Asmara is good place to use your bike. And many Eritreans use their chinese bicycle. The terrain is flat and the streets are wide. And the traffic is not that hectic. I asked for a place to rent a bicycle, but I couldn't find it.
It's just like it is in New York. A typical street view with yellow cabs. The taxi system is well-arranged, and the cars are apparently newer and more modern than it is in f.ex Addis Ababa. The price is 50 Nakfa for a short ride within the city center. And 100 Nakfa if you drive out from the city center.
Camels are the national animal in Eritrea. It's normal to use camels for transportation here. However it is not so many of them in the center of Asmara. I like the picturesque view when camels walk along in the streets.
Asmara Intl. Airport (also known as Yohannes IV International Airport) is a small airport. The runway is short, but big enough to handle an Airbus 340/330 operated by Lufthansa. (Lufthansa leaves Asmara with less weight because they refuel the aircraft one hour later when they stop in Jidda, Saudi-Arabia).
Arriving at Asmara airport
The airport has no gates, so all passengers have to disembark from the staircase and walk 50 meters to the terminal.
The immigration is located just inside the entrance. The control at the immigration is strict, and my passport was checked in two different counters. I didn't see a "visa on arrival" desk.
Some meters behind the immigration, you enter a small hall. First you have to pick a form to declare the money you bring into the country. This form must have stamp from an officer. Remember to keep this form for inspection when you leave the country. Money exchange at banks or official offices must be filled in this form. That is to prevent exchange at the black marked. Useless to say, the official rate is lousy (half of the black marked).
Your baggage will arrive in this small hall. Pick a trolley and go further 10 meters to the customs. The customs officer will look after electronic devices or any other items you may have. In my case they just looked at the baggage-tag (OSL-FRA), and let me go. But expect a strict inspection if you come from Dubai, etc. (DXB).
After the customs you have to walk 30 meters on a pavement towards the taxi area. (Look at the photo to get an idea how it's like).
Departure from Asmara airport
An officer will check your ticket before you enter the pavement towards the terminal. You will enter the terminal on the right side. (Look at the photo to get an idea how it's like).
The check-in counters is just inside the terminal. After that go to the customs counter on the right side and sign your "money declaration form".
Go further 10 meters inside to get the exit stamp in your passport. Expect some queue here.
The security X-ray is located just after the immigration.
The last customs check was at the the X-ray (!). I had to show the customs officer the "money declaration form" and all the money I had left.
Then go up the stairs to the departure hall and wait for your flight. You can buy some souvenirs, soft drinks and taxfree items here. Make sure to have Nakfa (Eritrean money) if you like to buy soft drinks. It's hard to pay with dollar.
Eritrean Airlines is the only domestic airline, and has a reputation of beeing untrustful. I don't know if it's true or not. The photo is from Harnet avenue.
P.O. Box 222
Tickets 125500 and 125501
Asmara is high up, so the take off and landing weights for planes are limited. When the diaspora returns with presents for their family, cargo is left behind, and it could be your luggage when you travel by EgyptAir. One flight left behind 2.5 tonnes of cargo.
There are only two flights per week, so if your luggage misses your flight, you will wait several days for your luggage to catch up. Therefore pack urgent medicines and a spare clothes in your carry-on luggage sufficient for several days.
EgyptAir does offer compensation for delayed luggage, but it is only US$20, which will barely buy you a bottle of shampoo in Asmara. You have left the US and the EU, so normal rules for compensation do not apply!
You can reach Asmara by road through Sudan i.e Kassala area. But Eritrea and Sudan are like enemies and there fore it is risky to go by road. But the peace treaty has been signed and Bus services from Kassala to Asmara and vice-versa have been started.
A typical street view in Asmara with red city buses. The buses are apparently new and modern to be in a country in Africa. The public bus system is well-arranged.
Horses are common in Asmara, and is widely used for transportation. The gasolin price is expensive, so horse is used instead for cars by some people.
The bus-stops in Asmara is well-arranged and clean. The local people line up in queue and doesn't sneak. It's polite and common sense to rise and give away your seat for older people in Eritrea.