Blogs from Somalia, Africa


Africa » Somalia » Somaliland December 25th 2013

It is one of the least visited tourist destinations in the world. The mostly empty Ethiopian Airlines flight contained just one other fellow traveller as our small plane uneasily bobbled to its destination of Hargeisa in Somaliland. Passing through immigration and collecting luggage was relatively easy and I was soon in a taxi bouncing along rough roads of a city in the horn of Africa. The scene before me was exactly as I had imagined – dust and dirt was kicked up by the passing traffic, and when it parted, I could espy men sitting out the front of whitewashed walls, sipping a hot beverage and chatting beneath the warm sun. Children gambolled in the side streets amongst small squat homes with flat roofs, whilst the colour to this scene was added by the vibrant hues ... read more
Cali Mataan Mosque at dusk – Hargeisa, Somaliland
Mountains of money - Hargeisa, Somaliland
Cheeky Ethiopian girls - Hargeisa, Somaliland

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Berbera February 12th 2013

So, I unfortunately need to start this blog post with the story about how I wasn't assumed to be part of the CIA: After my eventful night, where I complained about the dangers of labeling me as the CIA to the police when they were trying to protect me, I was informed by the lovely Police Comissioner, "Hahaha, you think we think you are CIA? You are bad CIA then." Which was, of course, my opinion as well. It turns out that they thought it was a good joke to call me the CIA because they were 'protecting me' as if I was from the CIA, not just some random-white-tourist-guy. But since I was random-white-tourist-guy, as was apparent, they had a bit of fun refering to be me as 'CIA man'. I would have prefered to ... read more
More Old Buildings
My Beach
Berbera Round About

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland February 9th 2013

I set off from Hargeisa in mid-morning for the small mountain town of Sheikh, as suggested by the Director of Tourism. The ride was in a cramped shared taxi that was reminiscent of West Africa. We stopped for food and tea in a number of places before we finally climbed into the mountains that surrounded Sheikh. When I finally uncramped myself, I realized that I was in a beautiful natural environment with mountains ringing the town. I stayed in a small boarding house with students who were taking their international examinations in the town (apparently the number one secondary school in the country was there as well as the best vetrinary school in the Horn of Africa). The biggest problem was that it was really cold! As low as 6 degrees at night! I spent my ... read more
View of Sheikh
More Views of Sheikh

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa February 4th 2013

I have been able to spend a lot of time recently dealing with the bureacracy, and lack of mutual understanding between different departments of the government here. The Ministry of Tourism tells me I have to go to the police to be given permission to leave the city, the police tell me that I need to get permission from immigration, immigration tells me that they only do things related to immigration (that makes sense) and that maybe I should talk to the Ministry of Tourism. So I went back to the Ministry of Tourism and suddenly they give me the documents to prove I have been given permission to leave the city. That only took me three days (though one day was my fault, I went a bit crazy with my siesta time). I had spent ... read more
Camel Market - 3-Month old Camel
The Goats Always Had a Guard
Me and Some Cave Art

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa February 1st 2013

Reflecting that I only left Harar 3 days ago is a bit baffling because a lot has changed. I had to deal with my usual bus station obstacle course, though it was nothing compared to Gonder, and again got the front seat in a minibus heading towards Jijiga, the capital of Ogaden, the Somali area of Ethiopia. The first thing that I noticed was that bribes were quite evident at every checkpoint, either something I hadn't noticed before or something that is more common in that area. Next the geography changed completely. About 45 minutes outside of Harar we went through what is translated as "The Valley of Marvels", a rocky valley which is made up of some kind of rock that erodes in a number of interesting shapes. There was a lot of what appeared ... read more
Me Counting Some of My Shillings


Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Berbera March 30th 2012

It was another early start today, as we wanted to visit the rock paintings in Laas Geel and get to Berbera by the afternoon. We took a bus down to the city centre and found where the cars were going to Berbera. For some reason, they have buses that provide local transport around Hargeisa, but to travel outside the city there are only shared taxis. A crowd of nearly 50 people gathered to see how the 3 white guys would get on, with everyone seeming to want to have their contribution. Half of them looked like they had been chewing chat since the night before. Chat is mildly narcotic leaf, that is chewed over the course of the day. It is fairly popular here in Somaliland and in parts of Ethiopia. We negotiated places in one ... read more
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Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa March 28th 2012

First to explain, Somaliland is a separate state to Somalia and has been since the early 90s. It just has not been recognised by the international community yet. So, this trip was not some suicide mission into Mogadishu nor was I in search of any pirates. I had been told that it was safe to visit and quite interesting. As I wanted to visit Harar in the east of Ethiopia, I decided it wasn't that much more of an effort to get to Somaliland. From Jijiga, we got a minibus to the border town of Wajaale. There, we completed the formalities on the Ethiopian side, had our bags checked not-that-thoroughly and walked through the rope across the street that formed the border and into Somaliland. We got stamped in and had some camel for breakfast. We ... read more
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Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa December 27th 2011

You live in Somalia where law and order is collapsing around you, a country where warlords and terrorists preach hate against your moderate values and beliefs. A country consumed by war and piracy in which you want no part, a country failing to provide the basic services that you need. Crippled by corruption and poverty, you look for a way out, a distant land rising from the rubble, a shining light amidst the political darkness, a glimmer of hope in the horn of Africa. That future is Somaliland. Mogadishu is the corrupt capital for the failed state of Somalia, a place where pirates and terrorists rule. The Fund for Peace has ranked Somalia number one according to its ‘Failed States Index’. Yet to the north, the breakaway region of Somaliland is stable and at peace. Un-recognized ... read more
My Bodyguard
Cattle Market
Somali Child

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland » Hargeisa May 31st 2011

Somaliland is still fighting an unsuccessful battle with the United Nations, in trying to achieve international recognition as an independent country. The people of this territory have taken a different path to the lawless, dangerous and chaotic goings on that dominate Somalia and Puntland, both of which are absolute no go zones for foreigners. The stark contrast in Hargeisa, however, sees the capital city of Somaliland on a peaceful path since 1991, where foreigners prepared to put in the effort to obtain a visa in advance receive a warm welcome. I scooped up a visa from Addis for forty bucks, and it was not a drama obtaining the necessary paperwork to visit one of the last frontiers in this wonderful world we share. The journal left off in Lalibela, dear reader , at the conclusion of ... read more
Get the hyena off my back!
Child leads a donkey
Take the whole bowl baby

Africa » Somalia » Somaliland December 26th 2010

“Don’t try and be a hero!” are the famous last words my dad said to me as we said our farewells for my 5th Journey. It’s the only thing that hurts about travelling sometimes. It’s letting down your family members in your selfish quest to discover new things about the world because you are too lazy to open up a book and read it for yourself. But these words that my dad said to me kept ringing in my head. But… even so it couldn’t shy me away from visiting a country that officially doesn’t exist, within a country that exists only by name. I apologise to all family members but once you read on you will realise this place is just too fascinating to miss out on. I head off from Harar in east Ethiopia ... read more
2 - Hargeisa at sunset
3 - a typical house in the east road of ethiopia and somlailand country areas
4 - Entrance to Somaliland from east of city

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