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Photo-Kiboko

Eritrea - Steam train Safari

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Photo-Kiboko

@@Game Warden
I have no idea to place this travel report, correctly.
Eritrea got independent from Ethiopia in 1991 after 30 years of independence war.
Therefore, the people of Eritrea are not so fond to be in the folder of Ethiopia.
Is it possible to create a separate folder for Eritrea.
On the other hand, is it possible to change the name to Ethiopia & Eritrea?


I like to show you a selection of 14 pictures from Eritrea.
It was not a typical Safari.
I have not been in any national park in Eritrea.
I have joined a private organized tour with about 20 train enthusiasts in February 2009.
In focus was the railroad from Massawa at the Red Sea to the capital of Asmara.
The 950 mm narrow gauge line climbs from sea level to about 2400m over a distance of 117 km.
The line continued to Keeren – Ascordot – Biscia. This extension is not in use any more.
Most of the non-trains pictures are snapshots out of the trains or during short breaks.

The hot and humid air raises over the Red Sea.
The air reaches the mountains at night and develops clouds.
This provides a little humidity on the mountain slopes.
Sunrise over the clouds in the mountains near Asmara.


#1
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The steam Train in the mountains between Arbaroba and Shegerini.
Steam locomotive 442 54 leads a mixed train.


#2
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Photo-Kiboko

Massawa was the capital of a former independent kingdom.
The coast and architecture reflects the Arabic influence.
Massawa is located on two islands in the Red Sea.
The harbour was gate to the highlands of Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The harbour was the main source of income in the area.
The border between Eritrea and Ethiopia is closed since the independence war.
Ethiopia uses the harbour of Djibouti.
One big source of income for Eritrea is lost.


Steam Train with locomotive 442 55 leaves the old town of Massawa


#3
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Eritrea is poor.
Relicts of the war like rusty tanks and ruins are still visible.
There is no money to repair houses.
The palace of Emperor Haile Selassie in Massawa might need some repair


#4
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I had no chance to see much wildlife.
There are plenty of water birds around the harbour of Massawa.
I have seen some raptors at the slopes of the mountains.
Tawny eagle (I am not sure) near Moncullo

#5
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The train passes 29 tunnels on the way from Massawa to Asmara.
A population of bats lives in some of these tunnels.
Trains run only a couple of times per year.
The smoke of the steam locomotive forces the bats to leave the tunnel.
They fly around without orientation.

#6
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Photo-Kiboko

Currently, Germany is the destination for many refugees.
We got about 1 Million this year.
Eritrea is under the top ten.

However, Eritrea is home of many refugees from Somalia, too.
Many live in refugee camps.
We pass a refugee camp near Moncullo.
The people living in very basic "homes".


#7
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Some of the refugees left the camps.
They moved into the mountains.
The live from their livestock.
The “houses” have not much comfort.
This house near Ghinda is just an example.
There are plenty of it.


#8
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The Eritrean people live in stone houses.
Here is a picture of a typical farm in Ghinda.


#9
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Transportation is difficult in Eritrea.
Eritrea has a large refinery, but has not much money to buy oil.
Therefore, many Eritreans use Camels and Donkeys for transportation.
Donkey with firewood near Ghinda.


#10
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optig

Eritrea remains known as the North Korea of Africa. Refugees continue to escape or die trying from Eritrea. I find your photos and trip report just fascinating.

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Photo-Kiboko

Desert is at the cost.
In the mountains, the landscape changes to a typical Sahel “tree-savanna”.
The trains passes a bridge between Baresa and Ghinda.


#11
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In the mountains about 2200 m elevation.
A little farm near Shegerini.


#12
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The trains climbs the mountains at Shegerini

#13
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Finally, we arrive in the capital Asmara.
The Italians built the city in the 1920s and 1930s.
The centre contains many houses in Art Deco style.
The main road is the Harnet Ave.
Probably, Asmara is the safest African capital.
I could walk around with my camera.


#14
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The future of the railroad of Eritrea is uncertain.
There are plans to rebuild the line for heavier trains.
However, there is no money to do it.
The remaining coal for the steam locomotives must been used in the cement factory.
The replacement coal is not suitable to fire steam locomotives.
Probably, the “treno ultimo” has run in December 2014.

