Gladlee of Guernsey
An article for Yachting World magazine in 250 words.
ERITREA................................................................by Nigel Morley and Julie Smart
Despite the well-publicised arrest of two boats on the Eritrean coast in early 1995 the Eritrean port of Massawa remains a popular stopover for yachts transiting the Red Sea. Devastated during Eritrea’s long independence war, Massawa is slowly being rebuilt and its port facilities expanded. Yachts are made most welcome and formalities are minimal, though a 7-day transit visa is now obligatory and costs $25: there is also a tourist tax of $5 per day per boat. Space on the quays is limited, but it is more comfortable in any case to anchor off in the harbour. Fuel and water are available, food shopping is more than adequate by Red Sea standards, and a few small restaurants (try the “Eritrea” for good value and coldest beers) offer a choice of Italian or local dishes.
Massawa can be almost unbearably hot, and most visitors take the opportunity to visit Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, over 7000 feet up at the end of a spectacular 5-hour bus journey. Asmara was untouched by the war and has a charmingly laid-back atmosphere, with good shopping and dozens of lively cafés and bars. Asseb, Eritrea’s larger southernmost port, has nothing in particular to recommend it, though the 250 mile coastline between the two ports has some wonderful scenery and excellent anchorages (the section opposite the disputed Hanish Islands should still be given a wide berth). Much the best reason for stopping in Eritrea, however, is to meet its exceptionally resourceful and friendly people, whose deserved reputation for hospitality was so sadly tarnished by that unfortunate incident two years ago.