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.Read more...
Somaliland - Travel and visas
All visitors to Somaliland require a valid passport, the expiry date of which should be at least six months after you intend to end your travels. A Somaliland visa (emphatically not the same thing as a Somali visa) must also be arranged in advance by all visitors. This is a requirement that is complicated by the fact Somaliland is not yet formally recognised as a country and thus lacks proper diplomatic representation any further afield than Addis Ababa, one of only two places where a visa can be collected outside the country, the other being the Somaliland Liaison Office in London (and do note that there is nowhere in Djibouti to get a Somaliland visa, nor can one be issued at the border). Another viable option for those flying to Hargeisa is to arrange a visa through the hotel where you will be staying.
For many years, the easiest way to get to Somaliland from Europe, North America and almost anywhere else in the world was with Ethiopian Airlines, which has one of the most extensive international flight networks of any African carrier. Until 2008, when these flights were suspended indefinitely in the wake of the embassy bombing, it also operated regular scheduled trips between Addis Ababa and Hargeisa. No major international airline has landed in Hargeisa since. Hopefully it is only a matter of time before Ethiopian Airlines resumes the Hargeisa flight and it is definitely worth checking this out before you look at any other options (either call the local representative, as listed on www.flyethiopian.com, or check the schedules on the same website). In the meantime, the only viable option for flying into Somaliland is a handful of regional carriers of varying reliability that connect a limited selection of other cities in east Africa or Arabia to Hargeisa (HGA) and/or Berbera (BBO). The carriers in question are African Express, Daallo Airlines, East African Safari Express, Jubba Airways and Punt Air; collectively they connect Somaliland to three African cities, namely Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Nairobi (Kenya) and Djibouti (Djibouti), as well as Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. It is also possible to fl y into Addis Ababa, and then make your way to Somaliland overland, a popular option.
Although occasional flights do connect Hargeisa to other towns in Somaliland, the more normal mode of transport is by road. Conditions are variable. The main road from Borama via Hargeisa, Berbera, Sheikh, Burao and Oog (the Garoowe border post with Somalia) is surfaced and can easily be covered in any sedan car. All other roads, including the ones from Borama to Zeila, and Oog to Maydh via Erigavo, are unsurfaced and too rough to risk without a 4x4. There are no buses in Somaliland, but foreigners are usually permitted to use the inexpensive but jam-packed shared taxis that run along the stretch of road from Borama to Burao, via Hargeisa and Berbera, and also to travel in the 4x4s that connect Hargeisa and Burao to Zeila and the Djibouti border. Other parts of the country may only be visited in a 4x4 with a local driver, which can be rented through one of the agencies listed under Hargeisa.
From what we know, self-drive car rental is not an option in Somaliland. It could be that overlanders with their own vehicle are permitted to drive themselves with SPU protection, but we have never heard from anybody who has done this.