by private jet
PG 18: Don't try this at home. You'll miss your flight.
The mysterious Mr. Masel Tov called and made the Gentleman Adventurer a generous offer he couldn't resist: a trip to the world's most dangerous country Somalia in private-jet comfort and with professional protection.
Our operational base was the beautiful CHEDI Hotel in Muscat, Oman ...
... from where two limousines took us to the airport at zero dark thirty.
Our mode of transport was a 10-seater Citation Sovereign with two experienced pilots from Nairobi.
On board we were given an extensive security briefing by Rob, a former special forces, and Frank, a trauma medic, who've both seen it all.
Approaching Bosaso, the capital of Puntland and headquarter of "Pirate & Kidnap LLC" at the Horn of Africa.
On the runway, Rob supplied us with aramid plated bulletproof vests, carbon kevlar helmets and nanotechnology security devices that are impossible to detect. Each individual's movement was continuously tracked with GPS reports to Frank, to our security company's regional bases in Dubai and Nairobi, and probably to Facebook. A military level operation made to work for private travelers. Thanks to Mr. Masel Tov.
A welcome cappucino by the tourism ministry in the Bosaso airport VIP arrival lounge.
Bosaso is the only international airport in the world with ARRIVAL facilities only, for foreigners ... (just joking)
We moved in a convoy of Landcruisers with Kalashnikov-bearing local bodyguards.
No state is failed enough to abandon number plates completely (except maybe the USA where they have only one in the back).
First impressions. If you ever wondered where your old plastic bags go, they all retire in Somalia ...
Reinforced concrete barricades at every official building.
For good reason: remnants of a roadside bomb, or "IED" as the pros call an Improvised Electronic Device ... to die slightly more sophisticated.
Rush hour. Bad drivers are still the number one fatality risk in Bosaso and Boston.
More impressions of life in Puntland.
Suddenly there was blood in the street.
We had reached the fishmarket.
In the infamous port of Bosaso.
No pirates on the menu today.
Maybe these unhealthy ingredients were reducing their appetite:
PDF or Puntland Dervish Forces.
My wingman Nuurdin. He is a master in dental floss.
People with guns everywhere, just like in London or New York.
But also friendly faces and hopeful smiles like anywhere else in the world.
Visit to East Africa University Bosaso. They teach in partnership with the Francis Drake Institute of Maritime Law in London and Tavistock (if you smile here, you are quick witted).
The best and safest hotel in Bosaso is the International Village, as the only longtime guest, Miss Oryx, will happily confirm. She survived the major bomb attack and Kalashnikov assault in February 2017.
Mission completed. Echo that. Roger. Back to airport.
Posing and pretending to own this private jet comes pretty close to piracy, I admit it. Mr. Masel Tov decided to fly us to Hargeisa, the capital of the autonomous Republic of Somaliland.
Somaliland is definitely the most developed part of Somalia. Their ad agencies are famous for slogans that capture the mind, like "a bond beyond insurance".
Hargeisa's modern airport: Egal.
New buildings in town, including supermarkets, a vegan restaurant and a private hospital.
Here they already carry the future numberplates of Germany: S.land (Merkel-regime critics will understand)
Even shady business in Somaliland works under a strict line of command.
The Nr. 1 hotel in Hargeisa is the Ambassador. Its WIFI password is routinely handed out by all restaurants within 300 meters.
But the main attraction of Somaliland are the pre-historic rock paintings of Las Geel, a 2,5 hours drive from Hargeisa.
At least 5.000 year old masterpieces, similar to Lascaux. Las Geel would be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, if the West wouldn't block Somaliland's autonomy efforts at the UN.
The middle of nowhere is not so bad, after all.
Even in the most beautiful places, at some point it's time to say good bye.
YALLA HABIBI! When we were tired and our guards down, just in front of the hotel, all of a sudden ... a knife attack !!! We'd trained this situation hundreds of times. Instinctively we managed to disarm this fierce local warrior ... with a friendly smile.
Aah, the trappings of the CHEDI Hotel ...
The next day Mr. Masel Tov changed our aircraft to a military-style Hawker, registered appropriately TC (for Turkey) - "MAN" and we started our onward journey to
where we were going to meet our travel buddies with a similar bug in the brain, at the 4th edition of my baby, the ETIC
with participants from Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Monaco and Switzerland
some of them pictured here in the secure garden
of the best hotel in town, The Jazeera Palace,
with its beautiful rooftop terrace overlooking the runway of Mogadishu Airport and the Indian Ocean.
Just as EVERY other hotel in Mogadishu, the Jazeera Palace suffered a major bomb attack (in July 2015, rebuilt by December 2015). Despite huge concrete barriers and probably the highest security measures outside the secure "Airport Green Zone".
Please be aware that bambo or bastoolad are absolutely forbidden !!!
There are some brighter sides of life in Mogadishu
such as the historic lighthouse
or the famous Lido Beach
but predominantly surreal situations.
Such as our standard view through the car window.
We saw several stand-offs between different groups: Alpha special forces, NSA National Somali Army, AMISOM troops, Police, etc. In that order.
We also witnessed an amok driver crashing full speed through a military barricade and running over pedestrian women, right next to us. Terrible. At least his car didn't blow up. That would have been the end of the trip.
Finnish extreme traveler Kari-Matti Valtari with a 2.10m tall Somali security contractor.
Anything can happen in Mogadishu. Even a shark attack!
A skilled sniper - or a stupid screw - punctured our rear tyre so we had to duck for cover in an area that was only recently cleared from Al Shabab.
Site of the crash of the two American "Black Hawk Down" helicopters near the Bakaara Market (Battle of Mogadishu 1993). Al Shabab lawlessness here is still so rampant that even our governmental guards avoid the area and we couldn't exit the car. The remnants of the two helicopters are now gone anyway, having been recovered by Mogadishu-resident American David Snelson and Alisha Ryu in 2013 (20 years after) and put on display in Fort Bragg.
"Barra Barra" by Rachid Taha and the Black Hawk Down movie soundtrack, one of the best ever, by Hans Zimmer who I visited in his studio in LA in 1999.
Next to the destroyed Old House of Parliament, a poster of US-backed president Formajo ("Mr. Cheese"). Many Somalis carry names from the Italian era. The good old tempi passati ended when the British took Somalia during WW2.
Despite the great efforts of many Somalis, including those returning from their overseas diaspora, there is still an enormous amount of danger, destruction and darkness in Somalia's capital city.
But our local friends and incoming team from www.untamedborders.com were looking after us perfectly in Mogadishu.
Our long-haul out was on Turkish Airlines. All airplanes must depart Mogadishu Airport in a flat angle over the water in order not to be an easy target for shots or rockets from the ground. What a trip! Certainly the most extreme in my travel career.
Thank you Mr. Masel Tov !
P.S.: If the reader understands ... that the Somali PIRATES were "accidentally" created by Western "security" forces training Somali coast guards ... that the so-called ISIS was "accidentally" created by the West out of formerly Saddam Sunni prisoners-of-war in Basra ... that the TALIBAN and AL QAIDA were "accidentally" created out of Western-backed anti-soviet guerillas in Afghanistan ... and that SAUD, WAHHAB, AL SHABAB as well as today's REFUGEES WELCOME CRISIS were also created by Western think tanks with their divide-and-rule, strategies of tension, psy-ops and low-intensity-warfare, ... then it was worth our taking the risk to travel - and your taking the time to read this article. You just need to figure out who is behind "the West".