Somaliland, with marvellous beaches, breathtaking diving opportunities, scenic mountains and rich culture, is the definitive frontier of tourism. Not because it is unsafe, but because there is absolutely no tourism infrastructure and you’ll feel like you are the first visitor. Don’t confuse quiet, democratic and well organised Somaliland with chaotic and violent (southern) Somalia. On most maps, it is the same, as Somaliland is not an internationally recognised country. But Somaliland, de facto independent since 1991, has managed to build the most robust democracy of the entire region and takes great pride in it.
It is this confusion with Somalia and Somaliland’s lack of international funding that has so far prevented tourists from discovering the riches of the country and developers from constructing tourist resorts along its magnificent coast. Therefore, Somaliland is the perfect destination for the adventurous backpacker, wanting to “discover” virgin lands without fellow tourists, but also willing to bring all she/he needs in the rucksack and accept low comforts. But Somali hospitality and Somaliland sights easily weigh up for these hassles.
There is little travel planning information available in books and on the web. But Lonely Planet’s Africa guide includes a few pages on Somaliland worth reading, listing the following as one of the highlights of the country: “Enjoy the smug feeling of impressing your fellow travellers: ‘Yes, I’ve been to Somaliland!’.” By the way, the Lonely Planet representative visiting Somaliland was unable to hide he immediately fell in love with the country.