Tour around Africa: Stage 39 - Asmara (HHAS) to New Halfa (HSNW)
MS Flight Simulator VFR Flight Plan
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In this VFR - GPS Flight Plan we take off from the airport of Asmara (HHAS) [Eritrea] and fly to the west towards Khartoum in Sudan.  The distance from Asmara is too long for a single stage so we will make the route in two stages, in this first one will land in the small airport of New Halfa (HSNW) [Sudan]

Find below a short extract and screenshots of the main points of the route. In this journey around Africa I have used the Cessna 172S (Skyhawk)

Take off from runway 25 of the airport of Asmara. Due to the elevation of this airport (7,661 feet) it was necessary to limit the vertical ascent speed (VS) to 300 feet/minute.

Asmara International Airport, IATA: ASM, ICAO: HHAS, is the international airport of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. It is the country's largest airport and, as of 2017, the only one receiving regularly scheduled services.

The airport has capacity restrictions due to its small terminal, short runway and high 1.5-mile (2300m.) altitude. Consequently, some large jet aircraft (like an A380, MD-11 or 747) cannot fly to the airport. Unsuitable aircraft would instead need to use the Massawa International Airport on the Eritrean coast. Lufthansa, however, operated Airbus A340 aircraft on a FRA-JED-ASM service as recently as 2012.

The airport is also an Eritrean Air Force base. (*1)

After some time we leave behind de highlands of Eritrea.


Overflying Barentu

Barentu (Tigrinya: ባረንቱ ) is a town in north-western Eritrea, lying south of Agordat, and is the capital of Gash-Barka Region. The town is integrated with different types of tribes: Kunama, Nara, Tigre and Tigrinya being the most dominant.

It was mainly inhabited by the Nilotic Kunama people and Nara people in the past. The Nara people leader Shekaray Agaba was the first to build the town Umba Arenku which it means the white water. It is located in the Gash-Barka Zone of Eritrea. Barentu is the largest town in the Gash-Barka Zone in Eritrea, lying west of Asmara. It is the capital of the Gash-Barka and home of the Nara and Kunama Ethnic groups.

The town has typically been a center of mining and agricultural activities for the area. During the Eritrean War of Independence the town was besieged. As part of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War of 1998-2000, the then flourishing town suffered major damage but has since undergone reconstruction. Thus it now attracts settlers from all parts of the country especially from the Gash area and the Eritrean highlands. Owing to this factor the town has expanded rapidly in the last decade. This rapid expansion is also partly attributed to the Eritrean returnees from Sudan who established their home in the town after years of migration spent in Sudan. (*1)

Women in Barentu
Charles Fred - CC BY-SA 3.0
Local people on a street in Barentu
Charles Fred - CC BY-SA 3.0

Passing by Teseney

Teseney (Arabic: تسني‎, Tigrinya: ተሰነይ), also spelled Tessenei or Tesseney, is a market town in western Eritrea. It lies south-east of Kassala in Sudan, on the Gash River. The city was much fought over in the Eritrean War of Independence during which much of it was destroyed. After the war, Tessenei has become a governmental administrative center with customs and agricultural offices and a military base.

During the colonial period both Tessenei and the neighbouring village of Ali Ghider ( also written as Ali Gidir or Aligidir) were the center of a vast agricultural development project using the enormous quantity of waters of the Gash river. The project dates back to 1905 when its first feasibility studies was forwarded by an Italian engineer called Nicola Coles. Works started in 1924 and included: a small dam and a tiny lake to store water (inaugurated in 1928 ) and numerous other works and a net of water irrigation canals to irrigate an approximately 10,000 hectares of land. An Italian agricultural-industrial company SIA, "Società Imprese Africane" (Company on African Enterprises), won this major concession. Later a consortium of which "Cotonificio Barattolo", with its seat in Asmara became the main shareholder. The main crop was cotton, a variety of Sakellaridis, the same as cultivated in Egypt and the entire production was exported to Italy where it enjoys customs facilities. A plant for the treatment of cotton, a large mill for the processing of seeds, a power plant and a workshop complete the work, along with a modern factory for spinning and weaving cotton was built in Tessenei. During the Anglo-Egyptian condominium a narrow gauge line of railway was built connecting Tessnei with Kassala in Sudan via Malwaya conjunction. This line has almost vanished since the early 1960s. (*1)

We follow the course of the Gash (Mareb) River for some time and enter the Sudanese territory.

The Mareb River, or Gash River (Arabic: القاش‎) is a river flowing out of central Eritrea. Its chief importance is defining part of the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia, between the point where the Mai Ambassa enters the river at 14°53.6′N 37°54.8′E to the confluence of the Balasa with the Mareb at 14°38′N 39°1.3′E.

The Mareb is dry for much of the year, but like the Takazze is subject to sudden floods during the rainy season; only the left bank of the upper course of the Mareb is in Ethiopian territory. Its main tributaries are the Obel River on the right bank (in Eritrea) and the Sarana, Balasa, Mai Shawesh, and 'Engweya Rivers on the left (in Ethiopia). (*1)

Gash river in dry season
Bertramz - CC BY 3.0

Already back in Sudan we fly near the impressive granite Taka Mountains, near Kassala.


Leaving Kassala behind.

Kassala (Arabic: كسلا‎) is the capital of the state of Kassala in eastern Sudan. Its 2008 population was recorded to be 419,030. Built on the banks of the Gash River, it is a market town and is famous for its fruit gardens.

Many of its inhabitants are from the Hadendawa origin in addition to a small group of Rashaida nomads and Beni-Amer group, with others being of , Tigre, and Bilen who migrated from Eritrea in the last three decades.

The town was formerly a railroad hub, however, as of 2006 there was no operational railway station in Kassala and much of the track leading to and from the town has been salvaged or fallen into disrepair. Kassala's location along the main Khartoum-Port Sudan highway makes it an important trade center. (*1)

From Kassala center to Taka Mountains
Bertramz - CC BY 3.0
The Khatmiyya Mosque and Khatmiyya Hasan tomb
Bertramz - CC BY 3.0
Kassala, suburb near Mukram mountain
Bertramz - CC BY 3.0

Final approach to runway 21 of the small airport of New Halfa, that does not have ATC.

The New Halfa Project (Arabic: حلفا الجديدة) in Sudan is a 164,000 feddan site constructed in 1964 to house 50,000 Nubians displaced from Wadi Halfa, a town situated on the Nile near the border with Egypt, which was flooded when Lake Nasser formed behind the Aswan Dam. The site draws its water from the Atbara River, where the Khashm el Girba Dam provides a reliable source for the irrigation project intended to convert the nomads of the area to farmers of cotton and sugar.

Amongst the problems faced by the settlers have been low crop yields, insufficient water for irrigation, low revenues, shortage of fuel, machinery and spare parts, and rising production costs.

The failed New Halfa Project has been largely viewed as inadequate compensation for the inundation of Wadi Halfa that occurred after the agreement with Egypt to allow construction of the Aswan Dam. The inhabitants of New Halfa have not managed to attain the same standard of living that they previously possessed in Wadi Halfa. The developmental benefits of the Aswan Dam have arguably been vested in Egypt and not Sudan, as manifested by the disappointing New Halfa Project and its impoverished inhabitants. (*1)

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(*1) Credits: The descriptive texts are mainly an excerpt of those provided by Wikipedia. Visit Wikipedia to read the full descriptions.

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