Somalia is located in the Northern part of the African continent also normally known as the Horn Africa and it is bordered by the Indian Ocean. Somalia is an Arabic country that is strictly follows the Sharia law and whoever is found breaking it is punished severely. At the moment the country is not safe to visit due to the continuous wars that have been raging on but with the hope that things will get better, you should go and explore the country at full length.
With a population of about 15 million people, the Somalis normally speak Arabic as an easy way of communication but besides Arabic they also speak Somali their official tribe which is categorized into different clans in order to keep their culture alive.
What you need to know before travelling to Somalia
The people of Somalia are welcoming people and they have a lot of belief in their culture that is when eating everyone must use hands and if you are a visitor, water is always provided so that you wash your hands before eating.
They strictly follow the sharia law which is usually tough on women when it comes to marriage and dress code and all visitors are expected to at least try and dress up like the locals especially the women.
The left hand according to Somalis is a bad sign as it is usually associated with ablution and that is why if you ate left handed and want to visit Somalia, try as much as possible to avoid using your left-hand.
Tourist attractions in Somalia
Due to the constant wars that have been affecting the country, Somalia is not one of the countries that tourists normally go to making it one of the least visited countries on the African continent. Although it is not visited often and is filled with terrorist attacks, some of the tourist attractions and things you can do while in Somalia have been listed below.
The National Parks
A safari to Somalia is really incomplete if you do not at least get to visit some or all the National Parks in the country and this same rule applies to Somalia. Somalia has a lot of National parks and game reserves that you should check out and some of these include:
- The kismayu National Park
The Kismayu National Park which is located in the south western part of the country in the kismayu town is best known for having some of the most unique flora and fauna in the country. The National Park is a home to some of the best wild life that you can get to see in the Park include leopards, lions, zebras, boars, elephants, antelopes and many more others and some of the activities that can be carried out here besides game drives are hikes and birding.
- The Hargeisa National Park
The Hargeisa National Park is one of the Parks that you should visit while in Somalia. It has quite a unique collection of wild life that habitates in the Park and some of these include lions, leopards, monkeys, baboons, cheetahs and many more other animal species.
The beaches in Somalia
There are several beaches that are found along the coast of Somalia in the different coastal towns. You can try visiting a few of these and you will not be disappointed but remember that since this is an Islamic state, swimming naked is prohibited especially for the women and as long as you follow the rules, you will definitely have a good time at the beaches in Somalia.
Explore the historical sites
Somalia although not like other African countries has a rich history just waiting to be discovered and it is embedded in the different historical sites that are found in the country. Some of the major historical sites that you should check out while in Somalia include the Nimmo town which is located south of Mogadishu, Merca located in the southern part of the country and the Hannassa town which has quite a number of pillar tombs in the area.
Waterfalls in Somalia
Somalia has some of the most amazing waterfalls that are located in the different parts of the country and the most visited falls include the Lamadaya waterfalls and the Ikushuban waterfalls.
- The Ikushuban waterfalls, these are located in the small town of Ikushuban which has a population of about 7000 people. The waterfalls are seasonal and they are best seen during the wet season when the water levels are a little bit high and they are the second largest waterfalls in the whole country. Trek up to the falls and cool off and after that you can still meet up with the locals in the area to learn more about the falls.
- The Lamadaya waterfalls, these are located in the northern part of the country and they are the largest waterfalls in Somalia. The word Lamadaya can loosely be translated as “not to be looked at” and this is because they flow from an extremely steep hill that makes it dangerous especially if you are observing them from the top.
The Mountains in Somalia
Somalia has three Mountain ranges that you should definitely check out especially for those that love rock climbing and hiking. The ranges that you should really check out in Somalia include:
- The Golis Mountains, the Golis Mountains rise to a height of 1371 meters above sea level and they are located in the Togdheer region in Somaliland. They are perfect for a hike and you will find many local guides who are willing to take you on the hike for a small fee.
- The Cal Madow range, also known as the Buuraha Calmadow by the locals the Cal Madow range rises to a height of 2410meters above sea level. The range is surrounded by a dense vegetation and some of the activities that you can engage in while her include trekking, hiking up the range and also enjoying a camel ride with the locals.
