Somalia and its capital of Mogadishu have been a horror show for over ten years. The section of the Horn of Africa today has a post-apocalyptic feel thanks to fighting among rival factions, the law of the gun, a host of humanitarian crises and frequent kidnappings of aid workers.
Civil war has ravaged the patchwork state for decades, and only a few blocks of the city remain loosely under government control. Modern pirates and renegades find easy refuge in Mogadishu, and drivers navigate through traffic using machine guns. The soulless place is really a land without a law at Africa’s edge, and life there more closely resembles modern warfare than the modern world.
Nearly every government in the developed world strongly warns against traveling to Mogadishu, calling it the world’s most lawless and dangerous city. That is no exaggeration, and it is not safe for tourism or leisure. Even international aid workers require expert planning and advice before making landfall in the city, and their safety cannot be guaranteed.
Only one commercial airline travels to Mogadishu, and although its safety record is impeccable, the rules change once you land on the ground. Entering the city without protection is a death sentence, and visitors can hire militias from the airport, but they have a reputation from being reliable.
There are few places in the city worth exploring, and those that remain are completely unsafe. The Bakara Market has transformed into a one-stop shop for all your firearm needs where you can easily obtain an AK-47 and enough ammo to last at least a few days of intense fighting.
It is hard to imagine now, but the Mogadishu Cathedral and Arba-Rukun Mosque used to be major tourist draws. Like the rest of the city, neither space is safe, and gravitating toward crowded spots puts you in very real danger of kidnapping or violence.