Kismayo, Hidden Paradise In Southern Somalia.
Kismayo sits at the coast of the Jubaland in southern Somalia. The city is located about 528km from Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. It has pristine beaches surrounding along the coast line. The mouth of the Jubba river lies about 40-60km away. The turquoise Indian Ocean washes its waves upon the white sandy beach.
It has a rich history originating from the powerful Somali Arujan state to the Sultanate of Muscat (now Oman), to British East Africa, then finally part of Somalia. There are several mosques and the Kismayo port that attract visitors.These historical sites provide much insight into the culture and history of this city. The archipelago of islands off the coast also offer interesting cultural experiences.
Geographical Description & The Beauty Of Kismayo
Jubaland is in South Somalia with its capital Kismayo. The autonomous region shares its Western border with Kenya and its Northern border from Gedo to the Indian Ocean. This place lies in the Lower Juba province within the Jubaland autonomous region. One of the major rivers, the Juba river, flows near Kismayo.
There are approxiametly 953,000 inhabitants and the total area of the region is approximately 110,300km². The people in here are making their living with farming and fishing. The region has many Islamic influences with Somali and Arabic as the official languages.
The region also consists of forests and wild animals that are roaming around. The wildlife such as hyaenas and lions still run freely and can be seen at any time. Off the coast of this city, there are various island archipelagos that are often unhabited and preserve the very nature and sanctity of the unhabited environment.
The largest group of these islands are the Islands of the Bajuni. There are six main islands and various small ones that surround the large six. Another interesting feature is the extreme differences where beaches are seen one side.
After taking a short drive to the other side, then one can see the green lush forests and jungles full of anmials. The Kismayo port has container ships bustling in and out of port. One can also spot passenger ships/boats coming in and out of the port as well.
Kismayo Name,S History & Its Culture:
The name of Kismayo has its historical origins from Italian, because the Italians called it Chisimaio. This came about once the British Somaliland had been separated. Its beginnings in the Somali Arujan sultate, a powerful regime during the Middle Ages. This city was originally settled by the Arujan as a small fishing village.
The Somali Arujan controlled various parts of the horn of Africa until the end of the 17th Century.The Sultnate of Muscat (now Oman) controlled the region from 1836 – 1861. After this date the region fell under control of British East Africa.
In 1925, Kismayo was already part of British Somaliland then later partioned to Italian Somaliland. The Northern part of Jubaland was part of Italian Somaliland. The Southern part was still under British control.
This British territory later changed names to the Northern Frontier District. Finally, in 1960, Somalia gained independence, and Jubaland region joined Somalia. The region consists mainly of ethnic tribes the Marehan and Ogaden being the major ones.
Top Things To Do In Kismayo
1. Kismayo Port
A large port receiving passengers and cargo on a regular basis. This place provides a nice maritime experience to the city. It is located on a peninsula. It requires a short drive from the city centre down to the port. On the way, one can also see the ocean on both sides and some beaches as well.
2. Aargada Mosque
A popular mosque that attracts visitors and believers. The mosque holds Quaranic and Arabic teachings. It is located in the city centre amongst two other mosques. One can use this opportunity to see Arabic architecture and learn more about Islam and Arabic culture. It explains more about Somali culture given the infusion of Islam into the culture.
3. Alanle beach
One of the popular beaches in the Kismayo city area. It is host of wonderful sunsets. This beach also has pristine white sand. It’s one of the most popular beaches in the area. One can have a hut to have shade from the sun.
4. Islands of the Bajuni Archipelago
Home to the Bajuni people until 1991 when Somalis pushed them out during political strife, this archipelago boasts natural beauty. The islands are densely packed with trees and wildlife. There are six main islands that have various villages. One of the islands, Chula Island, has one of the largest uninhabited populations. Opportunities for diving are vast. Such dives show great tropical wildlife in a beautiful Indian Ocean.
