BEST TIME TO VISIT
WELCOME TO Somaliland
|Somaliland is a unique destination. It offers the intrepid traveller a chance to get off the beaten path completely and experience an intriguing region where the people will happily go out of their way to extend visitors every courtesy.
Although Somaliland’s statehood is not internationally recognised, the region enjoys de facto independence and is widely considered to be safe, politically stable, democratic and law-abiding.
Most visits to Somaliland begin in the capital, Hargeisa, a rapidly expanding city of around one million people. A must-see here is the daily livestock market where hundreds of sheep, cattle, camels and goats are traded each morning in a frenzy of excited bargaining. Other points of interest in the capital include the MiG Jet Memorial (the aircraft was shot down during the civil war) and the impressive Jama mosque where hundreds of worshippers gather each Friday.
On the outskirts of Hargeisa is perhaps the centrepiece of Somaliland’s attractions – the Laas Geel caves containing some of the oldest rock art paintings in the world. Estimated to date to between 9000 and 3000BC, the paintings are in a near-perfect state of preservation and depict hundreds of different scenes of wild animals, cattle and herdsmen. The site was only discovered in 2002 after an archaeological survey and Somaliland has many other similar sites that have yet to be properly surveyed.
To the North, on the Gulf of Aden coast, lies Berbera, the region’s main port and known colloquially as Beach City thanks to it’s superb golden sandy beaches. Activities along the coast include scuba diving, snorkelling and surfing. The airport here is also worth seeing because it was formerly rented by Nasa as an emergency landing strip for space shuttles !
For those looking for a passport stamp like no other, this is just another of the many hidden surprises that await in this fascinating land.
5.1521° N, 46.1996° E