Somaliland Trip Report
Just got back from a few days in Somaliland. Felt completely safe. On the ground people are saying that the travel warning from the UK was political and the Somaliland govt is negotiating to have it removed some time soon. Regardless, I never felt any threat.
Was scheduled to fly from Djibouti to Berbera on Daallo but flight cancelled at last minute. Fly Jubba if you plan to do this route – their reputation is more reliable. I ended up travelling back through Ethiopia.
Flew to Dire Dawa from Addis ($58) and then took mini bus to Jijiga (80 Birr, 3 hours). Stayed at Ras Hotel in Dire Dawa for 200 Birr. Switched immediately to bus to Wachale for 30 Birr (1 1/2 hours). It drops you off and you have to walk a few hundred metres to border. Along the way the Ethiopian border control to exit is in an unmarked white building on your left. People will show you. Entering Somaliland no problem with visa issued in London – 30 Pounds on the spot in London. Shared taxi from Wachale to Hargiesa – 40,000 shillings. Waited for a couple of hours for it to leave. Money changers at the border – look for the yellow cages. Trip to Hargiesa took about 3 hours but this was because we stopped for lunch along the way.
Stayed at Oriental in Hargiesa – $15 (102,000 shilings) – good value. Wi-fi was ok. Better in mornings and day than at night but hotel was very nice. Camel and goat market was wonderful. It’s on from early morning to about 11am or a bit later. I took a mini bus for 1500 shillings there and 1300 shillings on the way back.
Went to Ministry of Tourism for car/driver/guard for Las Geel. Cost was $60 for car and driver, $20 for guard and $25 for permit. (although other posters have said they paid $55 for car, driver and guard). Cost if you arrange at Oriental is $100 for car, driver and guard. Department of Tourism was hard to find. Make your way to the President’s House (everyone will know), then turn left at the next roundabout. Then ask for the Ministry of Commerce – it’s down the road and to the left. The Tourism Department is in there. However it may change in the future to the Ministry of Youth and Sport building – which is in the same general area. Las Geel was wonderful (about 1 1/2 hour drive and spend a coupe of hours there). There is a guy on site who shows you around although his English was limited – we had a Somalilander with us who translated. Tourism Department shuts at 1pm so get organized in the mornings.
I changed $50 at the border (rate was 6,400) but wish I’d only changed about $10. Practically everything (except for local buses) was quoted to me in USD and people seemed to want USD and many locals were paying in USD as well. However, people seemed to use wildly varying exchange rates so I always asked for both the dollar and shilling price. I tried taking taxis in Hargiesa a few times and they always asked for $10USD so didn’t bother.
The Ethiopian Airways office is hard to find in Hargiesa. Walk down the main street towards Wachale, past the MIG jet, past the Central Bank and there is a big Daallo airlines office on your left. Keep walking about a block and you will come to a small lane between Daallo Express Cargo and Caalami Furniture. Go down this lane and you’ll see signs to the office. It’s easier to find if you go past the lane and look back as they have signs that way.
Oriental list price to go to Berbera and back is $189 (via Las Geel). I asked for a one-way price from Hargiesa to Berbera (without Las Geel) and was quoted $110 but it felt like a made up price you couldn’t rely on. Oriental and Hardwahaag Hotels both advised I needed a guard and travel permit to go in shared taxi. Not sure if this is true or not and I did not check with Ministory of Tourism. $34 exit fee + $10 luggage fee at Berbera airport.
Had a wonderful time. People were incredibly friendly and helpful and so pleased to see you and have you spread the word that Somaliland is safe. Am a solo female traveller so the women were especially fascinated that I was there. I was told by many people that it was not “necessary” for me to wear a head scarf and long skirt. However, I felt much more comfortable wearing a head scarf all the time and I wore a sarong over my trousers during the day.
Hope this helps.