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Traveling to Somaliland by land (DJI) - Situation Sep-2021

11 posts
Traveling to Somaliland by land (DJI) - Situation Sep-2021

Hello everyone,

I went backpacking to Somaliland recently and I thought I will share some practical information. I went at the beginning of September.

No. 1 - Buy Somaliland guide book, published by Bradt Guides

No. 2 - You don't need more than 5-6 days for Somaliland (excluding traveling days)

No. 3 - Go by car from Djibouti City, it is quite an experience, but fly back :]

Visa & Traveling to Hargeisa

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- I came by car from Djibouti City, crossed to Somaliland by land

- I applied for Visa to Somaliland in Djibouti (on Maps.me search for 'Somaliland Liason Office and Embassy')

- They close at 1 PM, I came there right before closing on the same day when I arrived to Djibouti, paid 60$ and left my passport there for a night

- Next day I picked it up in the morning, you will get your passport with a visa in it and a receipt (KEEP the receipt, they will ask for it everywhere where your visa will be checked!)

Should I go to Hargeisa by land from Djibouti?

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- As you can read in other travelers' experiences, it is a rough ride, 15 hours through the desert, dirt roads only, but I highly recommend it! You will see much more of Somaliland and how ppl live than just flying to and out of Hargeisa

- Also once you cross to Somaliland, it is quite an experience to stay in the "city" on the Somaliland border (you will have to wait there 2-3 hours before the car leaves for Hargeisa)

Djibouti to Hargeisa by land

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- Go to Avenue 26 in Djibouti City the day you want to leave (I did the day before, got ripped of by someone telling me that it is their car and he is the driver - not true, so I lost my $10 deposit)

- Don't talk to anyone who will come to you asking about car, these ppl will just walk you 50m to the driver and suddenly your price will be higher because the driver will have to pay a commission

- ALL the cars will be Land Cruiser which is how you know that these are the cars going to Hargeisa, all parked in the same part of the street; find the Land Cruiser cards walk to some and try to find the !real! driver then

- (I traveled alone) I recommend getting the front double-seat - double the price BUT worth it; you should be able to negotiate anywhere between $40-$80 for the front double-seat

- They might ask for commission - $10-$15 should be enough, but don't pay everything

- Minor thing, but make sure that the seat has a head rest - there is no fun in keeping your head straight for 15 hours (I learned the hard way)

- I read on the Internet to look for a car that is in a good shape, with airco - I don't believe that there are any; all the Land Cruisers are in a seemingly bad shape, they have to travel every day through the rough terrain so don't expect a new car

- Once you find a driver and get our spot, you can go back to your hotel and then come back around 3-4 PM so they can load your luggage and other stuff on the roof of the car. Around 5PM the car will leave towards the border (good road, 30 mins drive)

- Don't pay rest of the price before leaving; maybe half of the money when leaving and rest when you cross to Somaliland

- When you cross to Somaliland, you have to wait for couple of hours at the border before the car leaves; there is plenty of huts, people exchanging money, some shops where you can buy water or some food; buy a SIM card (I think that the SIM card is free and you pay just for $5 credit)

Where to stay in Hargeisa

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- Of course the Oriental Hotel where every backpacker stays (chances that you will meet other backpacker are close to zero btw.) - 15$ a night, "good" food (for Somaliland), right in the city center, close to the main market

- Other option is Diamond hotel in Hargeisa, but the location is not really good

TODO in Hargeisa

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- Don't pay with $, pay with Somaliland schillings - change few hundreds $ to schillings and enjoy carrying all the bricks of money around

- Visit the main market near the hotel - you will get lost very easily

- Have a coffee in Cafe Berbera - European quality café with European-like prices for Cappuccino and deserts

- Go to *Hiddo Dhawr* restaurant at the end of your stay - nice restaurant with lot of singers and dance performances, dress nicely if possible; BUT BE AWARE that the address you find on the Internet is wrong and that they moved recently to a new location to the *outskirts* of Hargeisa - I don't have the address, but I recommend to find a taxi and the driver should know where to take you. It is far, it might take 30-45 mins to drive there from the city center. Also don't come before 8PM, all the performances start after 8PM which is also when people generally arrive.

