Somalia Travel Guide
The desert country of Somalia is located at the outer edge of the horn of Africa bordered by Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia. A disastrous US assault on the capital in 1994 put its capital on the map and the country has been mired in political underacheivements ever since. Its noted destinations include Mogadishu, Gendershe, Galdogob, Merca, and Kismayu. However, recent warlordism incidents, civil war outbreaks, and border disputes have made the country relatively unsafe especially in Puntland. Unless you’re invincible to terrorist threats, malaria, hepatitis, typhoid, and rabies cases, Somalia is not a recommended vacation spot.
When to Go
Somalia is a desert country with a tropical to subtropical weather. Monsoon rains from the northeast occur from December to February. The southern parts of Somalia are very hot, while the temperature in the north is cooler. Rainfall is irregular during the southwest monsoon months of May to October.
Getting There & Away
A nightmare. Most of the roads are also unpaved and particularly dangerous to drive on at night and during the rainy season. Several ports are found in Mogadishu, Boosaaso, Merca, and Berbera. Taxis are only available in the major cities, while buses are rare. You can rent a car in Mogadishu, just don’t drive or travel outside the city because it’s dangerous.
Health & Safety
Where do we start? Some of the possible illnesses that you can contract while in the country are malaria, hepatitis, schistosomiasis, and rabies. To avoid them, always drink bottled water and avoid swimming in fresh, nonchlorinated water or pools. Avoid contact with the local dogs and eat only well cooked food. Prior to visiting Somalia, take malaria prevention tablets or have yourself vaccinated against rabies, hepatitis, and typhoid.
Somalia is an extremely dangerous country to visit because of frequent civil wars, border-dispute fights, military coups, and warlordism. Somaliland is generally safer than southern Somalia and Puntland. Avoid traveling unaccompanied at night and always keep your valuables hidden.
Food & Hospitality
The larger Somalian cities of Mogadishu and Galdogob serve Italian, European, Chinese, and authentic Somalian dishes. International-standard inns and hotels are located in Mogadishu and Hargeisa. Others tourist hotels can also be found in Marka, Kismayu, Berbera, Burao, and Borama. Government-operated rest houses are available for large tour groups of four to 10 people. Some national parks in Bush-Bush and Lac Badana also offer hunting and tourist lodges. Without a well edveloped tourism industry you can expect few comforts or conveniences here.
Two days in Mogadishu
Three days in Gendershe
Two days in Galdogob
A day each in Merca, Kismayu National Park, and Hargeisa
Mogadishu: the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu is the recommended primary stop if you are in the country for the first time. It is the largest Somalian city and the only seaport with internet access. Must-see landmarks include Arba-Rucun Mosque and an Italian cathedral.
Gendershe: south of Mogadishu is the coastal village of Gendershe. It is actually an oasis with some of the most pristine beaches in Africa. It also houses numerous mosques and tombs.
Galdogob: the second largest Somalian city in the Mudug region, Galdogob has modern facilities such as a large hospital, several internet cafes, hotels, and private schools.
Merca: is known for having its own beach called Sinbusi.
Kismayu National Park and Hargeisa: feature some of the country’s rare animal species.
Swimming: indulge in some of the most beautiful African beaches in Gendershe.
Sightseeing: take photos of Somalia’s architectural structures like old mosques, tombs, and small villages.
Shopping: take home some authentic Somalian souvenirs bought in the markets of Mogadishu and Galdogob. Local handicrafts include woven baskets, cloth, silver and gold jewelry, and woodcarvings.
Nature tripping: for the nature lovers, a day trip to Hargeisa and Kismayu National Park is well worth the heat.