mogadishu

South Somalia

 South Somalia – Inevitable Destination In The Future

 Southern Somalia is a region reserved only for the hardcore adventurers, who are not afraid of getting a bit dirty and who do not seek for a lot of comforts. If you love playing Call of Duty – Mogadishu, then this place is perfect for you. But bare in mind that you can actually get hurt here. Nevertheless, this region has a lot to offer to any visitor willing to explore its nature and beauties. What you should also be aware of is, a high level of precaution is needed when visiting this country. That is why I will tell you all you need to know about Southern Somalia, from first-hand experience.

Southern Somalia – All About

Southern Somalia lies on the beautiful coast of Indian Ocean. Entire Somalia has only two permanent rivers called Jubba and Shabelle, and they both flow through the south of the country. That is why the region has the biggest sources of water, and they are mainly responsible for the beautiful and untouched nature that can be seen in the area.

The largest city in the region is Mogadishu, which is also the capital of entire Somalia. Unfortunately, despite its beauty, Mogadishu is considered to be one of the most dangerous places in the world. Although the situation has improved in the last few years, most of the world suggest their citizens not to visit this part of the world.

Nevertheless, if you still decide to come here, the best way to do that is by air. There is a huge, and recently renovated airport just a few miles from the city centre. Although the Government has recently started to invest in the city’s infrastructure, most of the roads are muddy, especially after the rain. Since the driving culture in Mogadishu almost doesn’t exist, it is advised to hire a driver.

mogadishu things to do old town

 How Did Mogadishu Get Into Such A Mess?

Somalia’s recent history is quite bloody, especially since the outbreak of the great Civil War. The country gained independence from Great Britain back in 1960, but soon everything started to fall apart. Namely, in 1969 Somalia’s President was assassinated by a bodyguard, and this event caused a huge crisis. The military coup that followed brought General Barre as the country’s leader, which soon turned into a terrible and brutal dictatorship. His reign was the major cause of a brutal Civil War which started in 1991 and finished in 2006.

As soon as the civil war had ended, another one started. This time various paramilitary formations were a new cause of fighting in the country. Among them, radical Islamist groups were the most dangerous and one of them, called Al Shabaab even took over Mogadishu. Somali Government managed to defeat them with the help of Ethiopia and other African countries but they are still not completely crushed, even today.

In 2012, the first democratic Government of entire Somalia has been named, for the first time since the outbreak of The Civil War. Since then, the situation has started to improve slightly. The war is over but there are still some occasional combats, especially in the area of Mogadishu.

mogadishu things to do

 Major Attractions in Somalia

It is truly sad that Southern Somalia had to withstand such a long period of vicious destructions since the entire region is truly beautiful and it has a lot to offer. Mogadishu itself is incredible, especially the old town with its narrow streets and native architecture.

The Bakaara Market is also a great spot to check out and probably the only place where you can get some souvenirs. If you want to know a bit more about Somalia’s turbulent history then check out the recently reopened National Museum.

The monumental Union Mosque is one of the city’s biggest landmarks, but the Mogadishu Cathedral is equally impressive. Also, be sure to see the Governor’s Palace which is a remarkable monument of colonial architecture in Somalia. There are other great places but these are the safest to see, so be sure not to miss your chance.

mogadishu things to do

The Question Of Accommodation And Safety in Somalia

If you are one of the travel enthusiasts who is not scared of war-torn surroundings, then staying in Somalia would be a real challenge and adventure for you. The capital city of Southern Somalia, Mogadishu, hosts tourists and foreigners, but the groups are very small since it is not advisable to visit the country unless you have a really strong reason. There are several hotels in the city, but perhaps the most popular one among them all is Safari Hotel. It has many advantages, and what is crucial, it is well-guarded and it has never happened that a tourist who stayed in the Safari Hotel was either killed, kidnapped or hurt in any way. What is more, the hotel is situated in the central part of Mogadishu, close to the markets and city hospital. Safari Hotel has also great restaurants that serve either traditional or international meals, and you should not, by any chance, try searching other, better places to eat.

