Trip to Mogadishu
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Jan 31, 2013 6:41 PM Last Post By: _chaos_
Jun 12, 2012 6:38 AM
Trip to MogadishuDear all,
I have read the previous threads about visiting Somalia and Mogadishu in particular on the LP Website.
mikespencerbown and harrymitsidis have both shared their information about visiting the city.
I have just come back from Mogadishu, and wanted to write a re-assuring update about how to get there, and what to expect.
I do understand many people getting very upset about someone considering a visit to Mogadishu. Hence I suggest
you read this thread (and the others) only if you are really eager to go there. I wanted to see Mogadishu for a few years now,
have travelled the globe extensively for the past ten years. Why did I want to go you might ask…After having read all about the place,
seen numerous documentaries, pictures and reports I realized, that the more I do research about this city, the less I can grasp
of how it might be to actually walk its streets, see the buildings, the people. For me it felt like the moon, another planet far away from our own.
It was pure curiosity, and curiosity is what drives any traveler I guess.
Once I goggled “tourist in Mogadishu”, I came about the first thread from mike. I used that information as a start, and after having read a lot about the Peace Hotel, I emailed Mr Bashiir. It took quite some time for the reply. I used the time to buy a flight to Addis Abeba, and also a flight with Jubba Airways from Hargeysa to Mogadishu (goes via Djibouti), 250 USD return flight. I thought if Bashiir dies not reply, I will just not take the flight.
He emailed me though, and I added him on skype. Skyping with him increased my confidence in the person that was to be responsible for my safety on the ground. He also mentioned, that a German journalist has been there recently. I wrote down the name, and found him on facebook. I sent him a message and was able to double check Bashiir as being a very reliable fixer and the best option if one was to visit Mogadishu.
I had to organize my Somaliland Visa by sending my passport to their embassy in London (the only Somaliland embassy in EU).
It took 3 weeks for my passport to return, also because there was a money issue, costs of sending the passport back to me etc.
I flew straight into Addis, lingered for two days and drove to Harar, about 10 hours by Selam Bus (which has big busses, clean).
There I took a mini bus to the border (the road is made by Chinese, and is superb. Takes only 2 hours). The crossing was easy, the Somaliland officials were extremely nice! Bit of a hassle to get a shared taxi to Hargeysa, not more difficult than most African border places though.
Takes 1,5 hours to Hargeysa. There I was told the runway was closed, hence I had to go to Berbera. I made a tour out of it, and also looked at Las Geel (old rock paintings) together with a Canadian guy I met at the Hotel. Costs about 180 USD for a Taxi to Berbera, so shared was bout half.
Berbera is super hot, and nothing to do or see there. I stayed one full day, 2 nights, more than enough!
From Berbera Jubba Airways flies with a stone age Russian Plane to Djibouti City( 1 hour). I learned later, that the same type of plane from the same airline has crashed a month earlier, everyone died…In Djibouti I hopped on a new Boeing 737 straight to Mogadishu. It’s about a 2 hour flight.
Mr Bashiir was waiting for me on the runway, so when I got out, I felt reassured. As a Tip: I would have found it more comforting, if I have had a picture of him in advance, as my only worry was, that someone else has gotten my details and might have been there also. There is no imminent danger though, as he would have been there also. Just a worry I had prior to my arrival.
Bashiir knows everyone at the airport (an surprisingly to me, almost everyone knows him in Mogadishu). The Visa is 50 USD, you get it straight on arrival, no problem at all. The Hotel is only 300m away. You drive out, turn left, turn right up the road and there you are. Once in the compound I was surprised to see many foreigners feasting on a lunch buffet. There are many who rely on Bashiir to organize their safety, I met numerous NGO aid workers in his Hotel.
The best part about the trip was his (and his staff’s) hospitality. You do feel like visiting a friend. He took extra time to show me around the city, and pointed out all the recent changes. The front line is no longer anywhere near Mogadishu. Whilst walking around, I always felt 100% safe. Being honest, you are never 100% safe in places such as Mogadishu, but then I suppose only people that did the research and know the risks are people coming to visit.
On some days I had 8, on other days up to 10 heavily armed security guards. You do hear the occasional gunfight in the city, but it is otherwise very quiet.
I got the feeling I have had when I visited Liberia after the civil war: people are tired of all the fighting, and they do want peace. I was astonished about how quickly people have rebuilt their hoses. Bakara Market looked brand new, with only the occasional worn down house in between.
