Holiday in Eritrea
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Oct 14, 2012 5:42 AM Last Post By: fluffy_bunny
Oct 8, 2012 1:30 PM
Holiday in EritreaMy girlfriend and I are planning on spending Christmas in Eritrea, and I'm wondering if I could ask those who know whether it is a good idea...
I have travelled and lived in the developing world for years at a time, and I have no reservations in visiting Eritrea. However, my time is now far more precious than it used to be and I'd like to make sure we won't spend the whole two weeks sitting in police stations being accused of spying or generally being inconvenienced by suspicious police, and that we won't be spending all our time waiting for permits which never materialize. Perhaps I sound a little paranoid, but I must have clocked up whole months waiting for paperwork and days spent in police stations in Iran being quizzed by imbecilic police. All good fun at the time, but if I don't fancy it for a holiday.
So in short, can a German citizen travel in the country without excessive police attention, and is it realistic to expect to get permits to visit a few places around Asmara (appreciating that some areas are totally off-limits).
Oct 8, 2012 9:41 PM
1Travel in ERitrea is more restrictive than ever. Realistically, independent tourists are not allowed outside the Keren-Asamara-Masawa triangle. The furthest south you can go is Dikemhare (1 hour-ish south of Asmara). This means the ruins of Qohaito are of limits. And all monasteries are off-limits. Public transport is incredibly time consuming and rental vehicles are super expensive. The train didn't operate once in the 2 weeks i was there.
If you join an organized tour (5 people or more) then a few places do become available (like Qohaito)
But, i was not hassled even once by police. There aren't any checkpoints and the tourist office in Asmara where you get the permits, although staffed with useless individuals, is hardly overwhelming. That said, it took me 4 days to get a permit to Dikemhare and an American was denied a permit to Masawa.
While i would never personally recommend travel to Eritrea, it has nothing to do with "police hassle"
Oct 14, 2012 4:30 AM
I don't know when fluffy_bunny was there (I was travelling in Eritrea in 2007 for nearly one month) but it's true you need a travel permit to leave Asmara and going around (with restrictions)
You need to have some additional permits even you have the first one (travel permit) for visiting some places (monasteries, archeological sites (2 permits: one for Adulis and one for the rest), reach Filfil or even now staying in Massawa with a time restricted to seven days)
In 2007, I travelled by myself using public transports.
When I was there, it was possible to reach some of the monasteries (but you need to be a man) and of course with a permit (one for each monastery, only one really accessible as day visit)
I'm not German (but Belgian) and I had no regrets to visit it but a travel in Eritrea could be not easy as expected for another country in Africa.
Edited by: mvbergen
Oct 14, 2012 5:42 AM
3Unfortunately, 2007 was 5 years ago. Things change dramatically in countries like Eritrea. These are the rules now, not only dictated to me by the useless tourist office folks, but in incredible frustration, i went to the head-hancho, Mr. Santo. While Eritrea has long been 'complicated' to travel, at present it is the most restrictive it's been in years. If you read my blog post highlighted in the other post, you'll get more specifics.
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