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Somalia, officially the Federal Republic of Somalia is a sovereign country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Guardafui Channel and Somali Sea to the east, and Kenya to the southwest.

Best Places to Visit in Somalia

Lets explore the best places to visit in Somalia:

1. Hargeisa

Ask anyone in Hargeisa and they’ll tell you that the city isn’t a part of Somalia at all, but rather the self-proclaimed capital of Somaliland – a break-away state that’s been governing on its own, without the sanction of Somalia’s federal government or the United Nations, since 1991. And while the political machine that’s housed in the mansions of Hargeisa officially doesn’t exist – at least in the eyes of outsiders – there’s plenty to be said for this onetime vassal of British East Africa.

For starters, the place is relatively peaceful and non-violent.

There are honorific monuments to the great struggles with Siad Barre’s totalitarian rule in the 90s, and signs of law and order not found elsewhere in the country: traffic lights; police; even the occasional tourist!

2. Laas Geel

Leading us neatly on from our last hotspot, the Laas Geel reside between the dusty ridges and hills just on the outskirts of the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa.

Home to some of the earliest cave paintings ever discovered on the Horn of Africa, the various alcoves and underground tunnels here display a raw and haunting vision of prehistory in these parts.

You’ll be able to make out colourful motifs of cattle, artistic renditions of shepherds tending to their flocks, and even what’s thought to be deified cows! The best thing though? The Laas Geel is hardly developed at all, leaving visitors alone with history.

3. Zeila

Carrying on the Somaliland (as opposed to Somalia) theme, the town of Zeila (also known as Seylac) beckons adventurous travelers to the far-flung north-western corner of the nation, where the dry and arid land of sand dunes and rocky hills crashes into the pearly blue of the Aden Gulf.

Sat just a stone’s throw from the Djiboutian border, the spot can only really be accessed by 4X4. Once in, visitors are treated to a mosaic of ruined Muslim palaces and aged colonial facades, standing like dust-caked spectres of a bygone era.

Others will head to the gorgeous Zeila Coast, where rusting ship carcasses pepper the shore and the rollers of the Indian Ocean spray whitewash into the air.

4. Sa’ad ad-Din Island

The first half of the fabled Zeila Archipelago to make this list is also the most visited of the six islets that lurk just a stone’s throw from the coast of Somaliland off the ancient city of Zeila.

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.

5. Berbera

Once trodden by Ottoman imperialists, and having reigned as a focal point for traders from right across the Indian Ocean basin – from as close as Arabia and as far afield as Mumbai and Goa – the city of Berbera is closely linked to its mercantile past.

It’s a history that was made possible by the presence of one of the few deep-water ocean ports on this section of the African Horn, and today, the city is still known as the major harbor in the area.

Locals will champion Berbera’s gorgeous desert-like backcountry, along with the sun-kissed beaches of Batalale and Bathela that fringe the Gulf of Aden close to the town.

6. Iskushuban

One of the major attractions in the autonomous region of Puntland in the northern reaches of Somalia, the ancient settlement of Iskushuban has crenulated walls of dust-caked stone and beautiful arabesque fortifications from centuries gone by.

It’s thought that the spot was one of the main powerbases of the Majeerteenia Sultinate that ruled the very tip of the African Horn for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

However, history aside, most people come here to see the waterfalls, which gush when in season and hail in as the second largest in the country!

7. Lag Badana-Bushbush National Park

A land of waxy palm trees and golden sands, where the slow wash of the Indian Ocean kisses the shore and stilted bungalows of bamboo shoulder their way into the coconut groves, you might think that the Lag Badana-Bushbush National Park is a veritable paradise.

And, actually, it is.

Or at least it would be, were it not for the brutal conflicts that have engulfed the southern regions of Somalia where the reserve makes its home.

These have gone from the civil war of the nineties and noughties to encounters with extremists today.

When they end, perhaps this wonderful land of tropical beauties will be on the menu once again.


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