- Written by Dan
Outpost Travel Planner: Somaliland, Africa
By Matthew Stein / Photo by YoTuT
The Outpost travel planner with the what, where, when, why and how of all things travel to Somaliland, Africa
When To Go
For the best travelling conditions, the optimal time to take your trip is around December, when the temperature is typically a warm and comfortable 15 to 26 C. If you arrive between May and September, the viciously hot, desert sun might wear you out—not an ideal time for long-distance trekking.
Flights are available daily from Toronto or Vancouver to Hargeysa International Airport, but be prepared for at least three stopovers along the way, and bring a good book—it’s going to be a long flight. Travellers should be warned, however, that due to violent political conflict, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has issued an official warning against all travel to Somalia. Somaliland is considered to be more safe and peaceful, but still unstable. If you must go, be sure to check the country’s travel safety status beforehand (www.voyage.gc.ca).
If you are travelling within Somaliland, there are buses and shared taxis available between major routes. However, the going can be tough and unpredictable outside of Hargeysa, so travellers are asked to rent a car with a driver and guide. Due to the country’s unrecognized status as an independent nation, the government is vigilant when it comes to the safety of visiting travellers, as they hope to maintain a positive international reputation. Getting around on the water is highly inadvisable, as several incidents of piracy have been recorded by vessels along the Somaliland coast. Also, avoid the Sool and Sanaag regions, as these areas are part of an ongoing land dispute with the Puntland region in the east.
What to See and Do
Anyone visiting Somaliland should be sure to make a trip to see the ancient cave paintings of Las Geel. Although they were only brought to the world’s attention in 2002 by a team of French archaeologists, these impeccably preserved Neolithic paintings, depicting indigenous people, cattle and wildlife, have quickly been heralded as the most impressive and significant attraction in Somaliland.
To experience local culture, stay at the Oriental Hotel, located in the city centre of Hargeysa. Contact the friendly hotel manager, Abdi Abdi, at orientalhotelhga@ hotmail.com. The rooms are comfortable, Internet access is available and rates are very reasonable. Alternatively, for a more luxurious (and more pricey) stay further from the city centre, try the Ambassador Hotel, where you will enjoy a spectacular view of the city from atop a hill. Check out its website at www. ambassadorhotelhargeisa.com. If you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach, make a trip to the city of Berbera and enjoy the fresh seafood while you’re there.
You won’t find an overabundance of attractions in Somaliland, since tourism here is scarce—but the government and citizens are working to change this. In many cases, expect your hotel to insist that you hire a guard to accompany you throughout your travels. However, just walking along the street can be an experience in itself; the locals are friendly and outgoing, so don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by welcoming strangers as you explore the outdoor markets.