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8 places that are no longer off-limits to travelers

By: Josh Lew on Aug. 9, 2013, 4:24 p.m.
Somaliland beach

Photo: YoTuT/Flickr

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Officially part of the troubled East African country of Somalia, Somaliland is an autonomous region in the far north of the country that, in effect, operates as an independent nation. With its own leadership, economy and police force, it is completely separate from Somalia in practice, though no other country or international organization recognizes its independent status. The conflicts and famines that have devastated the south and central parts of Somalia have not touched this region as deeply, and as a result, it is quite stable today.

Still not a mainstream destination by any definition, Somaliland is not without attractions. The capitol of Hargeisa is a cosmopolitan place with modern hotels that offers easy access to places like Laas Geel, which boasts cave paintings that are thought to be several thousands of years old. Coastal towns like Berbera and Zeila offer access to the sea and to beautiful untouched beaches. Somaliland is reasonably safe these days, but it is by far the most difficult place on our list in which to travel. With little tourist infrastructure to speak of, travelers have to rely on informal guides and slow-moving, inconsistent transportation options. Nonetheless to people who value exotic locales, Somaliland will seem like the East African version of Shangri-la.