Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Somaliland – Hargeysa

Day 97
Somaliland, Hargeysa
15,412 km since the beginning of the journey

The idea to visit Somaliland has been in my mind for a long time already. It is the region of Somali, which decleared itself independent in 1991 after the collapse of Somali central government. No country has yet recognized Somaliland and unlike the rest of Somalia the situation should be stable here. More about it a bit later.

First of all it was necessary to find the Embassy of Somaliland and get a visa. Because it was not possible to go there without a visa and the very best place to apply for it is Ethiopia.

I got my passport back from the Embassy of Djibouti and the hope was that perhaps I can arrange everything at the Embassy of Somaliland the same day as well. Having asked a local taxi-driver about the location of the Embassy of Somaliland and also about the price of taking me there – the answer was that he knows the way. We haggeled about the price and then the car started. But a couple of minutes later the taxi turned to the wrong direction, according to my knowledge the embassy was supposed to be on the opposite direction. And so it was. He had thought that I wanted to go to the Embassy of Somali and so he was taking me there. After explaining the political situation in the neighbouring country the car was strarted again and 5 minutes later I was at the right place. But unfortunately this right place was closed for today. What was gained were the exact GPS coordinates , taken directly from the gate.

The next morning I went there early on foot, 3,5 kilometres is no problem, just a good early-morning walk. No queue behind the gate. For visa one photo was necessary and also to fill in a form, of medium length. Just in case I asked if I went by my own car were there any specific requirements then? And it turned out that a separate car-permission is issued in this case. Then I was asked if I had a driver`s license? I showed my new driving-license, which I had received two months ago, it was suitable. Then I was asked to wait a bit and asked to come to the Ambassador. Great. A very friendly reception. And no questions about the location of Estonia.

Somaliland was supposed to be a very safe country for tourists and at the end of the convérsation the ambassador gave me his cell phone number and advised to call him one day before reaching the border. Then he will inform the border that there would be no problems.

And it was all done in a couple of hours, to get a car permit and the visa in the passport.


The picture of border-crossing stamp. The car permit is a A4 list.


From Addis Abeba to to the border it was almost 700 km decent mountain road.

Which means that I reached the border in the afternoon of the second day. Tog –Wajale is a small village, half of it is located in Ethiopia and the other half is in Somaliland. Another border-crossing – first exit stamp in the passport and then the car formalities in the customs. There were no problems with the exit stamp in the passport.

But this time it took more time at the customs. The appointed official had an order from his surperior to fill the papars, butthe filling of papers dragged and dragged on and on. And then wished to see the car and everything inside the car. At first, of course , the number of the chassis and the engine. The chassis check was no problem but as to the number of the engine – it is in such a place that can`t be seen with naked eye. And now it was the problem . He had to see it and check something. And several times the surperiors were consulted. And in the end I read at the surperior`s office from my passport every country I had visited - and nowhere it was with any interest. In the car every box was checked, but my main things were maps, travel – guides and car spare parts and clothes. So I gave an explanation about my 2 laptops and other things. Then there was a delay getting the stamp.

Fortunately other officals were much more friendly. I took a small globe from my car and pointed out Estonia. I tried to show that a nice tourist comes from a faraway country and now such a delay for nothing. And I was prepared to wait and even spend the night there. So a little more waiting and I had left Ethiopia for that time. 

About twenty metres further was another country – Somaliland.

And here it was very simple - come here, have a seat and everything will be in order. Visa was O.K. and as to the car – the document, that the ambassador had given me , was enough. And the customs will give me on the basis of this document another paper which gives me the right to drive around here. The Customs authorities themselves were about 10 kilometres away and to drive there a guide had to accompany me. I thought that it was for safety reasons, but the guide took care that I will not get lost. Actually - the road to the next place was – to put it mildly – hardly passable. All the way there were about 20-30 cm and even deeper holes and even deeper at the beginning of the road. It was possible to drive only in the adjacent wheel tracks and sometimes these tracks went in different directions. That`s why the guide was needed.

At the customs they spoke English fluently and since it was starting to get darker , this place seemed to be the very safe and right place to spend the night. Anyway - safe behind the wall.


In general – people tried to avoid to be photographed. And at the border – they said a clear „no“.


This kind of nature was met by the road.
Somehow unusually large turtle. It`s a real mess while driving and meeting it in the dark.


Hargeysa through the car window. Stopped by the police at least 5 times, but fortunately this letter was enough to drive on.


In Somaliland the money is Somaliland shilling. It`s their own money. While at the shop the prices were told in dollars and the return money was part of it in local money and part in dollars. One dollar is 5900 shillings. And the biggest bill is 500.


Here is local money for 3,5 dollars.

These are the first impressions of Somaliland, strongly positive. Fortunately here is internet and perhaps later some video-clips could be uploaded and of course pictures too.

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