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Somaliland

 

Here I will try to put some info about Somaliland .

I asked here some time ago, but I do not get so much answers at all. LP Africa on shoestring and the last Ethiopea and Eritrea guidebook have only limited info.

 

Somaliland is quasi independent country. It in area of formal British Somalia. When Brits left this former colony was shortly independent and then decided to join former Italian Somalia. Some 15 years ago after to many years ago of civil war the guys in the North decided that it will be better to be independent again.

Somaliland now looks like normal independent country – own president, elections, own currency, army, police, mobile phone operators, airways, but no single country recognized them officially.

 

The country on the west known as Somalia is now in reality divided in to three “independent” countries. In the north Somaliland, in south Somalia and between on the tip of The Horn Puttland.

Somalia is now to dangerous to travel.

Somaliland is quite OK.

Puttland somewhere in between.

 

Somaliland :

Visa: each foreigner needs visa (Somali, Etiopean and Djibutians are not foreigners, but rest of as are).

Easiest way where to get visa is Ethiopia . The new LP Ethiopia and Eritrea shows the location of the embassy in Addis correctly. Ask around as the doors are closed and there is no sign at all.

You need 1 photo and 350 birr. (30 EUR). Its all ready in 15 minutes.

There is no way how to get visa on the border. (Well I meet one lady from Norway that went through the border without visa but with bribe of 150 USD).

For peoples that fly in Hargeshia and stay in the best hotel near the airport is possible to get visa through the hotel, but all it together cost much more then one day stop in Addis for visa. I suppose that 90% of all visitors get the visa in Addis. There should be (according Somaliland government web some other embassies ( London ), but ADD is most reliable).

On the border you will be stamped out from Ethiopia so to go back you need multi-entry visa for Ethiopia .

Not many tourists / visitors – in May I had visa No. 201.

 

Getting there:

Plane or bus/car

Plane: You can fly from Ethiopia , Djibouti , Puttland , Somalia .

Based on the fact that in Djibouti is not embassy mostly all peoples will fly from Ethiopia ..

Flights from Addis with Ethiopian Airways (usually fully booked for 2 weeks or more) and Daallao. Price 180 – 200 USD OW, 230 – 280 USD RT. No additional taxes.

If you fly in, then on the airport in Hargeshia you pay 50 USD tax on arrival. (in form of changing 100 USD cash while you will get only 50 USD worth of Shillings.)

Flights with Daallao are extremely unreliable. I bought ticket from Hargeshia to Addis Ababa . Few hours before flight I get call from the airways. They told me, that they decided that it will be for them more profitable to fly to Mogadishu rather then to Addis and that I can choose to either fly with them to Mogadishu (that I refused), or to wait till they will fly to ADD, that can take some 5 to 10 days because they still do not know when they will fly.

 

Bus/ car

From Ethiopia :

There is only one border crossing in Wajalee near Jijiga. There are minibuses around hourly to Wajalee from Jijiga. Price 10 Birr. There the minibus is unbelievable crowded, so it is better to buy 2 tickets.

To Jijiga   you can fly from Addis Ababa , but flights are usually full for 2 weeks. Price 175 USD OW. Attention: as the runway is not paved there are no flights if it will rain (even for 2 hours only) in previous 1 or 2 days (as it happened to me). There is always possibility to fly to Dire Dawa as there are up to 3 flights a day. Dire Dawa to Harar is 1 hour and minibuses go every 5 minutes. The road from Harar to Jijiga is in process of upgrade. Price 20 birr, up to 15 smaller buses a day.

From the border in Wajalee to Hargeshia there is no bus. The only way is take shared taxi. Price is question – some 250 Birr for whole car and they fill up to 8 persons in a car. On the return to get one full seat I paid 20 USD after long bargaining. Duration   3 hours.

In Hargeshia is not single bus station. Cars to different locations leave from different places. To Wajalee it is from small square on small road that starts opposite Daallao Airways. More traffic mornings.

