Discover Eritrea: Highlands & Dahlak Archipelago of The Horn of Africa (Recce Tour)

Discover Eritrea: Highlands & Dahlak Archipelago of The Horn of Africa (Recce Tour)

9 Days From



Discover Eritrea: Highlands & Dahlak Archipelago of The Horn of Africa (Recce Tour)

9 Days Starting and ending in ASMARA

Visiting: Asmara, Keren, Barentu, Mitsiwa, Dahlak Archipelago, Dahlak

Tour operator:

Wild Frontiers

Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 12

Physical rating:

Low, Low / Moderate

Age range:


Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Please contact Wild Frontiers with any specific dietary requirements

Tour operated in:
Private Available:

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$4518 Exclusive Tourhub Members Discount: -$213

NB: Prices correct on 20-May-2024 but subject to change.

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

A land abundant in cultural diversity and contrasting landscapes, Eritrea is without doubt one of Eastern Africa’s most intriguing and compelling gems. From the rich coastal waters of the Red Sea to the fertile slopes of the Eritrean Highlands, this is a destination with old-style adventure written all over it. Largely undiscovered, its unique mix of natural and ethnic highlights make for a perfect off-beat destination.Beginning amongst the captivating Art Deco architecture of its capital, Asmara, we’ll have time to explore this charming World Heritage city before departing for the ethnically diverse landscapes around Keren. After a visit to the town’s famous livestock market we then head for Barentu, whose tribal and religious contrasts provide us with some of the most authentic experiences of our journey.Heading next to the Red Sea coast we then travel out to the idyllic islands of the Dahlak Archipelago, where we spend two nights "wild glamping" Eritrean-style amongst the protected landscapes of the Dahlak Marine National Park. The drive back to Asmara then takes us through some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the country - an inspiring end to a quite remarkable journey.


  • Explore the unique UNESCO Art-Deco architecture of Asmara

  • Take a short but stunning journey on board Eritrea's famed Asmara - Massawa railway (subject to train schedules)

  • Soak up the cultural contrasts of Keren and Barentu

  • Experience the colour and richness of some of Eritrea's most famous markets

  • Swim and snorkel in the warm Red Sea waters of the majestic Dahlak Archipelago

  • Join the locals for a coffee in the capital's vibrant café scene


Expand All

Day 1 : Tour Starts In Asmara

Location: Asmara

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Midian or similar

Meals Included: No Meals

Eritrea’s surprisingly enticing capital lies at the tip of an escarpment on the north-western edge of the Eritrean Highlands. Home to a captivating assembly of stunningly preserved modernistic architecture and Art Deco design, it can lay claim to being the first modernist city anywhere on the planet to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety.

Due to the arrival times of our suggested flights, accommodation for this night is included in the tour cost. Those on the suggested group flight will arrive in the early hours of Day 2.

Day 2 : In & Around Asmara

Location: Asmara

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Midian or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we will start to explore the jewel of Eritrea, Asmara. One of the most entrancing cities in Africa and crammed full of Italian architectural gems of the 1930s it is a city of a bygone era. One iconic building that defines most of the notable Italian-era buildings in Asmara is the former petrol station, Fiat Tagliero building, one of the most photographed structures in the city. We will also get to visit two of the most prominent religious landmarks of the city, Asmara cathedral and Nda Mariam Coptic Church. Asmara Cathedral, thought to be one of the finest Lombard-Romanesque style churches outside of Italy, is a useful landmark for the city as its tall Gothic bell tower is visible from any viewpoint. A combination of Eritrean and Italian religious styles can also be found in the Nda Mariam Coptic Church, rebuilt by Ernesto-Gallo in 1920 it houses an impressive mosaic structure depicting various religious scenes. We'll finish our day with a visit to the cemetery of Asmara a place filled with light, colour and sound and one of the most important places to gain a historical insight into the Italian influence in Eritrea.

