Eritrea - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Eritrea


Geographically Eritrea has two faces, dissected as it is almost in half by the Great Rift Valley. The western 'half' is fertile land while the east is a desert descending to the coastline. Eritrea sits squarely over the Danakil Depression of Eritrea, where three tectonic plates tug away from one another. And if the ground pulling apart underneath you wasn't enough to worry your movements on this land, getting around in Eritrea once there, is tricky. It has the world's most expensive fuel and even if you could afford a taxi or rental vehicle, many of the country's roads are defunct or closed. Instead, the only way to navigate the interior is by rail.

Still, Eritrea is not without its charm. With the Red Sea serving as its coastline, diving to see coral and majestic sea life is a rewarding experience and Eritrea's most popular tourist activity. The capital of Asmara hosts some of the most intact colonial (Italian) architecture in Africa, while to the south of Asmara there pre-Aksumite civilisation sites such as Qohaito's Ruins, the ongoing excavation of which is constantly revealing new mysteries.

Unfortunately the wonder of Eritrea will probably remain buried until conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia is resolved. The current government stringently controls all travel, media, business and other enterprise, earning Eritrea the dubious accolade of being dubbed the 'North Korea of Africa'.

Information & Facts


In Eritrea, local customs and social etiquette are heavily influenced by the religious convictions of its population. Whether Orthodox Christians or followers of Islam, Eritreans value respect of their elders, conservative dress and behaviour (although casual dress is accepted), and strict observance of fasting periods. It is also considered rude to show the soles of your feet or shoes, and to touch or move objects with your feet. Visitors should avoid using their left hand when greeting others, or when eating, as it is considered 'haram' (impure). Also note that homosexuality is illegal in Eritrea, and is punishable by imprisonment.

Duty Free

Visitors to Eritrea may import the following goods: 200 cigarettes/50 cigars/250g of tobacco, and one litre of alcohol.

Passport Visa

Foreign passengers to Eritrea need a passport valid for at least one month beyond their intended period of stay. All visitors should hold return or onward tickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination. Tourist visas, valid for a stay of up to one month (renewable for two more months), can be obtained on arrival in Eritrea, provided that they have been requested by a local sponsor at the Eritrean Immigration Authority, 48 hours before the passenger's arrival. Note that boarding should not take place until confirmation of this request has been received. One passport-sized photo is required to issue the on-arrival visa. Yellow fever vaccination certificates are required to enter Eritrea, if the visitor is arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

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