Should you visit Mogadishu when Safari Hotel is entirely booked, you can also search for other options such as Amira Castle Hotel, Villa Rose Guest House, and Hotel Shamo. The best advice I can give you when it comes to choosing a hotel is to pay attention to hotel’s security. Make sure your hotel has 24-hour private security. Any way round, you are risking your own life. Also be aware that if your armed guards do not like your choice of hotel, for whatever reason they will move you to a nearby guest house or hotel of their choose.

mogadishu football guards

Beaches And Nice People That Play Football Every Day

Visiting a country where it was almost impossible to survive for the last twenty years, and where it becomes extremely dangerous to go even in 2017, does not give you much hope for experiencing beautiful and nice things. Thats where you would be wrong, the entire country has many amazing beaches and among a thousand of them, and some of the most beautiful can be found in Mogadishu. The Jazira and Lido Beach are truly marvellous and are among the best in the world.

Seeing Somali beaches is absolutely breathtaking. It seems like you are between two extremes. On one side, there is a marvellous and unforgettable view of the white sand beaches and crystal clear sea. But once you turn around to the other side, all you can see are city ruins, buildings that were beautiful once in the past, that now crave for renovation and rebuilding. Seeing this, however, gives you hope that Southern Somalia may be the future paradise for tourists, once the conflicts are over.

Visiting Somali beaches will bring you happy moments because there are often local teams that play football on the sand. When you see them, you realise that the spirit of the Somali citizens has not yet died, and that future times may indeed bring reconciliation and coexistence to the country. You can even join the teams and experience their team spirit as well as share their happiness once they win the match. These moments can indeed make you smile and forget all the sad stories and pictures you have witnessed.

mogadishu attack hotel
mogadishu football beach

Tips That May Save Your Life

Insurance

It should go without saying but make sure you have insurance and the correct insurance. Most normal travel insurance does not cover you for a red zone. On top of this insurance make sure you get crisis response cover including kidnapping. The only company I could find was First Allied Travel Insurance.

Water

Don’t drink water in your hotel. Buy it in the local store, and avoid buying water and meals on the stalls and markets because these are not 100% safe either.

Driver

If you want to move around the city, the best option is to hire a vehicle with a driver, and of course, armed guards.

Guards

  Never go out without your security guards. Having armed people to follow your every step is indeed something every traveller has to arrange. If you think you can wander the streets of any city in the Southern Somalia and return to your hotel unhurt, you are very wrong. Kidnapping, robbing, and even killing tourists is frequent in Somalia.

Armed guards are a must. Foreign visitors usually hire 3/4 of them. This way, you will hopefully feel a little safe and you will come back home unharmed and be able to type your story on your keyboard.

Planning 

My planning took around 5 months in order to make sure I was able to sit here after and type a nice story on my keyboard. If you are keen to visit Somalia then make sure you plan very well. Make sure you have a very clear Itinerary, make sure you cross the T’s and dot the I’s. Make sure you have a backup plan. After you have done this check everything, then check again and again.

On A serious note, if you’re planning a trip to Somalia then my advice is simple. 

Don’t go to Somalia! You have to be either be stupid or really love real life call of duty- Mogadishu. 

Somalia may be the future paradise for tourists, once the conflicts are over so at least wait until then.

My Final Note

Always expect the worst to happen and be prepared for things to change in an instant. One day I was playing football with kids outside a hotel, then the very next day that hotel had a terror attack from a car bomb, 51 people died. That morning everything felt normal and calm until this happened.

mogadishu football
mogadishu attacck

If you found this article interesting then I suggest you check out my other two articles on Somalia. Puntland and Somaliland


puntland pirate

Puntland, Somalia – A Dangerous Visit To An Unexplored And Beautiful Nature

Puntland in Somalia – A Dangerous Visit To An Unexplored And Beautiful Nature

 There are several destinations in every corner of the world that are not quite suitable for every traveller. Those are the spots for only the bravest and most adventurous types that don’t care a lot about comfort or their safety. One can find places like that on every continent, but Africa probably has the most of them. One such region in Somalia, called Puntland, is only suitable for people with an Indiana Jones character. Before making a decision whether you belong to that group or not, try gathering as much information as you can possibly get about this specific destination. When it comes to Puntland, I can give you a complete and detailed briefing about the region, all without making things beautiful.

puntland somalia

Puntland – All About

Puntland is a region in Somalia that has a high level of autonomy but without any desire of becoming independent – which is a truly rare occasion in Somalia and other African countries. It is located in the northeastern part of Somalia and it holds the biggest and most beautiful part of its coast. It has a very warm climate but its amazing beaches will help you withstand the heat easily. Puntland has access to both, Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, which would be perfect for sailing if there were no pirates. So, if you don’t want to run into the real Jack Sparrow, then it would be best to stay near the shore.

