Dont forget to visit the downtown Central Market. Its the only place for shopping. You will also see a glimpse of the souk where djiboutians shop. One such soulk is souk al dabbab. They are all next to each other.
This is a must if you have a spare day. Cost varies from 60-100 euros (2006 prices).
For 60 euros, we were transported in a local minibus with uncomfortable seats but air conditionning, the latter being essential.
We stopped at several view points to see cracks between tectonic plates, views of the Ghoubbet el Kharab or Devil's Cauldron and the rift between the lake and the sea.
We had approx 45 mins on the shore of the lake itself, enough time to taste the water on the tip of your tongue (yuck: so salty it burns), collects a few salt balls & crystals and buy a couple of rocks and salt stars from the local sellers...and of course, take some pictures.
The trip include very basic lunch at a gravel beach in the Ghoubbet & time for a swim before heading back.
WARNING: This trip is only possible in the winter season, in summer, the temperature can rise to 50+ celsius and even 4X4 cannot access the lake proper b/c their tyres melt and their engine dies, the trip has a diff. itinerary during the hot season.
Tadjoura is an old Arab town on the gulf of Tadjoura dating back to the 12th century and one of the oldest towns on the East African coast. It has a long beach, a harbour area and dusty streets with whitewashed houses. We arrived by boat on our tour but you can get a bus or drive from Djibouti town. The distance by road is about 170km.
There is not a great deal to see – it is quite pretty in parts but we managed a walk around in about 2 hours. The Plage des Sable Blancs, about 7km away is good for snorkelling and swimming.
The best time to see Whale Sharks is from mid October to February when the plankton ‘blooms’ develop in Goubet al Kharab (the Devil's Cauldron). The whale sharks are juveniles. Even so the ones we saw ranged from 8 to 20 feet long. Adults are around 40 feet.
As the Whale Sharks feed on the surface of the water, the best way to see and swim with them is by snorkelling. Our dive boat operated 2 smaller satellite boats which take 6 people in each plus the boatman who is an expert at spotting the Whale Sharks. You can often see the fin just out of the water or a dark shape just beneath the surface. Once a Whale Shark is spotted we had to wait for the boatman to tell us we could jump into the water. We had to be fairly quick as they swim fast so the best way is to jump in as one is swimming towards you, although you can’t know if they will change direction! Often we saw many Whale Sharks together as this was peak season as there was a lot of plankton. Sometimes there were so many we didn’t know where to look!
The Whale Sharks just carry on feeding as you swim with them and are totally harmless, only interested in the plankton. They don’t mind bumping into you though if you are in the way of the plankton. Each trip lasted about 2 to 3 hours and we had to jump in and out of the water many times. It is very tiring even if you are fit.
Often the Whale Sharks were very close to the shore in shallow water. Basically they go wherever the plankton is. We stayed on the MY Deli Liveaboard for 6 nights but you can organise day trips to see the Whale Sharks however, you have less chance of seeing them this way. This was certainly one of my best wildlife experiences!
Djibouti has the main deep water port serving the surrounding countries, and particularly Ethiopia. Since Eritrea gained independance from Ethiopia in 1993 and the two countries were involved in border disputes relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea have been broken off leaving Ethiopia with no Port access. Djibouti's Port is the nearest accessible to Ethiopia all Ethiopia's sea freight is shipped from Djibouti, then along the main highway which is packed with freight trucks.
Access to the Port is limited and it is not particularly attractive but is impressive in the volume of shipping coming in and out. If you are in a small boat in the area it can seem quite scary being dwarfed by massive container ships waiting to dock.
Close to Lac Assal is a naturally Hot Spring coming from the hill and forming a pool in front. The water is hot enough to cook fish! We saw some boiled fish which had accidently swam into the hot water.
It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to walk from the road to the Spring and it is very hot and exposed so you need a sunhat and water.
If you take a trip to Lac Assal from Djibouti City, about halfway there is a quite scary lookout point where you can see a big natural canyon cut from the rocks.
You can go right to the edge if you have a head for heights but it is quite windy!
Look for a pull-in area on the right with some boys selling souvenirs.
Djibouti is in the Southern Red Sea where it flows into the Indian Ocean and the diving and snorkelling sites are unspoilt with spectacular pristine coral, over 200 varieties.
Most of Djibouti’s coastline is covered with large reefs with dense shoals of fish and large schools of Barracuda, Jacks and Snapper as well as Rays, Dolphins, Whale Sharks, Grey Sharks and Nurse Sharks.
