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Visiting Hargeysa, Somaliland

I recently spent almost five weeks in Hargeisa, and thought it would be useful to share some of what I learned so other travellers could benefit from it.

Accommodation: There are two large hotels, the Maan-soor and the Ambassador. The Ambassador is near the airport on the south side of Hargeisa, while the Maan-soor is in the northern part of the city. Both are pleasant, and pay attention to security. I stayed at Edna Adan Hospital while I was in Hargeisa.

Travel: Two airlines fly into Hargeisa, Daallo Airlines (from Djibouti) and Air Ethiopia, a new airline that flies direct Addis to Hargeisa. It costs about $340 USD for a return flight with Air Ethiopia. Flying Addis to Djibouti (Ethiopian Air) and then Djibouti to Hargeisa (Daallo) is probably a bit more expensive.

Visa: You will need to apply for a visa in advance; you cannot do this on arrival in Hargeisa. You can do this at the Somaliland missions in the UK or in Addis, or if you are working with an organization, they may be able to do this on your behalf. At the airport, you pay $20 USD for a short term visa (one week), which can then be extended by payment of $30 USD (one month). There is a small arrival fee and a departure tax.

Local travel: I travelled using a taxi recommended by the hospital staff. I paid about $10 a day to go back and forth from the south side to the north side of the city. Rates can be negotiated in advance. If you want to travel outside the city limits and are an international visitor, an armed guard must travel in the car with you. Local people discouraged me from walking around the streets by myself, although I met a US visitor who was staying with a local family and did walk around the city herself without problems. I did not have any worries about my personal security while there.

Money transfer: Dahabshiil has an office in Hargeisa and you can open an account there if you are staying for some time. Funds can be transferred from any of Dahabshiil's offices elsewhere (Canada or the UK, for example) but must be paid in, in person, at the sending office. A receipt is issued which you can use to claim the funds sent to you, along with identification, of course. The system is very efficient.

Local currency: The local currency is the Somaliland shilling, but US dollars are accepted almost everywhere. Depending on where you are spending money, you will find that businesses calculate $1 USD as being equivalent to between 6,000-7,000 Somaliland shillings.

Dress: As I was doing interviews, I felt it was appropriate to wear local dress appropriate for women, which meant covering my head and wearing a long dress. We were able to buy local clothing in the market for between $10 and $20, depending on what we were buying.

People were friendly, and - because so many people moved overseas during the years of conflict - I found local people who spoke English, Swedish and other languages. Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 and has since built peace and a governance system that was originally built on the traditional clan-based beel system. Somaliland is governed by an elected President and his cabinet, an elected House of Representatives, and a House of Guurti (elders senate). Somaliland has missions in the UK and USA.

Somaliland has active media, and it is possible to read about events in Somaliland online, in English as well as in Somali.

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1. Re: Visiting Hargeysa, Somaliland

Thanks for sharing this Outsider. It's much appreciated and offers very useful insights.


2. Re: Visiting Hargeysa, Somaliland

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