The capital city of the region is called Garowe, but Bosaso is the largest and most populous city, which is also the main centre of economy and if any, tourism. The best accommodation can be found in Bosaso and since it is also the safest city in the entire region it may be wise to pick it as your headquarters too. You can easily reach it by sea because there is a huge port. However, due to pirates, it may be better to catch a flight. Namely, Bosaso has a big and modern airport with multiple international lines which make it an obvious choice for transportation.

Bosaso puntland somalia

History – Rich And Vivid

Puntland is a historic region of Somalia which was ruled by various local dynasties for centuries. But in the late 19th century Puntland partly lost its independence by becoming an Italian protectorate. Somalia regained independence in 1960, Puntland had become one of its regions. Unfortunately, Somalia never got a chance to preserve as a functional state and such a situation finally escalated in 1991. The terrible civil war has actually never been formally finished, however, there has been no big combats since the late 90’s.

In 1998 Puntland officially became an autonomous region in Somalia which helped it regain the stability. In the last few years, the situation has become much better and there were a few large investments which significantly improved the general state of the economy in the region. Bosaso is now one of the fastest developing cities in entire Africa.

puntland somalia

Memorable Landscapes, Beautiful Coastline, And Heavenlike Beaches

The Puntland State of Somalia has perhaps the most beautiful coastline in the entire African continent. Namely, the country has a total of 1,300 km of coast, followed by beautiful white sandy beaches. Puntland does not have ordinary beaches, quite the contrary, each and every one of them is untouched and unspoilt by tourists. It represents pure nature and heaven-like beauty. If you are one of the lucky people who have had the chance to swim and sunbathe in Puntland, your memories will never fade away, because such a marvellous experience is simply unforgettable.

The coastline of Puntland is abundant with fish as well as other natural marine resources. As a matter of fact, of all the coastline in Somalia, Puntland has the richest habitats, and that’s what makes it so attractive and desirable. The population as well as the rare and brave tourists who dare to visit Puntland enjoy spending their time snorkelling and diving because only in Puntland will you have the chance to see so many different species of fish and other sea animals. For instance, one can see long-tail tuna, skipjack, bonito, yellowfin tuna and much more. However, the beauty of Puntland’s coastline and its reefs will soon be destroyed due to illegal trawlers and increased fishing efforts of the local population.

Once you step away from the beaches and continue your trip to the continental parts of the country, you will surely be amazed by numerous landscapes that are sometimes hard to capture even by the best photo cameras. One simply has to be present to witness the beauty of such an unspoilt country.

puntland beach somalia

Must Know About Puntland

Never Walk Alone While In Puntland

Should you, by any chance end up in Puntland, always register your visit with the local police and ask for protection. Kidnapping, killing and robbing are not rare in Somalia, hence all the tourists are recommended to hire armed guards to protect them. This way, you will hopefully walk around safely and hopefully come back home safe and sound. During my time in Puntland, I hired 3 armed guards.  During your visit to Puntland, although you may have put an itinerary together, your armed guards WILL have the final say.

Respect The Dress

Having in mind that the population in Puntland is mainly Islamic (Sunni-Muslims), as a tourist you are expected to respect the dress code. Namely, both men and women are to wear clothes that cover their body, but laws for women are somewhat more strict. For instance, a woman needs to cover her entire body, except for the hands and feet. Men are required to wear clothes that do not show knees.

Cover Any Tattoos You Have

Tattoos are not allowed on your body according to Islam, hence tourists are expected to cover them while in Puntland. In order to avoid any inconvenience and quarrels with the locals, you can always use a scarf, hat, or even a bandage to cover your tattoo.

Wherever You Go, Always Have The Somali Tea

The well-known drink in Puntland, and also in the rest of Somalia, is of course, tea. It is a traditional drink that is very aromatic and relaxing. It’s a black tea, spiced with cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Everyone adores it, and you won’t be an exception that’s for sure.