5. Kismayo National Park
One of the famous national parks in Somalia. In this national park, many animals roam freely in their protected habitat. The park is home to indigenous animals form the region. This characteristic makes this park special and unique.
6. Lag Badana-Bushbush National Park
A national park that requires a bit of a further drive from this city. The park was the first one established in Somalia and shares its territory with Kenya. The park holds many different types of wildlife. It’s also by the coast, so one can go to the beach as well nearby.
7. Kismayo Stadium
A sporting arena where various events are held. One can enjoy watching a football game in the arena. From time to time, the venue may also host other events like public speaking events or sporting events.
8. Shaarub Shopping
If you fancy a shoping experience, then this would be your place to visit. The only shopping mall in the area features some unique Somali entertainment and shops. It’s opportunity to buy whatever you may need such as clothing and food.
Best Hotel & Resorts List In
1. Agan Hotel
A hotel in this city that receives visitors and ranked one of the top hotels with a 4.2 out of 5 star rating. The hotel serves good food and offers a nice place to sleep.
2. Jubbaland Guest House
Located on the peninsular part of the city. One can stay here and enjoy water on both sides. The location makes it close to the port of Kismayo.
3. Kismayo Hotel
A fairly popular hotel in the area. It is holding a 3.6 out of 5 stars rating. It is more south region of the city. A short walk to the beach from the hotel. With the right room, the beach could probably be seen from the window.
4. Hotel Ceenu Shamsi
A very popular hotel in this area. It is located in the southern suburbs of the city and has direct road access leading to the sea.
5. Barwaaqo Hotel
This hotel is more inland. It has a rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars. The hotel also services food and is rated with moderate security.
Best Restaurant & Food Item In Kismayo
One can eat some Somali samosas or some Somali flatbread. Other dishes includes okra vegetable soup, or some sorghum with lamb. One can have an opportunity to eat this food at the Sahan Takeaway in this city.
These are common foods that most Somalis enjoy. Do not miss the opportunity to try some okra. Okra is a green flowering vegetable sometimes called “lady’s fingers”. Another nice dish is the lamb surbiyaan alongside the Somali flatbread.
The diversity of the cuisine with its mix of vegetarian and meat provide a nice taste for the palate. Samosas can have various ingredients. They are often made with meat and vegetables and spices. This combination provides a savoury taste.
How To Reach Kismayo & How Much It Costs:
From Mogadishu, it is possible to take a flight or by driving.
Mogadishu – Kismayo flight: Jubba Airways flight operating a once per week flight. This flight is usually operating on a Tuesday. It can cost up to $250 USD round tirp.
Mogadishu – Kismayo driving: The other possibility is to drive a car from Mogadishu to Kismayo. The approximate driving time is about 8 hours and 30 minutes. The total driving distance is about 480km. The road infrastructure can provide challenges due to incomplete roads, or accidents. The route is not direct when driving from Mogadishu to Kismayo.
When Time You Shold Go There ?
You can go to this place at any time during the year, but you should choose a time that most suits you. It depends on what you will want to do. It should be mentioned that February – April are the hot months. The temperatures reach to around 35C-37C during this period. The weather from May to February is cooler.
The temperatures will reach a maximum of 28C-30C. However, due to Somalia’s equatorial proximity, there is not huge temperature variance. One could still visit the Kismayo beach during this time after the peak heat season. The water will be warm during the cooler months.
Tips For Tourists
Take note to wear basic clothing that is unbranded and wear minimal jewellery to avoid bringing attention to self.
Watch the waraka kismayo and other publications to see the latest news and updates in the country with regard to security and other events.
Do not carry large amounts of money with you. It is more advised to take the money as needed. Credit card facilities are not widely available, so paying with cash is the most suitable and popular option.
Going after the February – April time period is better in order to avoid excessive heat temperatures of 40C.
Take care when driving with a vehicle. It is advised to remain in proximity to the vehicle at all times. Do not leave any valuables in the car.