Somaliland Uncovered


Somaliland Uncovered

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 7 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Dossier

Somaliland is not Somalia. A self declared independent state unrecognised by the rest of the world; Somaliland has its own government and currency and has escaped the chaos that has engulfed its notorious cousin. Perched on the Horn of Africa and bordered by the Red Sea, Somaliland is a country of proud traditions born out of its largely nomadic heritage, keen to welcome visitors. This short trip gives the intrepid traveller a unique insight into a country that does not officially exist. Starting in the capital Hargeisa we wander the markets and soak up the atmosphere before heading to Borama, Las Geel, Berbera and Sheikh where we meet local nomadic communities and learn about the challenges they face in this parched corner of the continent. After visiting the eastern towns of Arabsiyo and Gabiley, we then travel to the spectacular rock art site of Las Geel – one of the most impressive examples of prehistoric art in Africa. From here we journey to the coastal city of Berbera with its colonial architecture and discover the stunning scenery around Sheikh before heading back to the capital, Hargeisa. But Somaliland is above all characterised by its people – facing some of the harshest conditions on our planet, hindered in their efforts at international recognition by an underserved association, yet some of the friendliest and most exuberant people you will ever meet.


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●● | Culture ●●●○○ | History ●●●●○ | Wildlife ●●○○○

Tour Pace

Moderate

Tour Highlights

  • Discover the unknown delights of Somaliland, an unrecognised state with much to offer the Africa enthusiast
  • Explore Hargeisa, the capital and visit the markets
  • Travel to the caves of Las Geel, where rock art dating back 5,000 years has been found – one of the best preserved examples in all of Africa

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Comfortable tourist class hotels although some can be basic
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum of 12
Start Point: Hargeisa
End Point: Hargeisa
Transport: 4WD - Transfer may be in a sedan car
Country Visited: Somaliland

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Hargeisa
Arrive in Hargeisa and transfer to your hotel, where the rest of the day is at leisure to relax. Overnight Damal Hotel or similar. (D)

Hargeisa
Somaliland’s capital is a manageable city, with a relatively small population and fairly low-key in character. Founded at the turn at the 20th century, it became the capital of British Somaliland during the colonial period, to be later superseded by Mogadishu following independence and unification with the former Italian colony. It would be difficult to describe Hargeisa as being packed full of ‘must-see’ sights – it is Largely destroyed during the civil war of the 1980s, today it is a fairly modern city, but its attraction lies in its general ambience. With a relaxed feel to the city, Hargeisa, it’s not uncommon for locals to approach you to start up a conversation – you will undoubtedly of much interest as one of the few travellers there. In the afternoon, the city takes on a decidedly languid feel as much of the population indulges in the national pastime of chewing khat, a mild stimulant that is chewed to release its effects. As you might expect, Hargeisa has some large markets, selling everything one can imagine – of particular note are the money changers with their bricks of Somaliland shillings. The one ‘sight’ that you can’t miss is the Civil War Memorial, consisting of a crashed MiG fighter jet mounted on a podium. Hargeisa doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor of some other African cities, but it more than makes up for it with quirky charm and friendly inhabitants.

Day 2: Hargeisa
Spend the morning exploring the city and seeing some of its sights, including the War Memorial with its unusual monument of a crashed MiG fighter plane, the markets -including the gold and khat markets- and a traditional Somali house. Overnight Damal Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 3: Hargeisa - Arabsiyo – Dhagah Khoure - Gabiley - Borama
A full day excursion eastward, visiting the town of Arabsiyo and its valleys, on the way to Gabiley. Gabiley is known as the breadbasket of Somaliland and is renowned for its agriculture. We will also visit the rock art site at Dhagah Khoure and then to Borama, for the night. Overnight Hotel Rays Borama. (BLD)

Day 4: Borama – Jufo – Hargeisa
Borama is an important education centre and is the home of the historic Amoud University. The first post war institution of higher learning throughout Somaliland. Morning Borama sightseeing and Amoud University then back to Hargeisa. On the way back we stop at the nomadic settlement of Jufo, before returning to Hargeisa. Overnight Damal Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 5: Hargeisa - Las Geel – Berbera
Travel to the caves of Las Geel, where rock art dating back 5,000 years has been found – one of the best-preserved examples in all of Africa and a real highlight of the trip. After visiting the site we continue to Berbera on the coast, with its interesting architecture from both the Ottoman and British periods much of which is now in ruin, which we explore. Overnight Hotel Mansoor or similar. (BLD)

Las Geel
The paintings at Las Geel are perhaps one of the most important rock art sites in all of Africa. Dating back at least 5000 years, Las Geel consists of a complex of caves and rock shelters, the most significant of which is a 100 square metre surface with at least 250 individual paintings. The figures depicted here are cattle, giraffe, and hunters accompanied by dogs, among others, and they are exceptionally well preserved, making this a real delight for anyone who is even in the slightest bit interested in rock art.

Berbera
Somaliland’s second city, Berbera has long been an important trading post by virtue of its position on the coast on the Gulf of Aden. Once occupied by the Ottomans, Berbera is home to a fascinating old quarter – not as well preserved as you might find elsewhere in Africa but nonetheless an interesting place to explore, with winding alleys and impressive mosques. It’s not known when the city was founded, but references to it have been made to it in Greek literature from the 1st century, and Chinese documents from the 9th century when it was described as trading in ivory and slaves. It was close to Berbera that the famed British explorers Speke and Burton were attacked by Somali warriors while waiting to proceed to the interior, narrowly escaping with their lives.

Day 6: Berbera - Sheikh – Hargeisa
We spend the morning exploring Berbera. After lunch, we leave the city and travel through the mountains to Sheikh, through fantastic scenery with great views of the dry plains below. At Sheikh we visit the ruins of Ferdusa, a city dating back to the 16th century. Later in the afternoon we drive back to Hargeisa for the evening. Overnight Damal Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Sheikh
The town of Sheikh is located in the Golis Mountains, reached via a very scenic drive from Berbera. It differs from much of the rest of the country in that the altitude here means that the landscape is greener – relatively rare in such a parched region.

Day 7: Departure from Hargeisa
After breakfast, transfer to the airport on due time for your onward flight. (B)

Tour Inclusions/Exclusions

Inclusions:

Arrival and departure transfers – please see notes below
All accommodation
Transport throughout the tour with a driver
Services of English-speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Excluded:

International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks
Tip for main tour guide (discretionary)
Items of a personal nature


Important Notes - Airport Transfers

On the first day and leaving day of the advertised itinerary we include airport transfers in the price of your tour if you are arriving and departing on the scheduled flight for this tour - we will advise you of the scheduled airport/hotel pick-up time at the time of booking. These will be provided by our local representative.

If you are planning to arrive before the start date, and/or leave after the end date of the tour, Undiscovered Destinations can arrange private transfers at an additional cost of £130 per vehicle per transfer. This supplement also applies if you do not wish to take the scheduled transfer. Please check with us at the time of booking.

Please note that if you have arranged extra pre and/or post tour accommodation, either through Undiscovered Destinations or directly with the hotel or an agent, airport transfers are not included in the price of your tour. Please contact us if you would like Undiscovered Destinations to arrange private airport transfers at an additional cost (£130 per vehicle per transfer).