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Somaliland - A view from our expert author


Somaliland

For open-minded and adventurous travellers, Somaliland offers an unprescribed travel experience.

Somaliland

Still one of the world’s least-chartered travel destinations, this ancient land has much to offer the intrepid traveller.

Somaliland

The vast empty interior is studded with medieval Islamic ruins, mysterious stone tumuli, and ancient rock art.

Somaliland

Somaliland's main attraction is its inspirational people, building their state from scratch.

Somaliland is memorable not so much for any individual sightseeing opportunities, but for its capacity, by turns rewarding and frustrating, to make visitors experience it entirely on its own terms.

Read The author’s take

Somaliland is one of the world’s least-charted travel destinations. A peaceful self-governing democracy in the otherwise tempestuous Horn of Africa, it seceded from the rest of Somalia more than 20 years ago. And yet so far as the United Nations and African Union are concerned, it simply doesn’t exist - indeed, when Somaliland celebrated its 20th anniversary in May 2011, it did so alone and unrecognised by the outside world.

Yet this ancient arid land has much to offer the intrepid traveller. Lapped by the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Aden, its timeworn ports evoke an obscure history of maritime trade stretching back to Pharaonic times. Above the coast stands the remote and unexpectedly chilly Daallo Escarpment, where glades of aromatic junipers, other worldly dragon’s blood succulents, and frankincense-bearing Boswellia trees overlook the shimmering shoreline 2,000 metres below.

Inland are vast empty badlands populated by a thin scattering of desert nomads, domestic camels and wild antelope, and studded with mediaeval Islamic ruins, mysterious stone tumuli, and ancient rock art sites. The most spectacular of these is Las Geel, whose multi-coloured panels depict the cattle-herding lifestyle of artists who trod these desert sands more than 5,000 years ago

Somaliland is not, as yet, a normally functional tourist destination. Facilities fall somewhere between low-key and non-existent, and several key attractions are difficult to reach affordably, or at all. But for flexible travellers imbued with a spirit of adventure, it offers the sort of non-prescribed travel experience one might expect of a breakaway state that remain unrecognised outside its own borders!

Philip Briggs

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Somaliland articles

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Frankincense

The coast of what is now Yemen and Somaliland has probably been the main global source of frankincense since the second millennium BC, author Philip Briggs writes.

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Dual citizenship in 30 minutes

Almost anyone can wander downtown and get themselves a bona fide identity document, no questions asked, writes Sean Connolly.

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Giants of the ocean

Author Philip Briggs sheds some light on the sharks and rays of Somaliland.

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