Day 3 : Asmara - Keren

Location: Asmara, Keren

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Sarina or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Subject to (admittedly erratic) availability we hope this morning to be able to take a short but stunning journey on-board Eritrea’s famed Asmara - Massawa railway. With construction having begun in 1897, the line dates back to the times of Eritrea’s colonial past and is considered an engineering marvel. If the train is not running, we will have more time to discover some of Asmara’s charms before, in any case, departing for the mountain city of Keren. Lying to the north-west, surrounded by an encircling ring of granite mountains, Eritrea’s second largest city plays host to the mainly Muslim tribes of the Bilen and Tigre people. A key battleground in both the Second World War and the more recent Eritrean War of Independence, the city can boast a number of interesting attractions including a 19th century fort, its former colonial railway station and the nearby 6th century Debre Sina Monastery.

Day 4 : Keren - Barentu

Location: Keren, Barentu

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Merhaba or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Before we leave Keren today – and one of our main reasons for coming here - we’ll pay a visit to the town’s famous weekly camel and livestock market, which sees villagers from across the highlands descending on the town every Monday morning to barter and banter with equal enthusiasm. An authentic slice of Eritrean life, the sounds, and smells, of Keren’s bustling market provides a chaotic and colourful highlight. From here we then head for the rich growing country around the town of Barentu, the capital of the north-western Gash-Barka region. On arrival in this region, which has only recently been able to be accessed by foreign visitors, we plan (subject to local permissions) to head out to a Kunama village before enjoying dinner locally.

Day 5 : Barentu - Asmara

Location: Barentu, Asmara

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Midian or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

A fascinating mix of indigenous and religious traditions, Barentu is largely home to the Kunama and Nara peoples. In recent years the town has grown to become a thriving hub for trade and the nearby market in Mogolo has become one of the largest in the region for the semi-nomadic Nara, who are particularly well-known for their skills with basketwork and saddlery. The afternoon then sees us retracing our steps to Asmara by road, to spend another evening back in the capital.

Day 6 : Asmara - Massawa - Dahlak Archipelago

Location: Asmara, Mitsiwa, Dahlak Archipelago

Accommodation: Camp

Accommodation Name: Private wild camp with shared facilities

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning’s destination is the port city of Massawa, located on Eritrea’s Red Sea coast. Once the capital of the Italian Colony of Eritrea, and reputedly one of the hottest places on earth, the city is our gateway into the rich island diversity of the Dahlak Archipelago. Famed since Roman times for their pearl fisheries and home to an abundance of marine and bird life, the islanders of Dahlak were amongst the first in the Horn of Africa to embrace Islam in the 7th century. Accessible only by boat and rarely experienced by visitors to the country, the Dahlak Archipelago offers a unique opportunity to discover a Red Sea culture and a landscape very different from that available from better known Egypt.

Day 7 : Dahlak Archipelago

Location: Dahlak

Accommodation: Camp

Accommodation Name: Private wild camp with shared facilities

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Encompassing part of the Dahlak Marine National Park, the archipelago and its surrounding waters are a haven for dolphins, dugongs, sharks and turtles, as well as large numbers of seabirds and some 325 different species of fish. Enjoying the simple rustic charms of an island camp, we aim to spend our time here embracing the unique character of these islands, with a chance for swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters, island visits and interaction with the locals.

Day 8 : Dahlak Archipelago - Asmara

Location: Dahlak, Asmara

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Midian or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

At some 2,325 metres above sea level, Asmara is reputed to be the sixth highest capital in the world by altitude and the road back today takes us through some of the country’s most contrasting landscapes. From the coastal deserts of the Red Sea we head back up towards the highlands around the capital, passing through valleys, desert and bush as we meander our way back up towards the rocky plateau that separates the western lowlands from the eastern coastal plains. This evening we will have our final dinner as a group in Asmara, before those on the suggested group flights transfer to the airport for their flight departing in the early hours of Day 9.

Day 9 : Tour Ends In Asmara

Location: Asmara

Meals Included: Breakfast

Those on the suggested group flight will be transferred to the airport in the very early hours of the morning. For those with later flights the tour will end this morning after breakfast.

