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Photo Tours &
Railfan Tours

Eritrea Dampflok Mallett Tanago Eisenbahnreisen Erlebnisreisen

Steam in the mountains

24 November - 1 December 2020

Eritrea: Steam in the mountains

Experience with us the most beautiful mountain railway in Africa and the authentic, unspoilt country life of Eritrea. We travel several times on the steep track from Arbaroba up to Asmara. Here you will find the most spectacular and best photo and video motives, all locomotive series of the Italian Mallets are used in front of different, authentically reproduced train sets.

Railfan Tours Icon
No. of participants min. 18 - max. 40
Duration 8 days
Meals half board
Price from 1.890 Euro
Open for bookings Open for bookings
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Your itinerary:

24 november 2020, tuesday (arrival, not included in the tour price):
Fly today from various European airports to Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. Talk to us, we will help you to book an optimal arrival!

25 november 2020, wednesday
Most airlines arrive in Asmara around midnight, we offer a transfer from the airport directly to our centrally located tourist class hotel for every arrival.

Those who have already got out of bed at 9 am will take part in our city tour. The capital of Eritrea is a unique testimony of Art Deco and Italian colonial style: probably nowhere else in the world can you see so many well-preserved Art Deco buildings in one place. On our city tour (which we will continue on November 30th), you will see the Cathedral, the Greek Church, the Synagogue, the Fiat Tagliero building, the markets, and of course the famous "Tank Cemetery" with war material from the fight for independence.

Late risers are picked up from the hotel in time for lunch, then we drive to the station and the small depot of the railway, where the B-coupler 202.002 (Bh2t, Breda, 1927 )is already waiting for us under steam. We will shunt extensively in the station area.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: breakfast, lunch.

26th november 2020, thursday
Our steam program starts early in the morning with sunrise pictures at the well-known photo place between Shegereni and the vertex before Asmara. The "small" Mallett 440.008, a B'B tender locomotive built in 1915 in the Ansaldo workshops, will be used in front of our freight train.

We return to Asmara for a short time before we take a long mixed freight train via Arbaroba to Ghinda on the second trip of the day. The train locomotive for today will be a "big" Mallett class 442 (B'B tender locomotive). The track winds in steady curves and with many tunnels through the mountain landscape, behind every curve new perspectives open up! On the way downhill, we have planned only a few photo stops, because a) we will travel this track again in the next days, and b) we want to arrive in Ghinda in time for the afternoon light! After taking water in Ghinda we will work off some nice photo motives around Ghinda and prepare our locomotive for night shots in Ghinda station before we drive back to Asmara with our tour bus.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.

27 november 2020, friday
Early in the morning we leave already by bus to Ghinda and from there we start the long ascent via Embatkalla to Nefasit. On a distance of about 23 km the track climbs 800 meters of altitude difference!

At this point we would like to point out in general that nobody, even the Eritrean Railways, can guarantee our timetable or even the use of certain locomotives. The condition of the locomotives is not optimal, frequent breaks for steam cooking on open lines are normal, technical problems occur on almost all steam locomotives at regular intervals. Sometimes even several times a day. In addition, the railway administration is struggling with the monsoon damage during the summer: heavy rainfall triggers landslides, which in turn damage the line. Due to the very limited resources of the railway, such damage is often not repaired for months.

In other words: there is no entitlement to a particular line or locomotive. The programme can change at any time, even at very short notice. Nevertheless, we promise excellent opportunities to take pictures of the trains in a magnificent mountainous landscape!

After arrival in Nefasit we want to take some more night shots, and then we will go by bus to Asmara.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: breakfast, lunch.

28 november 2020, saturday
The small town of Nefasit is the starting point of our trip today: already in the early morning we will take a look at the many motives on the first kilometers of the track, from here on the route starts to become really spectacular: on 12 kilometers the track rises by 392 meters in altitude, many tunnels and horseshoe curves make the track a real mountain railway, which doesn't need to fear any comparison with the Furka or Darjeeling railway.

We take a full day for our freight train to be able to work off the many first-class motifs in peace and quiet.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: breakfast, lunch.

29 november 2020, sunday
Today we have to get up early again, because we want to be in the abandoned railway station of Lessa (below Arbaroba) by sunrise to steam back to Arbaroba in the best morning light. There our locomotive takes water before we start along the steep mountain slopes to Shegereni. There we spend our lunch break and wait for the unphotogenic high light. 

In Shegereni there are not only hundreds of children who routinely ask for "Pen", "Chocolate", or "Money", but also a lot of local flair to enjoy. Camel caravans pass by regularly, many locals drive their donkeys through the area, and the blossoming of many bushes, plants and trees creates colourful backgrounds or foregrounds!

In the afternoon we want to focus on the spectacular Devil's Gate, the viaducts and curves on the last steep ascent of the route to the crest just before Asmara, and the sunset pictures all the way to Asmara.

In the evening we illuminate the Bw in Asmara for night shots.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: breakfast, lunch.

30 november 2020, monday
In the morning we continue our city tour from the beginning of our journey in Asmara. There is so much to see that we will definitely not run out of places to visit. If there are enough acting employees in the railway workshop (which normally does not work to this extent), we will visit the worth seeing halls of the railway workshop again. 

