Travel & Tourism
Even though strife with political upheaval, the tourism industry in the Somaliland region of Somalia has been blossoming. Somaliland has recently been attracting an influx of tourists, signifying a change in the global perception of the region.
Since gaining its independence after the merging of two territories in 1960, the republic of Somalia has undergone many hardships. Challenged by civil war and the absence of a trustworthy centralized government, the people of Somalia have had to rely on their own steadfastness to move forward and leave the country’s troubled past behind.
While Somalia struggles, one territory in the country has been able to achieve something that had been deemed nearly impossible. In Somaliland, a region in the northwestern corner of the country, peaceful, fair, and organized national elections have taken place since 2003. Since Somaliland is not recognized as being independent from Somalia, as it wishes, the territory is setting an example not only for Somalia but also the rest of the continent to follow.
What to Do in Somalia
1. Laas Gaal Cave Paintings: A French archaeological team discovered these ancient artifacts in 2002. In order to preserve the cave, there’s currently a restriction on the number of tourists allowed to visit the site at a time.
2. Sheikh: This historic town is home to many British colonial buildings, untouched for some 40 years.
3. Zeila: Formerly a part of the Ottoman Empire, Zeila was also a dependency of Yemen and Egypt, as it served as a major trading city in the 19th century. There one can view old colonial landmarks, coral reefs, towering cliffs, and beaches.
4. Freedom Arch of Hargeisa: The arch and the war memorial in this city’s center are worth visiting. Both sites offer commentary on Somalia’s remarkable progress.
5. Naasa Hablood Hills: Located on the outskirts of Hargeisa, these twin hills are considered by native Somalilanders a majestic natural landmark.
6. Kismayo National Park: One of the most popular parks is Kismayu National Park in the southwest region. Kismayu is one of the only parks which is home to many animals that are native to the East African region, like the Somali sheep and the Somali wild ass.
7. Berbera Seaside: The Berbera Seaside area boasts gorgeous beaches which are not yet spoiled by tourism and overdevelopment, the bluest waters, and the softest sands. This region is not only easy on the eyes, but is perfect for water sports, including scuba diving, fishing, snorkeling, and surfing.
8. National Museum of Somalia: The museum holds many culturally significant artifacts, including ancient weaponry, traditional artwork, coins and bartering tools, and items of pottery. Interestingly, the building in which the museum is housed is an historical artifact.
9. Shanghai Old City: Located in the heart of Mogadishu, Shanghai Old City is one of the most popular landmarks in the city and is best known for its interesting and unique Chinese architecture.
10. Sa’ad ad-Din Island: Having only recently become one of the country’s rare national parks, this one’s got everything from sparkling coral reefs to bays of turquoise water, ivory-coloured beaches to craggy peaks of sandstone rock. You can expect to see kaleidoscopic schools of fish under the water, where the exotic creatures of the Red Sea mix with the larger animals of the Indian Ocean to create a real show of marine life.
Getting In and Around
Visas: All who wish to visit the country require a visa.
Transportation: Very few major airlines from the U.S. or the U.K. fly directly to Somalia. Traveling through the Middle East is the best way to get to Somalia.
Safety and Security
Concerned about your safety as you plan travel to Somalia? We at Africa.com, together with our friends, family and colleagues, travel extensively throughout the continent. Here are the resources we consult when thinking of our safety in Somalia:
Africa.com comment: Very timely and frequently updated. Perspective assumes that you ARE going to travel to Somalia, and seeks to give you good guidance so that you understand the risks and are well informed.
Africa.com comment: Can sometimes be considered as overly conservative and discourage travel altogether to destinations that many reasonable people find acceptably secure. On the other hand, they have the resources of the CIA to inform them, so they know things that the rest of us don’t know. See what they have to say about Somalia.
1. Be sure to pay very close attention to local customs and rules. If you’re able to travel with a well-versed guide or handler, we’d suggest that you do so.
2. Dress appropriately, conservatively, and light, as the country can get extremely hot.
3. If there are curfews where you are staying, adhere to them and stay clear of areas where tourists are discouraged.
4. Be safe, but allow yourself to have fun.