Recently declared an autonomous state in northeastern Somalia, Puntland was once an ancient kingdom which had strong trade links with Egypt exporting ivory, animals, gold, blackwood and aromatic resin. More recently though it contained the largest sultanate ever established in the territory, the imperial ruling house of Warsangali.
Capital of Puntland, Garoowe is the heart of the region and houses the regional parliament, presidential palace and government ministries as well as a local media and cultural hub. Goat and camel raising form the basis of the economy, and frankincense and myrrh are collected from wild trees. Garowe is the third largest city in Puntland after Bosaso and Galkayo.
The easternmost point of the African Continent, Cape Guardafui gets its name from ancient Italian meaning “look and escape”. Whilst the areas treacherous waters were once the site of countless shipwrecks, today the unspoilt white sand beaches and blue waters rolling beneath stretches of towering sandstone cliffs make for a rewarding visit.
The Italian Somaliland authorities built the first lighthouse on the headland, inaugurated in April 1924 as the Francesco Crispi Lighthouse. It was a simple, functional metal-framed lighthouse built atop the headland.
A large-scale rebellion against Italian rule in that part of Italian Somaliland was underway at the time and the lighthouse suffered some damages during the attacks. This was one of the reasons that prompted the authorities to build a stronger, stone and reinforced concrete lighthouse, which was inaugurated in 1930. The striking new lighthouse was built in the shape of an Italian fascist “Fascio littorio”. The lighthouse, which is no longer in use, still has the huge stone axe blade characteristic of fascist symbolism and typical of fascist architecture promoted by Benito Mussolini. Italian authorities have requested a study to declare the lighthouse an “historical monument” of Somalia and a proposed World Heritage Site.
Combine a visit to Puntland with surrounding regions of Somalia and/or Somaliland.
Letter of invitation (LOI) provided by Untamed Borders in order to obtain visa on arrival.
The best months are November and March. It is very hot in the summer especially on the coast with the humidity.
Cash is the best form of currency. US Dollars is the most convenient currency to use in the region. There is no need to exchange to local currency unless you want to. For up to date exchange rates please have a look at www.xe.com
Two prong European style system (type C).
Coastal geography means fish is eaten in abundance. Camel meat is also common. Millet and corn are used in many dishes, including in a pancake similar to injera, which is common in Ethiopia. Dishes are often spiced.
Alcohol is illegal in Puntland.
Somali. Arabic and English are also widely spoken.
Islam. Sunni denomination.
Long trousers (cargo pants) or loose jeans are recommended for men. Long skirts and/or loose cargo pants for women plus a long sleeved top that covers the bum and hides the shape of the body are recommended for women. Women should also where a headscarf when outside the guesthouse.
SAFTEY & SECURITY
The FCO Advises against travel to Puntland. This is due to anti-government forces operating in the country, government instability and the risk of opportunist violent attacks. We avoid travel to certain parts of the region and take precautions in the areas we do travel. Contact us for information on where we do and do not guide in this region and how we work to minimise risk for our guests and staff.
The World’s Most Dangerous Place – James Fergusson
Crossbones – Nuruddin Farah
The Orchard of Lost Souls – Nadifa Mohamed
In January 2016 James Willcox (founder of Untamed Borders) came back from our first trip to the Puntland region with a small group. We flew in and out of Bosaso on the Red Sea coast and visited a number of small villages on the way to visit the Italian colonial era lighthouse on the tip of the horn of Africa. There are some photos of the trip at this link. James also gave a talk about this trip to the Royal Geographical Society. The video of that talk can be seen below:
Since then we have arranged another five trips to the region including another trip to lighthouse in 2017 (see link) as part of the ETIC (Extreme Travellers International Conference) for 2017 (see link).