Somaliland should not be confused with Somalia. Somaliland is a self-declared country that is bordered by Ethiopia (to the south and west) Djibouti (to the north west) and Puntland/Somalia (to the east).
The first stop for most visitors is the bustling capital of Hargeisa, where the main attraction is definitely the incredible hospitality of the people. Dive into the main market and wander amongst the multitude of goods on offer – one could easily spend a whole day talking to shopkeepers and admiring what is on sale. Thankfully, this market primarily caters to locals, souvenir shops are absent. Also head to the animal market where many camels, goats and a few cows are traded. This is a much smaller area and only requires an hour of your time.
The star attraction in Somaliland is Las Geel – a sumptuous collection of rock art estimated at being between 5000 to 10,000 years old (though the guide at the site cited 7,000 years). This is easily the finest rock art I have ever seen – the vibrancy of the colours and the scale of the galleries are outstanding.
Las Geel can easily be reached on a half day journey from Hargeisa or continue onwards to Berbera – a port city that is much smaller and more relaxed than the capital. There is a beach nearby which I found to be okay, but I have heard (though not seen) that far better beaches can be found elsewhere. Ensure you savour a delicious fish meal whilst in Berbera – I ate at the Xeeb Soor Restaurant on the waterfront – it was exceptional.
Heading inland one can visit Sheikh (also spelt Sheekh) which involves a beautiful mountain drive that commands some wonderful views of the valley below. According to personal reports I have received there are two other mountain areas worth visiting. Ga’an Libah inbetween Las Geel and Berbera receives positive reviews from local people, but the standout is the Dallo Escarpment east of Erigavo. I saw images from fellow travellers and it is dramatic, green and beautiful. However, getting there involves days of travel and the cost of doing so on my own was prohibitive.
My blogs on Somaliland: