When I was on my never-ending stay in Ethiopia, I decided to see if I could make it over to Somalialand and see the ancient rock art at Laas Gaal. Actually, I had made this decision weeks earlier. In my Lonely Planet Africa guidebook, they had a small section on Somalia.
I was totally unaware that the country had basically fractured into three different parts, two of which were highly, highly unsafe to go to (including the area still referred to locally as Somalia around Mogadishu, probably the most dangerous city in the world). The area I was going to is totally and completely safe, even by Lonely Planet standards, which is sort of amazing, given their overabundance of caution. Somaliland is the western and northernmost third of the country. Unrecognized by the world, it is a fascinating place.
Laas Gaal is a couple hours outside the capital of Somaliland, Hargeysa. You can arrange a tour at any hotel in town, which comes with a mandatory armed guard. Somalialand wants badly to get recognized by the international community and so they are overly paranoid about a Westerner getting injured or killed here, though it is quite safe.
The rock art here is some of the best preserved in the entire world. It was only “discovered,” at least by the Western world less than ten years ago. If and when Somaliland gets recognized by the international community, this spot is going to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site almost immediately. On the day I went, I was the only tourist there that entire day.