Tag Archives: Eyl

Stone fort at Gabbac, Nugaal, northern Somalia

Update February 21, 2014: A reader pointed me to a Wikipedia article on Somali architecture.

Update February 8, 2011: I have located the fort in Google Earth. It is located at Gabbac, Nugaal, 27 kilometers north of Dag Lahaa.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who contributed comments on my post at SomaliNet Forums.

Here is the Google Earth satellite image of the fort. It is not viewable in currently available satellite imagery due to cloud cover. You must choose satellite images dated 11/3/2004 or 12/14/2004 in Google Earth. The co-ordinates of the fort are 8 08′ 48.57″ N 50 02′ 25.59″ E.

The fort at Gabac, Nugaal, 27 kilometers north of Dag Lahaa

The fort at Gabbac, Nugaal, 27 kilometers north of Dag Lahaa

One of our return flights from an Indian Ocean R&R brought us past this fortress, possibly constructed during the Dervish war in the early 1900s. I’m not sure if it’s Somali, Italian or British.

The British did build a number of forts to guard access to the interior of what they considered to be their territory. In that case, the location of this fort is ideal, constructed as it was on the high ground overlooking the valley in many directions.

This is the fort. The stone fence runs the width of the bluff. It is located at Gabbac, Nugaal.

Here’s another view. As you can see, the location of the fort provides a good view of the valley. The British built their forts during the Dervish war in the early 1900s to prevent access to the interior, but this fort isn’t in the British territory at the time.


There wasn’t much standing water, if any, within the area we were working. All of the wadis were dry, although there was water beneath the surface to allow for the green foliage pictured here. At that time – 1975 – Somalia was having the worst drought in its history up to then.


The worst drought in the country’s history was occurring during 1974 and 1975, thus the lack of any surface water whatsoever in this wadi.

Eyl geography

This one was taken just off the edge of the fort. You can barely see the old fort on the left edge of the photograph.

Another wadi

Much of the foliage had been eaten clean by the huge herds that were heading east to the drought relief centre in Eyl.