After breakfast this morning, we visited Hargeisa’s livestock market where locals allowed us to purchase our very own camel or goat!
Here also happens to be the only place in the world where you can find the original rare black-headed sheep aka the Blackhead Persian:
Then a rest stop not only to get water, but to discover cute little chocolate peanut candies made to look like popsicles…for ants.
I had to come all the way to Somaliland to see Blackpink versions of Oreos:
And have you ever thought of combining popcorn with raisins as a snack?
Loaded up on snacks for the road, we then began our 160km journey north to Berbera, the largest seaport of Somaliland, and on our way we stopped at Laas Geel – the most important rock art site in all of Africa.
After visiting a small room that acted as a intro hall exhibit of the significance of the site, we divided our group into 2 and flanked the site and hiked up the man-made steps from both directions; there are 7 total “shelters” that both once housed our ancestors as well as displaying their rock art featuring a variety of animals, most of which would be the sacred cow.
Because Somaliland is still seeking UN recognition as a country, Laas Geel cannot gain UNESCO World Heritage Site status just yet.
Our ancestors enjoyed some great views from each shelter of the plains of Somaliland:
These caves contain some of the oldest cave paintings on the horn of Africa; the vibrant colors and well-preserved paintings are estimated to date as far back as 3,500-2,500 BC.
Proof the giraffes once inhabited this region of Africa (there are no longer giraffes in Somaliland):
I’m not even that old yet. And I hope I’ll never feel as old as these paintings.
After half an hour climb up and down the 7 spots to spot cave art at Laas Geel, we then continued north for a goat lunch by the road. Half a goat had fed all 30 of us, and while it hasn’t given me any GI issues since, it was so chewy Rowan felt the goat was definitely in a lot of stress when it was killed and prepared.
Sorry we ate your cousin. 🙁
Upon our arrival into the outskirts of Berbera, we stopped at Moscow Village, aka Little Moscow, a neighborhood built and once occupied by the Soviets during the Cold War as a base to help manage Soviet naval warship activity in the Indian Ocean.
They were summarily kicked out after the USSR had warned Ethiopia of an impending Somali invasion. Afterwards the Russians were given by the Somali military 24 hours to evacuate, and after a plane from Moscow shipped everyone here out, the local Somalis moved in and made this otherwise ghost town their new home.
You can find the old movie theater, and you can step inside where they once projected film reels from the back room.
Afterwards we continued to drive into Berbera, stopping again to visit the historical Ottoman Mosque …
…and Ottoman houses.
We then walked around historic town of Berbera, a former capital of the British Somaliland protectorate prior to Hargeisa.
Berbera also served as the prominent port of the Ifat, Adal and Isaaq sultanates between the 13th and 19th century, as well as home to a small Jewish community:
Here we explored a mixture of Ottoman, Persian, and British architecture.
Like walking through a frozen past.
Once we reached the town center surrounded by plentiful of outdoor cafés, we boarded back onto our buses.
We then stopped for sunset at the coast of Berbera, facing the Gulf of Aden:
After dinner at our hotel at Maansoor Resort and heading to bed, the next morning we set out at 7am to visit the docks of a fish market.
We then boarded 3 dinghies and hunted for shipwrecks in the Gulf of Aden.
Sailing by some large cargo barges literally off the Somali coast, we felt like 3 tiny little pirate skiffs from the movie Captain Phillips.
Despite the increased presence of both a nearby Somaliland navy base and the construction of a American military base not too far away, we were still able to approach a beach by the lighthouse without getting stopped.
We then anchored here for about half an hour’s worth of swimming and to be more accurate, sunburning.
Famished after a sweltering morning and some of us nearly sunstroking out, we recovered with a seafood lunch by the waterfront back in Berbera.
And then before making our way back to Hargeisa, we tried to fit in a detour into the mountains for the town of Sheikh, one of the most famous and historical places to Somalis. The goal was to enjoy some afternoon tea and explore the town in a much more pleasant climate.
However, this was not meant to be as one of our buses continually stalled and began to sputter under the heat. Turning off the A/C didn’t help things and only added to the misery. We were limping at 20mph and this was even before climbing up the mountains for Sheikh. After an attempt to cool down the transmission by a rest stop, the decision was made to split up into 2 groups; one who wanted to cut their losses and return to Hargeisa, and another who would take the other bus to try to continue onto Sheikh.
Those of us who had no emotional connection to Sheikh and wanted to return to Hargeisa as soon as possible had to endure the limp back to Berbera before we could switch to another bus (with a failed attempt in between).
After this comedy of errors that lasted almost 5 hours, we finally resumed our journey at 7pm, returning to Hargeisa by 9:30pm. By the time I fell onto my bed, I discovered I had lost my collapsible mug, camera hood, and oral appliance to prevent snoring, and on top of that the hotel at Somaliland — when we checked back in — had admitted they lost one of my pants and TRTL neck pillow while during my laundry. WHATEVER. “It’s just stuff” as I cry myself to sleep.
UPDATE: They kept the pants but managed to find my TRTL neck pillow!
UPDATE 2: From the looks of it, the folks in the other bus who made it to Sheikh seems to have enjoyed some great views from the mountainside town while we suffered in our bus swaps.
- At time of posting in Berbera, it was 32 °C - Humidity: 72% | Wind Speed: 4km/hr | Cloud Cover: it feels like Djibouti again