The first 10 km from the border road is so bad that almost all cars go in fields. Our car get stuck in mud and on the end I hitched another car (after 1 hour of waiting). Then the rest is good tar road.  

Between Jijiga and Hargeshia you will go through 10 checkpoints.

Now there is generally more traffic on all these roads and I was able to do Hargeshia – Jijiga – Harar – Dire Dawa by minibuses and still the same day I reached Addis by plane (115 USD)

 

From Djibouti :

There are shared taxi and busses to Djibouti from Hargeshia. First 150 km is good tar road, then its much worse. It took 2 days. It seems that police will again ask you to take gunmen. There is no Djibuti embassy in Hargeshia, so you need to have visa in advance.   You can get it in Addis Abeba (usually till next day), from consulate in Dire Dawa (30 EUR in 1 hour) or from any embassy of France in the world (then its up to 75 EUR and they ask for hotel booking)

 

Currency:

Somaliland Shiling. 1 USD = 6500 Sch, 1 EUR = 8000 Sch. The highest banknote is 500, so for 100 EUR you get 1600 banknotes.

USD are used often and you can change freely in and out on the street – there are hundreds of moneychangers with small tables on the streets.

Moneychangers see more often USD.

Transport – to and from Ethiopia by road can be paid in Birr to.

 

Costs:

Hotel – I spend 1,5 EUR shared bathroom, otherwise better hotels are 10 to 20 USD

Food – surprisingly good – prices more around 3-5 USD

No alcohol at all

 

Security:

Well, good question.

No fighting, no mess as in Somalia . Its rather “stable” 3th world country. But some banditry exists.

Based on that authorities decided that every tourist that is going out from Hargeshia should rent from police one gunmen with Kalashnikov. Price is 10 to 30 USD a gunmen. I had on one checkpoint unbelievable conversation.

Police: Sir, you need gunman. Somaliland is really safe country, but our president decided that just in case any visitor should have own gunmen on own cost.

Me: No, I would like to go alone; I do not like idea of gunman with me at all.

Police: You need to have one. BTW, where are you from?

Me: From Czech Republic .

Police: Czech Republic ? Great, Pavel Baros is playing excellent football. You are from Czech Republic as Baros, so you will get special treatment – you will get TWO gunmen for price of one.

 

It seems that in reality situation is rather stable. In the last years there was usually one attack a year on car with foreigners a year. For last 2 years are generally OK.

 

Sights:

Well, none.

Or nearly none.

 

Hargeshia. – the only real town. Still only 3 streets are paved, when is raining then on the streets is up to 15 cm water.

Sights: none (well on the main street is one Somali MIG as memorial. Because the town was nearly fully bombed out some 20 years ago by Somalia so all buildings are new.

 

Berbera:

He only sight is amazing sea and beach – white sand. Hotel Le Mansur is just on the beach. 15 USD night. City have rather depressing feel.

 

Laas Gaal (Lees Geel):

Amazing prehistoric rock paintings. Its day trip from Hargeshia. But it’s expensive. Car with driver plus gunmen (actually police prefer if in car will be 2) and preferably guide will be around 100 EUR. By taxi you can not go the last 3 km, so it is better to rent 4WD. In Hargeshia near Daallao airways is car dealership that can rent a 4WD.

It looks like mixture of rock paintings from Namibia   and Sigiria in Sri Lanka .

 

Puttland:

Amazing beaches, but otherwise mess.

 

Its another quasi independent country, but in this case definitely less safe. The safest way there is Daallao flight 105 USD OW, but they cancel sometimes all flight day by day for two weeks.

Car – rent, gunman, guide and you are on some 200 USD a day and definitely not in safe area.

You need another visa (the Somaliland or Somali visa is not valid there) on the airport 100 USD (you can bargain it down to 60.)

 

In the last years Puttland is partially occupying two Somaliland ’s provinces.

 

I was not there, but I meet some retired Norwegian lady that get in love with Somaliland and Putland and generally he spends there 1/3 of each year and she even bought beach property on border between Somaliland and Puttland.

Well, I will not go there for holidays…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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