The city feels like it is changing for the better, and I can highly recommend to go visit it now, if you had planned on going there sometime anyways.
Bashiir also showed me a strip of land just outside the city, which he bought to establish a beach hotel there. There is no one for miles, the sand is soft and white, the water is warm (beware of the strong currents though!), and it reminded me of some areas at the Goldcoast in Austrlia.
Whilst Mogadishu is still far away from becoming a holiday destination, it is now safer than ever for some experienced and eager travelers to come visit.
I paid 1,000 USD / day (which includes the security), but Bashiir mentioned, that he can offer different packages. For example: one day tour of all sights, 1,000 USD, and 2-3 days stay in the Hotel at a more regular Hotel price (Hotel has Internet, there are MacBooks, Ipads etc flying around, which I was able to use to email home).
I suggest you take the first day to calm down, adjust, and get a good night’s sleep, then do 2 days in the city (and outside to the beaches), plus a fourth day to relax in the Hotel. That way, if you come straight from Europe, the long flight is not made for only a 48 hour stay. I flew back to Europe via Djibouti (Boeing 737) to Dubai (same plane) and from there you can make your way home easy with any airline. Bear in mind, that Jubba lands in Terminal 2, and you do need to get to Terminal 1 for most flights (Qatar, Emirates). I had to go through immigration, then take a taxi. Took ca 2 hours for it all. You can get transit, though I am not sure how Jubba in Mogadishu is going to check you in for your Emirates flight out of Dubai….
Here are Bashiir’s contact Details:
+25215554430 and +2521851317
His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
He replies quickest via SMS. If you are still worried, maybe it helps to know that the last tourists that were there, were a couple (about 30 years old), blonde girl. So if a couple can go on a trip to Mogadishu, a seasoned traveler should also be able to pull it off.
Hope that information does help, all the best!
Jun 18, 2012 2:30 AM
Jun 18, 2012 2:33 AM
2Mogadishu is definitely calmer and safer than a few years ago, as most of the fighting has moved outside the city, to other parts of South Somalia. Does not mean it's a good idea to visit as a tourist.
The big, huge difference between you and an aid worker or a journalist in Mogadishu is that should something happen, the aid worker's NGO or the journalist's newspaper will activate their networks until their governement does what it has to do to get these people back to safety. However in the case of a tourist these networks will be extremely difficult to be put into action. Just imagine how it will look in the press: "Tourist abducted after venturing into Mogadishu". People will think you're stupid and do not deserve to be rescued. I followed a few cases of kidnapping while there and I can tell you that why you went and who you know does make a huge difference the day when you need help.
I used to go to Somalia for my work. I can tell you the one lesson I learnt there: one day you're walking on the street in a Somali town and everything is peaceful, the following day you're locked in your compound and waiting for the plane to evacuate you because something really bad and dangerous happened. The security situation can change in less than a hour and even professional security personnel are not always able to see it coming. This is why it's not safe to go on your own, without a professionnal aid organization backing you.
Mogadishu is a city where a young British woman was shot in the face just because a Somali guy decided he wanted to kill a Westerner. This is a place where few rules apply. Unless your going to Mogadishu will help save lives, as is the case with NGO workers and some journalists, you should not go there. It's not only about your life, it's also about the lives of people who may try to rescue you and be killed in the process. It's also about the lives of Somalis: if you get kidnapped or killed, all the NGO workers who went back to the city because the situation is calmer will be evacuated and unable to provide help to Somalis for some time.
Jul 6, 2012 1:15 AM
Jul 18, 2012 12:51 AM
4Interesting post, although did seem like a bit of a pointless visit. $1000/day just to be able to say you've been to Mogadishu? I mean, what can you really see there that you couldn't see in Hargeisa?
Aug 19, 2012 1:28 AM
5Does look like it's calming down, I was amazed by this report with a reporter walking through the Mogadishu streets!
Sep 11, 2012 9:03 PM
Sep 14, 2012 12:44 AM
7Mogadishu is always the same: it's mayhem, interrupted from time to time by a few months of stability and relative security, and then it's mayhem again. It was the case during the six months when the Islamic Courts were in power, and during the first month after the so-called transition government was brought back to Mogadishu after Ethiopia ousted the Islamic Courts. After that all hell broke loose again. Now we see another episode of stability but no one can predict for how long - some militiamen have just tried to kill the newly democratically elected president. I sincerely wish things would improve but it's difficult to predict.
Sep 24, 2012 5:38 PM
8Great piece filmed inside Mogadishu:
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