I'll admit that I had mixed feelings about writing this tip. On one hand this a great site to visit and makes a nice tip. On the other hand, I really enjoyed my time here and I don't know if I want other people to come here and chance wrecking it. This place has such raw natural beauty and it was place that I had practically to myself. Daallo Mountain is a national park and like much of the Sanaag province is just amazing. It was kinda weird to think that 300 and some km in one direction is an area where Al-Qaeda has a strong presence, 500 and some km in another is pirate homeland and 700 and some km in another is Al-Shabab homeland and yet here, I was quite relaxed and feeling at peace. From the lookout at Daallo, if the weather is fairly clear, you can see the Gulf of Aden over 30 km away. There are over 3000 different types of trees and plants in the forest that has a length of 60 miles. It's also a place for bird lovers and you can across some animals as well. Driving down the road takes a while as it's quite a rough road but filled with amazing scenery. The road descends over 2km in elevation within 30km. And it almost seems like it changes every 200 metres in elevation.
The entrance to Daallo is at a village called Karin. Karin is about 16km from Erigavo. Once you reach Karin, the road left takes you to Daallo and down to Maydh. The road to the right takes you to the lookout over Daallo.
There are a few sights in the vicinity of Maydh.
In the first photo is the Tomb of Sheikh Isaq. It is located just to the west of Maydh along the Gulf of Aden. Sheikh Isaq came to Somalia from Arabia in the 12th or 13th century. Today The Isaq Clan is one of the four main clans in Somalia and the dominant clan in Somaliland.
In the second photo is the Tomb of Sheikh Issa. It is located to the south of Maydh along the road that leads into Maydh from Erigavo. It's another tomb to a prominent person in the Somali clan structure.
The third photo is of a tumulus. A stone burial cairn or mound. There a few of them around the area to the south of Maydh along the same road that the Tomb of Sheikh Issa is on. I was told that these predate Islam in the area. The one in the photo is by the town of Eel-Dibir.
Maydh is a coastal town along the Gulf of Aden of around 30,000 residents in the Sanaag region represents an important place for the Somali people. Here is where (according to tradition) is where Sheikh Isaaq came to Somalia from Arabia. He is the founding father of the Isaaq Clan (one of the four main Somali clans and the dominant clan of Somaliland). The graves of other prominent members of other Somali clans are also located close by. Because of this, you have Somali people from all around Somalia and Djibouti coming here for a pilgrimage.
The reason I came here was because it represented an end of the road type place. The farthest in the northeast a western tourist could safely travel. It was just outside of here where I spent some of my favourite time in the country. Camping on the beach with the half moon so bright that you could see bigger rock underwater near the shore. Swimming around in the Gulf of Aden feeling like you are at the end of the world.
Erigavo, in Somali: Ceerigaabo, is a city in the Sanaag region and a population of over 40,000 residents. The reason to come here is because it's situated right next to Daallo Mountain/Forest. It's a place where if you don't already have your permits for Daallo, you can pick it up here and also pick up your supposedly mandatory guide for the area. Erigavo is pretty much the same as any other city of it's size in Somaliland. There are a couple of hotels here and some decent restaurants as well. One thing I was told that 3 of the main Somali clans are fairly well represented here.
El Afweyn is a city of around 65,000 people in the Sanaag region of Somalia/Somaliland. There is no real reason for a tourist to come here specifically with the reason for coming here is transiting to or from Daallo forest. There is a decent restaurant (for the region) here along the main street near the beginning of the city if you are going to Erigavo. I was also told that there is a hotel here that has wifi by a Somali who lives in Australia.
Because Somaliland is a semi-desert environment they are constantly on the search for water in the remote areas. You will see thousands of bore holes littering the landscape of past explorations. You will also see huge concrete retainers for more established well and also very deep one used to capture the rains. They can then store water for months.
The weather can be divided into 2 dry seasons (Northeast Monsoon and Southwest Monsoon) and 2 wet seasons (Spring transition and Autumn transition). The Monsoon times are windy but dry. The Northeast Monsoon is December - March and the Southwest Monsoon is May – October.
The Spring Transition is April through May and bring the heaviest rains and destructive storms. Flooding does occur.
The Southwest Monsoon in May - October brings a return of infrequent showers over the southern part of the country.
The Fall Transition is October - November includes the second (and shorter) rainy season.
Rent an SUV and go visit remote regions and towns/villages. The people are very welcoming and the scenery is breath taking. Just don't forget your supplies or a mobile phone(there are several opperators).
If you are in NE Somalia(Puntland) take a opportunity to ride some Somali horses. Horses in this part of Somalia are held to very high esteem. I'm told all horses in this area are decended from the horses of the Anti-Colonialist rebel the 'Mad Mullah' Sayid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan.
You absolutly must go sight seeing. And you probably won't run into any other tourists while sight seeing because most people have little knowledge about Somalia, so therefore don't want to go. I think Somalia has the most beautiful undiscovered beaches, with 12 months of sunshine. If you can rent a 4-wheel drive truck 4 the day, you'll see things most people wouldn't.
Well, this place is pretty much completely off of ANY path! We did go to a leper colony, though...Labadai. A friend of mine and I had our guitars, and we went there for a 'gig.' Played for the kids, sang songs, and they reciprocated in kind...singing, dancing. Had a great time interacting with them. That was one place where members of different clans actually got along. They were fighting for something more than clan rivalry -- their LIVES. Probably one of the most peaceful places in the entire country. Hope it still is.
For a dry country like Somalia-it is a very beautiful place. Lots of flowers and colourful birds. And the (notso) occasional camel.