In the national park should be some big game, including some Elephants.
However, I do not have any reliable information about it.
I have enjoyed the time in Eritrea.
I really like to see more of this beautiful country with its very friendly people.

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michael-ibk

Fascinating report and pictures about a country I know next to nothing about. The shots of the steam train - like from centuries past. Thank you for sharing, Bernd.

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Tom Kellie

~ @@Photo-Kiboko

 

What @@michael-ibk has written above reflects my sentiments.

Ethiopia is of great cultural, historical, economic and biological significance, but I know far too little about Eritrea.

Your fascinating photos and commentary are quite a service for all Safaritalk members and visitors.

Thank you so much for preparing and posting this trip report.

Tom K.

Edited by Tom Kellie

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TonyQ

@@Photo-Kiboko

Fascinating - thank you for sharing this - we see very little of Eritrea

Edited by TonyQ

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Marks

Thank you for bringing this to us - it's quite unlike most reports and is of great value.

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Livetowander

That's a great picture of the bat.

 

I was lucky enough to be able to visit the year before you and took the train from Asmara to Nefasit. Amazingly I have the same picture of the little house high above the valley. I often wonder if one could ever become blasé about such amazing views.

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xelas

@@Photo-Kiboko

 

My thanks also, for posting a trip report and photos of this little known country!

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Zim Girl

As everyone else has said, this is a very interesting report with pictures from one of Africa's much lesser known countries.

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wilddog

What a fascinating glimpse of a country one rarely hears of these days. Some lovely old architecture. And the smiles of the people you saw.....lovely.

 

@@Photo-Kiboko I appreciate your comments about seperating the thread from Ethiopia. I am a Site Moderator but I cannot see a way to create a new country subforum. Some functions are only possible by Site Admin ......@@Game Warden.

 

But in case I have missed something I am just going to tag @@twaffle and @@kittykat23uk in case they can see a way to do it that I cannot.

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Atravelynn

Thanks for some info on this little known destination. You have lots of experience with train photos and really know how to compose great shots with them. Excellent bat photo. I'd like it even more if they weren't so frequently disturbed. What difficult conditions for the refugees. Thanks for sharing this!

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PT123

@Photo-Kiboko

 

Very cool, thanks for sharing! I particularly liked the shots of the train in in mountainous regions and the train along the seaside.

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Photo-Kiboko

Thank you for the kind comments and the many "likes".

 

I was lucky enough to be able to visit the year before you and took the train from Asmara to Nefasit. Amazingly I have the same picture of the little house high above the valley.

 

You can be lucky.
A couple of years ago the railroad has to hand over all their remaining coal to the cement plant.
Later, the cement plant got new coal and gave some coal the railroad.
Unfortunately, this coal was very fine and not usable for steam locomotives.
The officials thought coal is coal.
Some rail fan groups bought locomotive coal from South Africa.
This was very expensive, because of transportation to Eritrea.
There is still some small amount of coal left.
Nevertheless, the railroad can / will not support any train operation in the moment.
The line is interrupted by an earth slide.

The house at the valley is very scenic.
I have photographed it during every passage.

And the smiles of the people you saw.....lovely.

 

The people in Eritrea are very friendly.
It is very similar to Malawi.

I really appreciate, if an Admin can move the thread into a new directory or can rename the current directory.
May be there will be some more travel reports from this fascinating country.

 

Excellent bat photo. I'd like it even more if they weren't so frequently disturbed.

 

The railroad has built the home for the bats.
There would not be a tunnel without a railroad.
In the 1930's, there were about 38 trains each day in each direction.
This was too busy for bats.

We have not disturbed the bats to get better pictures.

Very cool, thanks for sharing! I particularly liked the shots of the train in in mountainous regions and the train along the seaside.

 

Thank You,
I have some more trains shots for you

Here are some more pictures.
We have chartered the trains.
We travelled in the trains.
At interesting points, the train stopped and we jumped out.
Then, the train passed one or more times.
We took pictures or videos.
We board again and search for the next spot.
We have used the morning and evening sun.