- The Ogo Mountain, this rises to a height of 2450 meters above sea level and is one of the Mountains in the country that you should explore. It is located in the region of Sanaag and surrounded by a dense vegetation which makes the view even more entertaining to look at.
The towns and cities in Somalia
Some of the top tourist destinations in Somalia are the very towns and cities that are located in the different parts of the country. Mogadishu being the capital city of Somalia is the first city that you should check out. Once you get to the country and the rest of the towns will follow.
Mogadishu is the capital city of Somalia making it a more developed city Centre as compared to the rest of the country. You can explore the museums that are found in the capital, walk around and get to taste the street food that is sold along the different streets in Mogadishu and also go shopping at the Baraka market which is the top tourist attraction site in Mogadishu, the airport and the old Shanghai city. The Baraka market was constructed in 1972 and it is the perfect pace to get merchandize in form of clothes, food that is always fresh and many more other supplies. You will however an experienced tour need guide to help you with the translations since most of the locals in country do not speak English.
- The Kismayo town
The Kismayo town is located in the southern part of the country in a place that is known by many as Jubaland and one of the top tourist cities in the country. The Kismayo town has a historical reference to the Italians who named it during their stay in the country and when the British arrived in Somalia, it was split into two with one part being renamed as the Northern district. Some of the things you can do while in Kismayo include exploring the Bajuni archipelago, the mosques in the area and you also get to meet the different locals that live in the area and get to learn about their way of life.
The Las Geel
The Las Geel is one of the top destinations in Somali having a cave system that you can explore and that is why it was named as a UNESCO heritage site and it is located just a few kilometers away from Hargeisa. The cave paintings that are located in the area are considered to be one of the most beautiful rock art in the horn of the African continent and no tourist should miss out on learning the rich history that is connected to them.
When you get to Hargeisa, you will be amazed with what you find there because the town does not actually look like it is part of Somalia. Unlike other parts of the country that have been affected by the war, Hargeisa which self-proclaimed itself as the capital of Somaliland has seen no violence and is quite peaceful. The town broke away from the federal government and has been doing self-governing on its own for quite some time now that is since 1991. A visit to the town will take you to a place that you wouldn’t believe existed in the war stricken country and you will be able to do all the activities that you want in peace.
Where to stay in Somalia
Since the country is still in turmoil, the best for tourists to stay are the different hotels that are scattered in the different parts of the country because they are much safer with the protection they have than camping out in the open and it is better if you book in advance especially during the high season so as to get the best and safest hotels around.
Best time to visit Somalia
Somalia is naturally a hot country and most of the time the heat in the country is extremely unbearable. The best time to visit Somalia is between the months of September to December because these are the cooler months in the country. It should however also be noted that the best time to visit Somalia is sometimes determined by the activities that you want to engage in while in the country.
How can I travel to Somalia?
The best way to travel to Somalia is by plane through Kenya and Ethiopia. However you can also use a ship to Somalia through the Mogadishu and kismaayo ports that handle both cargo and people and you can also drive from Ethiopia as well although the drive will be hectic.
Is Somalia safe for travels?
Somalia is not in any way safe to travel to at the moment as it is still facing the turmoil from pirates and terrorists. All tourists are advised not to travel to Somalia for the foreseeable future at least until everything normalizes.
What should I expect in Somalia?
For starters, Somalia is a nation that follows the Sharia law to the dot and it is what rules the country and that is why before you visit the country you should make sure that get to know what the Sharia law is especially when it comes to the dress code.
What type of food is in Somalia?
There are different kinds of food in Somalia but their staple food is a pancake like bread which is served almost at every meal. Note that the most of the food served in Somalia is spiced heavily and Somalis eat their hands while eating and you should do the same to avoid trouble.
How are the Somali people?
Somalians are extremely nice people despite the war that keeps on raging in their country but remember that they are nice if you do not pose any threat to their culture or religion.
What is the main religion in Somalia?
99%of the total population in Somalia are Muslims who strictly follow the sharia law and the remaining 1% are Christians.