Hargeisa has all the conveniences a traveler could hope for: good-value hotels with English-speaking staff, a couple of tasty restaurants, internet cafes, electronics stores, shopping malls, tea shops, markets, bus stations, taxis…but no alcohol (that would be too good to be true!). Known as an extremely friendly city, Hargeisa itself might not offer world-beating sightseeing opportunities, but is possessed of a feel that rewards curiosity. The people are extremely welcoming, and partly due to Somaliland’s relative isolation are very eager to talk to tourists and show off the best of their country and culture.
The Hargeisa War Memorial in the city commemorates the region’s attempt in the 1980s to break away entirely from Somalia. To mark the brutal bombardment of Hargeisa, and to honor those who lost their lives, a monument was later erected in the city center, on what is now known as Freedom Square. The colorful monument consists of a large dais, on the top of which sits a fighter jet.
Many Somalilanders feel a deep resentment toward Somalia dating at least to the late 1980s, when then-ruler Mohamed Siad Barre launched a systematic bombing of Somaliland, trying to quash political opposition and ultimately killing tens of thousands, decimating the economy and traumatizing the population.
The accommodation options in Hargeisa are surprisingly numerous, with large, Western-style establishments down to family-run, budget-friendly hotels. Most hotels provide transport to/from the airport, visa assistance and mosquito nets, although mosquitoes are rarely an issue in the arid climate.
The Ambassador Hotel, located a mile from the airport, provides some of the best goat meat and tropical fruit smoothies in East Africa. You can also go to Café Barbara for good coffee and, in case you’re interested, the latest political and social intrigue making the rounds! For the more lazily inclined visitor, Gulivery delivers food to your doorstep, competing with the likes of UberEats
Attractions ranges from cattle market a essential part of the Hargeisa experience is the livestock market, which lies on the southeastern outskirts of town. Hundreds of goats, sheep and camels are brought here every day, and it’s a fascinating place to wander. Always ask permission before taking photographs. It’s at its busiest in the morning.
Laas Geel rocks This is one of the most impressive rock art sites in Africa, yet Somaliland is so far off the tourist radar that few people outside the country know about it, and it remains largely unprotected. “There is a little security there,” says Abdirizaq Abdullahi from our expert tour partner Somaliland Travel. “There’s one guy in particular that has lived there for a very long time and can tell visitors about the rocks; but it’s also deteriorating a little, because the government doesn’t have the funds to take care of it.
Transportation Buses are the most commonly used form of public transportation in Hargeisa. They travel on a number of routes serving nearly all of the city’s districts. Intercity bus services are also available, which connect Hargeisa to other major northern Somali cities and towns, including Burao, Berbera and Borama. With the growth of urban development, several new taxi companies have sprung up in Hargeisa. The city is served by the Hargeisa International Airport. The Somali-owned private carriers Daallo Airlines and Jubba Airways offer flights to various towns such as Mogadishu, Bosaso and Galkayo. International Airlines serving Hargeisa Airport airport African Express Airways, Flydubai, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, etc.
The most commonly used form of public transportation in Hargeisa is bus, and nearly all the districts of the city can be reached by public bus.
Intercity bus routes connects Hargeisa with cities such as , Burao and Berbera. For private cabs Several taxi companies operate in Hargeisa, including Marodi Jeh Taxi, Dalhis Taxi and Hargeisa Taxi.
There are basic Healthcare facilities in Hargeisa. Elsewhere medical facilities are extremely limited or non-existent. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, evacuation by air ambulance and repatriation.
Cash is king in Hargeisa. There are several ATMs available in hotels and banks, but most people use mobile money, as mobile penetration is amongst the highest in Africa.
Nightlife in Hargeisa is filled with music, drawing inspiration from 1970s funk, contemporary pop, and Somali storytelling again. A famous boiling pot of creativity is Hiddo Dhowr (“preserve culture”), a restaurant and music venue built like traditional Somali homes (aqal Soomaali). Famous artists from Hargeisa, Mogadishu, and the West perform classical and contemporary Somali music every Thursday. Make sure you try dancing Dhaanto and Buraanbur, and finish your evening with sweetened Somali tea made with camel milk.
Hargeisa Stadium is a multi-sports stadium and is used mostly for football matches and currently serves as the home of Somaliland national football team. Its the largest sporting facility in the nation. The stadium is a 20000 seater with an artificial turf. Somaliland is not a member of FIFA and CAF; it is, instead, an associate member of ConIFA, an association established in 2014.
Dahabshiil Business Centre is the tallest building and the biggest shopping mall in Somaliland. If you are in Hargeisa or visit it’s a must see place, it has Banks, restaurants, hotels, GYM, swimming pool, shopping centers and all most everything else in modern Malls.
Important notes on Hargeisa
- The dollar is widely accepted, but It is wise to have Somaliland shillings with you.
- Somaliland visa can be applied on arrival at the Airport.
- Hargeisa is the most peaceful and safest city in the East African region.
- The widely spoken Languages are Somali, Arabic and a bit of English.