and they were equal in quality. Both are basic but clean and quite comfortable. You don’t need to worry about malaria in Eritrea. There is apparently only malaria near the Sudanese border. Qatar Airways flew from Asmara twice-weekly from its hub in Doha but has since cancelled the route.
|Me on the left, Kahsai, owner of Damera Tours in the middle and my guide on the right|
|A great tour operator to work with!|