Riding on a freight train is a little bit more difficult.
These fright cars are useful for decoration, only.
One Gondola and the boxcar had no floor.
During the ride, I stood on the metal frame.
I could watch the rolling wheels and could count ties …
Safety standards are a little bit different in Eritrea.

In 2009, there were four operational steam locomotives
202 002, 440 008, 442 54, 442 55 and 442 59.

Here is a picture of a freight train near Shegerini.

 


#17
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Donkeys are used freight and passenger service.
I made this picture of a “Flying Donkey” during “Drive-by-Shooting” out of a moving bus.
It is a lucky shot.


#18
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Eritrean Railways had a commuter service around Massawa.
Old fright cars were converted into these passenger cars.
Commuter train near Otumlo

 


#19
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The railroad got nine rail cars (Littering) in the 1930s from Fiat to enhance the passenger service.
One is still working.
We used it once on a trip from Asmara to Shegerini and return.
A truck was parked near the rails on the return trip.
There was not enough space for the train.
All riders have seen that we are facing a problem.
Our well-experienced Littorina engineer (83 years old) has not seen it!

Crash! - Bumm! - Bäng!

The old Littorina was damaged!
Nobody was injured.
The Littorina could be repaired.


#20
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I will write a full trip report "sometimes", "somewhere" on a still to be made home page.

This might need some time.

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mvecht

@@Photo-Kiboko

Interesting Photos from a place most of us do not get to see.

I think that the bird of prey in Photo no 5 is a Black Kite rather than a Tawny Eagle.

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Sverker

The train looks just like the Märklin-setup I played with when I was 10 years old.

 

Nice.

 

But I suppose Eritrea is not participating in the Paris Climate Congress? I mean, buying coal from South Africa to power a steamer?

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optig

These photos are absolutely priceless. I never imagined that Eritrea could be such a charming country.

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pomkiwi

Thanks for this lovely report. It must have been a facinating journey.

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PT123

Wow, what an adventure @Photo-Kiboko thanks for the additional train shots and the flying donkey!

I wonder who is older, the engineer driving the Fiat rail car or the rail car!

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Marks

I adore the "flying donkey" photo. What a moment!

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Kitsafari

@@Photo-Kiboko your first two pictures were breathtaking. interesting photo of the bat looked annoyed at being disturbed again. but you have made the towns of Massawa and Asmara look quite charming.

 

I didnt even notice the flying donkey among the many lovely photos of the country you had introduced to me until @@Marks noted it!

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Photo-Kiboko

Thank you for all the kind comments and the "likes".

 

 

@@Photo-Kiboko

Interesting Photos from a place most of us do not get to see.

I think that the bird of prey in Photo no 5 is a Black Kite rather than a Tawny Eagle.

 

Your are right, it is a Black Kite. Thank you for identification. I was not sure.

 

But I suppose Eritrea is not participating in the Paris Climate Congress? I mean, buying coal from South Africa to power a steamer?

 

Coal is not coal. The coal for power plants and cement factories is fine. Steam locomotives need larger pieces. This coal is not available everywhere.

 

We have only two active coal mines in Germany. They will close in 2018, latest.

I assume the coal for German power plants travels over long distances, too.

 

 

I wonder who is older, the engineer driving the Fiat rail car or the rail car!

 

The driver is older.

I must be born around 1926.

The Fiat rail cars are built in the 1930s.

 

you have made the towns of Massawa and Asmara look quite charming.

 

Asmara is quite charming, because the center is built in the 1920s and 1930s in Art Deco style.

There are many details, like lamps, which are still original.

It is more or less preserved, because of the lack of money.

Probably, it is the safest capital in Africa.

 

Massawa is different. There was a hard battle during the war. Many houses are still destroyed or damaged.

There are nearly no street lights at night.

 

There are many more intersting points in Eritrea, like the camel market in Keren.

Therefore, I like to visit this country again.

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pault

@@Photo-Kiboko Thanks for that. Really great to see and hear about. Beautiful "snapshots".

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