Forêt du Day National Park
Forêt du Day National Park was established in 1939 to protect the only forested area in Djibouti. Initially, about 27,710 acres (10,000 hectares) were set aside for protection, but over the years the protected area has dwindled down to about 7,413 acres (3,000 hectares). What remains of the park now covers the Garrab and Adonta plateaux on the east face of the Goda Mountains. The park's elevation is between 2,300 feet (700 meters) and 5,480 feet (1,780 meters), and much of the land consists of steep, weathered slopes of loose shale. The views from the top of the plateaux can be spectacular, but when I was there, it was foggy and misting, so my photographic opportunities were limited.
The higher elevations of the park contain forests of large juniper trees with a brushy understory. The juniper forests are home to about 60 percent of Djibouti's wildlife. Visitors can see vervet monkeys, hamadrayas baboons, warthogs, klipspringers, leopards, and numerous species of smaller mammals. Birdlife is plentiful and includes hornbills, boubous, and the highly endangered and range-restricted Djibouti francolin, one of the rarest birds in the world. The francolin (which is a partridge-like bird) numbers only about 850 individuals and lives only in the Forêt du Day. To try and see this bird is the reason I went there. Fortunately, I was able to see a flock of four, and at that time became one of about only ten birdwatchers in the world who had seen this bird.
Unfortunately, a high percentage of the juniper trees in Forêt du Day National Park are dead or dying, and no one knows exactly why. It is believed that some sort of fungal disease is killing the trees, but without knowing the cause, scientists are helpless to protect the trees. And when the trees are all dead, it remains to be seen what will happen to the wildlife that lives there. It is feared that the francolin may become extinct. Other causes of stress to the forest include the gathering of firewood by local people, and overgrazing by cattle, camels, and goats.
Geology of Djibouti
Djibouti is situated at the end of the Eastern Rift Valley and is one of the most interesting places in the world for geologists, apparently. The “tectonic” plates of Africa and Arabia meet in Djibouti and the landscape is covered in volcanic rock, salt lakes, hot springs and rifts and rocky valleys. The plates are slowly drifting apart so the area is quite active - the last volcanic eruption was near Lac Assal in 1978. It will take a few million years but it is believed the separation of the plates will cause a new ocean to form as big as the Atlantic.
The Eastern Rift Valley extends into the sea and the bay of Tadjoura and the bay of Ghoubet are particularly interesting places for diving.
Apologies to any geologists reading this! - I am (obviously) not a scientist.
Plage des Sables Blancs
Plage des Sables Blancs is an area of white sandy beach about 7km from Tadjoura. It has a few huts on the beach and is developing a tourist centre. The snorkelling and swimming are both very good here. You can get a boat to take you from Tadjoura.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Blue Spotted Ray
These beautiful stingrays can normally be seen when diving in the Red Sea off Djibouti. If you are snorkelling you may be lucky enough to see one if you look carefully along the sea bed. They are almost always on the bottom close to rocks so they can hide if they need to. This is the reason the photo is not so clear - it was on the bottom and I was on the top! Like any stingray, and as the name suggests, they will give you a nasty sting if you bother them, but they are lovely to look at as the bright blue spots look irridiscent in the water.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Take care with the sun and flies.
If you go to Djibouti, you have to take sunglasses and repellent against mosquitos.
A cap or a hat is good too.
Also It's good to take the money with you. There are just only two cash dispensers in Djibouti, and always are broken. You can change your money in Hotels but the best site is in a small Kiosk in the principal place of the city. Change is better there.
Drive on the Grand Barra Plain
Grand Barra is a salty plain in southern part of Djibouti around 1,5-2 hours from the capital. A funny way to exploer it is just to get of the road and drive randomly on the flat as a chessboard surface.
Reportedly it is also possible windsurf on wheels here. It certainly is quite windy.
One of the hottest and most inhospitable places on earth, Lake Assal is a saline crater lake surrounded by dormant volcanoes and black lava fields. It is located in the Afar Depression, and at 502 feet (153 meters) below sea level, it is the lowest point on the African continent.
The source of the lake's water is subsurface springs which are fed by the nearby Gulf of Tadjoura. The average depth of the lake is 24 feet (seven meters), and its area is 21 square miles (54 square kilometers). Lake Assal's waters are the most saline in the world, containing 34.8 percent salt. The lake is surrounded by vast salt flats. The salt is mined, and much of it is exported to nearby Ethiopia. And in Djibouti City, some fish dishes are served with "salt pearls" from Lake Assal.
I did not visit Lake Assal, but stopped to see it and photograph it from an overlook on the Route du Roi Fahd. The lake's blue water and white salt flats shimmered in the extreme heat, distant, ethereal, and forbidden.
The Ghoubet-Kharab is an almost landlocked sea located at the westernmost end of the Gulf of Tadjoura. Two points of land from the north and south coasts almost meet and close off the Ghoubet-Kharab from the Gulf of Tadjoura proper. The narrow strait passing between the points of land is called the Ghoubet Pass.
The Ghoubet-Kharab, also known as the "Devil's Cauldron," is one of the finest diving sites in East Africa. Because there are no rivers emptying into the Gulf of Tadjoura, the waters are extremely clear and are free of silt and other debris. The clear waters provide an excellent environment for soft coral, of which over 200 species have been identified in the area.
Since the Ghoubet-Kharab is almost landlocked, it is relatively protected, and is therefore good for the production of plankton. This in turn attracts large numbers of fish, including barracudas, jacks, manta rays, sailfish, snappers, and whale sharks. The whale sharks go to the Ghoubet-Kharab to breed, so it is often referred to as a "whale shark kindergarten."
The Route du Roi Fahd passes high above the Ghoubet-Kharab, and scenic overlooks provide spectacular views of the water below.
To Lac Assal......
It's the first name I saw when I surfed for Djibouti in the net....and eventually I've visited the place then. The lake itself is beautiful, but what really took my breath away is the scenery along the journey to Lac Assal. I've been staying in Heron for so long and when I saw the desert, valleys, camels, I only realised Im already in Africa.......Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
If you haven't been to a desert country before and won't visit Djibouti's neighbours, it would be worth venturing out into the country.
At least you would escape the city!
There is the usual desert scenery with camels, salt lakes, nomad camps and small towns and villages that offer a different view of Djibouti than its capital.
I even saw gazelles towards the Eritrean border.
In Djibouti Town, go to la...
In Djibouti Town, go to la 'Rue des Mouches'.
don't be afraid, it is a cool market.
In tadjoura, take time to wander in the streets.Many activities to see, and people are less agressive tha in Djibouti.
In Lac Abbé, stay to see the sunset at night. Magical!
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