What's Included


    8 x Breakfasts, 7 x Lunches, 7 x Dinners


    On this tour we will use minibuses, 4WDs, boats and possibly trains.


    Maximum: 12


    Contributions to carbon offset & tree planting projects for all bookings


    The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate


    All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary


    All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary


    Low / Moderate

What's Not Included

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour
ationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatoryTips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documentsInternational .Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UKAirport .Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights.Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs


Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies.

For this tour UK passport holders currently require a visa for Ertirea.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Key Aspects to Consider

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, however, please note that tourism infrastructure in Eritrea is still quite limited so please don’t come expecting 5* facilities.


Check out our Q&As

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?


  • What is the maximum group size?


  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    We have a complete Covid-19 hub here:

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Over 70% of passengers on our group tours are solo adventurers. Unlike many tour operators, we don’t believe in charging solo travellers a premium, so if you are happy to share a room with a fellow traveller of the same sex, you will pay exactly the same as a couple..Occasionally you may even end up with your own room. You can travel as a single traveller on any of our holidays, from our escorte

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?


  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Since 2002

  • Do I need to be double-vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel with you?

    In most cases, yes. Not only are many destinations making double-vaccination a requirement of entry to the country and/or access to restaurants, museums etc., but additionally on all our group tours for the foreseeable future, for everyone’s peace of mind, we are asking that all clients be double vaccinated.

Reviews from travellers on this tour

Catherine Wilkinson  

Catherine Wilkinson

My first Wild Frontiers trip blew my expectations

My first Wild Frontiers trip blew my expectations away - I'm not sure I'll be able to cope travelling with other companies now!

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Oct 17, 2025 - Oct 25, 2025
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  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of wild frontiers charges.

    Up to 71 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

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  • Wild Frontiers' COVID Promise

    You will have the right to transfer without any transfer fee, from any of our trips at ANY time if your trip is not Covid Viable (see below).*
    We will not ask you to pay your final balance if your trip is not yet Covid Viable.
    If your trip is not Covid Viable, by 30 days prior to departure at the latest, we will cancel your holiday and you can either transfer your funds to another departure or have a refund.**

    We will only consider a trip Covid Viable*** if pre-departure it meets all of the following criteria:

    There is no national lockdown or ban on foreign travel for the period when your trip is due to depart.
    Destinations on the tour must not be on the UK’s Red List. ****
    No destinations visited on the tour have in place any significant COVID-19 restrictions for travellers.
    Tourist visas (if required) are available.
    There is reliable airline access to/from the start/end of the trip.
    Following an assessment by both Wild Frontiers and our local partners we are confident that your trip is able to run in both a safe and enjoyable manner.*****

    ** If you were originally booked to travel before 30 April 2020 and transferred to a later date, or if you have a tailor-made booking, there may be some irrecoverable costs which we cannot refund. Please speak to us and we will be able to advise you if this is the case for your booking.
    ***Since our HQ is in London, Covid Viable status for our Group Tours will be assessed on UK-based travellers. However we are fully aware that many of our clients live in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and beyond. As such, when we deem a trip to now be Covid Viable, everyone booked will have a chance to review their own personal situation before deciding whether or not to remain booked on the trip. Anyone wishing to, will have the option to transfer without fees to another trip at this time. For tailor made bookings, we may also able to consider additional countries’ travel advice when deciding if a trip is Viable. Please discuss this with us at the time of booking.
    **** This relates to bookings from UK clients only. We may operate trips to destinations which the British FCDO advise against travel for Covid reasons. If this is the case, anyone wishing to will have the option to cancel with a refund or transfer to another trip. In some cases we may choose to offer a tour to a Red destination but these will be at both clients’ and Wild Frontiers’ discretion and will be subject to alternative conditions to be discussed on an ad hoc basis.
    *****If a destination, that we have deemed to be Covid Viable, subsequently fails any aspect of the criteria for two consecutive weeks, you will have the right under our Covid Promise to transfer without any fees.

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