Eritrea stretches along the Red Sea. To the south it borders Ethiopia, to the southeast Djibouti and to the east Sudan. More than 200 of Eritrea ’s islands belong to the Dahlak archipelago with a great opportunity for scuba diving. Charter yachts are available for hire in Massawa. Only four islands are inhabited, with a total population of just 2,500, who still maintain their traditional lifestyle of fishing and herding goats and camels. Some islands have shores lined with mangrove trees or salt bush. Shoals and submerged coral reefs, a spectacular marine life (dolphins, sharks, dugongs, turtle species, hermit crabs, fish, mollusks or shellfish), shipwrecks and pumice stones formed from submarine volcanos make this part of the Red Sea an unforgettable diving experience.
An important difference with other diving spots in the Red Sea is an unexpected result of the years of war. During the fights, fishery came to a halt and resulted in a spectacular increase of large numbers of fish. A second advantage of this forced isolation is a relative lack of shyness of the fish.
Opposite to the Lul Hotel (Dahlak Kebir) lies the old marine base Nokra, setup by the former USSR and Ethiopia during the war of independence.After the last days of the war the base was abandoned. One of the last actions before the retreat was the destruction of all military and non military hardware and to scuttle patrol boats, ships and the floating dock, that might be of any use to the Eritreans. This vindictive behavior has resulted in an interesting heritage for divers. The two cranes of the former floating dock rise above sea level in the northern channel between Nokra and Dahlak Kebir, while the rest of the wreck is populated by rif fish, a variety of corals and blue and black speckled manta rays. The Russians even left a complete operational officers sauna for 20 persons, which is quite remarkable in one of the hottest regions on earth, which temperatures of over 50°C!
Getting to Eritrea
Asmara is the only international airport ; from Frankfurt/M and Jeddha with Lufthansa (LH). Flights from Europe and the USA can be booked through Ericommerce International Ltd.
Approximate flight time: From Asmara to London is 7 hours. Asmara Airport (ASM) is about 6km (4 miles) from the city. Buses and taxis are available to the city centre.
From Asmara you can fly or drive to Massawa. The infrastructure of Eritrea was rebuilt entirely. Some roads are again in reconstruction, but finished soon. Roads are pleasant and connect all business centres and holiday resorts. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended on all other roads and tracks. An extension of the existing road system is planned. Traffic drives on the right. Bus services connect all larger towns and cities. Taxis can be found in most of the cities and at the airport. Rental cars can be booked through the Eritrean Tour Service and an International Driving Permit is recommended.
When to Visit Eritrea
Air temperatures in winter range from 60°-75°; the water can drop down into the upper 60s, with the coolest temperatures occurring in February. Summer land temperatures slide right up past 100°, with the water temperature rising into the low 80s (take a wetsuit anyway). The hottest month is August. If you are going to do any land exploration, the trade-off for warm water is hot weather. The manta season is from March to June.