The name alone sounds impossibly exotic, conjuring images of tropical ports, spices and palm oil. If the reality is a little more prosaic, Berbera is a real gem that oozes ambience and soul and should definitely be on your itinerary. It’s hard to believe when you see it, but Berbera was once a busy town. Lying on the Gulf of Aden opposite Yemen, it has been a centre of maritime trade since ancient times. Today this shady town consists mostly of crumbling buildings and mud-and-thatch houses. Various restorations schemes are under investigation but nothing has been done yet.
Berbera’s potential is immense, though, with superb beaches and a relaxed atmosphere. If, one day, Somaliland appears on tourist brochures, Berbera will probably top the bill. Meanwhile, it’s a nice little earner for Somaliland thanks to land-locked Ethiopia’s need for a cheap, friendly port.