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Africa > East Africa > Eritrea > Coastal Eritrea > Nakfa

Nakfa

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Nakfa is a town in Eritrea. It is about ten hours by taxi from the Eritrean capital of Asmara. In the moment it is not possible to get a travel permit to go to Nakfa, so for tourists it is out of reach.

Tribal house

Understand[edit]

Nakfa is the remotest village of Eritrea but at the same time the most sought after place. This was the place where the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front or the E.P.L.F. fought bravely for nearly 30 years before liberating Eritrea from the rule of the Ethiopian government. For this reason the currency of Eritrea is also named ‘Nakfa’.

The road from Afabet to Nakfa is winding like all the other roads in this country. But in this sector it is extremely narrow and the village van bulges with passengers. The people here are all tribal Muslims and they live in small stone huts without plastering. More important is the generator which is essential as this village has no electricity. Even a telephone is available in the village but it works on sunny days only as the power source is solar. You can’t dial home directly either as it is a link system and it takes quite some time to connect to Asmara. But the telephone booth looks ‘crowded’ all the day as those who come in the morning wait the whole day to get connected. Once connected you can talk aloud but there is no guarantee of your message reaching the other end as the signals are often very weak.

Get in[edit]

Nakfa Village

Nakfa is a nice place to go but it is not easy to reach. But alas, there are no bus services and taxi drivers simply refuse to go there. Given the unlikely case that you got a travel permit you have to take a bus to Keren town where a village van going to Afabet can be arranged on the next day.

You have to accommodate yourself with cattle and carry bags but you will reach Afabet within a few hours of comfortless travel. Afabet is the place where you have to show your patience. Transport to Nakfa is certainly available but you have to wait for one or two days.

Get around[edit]

There are no taxis or buses atop the mountain. But you don't need any of them as the place is very pleasant for walking. Look out for land mines.

See[edit]

If Nakfa is not beautiful, what is beauty? Perched atop 1,780 metres above the sea level, this little African village is rich in history and scenic beauty. Nakfa is beautiful because of the undulating nature of the Sahel mountain range in this area. You don’t see a single mountain but hundreds and hundreds of small hills rolling to all the four sides of your observation point. Nakfa is one of the few villages in Africa where shifting cultivation and nomadic herding is still in practice. The tribal population shifts from mountain to mountain in search of better pastures.

Each tribal house is built on a separate hillock. The house is only one room made of stones and the roof is made up of corrugated sheets these days. There is a small enclosure outside every house which is used as a bathhouse. All chores of the home are done outside. In the evening all the cattle are simply put outside the hut without employing ropes, fences or identity tags. Water is not plenty but there are some tanks and streams where the animals crowd to quench their thirst. They all dry up in summer and the big camel population here depends upon cactus stalks for their water requirements. It is real fun to see the camel eating the cactus without harming itself with the very sharp thorn.

The people of Nakfa live in harmony with nature. They eat what they cultivate and drink what their cattle provides them. Coco Cola comes only once a month to the top of the hill and then there is real celebration around the truck. Everybody insists on finishing the whole load within the next few hours. You are reminded of the commercials of Coco Cola on the television. But then Eritrea is one country where the fanciful and the real meet each other. When you travel the spiral path down the plateau of Asmara, you can see the long Coco Cola truck climbing up the hairpin bends, just like their magazine ads.

Do[edit]

The village markets are very vibrant and suitable for a stroll around. The little hillocks are worth visiting provided you keep limited to beaten tracks because land mines can be a real hazard.

The Eritrean currency

Eat[edit]

The food is sumptuous. For ten Nakfa, you can have ‘injira’ and ‘zigni’ which is something like the Indian dosai and mutton curry.

Sleep[edit]

  • Hotel Nakfa Apollo, One km. from the town centre. This is a hotel with modern facilities but there is no restaurant. But they like to cook specially for you.

Go next[edit]

Keren is where you could explore picturesque foothills in the second largest city in Eritrea.



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