Insurance

It should go without saying but make sure you have insurance and the correct insurance. Most normal travel insurance does not cover you for a red zone. On top of this insurance make sure you get crisis response cover including kidnapping. The only company I could find was First Allied Travel Insurance.

Planning 

My planning took around 5 months in order to make sure I was able to sit here after and type a nice story on my keyboard. If you are keen to visit Somalia then make sure you plan very well. Make sure you have a very clear Itinerary, make sure you cross the T’s and dot the I’s. Make sure you have a backup plan. After you have done this check everything, then check again and again.

On A serious note, why have you read this? If you’re planning a trip to Somalia then my advice is simple. 

Don’t go to Somalia! You have to be either stupid or brave. I believe I was brave 🙂 but I’ll let you decide that.

puntland somalia


Somaliland

Somaliland – A Place To Find Peace And Hospitality

Somaliland – A Place To Find Peace And Hospitality

 Somalia and tourism are not quite the words that usually go together in the last few decades. But Somaliland, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Although Somaliland is a part of Somalia, in many other aspects they are completely different. Somalia is famous for its pirates, but Somaliland is well known for its hospitality, especially to tourists. That is why you should definitively consider visiting this, more than interesting region.

Somaliland twins hills

Somaliland – Where Is It Anyway?

Somaliland is an autonomous region, located in northwestern part of Somalia. It is famous for its amazing beaches along the coast of Gulf of Aden. But the beaches are not Somaliland’s only natural beauty. Namely, the eastern part of the region is completely surrounded by high mountain peaks that go up to seven thousand feet. That is the main reason for a pleasant climate, which is quite cooler here than in other parts of Africa.

The whole region is really beautiful, especially the Awdal region with its small offshore islands and coral reefs. This region is quite near Somaliland’s major tourist destinations – Hargeisa and Berbera, too. Hargeisa is its capital city. It is one of the safest places in Somalia and entire Africa, and Berbera is its biggest port and most important economy centre.

Reaching Somaliland should not be a problem since there are two big airports in both Hargeisa and Barbera. All of the major cities have a very good public transport, which is perfect for getting around and exploring the region. Most of the natives are friendly and you should not have any difficulties while staying in Somaliland.

Somaliland

Somalia and Somaliland – A Difficult History

Most of the people are quite confused when they hear a name Somaliland. It sounds almost just like Somalia, but there are a few differences. Namely, the entire country – Somalia – has a rich and colourful history. It has been a home to various native dynasties and cultures but it was also under the influence of other civilisations such as ancient Egyptian or Roman civilisation. In the early 7th century, Somalia has come under a strong Islam influence, which remained the dominant religion until the present days.

The real trouble in Somalia began in the 19th century when different European countries started to colonise the entire continent. The British had finally gained control over the narrow coastline and the central parts came under Italian control. In the 1960s, Somalia finally managed to gain independence but the internal differences have soon started to show up. Unfortunately, the situation escalated in 1988 when the civil war began. It tore the country apart. That is why Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 and it is recognised only by a few countries.

Today, Somaliland is a peaceful region which is trying to rebuild itself. They have had democratic elections and started to invest in tourism. It seems that their efforts are starting to show some results since Somaliland has a continuous rise of foreign visitors each year.

somaliland

Top Attractions

The best place to visit while in Somaliland is its capital city Hargeisa. It is a modern city which is developing fast, but also a perfect spot for new adventures. You should definitively visit its provincial museum where you can get all the info you need about this region. The history of a whole Somalia will probably be much clearer to you after this visit. You should also chek out the impressive monument called The MiGJet which is dedicated to the victims of the Civil War. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy the amazing nature around the city such as the twin hills of Naasa Hablood.

Berbera is another great city worth visiting, and especially those who enjoy nice beaches should definitively not miss it. Berbera is the water-sports centre of the region. You can also take the nomadic tour to see the native way of living or a religion tour to check out some of the ancient holy sites and mosques. There many other attractions one should see but these are definitively those you must see once you arrive in Somaliland.