You can organise one day snorkelling or diving trips but the best way to see the most marine life is to stay on a Live Aboard boat. MY Deli, operated by Dolphin Excursions runs regular trips to see whale sharks during the season and diving trips out of the whale shark season. More details Here
I don’t dive but found this no disadvantage as the snorkelling sites are on the shallower coral, usually next to the dive sites and we saw plenty this way.
The diving and snorkelling sites are all within the Gulf of Tadjoura area –
Shark Island and Ras Eiro
The Gulf of the Demons or Bay of Ghoubet is connected to the Gulf of Tadjoura by a narrow inlet 750m long. The bay is thought to be 200m deep and is surrounded by volcanic rock which makes the water look very black and sinister, made worse by the strong winds causing big waves and currents across the bay. Inside the bay are Devil’s Cauldron, a large underwater crater, and Devil’s Island. There are dolphins in the bay as well as many very large species of fish – some yet to be discovered.
If you take the trip from Djibouti town to Lac Assal by road there is a lookout point where you can get a good view of the Bay of Ghoubet. Hold on to your hat here – it is very windy!
If you are staying on a Live Aboard boat you will go into the bay itself and the sea can get very rough particularly going through the passage into the bay of Tadjoura.
The Animal Refuge is about 20 minutes drive from Djibouti town. We were taken by our guide because our boat departure was delayed and we got there quite late in the afternoon so did not have a lot of time there. Normally a visit takes about half a day. It is a refuge for animals that have been confiscated from people trying to smuggle them into the country as pets. Most of the animals were brought in when very young so have grown up in the refuge. We saw Zebra, Oryx and other Antelopes, Hyena, and Ostrich. There are 4 Cheetah there and one of them was reared by our guide so was very pleased to see him when we turned up. It came straight to the fence purring and licked his hand as he stroked it. He allowed us to stroke it too but it really preferred him. There are many other animals there too, which we didn’t see due to the time. The reserve depends on donations.
I guess most visitors would not be allowed to stroke the Cheetah – we were just very lucky!
Lac Assal is the lowest point in Africa and the third lowest in the world. It is 153 metres below sea level and 20 metres deep. The lake water and the shore are saturated with salt. The approach down to the lake has stunning views of the lake and the surrounding black volcanic rock. You can walk to the edge of the lake and the salt actually looks like thick ice underfoot as it has a thin layer of water on top when you get closer to the lake itself. Apparently you can swim in the lake but it is so salty it is not pleasant as the salt really stings your eyes.
From Djibouti town you can visit Lac Assal for a day trip. It takes about 2.5 hours each way. You will need a 4 wheel drive as the road is quite poor in some places. Part of the route is the same one the trucks take from the port to Ethiopia and it is not in good condition so the journey can be very slow. It is also quite dangerous if you are not a careful driver. We saw many trashed vehicles along the route.
Other things to see along the road between Djibouti town and Lac Assal are The Canyon and the view of Devils Island which are about halfway between the two and the Hot Spring which is close to Lac Assal.
We took a picnic lunch and stopped to eat at a basic gite on the sea shore overlooking Devils Island.
The trip was organised by Dolphin Excursions in Djibouti and cost a massive £250 for 2 people with 4WD and English speaking guide/driver.
This fantastic 5-Star sea-side resort offers a day package with use of a room, all the facilities, food & drink for $99. It’s actually a good bargain when you see what you get. Its also a lot cheaper than staying overnight. The food is fantastic, the staff are great and the rooms & facilities are the best in the country. Go on, pamper yourself. You deserve it!
Welcome to the Sheraton! Or are you welcome?
Should probably be under the 'Tourist Trap' Category. Like the pictured sign says – in French:
Saturday & Wednesday – 2000 Francs ($11)
Mon, Tues, Thu, Fri, Sun – 2500 Francs ($14)
I was so hot I almost did this even though it was ridiculously expensive for a crappy small pool with an average sea view. If you have the money spend $99 at Kempinski Palace and get a room, pool, food and drinks for a whole day! If not, it’s going to cost you $11-14 here.
You could probably use the pool at the Hotel Kempinsky for free!
The best thing that you can do in Djibouti is meet people from there. They are really kind and friendly.
If you forget your european thoughts, you can discover a very great country.
Also you can enjoy of the sun and the good beaches there.
To visit the desert and the lake of "lasal"is very great too.
I will give you all the info I get to virtual tourist.
It seems the markets are not very good (see3 answer below) and if you want anything you need to find the local artists and go direct...(I read this in a Frecnh guide book), we are one day in Djibouti then going on a boat so the info might be limited.
I will check out the French alliance they should have an art gallery or something.
Llot Du Heron, DJIBOUTI, DJ
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
Let us start with the service or lack of. Whether it is begging to get served at the bar while...more
Siesta Beach, Djibouti, 555, Djibouti
Good for: Couples