Earth : Africa : East Africa : Somalia : Southern Somalia : Gedo
Gedo is one of 9 administrative provinces of Southern Somalia. This southern region is the second largest region in Somalia; the only region with two rivers and two international borders. Gedo has seven districts within its regional administration system.
In 2008, Somalia was without central government and you are best advised to hire trained security guards from security firms in Garbahaarreey and Baardheere. You will be provided with 1 to 2 armed bodyguards with a pickup truck or two.
Aside from large cities and towns and villages on flat lands and farming communities on either bank on the Jubba River, you can experience breathtaking landscapes such the plateau in the northwestern part of Gedo from El Wak to Beled Hawo. This plateau runs the length of the border between Gedo and Kenya’s NFD district.
In the Interior Basin's southeastern area of El Wak district, it’s worth spending time in the grazing areas with villages every 30km on the main connecting roads. Gedo has grazing land which is famous locally. These vast lands include:
These are the most famous grazing areas where you will be most likely to meet content camel herders after Gu’ (April - June) and Deyr (October - December) rainy seasons. This is a must if you feel comfortable travelling in the interior regions of Somalia.
Around Bardera (Baardheere) in Somali, the largest city in the Gedo region,is famous grazing land called Gowraar. Just west of Bardera is an area, which starts from around Markabley (Markableey), until it joins El Wak district grazing areas. Markabley is the only place where the Jubba River never burst its banks during flood years.
Lucky travelers will have long lasting memories of this time of plenty in many parts of Somalia, better than the memories before. Immediately following the rainy Gu' season, within Bardera-Gerileey corridor one experiences one of nature's splendours. All of Gedo region displays blue skies with vast open spaces, rainwater in every borehole. This is when locals enjoy seeing travelers on the road, and this is when to visit the interior of Gedo region. You are welcome, with camel or cow milk wherever you visit.
There are four main connecting roads in Gedo. All of these roads are unpaved. The first is Lugh- Beled Hawo-Garbharey Road, or The Tri-Region Commerce Activity Road. The second connecting road is Garbaharey to Bardera Road, then Bardera to El Wak Road and the last is the Bardera-Gerileey Road. All four corridors are extensively used. The danger factor increases during the rainy season.
Often travelled road in Gedo Region
In southwestern Bardera District, between Girileey and Faafahdhuun, lies the village of Dari Salaam in Somali. Here, travellers can find a hospitable roadside eatery and resting place. Any visitor will a get a warm welcome from a business woman famous in the area by the name of Farhiya Aadan Waraabe or (Af Soomaali Farxiya Aadan Waraabe). When in Darul Salaam, at Farhiya's restaurant, you can find all the customary foods in small village Somalia. Just one hour's drive to Darul Islam's southwesterly direction will be the town of Gerileey.
Towards northeast, you will be an hour and a half drive from Faafahdhuun Somali: Faafaxdhuun. The road is often rough, especially after a rainy season. Cargo trucks and small 4x4 trucks are often seen on the road. Business people and visitors who travel the area weekly or monthly go between Bardera and Wajir in Kenya. Main stopping places are Faafahdhuun and Darul Islam or Darul Salaam. Eventually proceed to Gerileey, where most Somali registered vehicle destinations end.
Gedo has various landscapes. The northwestern part of Gedo has a plateau stretching from El Wak District to Beled Hawo district on the Kenyan border with Somalia. El Wak basin is a watershed that empties to Gelgel or Gelgesha region just north of Faafahdhuun in Bardera District. El Wak area has picturesque flood plains and the interior basin of this region has various sand types. Two or three weeks following the end of gu' rainy season,enjoy traveling between Balad Hawo and Garbahaareey. The landscape changes dramatically from red sandy to rocky mountains with green forest. If you make a detour originating at Balad Hawo-Mandera area, to Garbahaarreey then to El Wak, you will see an amazing landscape and the people and livestock who roam this land.
Large animal/game watching areas
For most Somalis, it’s not fun to spend hours watching animals in the countryside, let alone spend money and days in the bush. But there are those who really enjoy seeing exotic animals in natural habitat. Gedo has many from Jerdani, just 30km from Bardera towards the southwestern direction all the way to Gerileey and El Wak. At Gelgel Prairie, between Darul Islam and Faafahdhuun, be sure to stop to take pictures of ostriches and other exotic animals such as Oryx and giraffes.
Understand that here meat and food in general often goes right from the barn or pen or wild to the table.
Extremely fresh meat with minimal spices and seasoning is one of the things that are enjoyed in Gedo. This is sizable chunks of meat on the bone. It costs about USD30-50 for a butchered animal (goat or sheep). Your host will offer you such meat at least once in your stay in Somalia. Gedo region has plenty of livestock. If you venture out in the countryside, bartering about 10-20kg of sugar or other needed goods will get you an exchange for a live animal for a feast, which you will have to butcher, or pay to have that done.
Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to announce yourself at pastoral communities in the interior. That is if you intend to stay the night.
There is a minority growing vegetarian movement in Africa and Somalia. Many restaurants will serve vegetarian cuisine, but much of the menu has meat as main course.
From late March to mid June, you will enjoy fresh, hot, aromatic camel milk. Camel milk is a rich source of proteins with potential antimicrobial and protective activities. Camel milk is low in lactose compared with cow's milk. However, levels of potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, sodium and zinc are higher than in cow's milk. Sweet sheep milk is also something you should try.
A proviso: Unpasteurised milk is for those who have strong stomachs with no indigestion problems and no sensitivities.
Somalia is usually a beautiful place any traveller would enjoy visiting. There are safety issues at present, most come for required travel only.