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Somaliland Trip Report

6 posts
Somaliland Trip Report

I crossed the border at Loyaada between Djibouti and Somaliland on March 25th 2022 and stayed in the country until the 30th and figured I'd post my experience here in case it might help anyone planning to do the same.

-First I had to get my Somaliland visa at the Somaliland Diplomatic Mission in Djibouti. Google Maps doesn't have the correct location for this building. It is in Plateau du Seprent, directly across the street from the Constitutional Counsel building (the location is correct on the Maps.me app). The visa cost the Djiboutian Franc equivalent of $62 USD (they told me I had to pay in Francs, IDK if other tourists have had the same experience) and I was asked to leave my passport there overnight. They said I could pick it up around 10 am the next day and sure enough I got it back, visa included.

-A couple of days later I woke up around and around 9am I went to Avenue 26 to find the unmistakable Toyota Landcruisers and reserve my seat. I was told that the back seats would cost $35 but I managed to negotiate $70 to get the much more comfortable front passenger seat. I was lucky insofar as the car seemed to be fairly new and in great condition (A/C included). They told me that we'd leave around 3:30pm. I returned at around three o'clock and we eventually left around 5:00pm. The ride to the border was relatively quick (despite a couple of detours).

-The Djiboutian border guard asked to see a Covid PCR test which surprised me as I didn't think I'd need one to leave the country. I showed him the results of a PCR test I'd taken in the UAE on the 20th of March. I'm not sure what the exact time requirements were but the guard didn't seem to look at it very hard and just sent me through with a stamp. I'd recommend having a more recent test result than I did, just in case.

-The Somaliland side of the border was more or less a breeze. I wasn't asked for a PCR test (but this might not be everyone's experience) however I was asked about a sponsor in Somaliland and their phone number. I decided to give them the name of the Oriental Hotel in Hargeisa (though I hadn't booked a reservation). I panicked for a minute though because I didn't have the phone number and I didn't have internet on my phone to load it. The border official just seemed mildly irritated that I was holding up the line and gave me the stamp just to move me along. IDK how zealous they usually are about asking/enforcing the whole sponsor thing. To be safe you might want to reach out to a hotel ahead of time and have them give you a sponsorship letter.

- We spent a couple of hours in Loyaada before leaving around 7-8pm and spent most of the rest of the night on the "road" (it's basically just following the tracks of other vehicles in the sand/mountains) until around two in the morning when we arrived in the town of Bown. The women in the Landcruiser went inside of a small concrete building to get some sleep while the men where given straw mats and a blanket under an overhang just outside the building. For this part of the trip you may want to bring a fleece as it can get quite chilly in this part of the country in the morning. We slept there for about three hours before eating some breakfast and hitting the road to Borama about 15 hours after we originally departed. At Borama my driver and a friend I made on the ride helped me buy a $5 USD bus ticket for Hargeisa from the Sahal Bus company. The ride to Hargeisa should normally take about an hour to an hour and a half but traffic was particularly bad (in no small part because the president had just returned from a visit to Washington DC and his motorcade led to a big celebration) so it took closer to three hours. Luckily most of the major bus company stations are right next to the Oriental Hotel so walking there was a breeze.

-Hargeisa is an interesting city to walk around. I recommend checking out somalilandtravelguide.com as they have list a lot of interesting things to do in the city. There aren't many traditional tourist attractions (there's the Saryan Museum and the Hargeisa Cultural Center and a National Museum that is currently under construction) but walking around and talking to people makes up for that.

- For visiting Las Geel I decided to make it as simple as possible and just arranged a tour through my hotel for $150. They gave me a driver, an armed guard and arranged the permits/entry fees (or so I was told). We left around 8:30am and got back to Hargeisa around half past noon.

- For visiting Berbera I was told I needed a permit from the Ministry of Tourism. From the Oriental Hotel it's about a 30 minute walk to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism complex (marked accurately on Google Maps). I went in the morning and it took maybe an hour to get the permit (a little longer than usual because the man who needed to sign off on it was at the cinema) the employees there were all incredibly nice though there was a bit of an incident when I discovered that my visit to Las Geel the previous day had been illegal. Apparently, the hotel lied to me when they said they would get the permits for the tour and I left with the impression that I had accidentally gotten my hotel into trouble with the Ministry of Tourism (who weren't angry at me in the slightest). Long story short, get your permits! In retrospect I would've been better off arranging everything directly with the ministry.

- The ride to Berbera (on a Saacadin Bus) took three hours. I sat on the "special seat" between the driver and the passenger seat and since the driver used to live in Yemen I was able to speak to him in Arabic during the ride. The road between Hargeisa and Berbera is in great condition but be prepared to give your passport and Berbera permit to the soldiers at the various checkpoints because they WILL ask for them. Berbera itself was nice and I enjoyed walking through the historic buildings as well as relaxing by the beach. At one point an off duty customs officer saw me on the street and demanded that I come with him to Berbera's customs office. He insisted that it was illegal for me to be walking around Berbera without a soldier (the Ministry of Tourism had explicitly told me otherwise and the soldiers at the various checkpoints never brought it up). I agreed to walk with him to the custom office (he was bewildered that I refused to get in his car after failing to show me any identification) where he dumped me on his three colleagues. They also said that I needed to have a soldier with me but they were surprised when I showed them the permit from the Ministry of Tourism as they didn't seem to have seen one before. They contacted the head of the local military garrison and after about 30 or 40 minutes (as it turns out the three immigration official were really cool and I enjoyed hanging out with them) he called them back and said I was fine to walk around on my own. They let me go and at around 6:00pm I got back on a bus and returned to Hargeisa.

8 replies to this topic
6 posts
1. Re: Somaliland Trip Report

I forgot to mention a very IMPORTANT DETAIL. When you get your visa from the diplomatic mission in Djibouti they will also hand you a piece of paper with some writing and a stamp. This paper is your receipt and you MUST KEEP THE RECEIPT. It will be asked for at the border and at many of the military checkpoints you pass on your trip. DO NOT THROW AWAY THE VISA RECEIPT.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
136 posts
10 reviews
10 helpful votes
2. Re: Somaliland Trip Report

Thanks so much for your writeup ! This is very helpful. Kudos for doing the trip all on your own like this.

6 posts
3. Re: Somaliland Trip Report

No problem! I often rely on forums like these for planning the logistical aspects of these trips so doing the same for future tourists is the least I could do.

United Kingdom
Level Contributor
306 posts
4. Re: Somaliland Trip Report

Ben G

Amazing travel report on Somaliland.

Can you please tell us did you get your Djibouti visa online or though the embassy? How much was the visa fee?

Did you have to provide a copy of your Hotel reservation and (airline) ticket?

Lastly how long was you waiting for your Djiboutian Visa?

Edited: 2 years ago
6 posts
5. Re: Somaliland Trip Report

Thanks! I'm American and applied for the evisa and paid whatever the online fee was. I didn't have to give them the hotel reservation but I did supply the address for the hotel. Similarly I don't believe I needed the airline ticket, just the date of my arriving flight (I wasn't asked for a departing flight). I got the evisa within a couple of days.

United Kingdom
Level Contributor
306 posts
6. Re: Somaliland Trip Report

@ BEN Many thanks for the information again.

United Kingdom
Level Contributor
306 posts
7. Re: Somaliland Trip Report

Ben G

Your information will help TA community applying for a DJ🇩🇯 Visa.

Edited: 2 years ago
Level Contributor
45 posts
3 reviews
2 helpful votes
8. Re: Somaliland Trip Report

Has anyone tried to apply for visa on arrival on the somaliland land border? The official website says its possible, but I don't trust them

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