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Photo Tours &
Railfan Tours

Eritrea Dampflok Mallett Tanago Eisenbahnreisen Erlebnisreisen

Steam in the mountains

1 - 8 November 2023

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

Railfan Tours Icon
No. of participants Min. 22 - max. 36
Duration 8 days
Meals as described
Price from 2.580 Euro
Open for bookings Open for bookings
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Your itinerary

Tuesday, 31 October 2023
(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 journey!

Wednesday, 1 November 2023
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 by 9am join our city tour. The capital of Eritrea is a unique testimony to Art Deco and Italian colonial style: probably nowhere else in the world can so many well-preserved Art Deco buildings be seen in one place. On our city tour (which we will continue on 6 November), 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 equipment from the War of Independence.

Late risers will be picked up from the hotel in time for lunch, after which we will drive to the railway station and the small railway depot, 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.

Thursday, 2 November 2023
Our steam programme starts early in the morning with sunrise pictures at the well-known photo spot between Shegereni and the apex before Asmara. The small Mallett 440.008, a B'B tender locomotive, is to be used in front of our goods train.

We return briefly to Asmara before taking a long mixed goods train via Arbaroba to Ghinda on the second run of the day. Pulling engine for today will be a 'big' class 442 Mallett (B'B tender loco). The line winds its way through the mountainous landscape in steady curves and with many tunnels, new perspectives open up behind every bend! On the way downhill we only have a few photo stops planned, as we a) want to travel this route again in the next few days, and b) want to arrive in Ghinda in time for the afternoon light! After taking water in Ghinda, we will work through some more beautiful photo opportunities around Ghinda and prepare our locomotive for night photography at Ghinda station before heading back to Asmara on our tour bus.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch.

Friday, 3 November 2023
Early in the morning we leave already by bus to Ghinda and from there we start the long climb via Embatkalla to Nefasit. On about 23 km of track, the railway climbs 800 metres in altitude!

At this point we would like to point out in general that nobody, not even 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 track are normal, technical problems occur on almost all steam locomotives at regular intervals. Sometimes several times a day. In addition, the railway administration struggles with the monsoon damage during the summer: heavy rains trigger landslides, which in turn damage the track. Due to the very limited resources of the railways, such damages are often not repaired for months.

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

After arriving in Nefasit, we will take some night shots and then travel by bus to Asmara.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch.

Saturday, 4 November 2023
The small town of Nefasit is the starting point of our journey today: already in the early morning we will devote ourselves extensively to the many motifs on the first kilometres of the railway, from here on the alignment starts to become really spectacular: on 12 kilometres the railway climbs 392 metres in altitude, many tunnels and horseshoe curves make the line a real mountain railway, which does not need to fear any comparison with the Furka or Darjeeling Railway.

We take a full day for our goods train to work off the many first-class motifs at our leisure.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch.

Sunday, 5 November 2023
Today we have to "get up early" again, because we want to be at the abandoned station of Lessa (below Arbaroba) by sunrise in order to steam from there back to Arbaroba in the best morning light. There our locomotive takes water before we set off along the steep mountain slopes to Shegereni. There we spend our lunch break and wait for the unphotogenic high light.

In Shegereni, apart from hundreds of children routinely asking for "pen", "chocolate" or "money", there is also a lot of local flair to enjoy. Camel caravans pass by regularly, many locals drive their donkeys through the area, and the flowering of many bushes, plants and trees provide colourful backgrounds or foregrounds!

In the afternoon, we will 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 light up the railway station in Asmara for night shots.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch.

Monday, 6 November 2020
In the morning we continue our city tour from the beginning of our trip in Asmara. There is so much to see that we are guaranteed not to run out of places to visit. Should we find enough acting employees in the railway workshop again (which normally does not work to that extent), we will also visit the worth seeing halls of the railway workshop again.

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

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Tuesday, 7 November 2023
We are keeping this day open at the moment, we are still planning activities on the track, which we can only announce later. So let us surprise you.

Overnight stay in Asmara.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Wednesday, 8 November 2023
Flights home depart again around midnight, our hotel rooms are booked for the whole night, we will again provide transfer buses for the respective departures. Arrival in Europe is then the same day in the afternoon.


Your tour price

Land Programme 1 November - 8 November 2023 (without flight) from / to Asmara:  

2.580 Euro per person in 1/2 double room (if booked before 31 March 2023).
2.780 Euro per person in 1/2 double room (for booking from 1 April 2023)
280 Euro single supplement

160 Euro visa arrangement at the Eritrean Embassy in Berlin.

If you wish, we can also arrange your flight to and from Asmara. Turkish Airlines flies via Istanbul and Egypt Air flies via Cairo from various German and European airports to Asmara. Ask us about the most convenient flight connections for you. We will be happy to help you.


Our services

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

Not included are tips, personal expenses, as well as travel to and from Asmara. Tanago can arrange the visa for Eritrea for several nationalities. Cost 160 Euro.

We run this trip with a minimum of 22 and a maximum of 36 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: Coal shortages, staff shortages, and broken locomotives seemed to seal the end of our tours there, given the economic situation in the country. But we underestimated the energy and enthusiasm in Eritrea - and now we can again offer a trip to one of the best mountain railways on the continent.

Of course, the general circumstances in the country have not changed: a large proportion of the refugees with us come from Eritrea - and there are reasons for that. Similar to North Korea, we are aware of this, but don't want to bring it to the fore for our trip. We travel to 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 may share this view, but we also ask that our tour not be misused for political campaigning. Anyone who stands out and cannot fit into the railway group will be sent home.

As already written in the travel text, the operation of the railway is repeatedly endangered by multiple landslides and line under- and over-washings. At the moment, the government has sufficient financial means 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 their backs on the railway, and then it will be over just as quickly as it started again.

We have planned our programme with the state of knowledge as of January 2018. Changes in locomotive operation or with regard to the routes travelled can also happen at very short notice, we are not liable for influences beyond our control. The head office of Eritrean Railways has confirmed our programme and we assume that we can run it as it is. However, there is always a small residual risk. We have worked with E.R and our local agency for many years with great trust and are guaranteed to provide you with an excellent rail programme!

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

In order to make the best use of our time, we will leave early in the morning, usually have a small snack on the road at lunchtime, and then have plenty to eat in the evening.

The costs of the land programme are a kind of "all-inclusive". Your incidental expenses on this trip are therefore limited to additional beverage consumption outside the "all-inclusive" or potential extra requests. Apart from that, there is only a contribution to the gratuity fund.

Please be sure to also read our notes on the topic of "travel health insurance abroad". On our China trip in February 2013, a 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 India tour in 2016, a participant had to cancel due to illness - the cancellation costs were 75%! Don't save at the wrong end, that's what overseas travel health insurance is for.

Temperatures & Technique
During the day we expect temperatures around 25 to 28 °C on the coast, at night it is only slightly cooler with still high humidity. In the mountains we can expect temperatures around 20°C, at night it can get quite fresh and cool. It will hardly rain, depending on the weather, a westward blowing wind will push the humidity of the Red Sea against the mountains of the Asmara plateau, which can lead to cloud formation.

Also use sturdy shoes (we will be off-road all day) and prepare for "outdoors" in terms of clothing. Please leave jackets or trousers in bright colours at home in your wardrobe.

Entry requirements
A tourist visa is required for entry into Eritrea. As the application for the visa has to be made personally at the embassy in Berlin, and at the same time is not very easy, we take over this task. Obtaining the visa currently costs us 120 Euros. All participants need a passport, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of travel and contain at least two free pages. This information only applies to German nationals. Please check the regulations for your home country, which may differ!

See you soon in Eritrea!

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