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A Visit To Keren and Western Eritrea.

Keren and the Western part of Eritrea is home to the traditional and tribal part of Eritrea and home to the Bilen and Tigre tribes.

Most parts of western Eritrea are completely off-limits to tourists. But there’s no limitation to Chinese mining companies, the only other non-locals you will see in this part of the country are Chinese people driving their big pickup trucks to and from the mines as you see in most other African countries these days.

When driving to this part of the country, you will see old beaten-up military remains from the civil war (like all over the country) and that locals still live in the traditional style of houses.

Scenery when heading west in Eritrea east africa
The scenery when heading west in Eritrea.
traditional houses in Eritrea
Traditional house in western Eritrea. A dwelling in Keren (Tukul). A round hut with a cone-shaped straw roof.
local village in Eritrea
Typical village in western Eritrea

But what you can visit is Keren is the famous Monday camel market that I didn’t manage to visit since I arrived in Keren on a Tuesday.

view over Keren in Eritrea
Keren from the top of Hotel Keren.
Keren hotel in Eritrea
Hotel Keren, remainders of a better time.
Keren street in Eritrea
Normal streets of Keren
Keren in Eritrea
Some new buildings are coming up in Keren, a new church next to an old one.
Keren city view in Eritrea
City view from the rooftop bar at Keren Hotel.
sunset in Eritrea
Sunset from the rooftop bar at Keren Hotel, a great place to enjoy an ice-cold local beer or a glass of Gin.

The most famous site around Keren except for the camel market that I missed is the Holy Tree. Yes, A holy tree or better called “The Shrine of our lady of Dearit”. A small chapel that´s been built inside a huge hollow Baobab tree. The same kind of trees as the famous Avenue of Baobab trees in Madagascar.

The Holy tree of The Shrine of our lady of Dearit. in eritrea
The Holy tree of The Shrine of our lady of Dearit.
The Holy tree of The Shrine of our lady of Dearit in eritrea
Walk into the tree
The Holy tree of The Shrine of our lady of Dearit in eritrea
Inside the tree, the famous black statue is locked up

So what I did get to see and experience in this part of Eritrea, was the traditional way of living and the great hospitality.

While the local´s in other parts of Eritrea were not to keen on getting their picture taken, the locals in this part of the country were more open-minded and always responded with a big smile when I asked to take their picture.

local in eritrea
A Local woman from western Eritrea, notice the Christian cross tattooed on her forehead
eritrea woman portrait
A woman from the Bilen tribe in western Eritrea,

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Trave guide to western Eritrea, one of the least visited countries in Africa
Complete guide to western Eritrea, one of the least visited countries in Africa



Monday 6th of July 2020

Hi Christian, Do you perhaps the coordinates for the camel market and the Holy Tree? We are planning a trip through Africa, and I am looking for interesting sites! Thank you very much.


Monday 11th of November 2019

I really am enjoyed your article too. To be honest, this is the first time I've ever learn about Keren and you've taught me something new for today. Learning new things really are enjoyment. Thank you for the story. Your photos are beautiful.

Darrell Chaddock

Sunday 19th of November 2017

I've long wanted to visit Eritrea but as a Canadian I haven't been able to find any current information about obtaining a visa. It appears to me that there is no Eritrean embassy or consulate in Canada. From what I've read online, Eritrea only grants visas to people who are citizens of countries in which Eritrea has diplomatic representation.

Do you have any insights about the visa requirements for Eritrea?

Christian L.

Sunday 19th of November 2017

Heey Darrel.

I had the same problem before going to Eritrea since there´s no Eritrean embassy in my home country Norway. If you contact a local travel agency so can the help you so you can get a visa on arrival. If you read my general post about Eritrea, so is it explained there.