Somalilandsun – Still one of the worlds least-chartered travel destinations, this ancient land called Somaliland where the vast empty interior is studded with medieval Islamic ruins, mysterious stone tumuli, and ancient rock art, has much to offer the intrepid traveler.
According to Philip Briggs who visited the country on commission from Bradt Travel Guides “Somaliland is memorable not so much for any individual sightseeing opportunities, but for its capacity, by turns rewarding and frustrating, to make visitors experience it entirely on its own terms”
A peaceful self-governing democracy in the otherwise tempestuous Horn of Africa, it seceded from the rest of Somalia more than 20 years ago. And yet as far as the United Nations and African Union are concerned, it simply doesn’t exist – indeed, when Somaliland celebrates its independence day, annually on the 18th May, it does so alone and unrecognized by the outside world.
Yet this ancient arid land has much to offer the intrepid traveler. Lapped by the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Aden, its timeworn ports evoke an obscure history of maritime trade stretching back to Paranoiac times. Above the coast stands the remote and unexpectedly chilly Daallo Escarpment, where glades of aromatic junipers, other worldly dragon’s blood succulents, and frankincense-bearing Boswellia trees overlook the shimmering shoreline 2,000 metres below.
Inland are vast empty badlands populated by a thin scattering of desert nomads, domestic camels and wild antelope, and studded with mediaeval Islamic ruins, mysterious stone tumuli, and ancient rock art sites. The most spectacular of these is Las Geel, whose multi-coloured panels depict the cattle-herding lifestyle of artists who trod these desert sands more than 5,000 years ago
Somaliland is not, as yet, a normally functional tourist destination. Facilities fall somewhere between low-key and non-existent, and several key attractions are difficult to reach affordably, or at all. But for flexible travelers imbued with a spirit of adventure, it offers the sort of non-prescribed travel experience one might expect of a breakaway state that remains unrecognized outside its own borders!
Philip Briggs having completed his visit reported that “And what a unique, strange and intriguing place Somaliland is. Set along the northern shores of the Horn of Africa, lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Gulf of Aden, its timeworn ports evoke an obscure history of maritime trade stretching back to Paranoiac times” in a piece titled Somaliland – The author’s take
Apart from camel picture all others courtesy of Bradt Travel Guides
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