The Somali capital, Mogadishu (known locally as Hamar), is the most populous city in Somalia with over 2 million people. After many years of foreign occupation and civil war, Mogadishu has undergone intense reconstruction and urban renewal.
Before planning a trip to Mogadishu, travellers should check for current advisories due to the risk of political unrest and domestic terrorism in the region. The Canadian Government offers a resource, Travel Advice and Advisories, where travellers can check online for updated information on entry and exit guidelines, specific health conditions and hazards, natural disasters, and where to find help and resources.
Renting a Car in Mogadishu
Car rentals in Mogadishu are hard to come by. There are no car hire companies at the airport, Aden Adde International, and renting a car off-site can be a challenge. Minibuses and three wheel auto-rickshaws known as Bajaj are the most common hire vehicles. Vehicles are usually hired with both a driver and security escort. The key is to use a reputable company and ensure they can provide the appropriate escorts for driving around town.
Driving in Mogadishu
The airport is located five kilometres south-west of the city centre, on a new dual lane road. The Mogadishu Municipal Authority has been working in conjunction with various foreign governments to install street lighting, create street names, house numbers and post codes, and clear the streets of rubbish. The streets in the city centre are organised on a grid network, making navigation easier. Caution should be excercised when driving in Mogadishu due to the risk of car-jacking.
Safety in Mogadishu
As with travel in most areas, visitors should avoid displaying valuable items such as expensive jewellery and cameras. It is advisable for both men and women to dress conservatively. It is customary to offer payment when taking photos of locals (after asking their permission, of course.) Belongings should be kept under close watch. It is recommended to be accompanied by a local security escort.
Places of Interest in Mogadishu
Mogadishu is located on the coast of the Indian Ocean, on the Horn of Africa and enjoys a warm dry climate with year round averages of 27 degrees celsius. The wet season runs from June to August. The sandy beaches and colourful coral reefs are popular with locals and visitors. The most popular beaches are Lido and Gezira. See goats, sheep, and camels being herded and sold at the nearby animal market. The Gezira region is also home to salt mining operations.
Arba's Rukun Mosque is the oldest in the city, built in 1268, while the Mosque of Islamic Solidarity is the largest in the region. Mogadishu Cathedral was built in 1928 by the Italian colonial authorities, in the Norman Gothic style. The National Museum of Somalia holds many culturally important artefacts such as coins, ancient weapons and traditional artwork.
The Bakaara Market is the largest open-air market in the country, selling textiles and fresh produce.
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Travellers to Mogadishu should enjoy the history and culture, but put safety first. Safar wanaagsan (Have a good journey)!