MiGjet somaliland

Hotels In Hargeisa And Berbera – Cheap And Affordable Lodging

Once you choose to visit Somaliland, searching for a suitable hotel is inevitable. Cities like Hargeisa and Berbera offer a list of good and affordable hotels. Hence, if you travel on a budget, you will not have issues in finding accommodation. The hotels in the centre of the city are perhaps the best solution since they are close to the main monuments, markets, and restaurants. In most of them, you will find a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. So, you will have plenty time to take a rest and enjoy your vacation.

Thus, Oriental Hotel in Hargeisa is placed in the heart of the city and offers middle-sized and functional rooms with bathroom. The hotel has also a restaurant with decent food, but if you just leave it and go to one of the restaurants in the centre, you will quickly understand that food in Somaliland’s restaurants is far better than in Oriental Hotel. In addition, in case you have a light sleep, be ready for the early morning prayers from the mosque placed just next to the hotel.

Another good choice in Hargeisa is Hadhwanaag Hotel. It is situated five-minute walk from the main tourist attractions. As with a previous hotel, you will surely get clean rooms with sheets, air condition, and plenty hot water, but it may occur that you ask for a fan several times. Personnel is nice and polite. However, it can happen that they forget about something or they do not understand you entirely. The good thing about Hadhwanaag Hotel is that their food in a restaurant is so delicious that you could just remain in the hotel for couple more days just to have meals.

You may also consider Jirdeh Hotel Hargeisa, which is a bit farther from the centre of the city but has nice rooms and excellent prices. It is a good option to think of as well.

Finding accommodation in Berbera will be harder perhaps since hotels in this city are almost always booked in advance. One could say that hotels in Berbera are full during the whole year. An excellent solution is Maan-Soor Hotel. It is not placed in the centre of the city, but it will surely surprise you with its offer and security arrangements. Maan-Soor Hotel looks great on the outside as well as on the inside. The rooms are somewhat simple but very clean. Of course, the food in the hotel is outstanding, so be sure, you won’t be hungry in Somaliland.

somaliland hotels

Cuisine In Somaliland – Get Used To Eating Camel Meat

Eating in Somaliland means tasting a delicious Somali cuisine. Although restaurants in Hargeisa, Berbera, and other cities will turn to offering you western food, don’t eat it, because traditional Somali food is so much delicious. Their cuisine is influenced by different other traditional cuisines, such as Arab, Turkish, Yemeni, Persian, and many other. Food in Somaliland is cheap, and not so diverse. But one thing is for sure – you will eat a lot of camel meat in Somaliland. Also, be prepared to eat loose rice with your bare hands because the Somali eat it this way. No breakfast can pass without eating lahooh, a spongy pancake-like bread. It is sweetened with sugar and honey and then soaked with a cup of tea. Don’t leave the country without trying it. You will be thrilled by lahooh, for sure. There are also different sauces on the offer. For instance, green chilli and coriander sauce are well-known and popular in Somali cuisine, and it is added to meals on a daily basis. Thus, if you start wondering what is that green stuff in a  bowl, just remember it is tasty and don’t miss adding it to your camel meat.

somaliland camel meat

Things To Do In Somaliland – Markets And Beaches Are A Must

Although you may think that Somaliland is quite unattractive when it comes to activities during your visit, you have the wrong idea of the country. Hence, you can go shopping on some of the most interesting markets in the country, you can go diving,  or beach wandering during the night. But perhaps the most interesting spot is Laas Geel, on the road between Hargeisa and Berbera.

Laas Geel will undoubtedly provide you with a lovely landscape of Somaliland. It is a place where you can visit amazing caves with extraordinary views on the entire region. Laas Geel also holds the oldest cave paintings in Africa dating back from 9000BC, they are among the best preserved in the world for their age.

Hargeisa has a lovely market that is suitable to visit in the afternoon. You will find vendors sitting in their chairs and drinking tea with their colleagues, and they will always be extremely friendly and ready for small-talks. Markets in Hargeisa will offer you everything you may imagine, from raw meat to the finest perfumes, jewellery, and clothing.

The Berbera beach is not a famous place for its clean sand. On the contrary, you will surely find a lot of trash along the beach while taking a walk at night, but what you certainly won’t find is another tourist. Namely, only locals gather at night in this place. They play in the sand or go for a dip.

Laas Geel Somaliland
Laas Geel Somaliland
Laas Geel Somaliland

Have you been to Somaliland? would you be tempted to visit? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below.