The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to Somaliland, except for the cities of Hargeisa and Berbera to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel. Click here for more information.
For seasoned travellers in search of a totally unusual travel experience, Somaliland is a must. The Republic of Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, though its status as a country has not been recognized by the international community. Despite this fact, Somaliland offers plenty of unexpected and wonderful surprises. Admire some exceptional rock paintings, feel the pulse of the fast-growing capital, walk along deserted beaches, visit bustling market towns, be awed by stunning landscapes, and blaze a trail of your own in the far east and west of the country. More than anything, though, it is the Somali people who make a visit to the country so memorable, with their legendary sense of hospitality.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Somaliland.
Las Geel is undisputably Somaliland's pièce de résistance. Hundreds of magnificent neolithic rock art paintings in perfect condition adorn the walls of several interconnected caves and shelters. Some paintings exceed one metre in length and their state of preservation is exceptional.
Hargeisa’s centrepiece, the expansive central market is a wonderful (and largely hassle-free) place to experience a typical Somali market. Its lanes hide everything from perfume to household objects, electronic goods, wind-up radios and clothes. The food vendors have some of the most fascinating displays – think pyramids of colourful fruits and vegetables
An essential part of the Hargeisa experience is the livestock market, which lies on the southeastern outskirts of town. Hundreds of goats, sheep and camels are brought here every day, and it’s a fascinating place to wander. Always ask permission before taking photographs. It’s at its busiest in the morning.
East of the market area, the modern Jama Mosque hosts Hargeisa’s main Friday prayers around noon, attracting hundreds of worshippers – it is an amazing sight. Though not permitted to enter the mosque, you can admire its whitewashed facade, domed roof and tall twin minarets.
You can’t miss this weird memorial on the main drag – it displays a Somali Air Force MiG jet fighter which crashed during an aerial bombardment of the city. It lies on a stand that sports colourful murals depicting scenes of the civil war.