- Ask for a phone number of the taxi driver so he can take you back

- I didn't, but install *Dhaweeye Driver* app on your phone which should be the local Uber

Laas Geel & Berbera

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- Main attraction in Somaliland - the cave paintings

- I arranged my trip in the Oriental hotel. You can either go to Laas Geel and back for $125 (1 day trip) or for $250 you can go to Berbera afterwards, spend a night there and the next day go back

- I negotiated for $150 to go to Laas Geel (including SPU - Special Protection Unit) and then to be driven to Berbera but without both the driver and SPU staying there with me but leaving the same day back to Hargeisa while I stayed in Berbera

- Go to tourist office (in the Ministry of Tourism, see maps.me) in Hargeisa in the morning and get permit for Laas Geel ($30)

- I also had to pay $10 for permit to Berbera (but I felt like it is not needed and I didn't need to use it anywhere)

Berbera - coastal city

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- There is not much to do in Somaliland, so I recommend to spend 1 night in Berbera and explore the city for 1 evening and half a day next day

- I recommend Alloore Hotel in Berbera (Whatsapp them on +252 63 4400319 for a booking), $15 without airco, $25 with airco - get with arico, Berbera is much wormer than Hargeisa

- When you arrive in the evening, go have dinner in Berbera Beach Hotel Restaurant - good food, nice view on the harbor and make sure you visit before the sunset so you can snap some amazing pictures

- Next day, explore Berbera some more and then go back by public bus (1-2 nights there should be enough)

- You can buy a bus ticket at *Sahal Transport & Logistics* - small yellow busses, $5 for a ticket, you get your own seat number; ask to sit somewhere in the back if possible so you don't get bothered at security check points on a way to Hargeisa; It takes around 3.5 hours to Hargeisa, including 30 mins break; good road

- You can find the ticket office near Salaama Bus Office (http://maps.me)

Be aware

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- Ppl really don't like if you take photos of them, a street, any building, basically anything

- Some people though (mainly young guys) will ask you to take a photo of them so you will be able to snap some pictures of people

- I had my DSLR hidden between my back and backpack and took pictures very quickly when I saw an opportunity, hiding the camera quickly again afterwards

- Some people will question you if you are Christian, here and there someone might be aggressive towards you, just try that this does not ruin your experience (not easy though, it takes few ppl like this to ruin your day tbh.)

- NO shorts, after walking for few hours in shorts you will realize that something is wrong, and then here and there someone will tell you that it is a Muslim country and it is inappropriate to wear shorts - so only long trousers

- Buy Macawuus (Google 'somali Macawuus') - solves your problem with shorts and you will fit in better among other people; I paid $20 for mine at the market

Going back to Djibouti

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- Visa to Djibouti takes up to 3 WORKING days - weekend is Thursday and Friday in Djibouti so if you apply Tuesday evening, you get your visa on Monday morning (I learned the hard way!)

- DO NOT GO BY LAND - I did, went by a car for 15 hours to the border and then I was not let in Djibouti; I was told that eVisa is not valid over land for tourists; I don't think that is true, but I didn't manage to cross so I had to cross back to Somaliland, find a new driver at the Somali border, wait for a half day in the border "city" and then travel 15 hours back over night #$^&^%$

Departing Hargeisa by plane

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You need Covid test! Around $30, do it the day before your departure at the Hargeisa hospital

One more tip - I didn't spend more than 1 day in Djibouti and I didn't regret it

ENJOY!

6 posts
1. Re: Traveling to Somaliland by land (DJI) - Situation Sep-2021

So, nobody asked for PCR at the Somaliland border? I'll also go to Hargeisa by car from JIB, but don't want to risk, that they won't let me in. Do You know some place to make test in JIB? (I'm going to spend a few days there).

Some people reported, that it's possible to visit Las Geel just by taking bus to Dhubato, a city few km from the actual place, ang taking a taxi from there...

11 posts
2. Re: Traveling to Somaliland by land (DJI) - Situation Sep-2021

@Mateusz Ż: I don't recall anymore. I had a PCR test for Djibouti already, not sure if I had to show it or not. Also I was double vaccinated already as well.

I would strongly discourage from that. It is quite far from the main road, you would have to tell the driver and make sure that he doesn't forget and I think that there was a security very soon as well that won't probably let you walk there for an hour or so by yourself. They gave me SPU automatically, not sure how mandatory it is since I didn't try to negotiate to go without.

United Kingdom
Level Contributor
306 posts
3. Re: Traveling to Somaliland by land (DJI) - Situation Sep-2021

Amazing report. Many thanks for sharing your experience inside Somaliand and Djibouti.

In the past TA a member had the same experience as you he wanted take a train from Dire Dawa to Ethiopia to Djibouti city Djibouti also they did not let him in this was 2 years ago.

Others who had visa from Djiboutian Embassy in Addis Ababa was allowed in country.

PCR test is required when travelling by air to Somaliland, rules are same even though land borders. I just think border control assume have it.

E- Visa question? Did you provided name phone of your hotel and airline ticket how much was

evisa?

Even other majority muslim country ask about faith mostly just curious.

Somalis in general when speaking do speak

aggressive, if go coffee house you think they all fighting lo but they just having fun. Human culture amazing.

I am glad had a good trip.

Edited: 2 years ago
4. Re: Traveling to Somaliland by land (DJI) - Situation Sep-2021

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