Somalia

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.

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:

• UK Government Somalia Travel Advice Guidance

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.

• Mo Ibrahim Personal Safety & Rule of Law Score for Somalia

Africa.com comment: An annual ranking of the 54 African countries based on their relative personal security as determined by a highly qualified staff of an African foundation, funded by a successful African philanthropist. See where Somalia ranks relative to the other 54 nations in Africa.

• U.S. State Department Travel Advisory on Somalia

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.

Local Advice

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.