Exploring Tourism in Eritrea
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Travel Activities Details

Riding On Old Locomotive Tour

Riding On Old Locomotive Tour Packages
Country: Eritrea
City: Massawa
Duration: 3 Day(s) - 2 Night(s)
Tour Category: Train Riding

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Package Itinerary

The legacy of the Italians in Building one of the finest road and railway structures in Eritrea, East Africa is untold. Their feat of engineering in Railroad is demonstrated when they managed to build the railway from a Zero Sea level to an altitude of 2400 meters above. It is quite amazing. They also build, in the 1920s, the longest cable car in the world in its time, from Massawa stretching for about 70 kilometers all the way up to Asmara. Unfortunately, the cable rope has been dismantled in the 1960s by the Ethiopians.

The Eritrean Railway authority has rehabilitated the 100 year’s old Italian Steam locomotive trains which use coal and the old Littorina, diesel driven rail cars. It is such an exhilarating ride all the way from Asmara to Massawa.

Day 01- Arrivals

Arrive at Asmara International airport and transfer to Hotel. Overnight in Asmara.

Day 02 - Asmara - Massawa
Locomotive enthusiasts can hire the locomotive at USD 250 per hour. It will take them about 10 hours to reach Massawa. On the way they can continuously stop the locomotive for photography. (Overnight in Massawa).

Day 03 Massawa-Asmara
Visitor enjoys the city of port of Massawa till noon. After noon the visitor transferred to Asmara and late in the evining transfer to airport for their bon voyage.


Its construction began in Autumn 1887. Originally, the colonists were planning to use the train to move their military personnel quickly as well as carry minerals from the mines they were exploiting all over the country. It is in 1911 that the train finally connected Asmara, the capital, to Massawa.

At the peak of its glory, the system had over thirty-nine tunnels, sixty-five bridges, and had trains going along the railway regularly on a daily basis. There were even plans to connect the railway to neighboring countries of Sudan and Ethiopia. It was also a major contribution to the local economy as goods from the whole of the country could be carried efficiently between the capital and other major cities of the country, such as Nefasit, Keren, and the seaport of Massawa.

The Eritrean railway system is special amongst railways in the world due to the challenges it had to overcome. Firstly, Eritrea is a very mountainous country, with Asmara being located over two thousand meters above sea level and the ports, of course, all the way did to sea level. As trains cannot support steep hills, a highly elaborate system of winding roads, viaducts, and tunnels had to be planned which allow passengers to see incredible vistas at a very leisurely pace.

But the design of the railway is not the only thing that makes it special, the locomotives and carts certainly make it even more interesting! Indeed, the trains of Eritrea haven’t been changed since the Italians have left and the equipment used today is the same that was used decades ago. This makes a train trip in Eritrea a real time-travel experience. The steam engine, the horn, and the gauge is all authentic and vintage. This kind of equipment cannot be found much around the world, except maybe in Sri Lanka and in India.

As a chartered train, the Eritrean steam train does not follow a fixed schedule. However, in order for the workers to know how to prepare the train, it should be requested a few days in advance. The train generally leaves in the morning after all preparations are made but its departure time is flexible.

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