Around noon we will roll with a 442 and a passenger train to Shegereni and will again take pictures of the outstanding motifs between Shegereni, Devil's Gate, viaduct, last tunnel, the wide curve before the apex, and the "back light straight" to the sunset!

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: breakfast, lunch.

1 december 2020, tuesday
Flights back home leave again around midnight, our hotel rooms are booked for the whole night, we will provide transfer buses for the respective departures again. Arrival in Europe is then the same day in the afternoon.


Your tourprice:

(land only, per person):

Land program 24 November - 1 December 2020 (without flight) from/to Asmara

1.890 Euro per person in 1/2 double room (if booked until 31 May 2020) for 27 to 40 participants
2.140 Euro per person in 1/2 double room (if booked on / from 1 June 2020) for 27 to 40 participants   
2,230 Euro per person in 1/2 double room (if booked by 31 May 2020) for 18 to 26 participants
2,480 Euro per person in 1/2 double room (if booked on/from 1 June 2020) for 18 to 26 participants
   280 Euro single room surcharge

If you wish, we can also arrange the flight to and from Asmara. Turkish Airlines flies via Istanbul and Egypt Air flies via Cairo from various German and European airports to Asmara. Please ask us for the best flight connections for you. We are happy to help you.

Our services:

  • Participation in the mentioned photo tours and travel program
  • BW Sightseeing and night shots
  • all transfers (also from and to the airport), as well as the entrance fees according to the program
  • Typical hotel with breakfast and lunch (usually packed as a small lunch package), as well as 2 bottles of water per day.
  • Tanago tour guide (German & English speaking) and local tour guide
  • Tanago information material

Not included are tips, personal expenses, and travel to and from Asmara. Tanago can arrange visas for Eritrea for several nationalities. Costs 120 Euro.

This trip is for a minimum of 18 and a maximum of 40 participants.

We are looking forward to another chance to experience the Mallets in Eritrea. A few years ago it seemed almost impossible to follow up our many successful trips to Eritrea with another one: Coal shortage, lack of personnel, and broken locomotives seemed to seal the end of our tours there in view of the economic situation in the country. But we underestimated the energy and enthusiasm in Eritrea - and now we can offer another trip to one of the best mountain railways on the continent.

Of course, the general circumstances in the country have not changed: the majority of our refugees come from Eritrea - and there are reasons for this. Similar to North Korea, we are aware of this, but we do not want to put it in the foreground for our trip. We drive into the country because of the steam locomotives, the uniquely beautiful landscape, the friendly people and the almost unlimited photo opportunities. We accept that not everyone shares this view, but we also ask not to abuse our tour for political campaign work. Anyone who stands out and cannot be integrated into the railway group will be sent home.

As already written in the travel text, the operation of the railway is endangered again and again by various landslides and line under- and overflows. At the moment the government has sufficient financial resources and enough interest to keep the railway running, after all the reconstruction of the railway after the civil war was already a national project.
This does not mean, however, that this will be the case forever. Nature and politics can turn away from the railway, and then it will be over just as quickly as it has started again.

We have planned our program with the knowledge of January 2018. Changes in the use of the locomotive or with regard to the routes used can also occur at very short notice; we are not liable for influences beyond our control. The Eritrean Railways Headquarters has confirmed our program and we expect to be able to do the same. Nevertheless, there is always a small residual risk. We have been working together with E.R and our local agency for many years in a very trustful way and we are sure to offer you an excellent railway programme!

The quality of hotels, roads and other infrastructure cannot be compared with Western Europe. Please do not expect luxury. Our local hotels offer simple rooms with shower/WC, working heating and hot water around the clock. Mobile phones, Internet or Wlan will not work or will only work to a very limited extent. Our buses will not meet German standards.

To make the best use of our time, we start early in the morning, at noon we usually have a small snack on the way, in the evening we eat a lot.

The costs of the land programme represent a kind of "all-inclusive". Your ancillary costs on this trip are therefore limited to additional beverage consumption outside the "all-inclusive" or potential extra wishes. In addition, there is only a contribution to the tip box.

Please also read our comments on the subject of "travel health insurance abroad". On our trip to China in February 2013, one participant fell ill. Without insurance he would have stayed in the Chinese hospital in Fuxin - and would not have been able to fly home. Four days before the start of our 2016 India tour, one participant had to cancel due to illness - the cancellation fee was 75%! Don't save at the wrong end, that's what travel health insurance is for.

Temperatures & Technology
During the day we expect temperatures around 20° C, at night it can get quite fresh and cool. It will hardly rain, depending on the weather conditions, a westward wind presses the humidity of the Red Sea against the mountains of the Asmaras plateau, which can lead to cloud formation.

Use stable shoes (we will be out and about all day long) and also get dressed for "outdoors". Please leave jackets or trousers in bright colours in the wardrobe at home.

Entry requirements
A tourist visa is required for entry into Eritrea. Since the visa application has to be done personally at the embassy in Berlin, and at the same time is not quite easy, we take over this task. The procurement of the visa costs us at present 120 euro. All participants require a passport which must be valid for at least six months after the date of travel and must contain at least two free pages. This information applies only to German nationals. Please check the different regulations for your home country!

See you soon in Eritrea!