Inside Africa’s Forgotten City, Eritrea

For three decades Steppes Travel have pushed the boundaries of pioneering travel and in October 2018 a small group of intrepid travellers will head to Africa’s forgotten city of Asmara to explore Eritrea, a fascinating land that adorns the horn of Africa.

Opening the doors onto the world’s most spectacular and remote location has long been a priority for Steppes Travel. Just over 20 years ago, Justin Wateridge, Managing Director of Steppes Travel, followed in his grandfather’s footsteps to explore this former Kingdom of Aksum, then a trading empire centred in Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia.

In October 2018, Illona Cross, Africa Specialist at Steppes Travel will host the tour ‘Eritrea, Inside Africa’s Forgotten Kingdom’ in conjunction with local expert guides. Highlights of the escorted tour include:

  • Asmara, Eritrea’s capital city which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2017. Due to its more recent history and rebuilt by Mussolini in the 1930s, Asmara with its Italian art deco architecture, Italian restaurants and catholic churches and is often referred to as ‘Africa’s Little Rome’.
  • The lively camel markets of Keren which springs to life once a week, are the perfect place to mix with locals andmerchants alike.
  • The ruins of Qohaito, a pre-Aksumite settlement on the out-skirts of Adi Keyh, offer spectacular views over the rugged Eritrean mountains.
  • Visits to caves in what used to be the ancient town of Koloe, showcase ancient rock art indicating habitation since 5th millennium BC.
  • The coastal city of Massawa combines Ottoman architecture and wooden Zanzibari doors which still bear the scars of decades of war.
  • Cruise around the Dahlak Archipelago, a pristine marine wilderness with coral reefs and islands fringed by white sand beaches.
  • Swim in the waters of the Red Sea home to dolphins, turtles, dugongs, barracudas, manta ray and whale sharks.

Despite only recently being recognised as independent from Ethiopia (1990), Eritrea is not without its own rich history, vibrant culture or outstanding natural beauty. It was for these reasons that Justin Wateridge fell in love with Eritrea all those years ago, and little has changed in the intervening years. Before he set off there to lead tours between Ethiopia and the newly opened Eritrea, his father told him of his grandfather who had been a member of the Asmara Golf Club. Although, Justin never found the golf club, long gone were the caddy’s and the green’s, what he did discover in Asmara were the palm-lined boulevards with cafes serving espressos, the art-deco cinemas showing the latest blockbusters – albeit fifteen years out of date, and a capital city that has become his favourite in Africa.

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