NEED CASH? Some guidebooks say there are no working ATM’s in Djibouti. There are! In fact several are air-conditioned kiosks and I went in to a couple just to get cool. The best is at Saba Islamic Bank in Place Menelik (2nd picture). Their machine accepted every card imaginable. I have never seen so many symbols for different cash networks displayed in one place before.
‘At the crossroads of 3 continents’. Djibouti Port is proud of the fact that it provides shipping for Europe, Asia and Africa. This place is huge. Its started out because land-locked Ethiopia needed more port facilities. Work on a modern port and railway started in 1897 and were completed in 1917. Since then a series of deep water quays were constructed, there are huge storage facilities and the port also hosts transient navy warships ships of many nations. The modern container terminal was finished in 1985. This is the economic engine that drives the whole country.
The Decan Refuge was founded by veterinarian Bertrand Lafrance as a refuge for cheetahs that have been confiscated from smugglers and poachers by the Djibouti government. The idea for such a refuge began when Lafrance saw a captive cheetah for sale in a local restaurant. He took action and began rescuing captive cheetahs. When he had seven in his garden at home, he decided it was time to establish the refuge. Nowadays, the Decan Refuge is working in collaboration with Doué la Fontaine zoo in France on a breeding program for cheetahs.
In addition to cheetahs, the Decan Refuge takes in other African animals, such as gazelles, and rehabilitates them for eventual release into the wild. Those that cannot be released back into the wild are kept at the refuge and are well cared for.
The refuge is set amid acacia trees and scrub on an arid, dusty plain south of Djibouti City. Visitors can walk along trails through the acacia, view the animals (some of which are used to people and are not in any sort of enclosure), learn about Djibouti's wildlife in the sparse but interesting visitors' center, and get an overview of the refuge from the watch tower.
Since ancient times, Djibouti has been a trading center because it sits at the crossroads of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean shipping lanes, and its strategic location between the Middle East and the east coast of Africa. Nowadays, the Port of Djibouti is one of the busiest ports on the African east coast.
Serious development of Djibouti's port occurred between 1948 and 1957. During that period, four deep-water quays were constructed, access channels were dredged, warehouses and oil-storage facilities were built, electricity and water supplies were developed, and railroad lines linking Djibouti with Ethiopia were laid. In 1985, a new container terminal, dry port, and the establishment of a Trade Free Zone helped the Port of Djibouti become a regional shipping hub.
Because neighboring Ethiopia is now a landlocked country (after losing its coastal areas to what is now Eritrea in its civil war), most of the goods shipped to Ethiopia pass through the Port of Djibouti. The Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway carries about 60 percent of Ethiopia's foreign trade, and the main highway between Djibouti and Ethiopia is busy with large trucks transporting all sorts of goods and products to Addis Ababa and beyond.
Day one: walk around town. It's all easily accessible on foot. Both the old French quarter and the poor areas behind it, are pleasnt to stroll around at a leisurely pace. Some nice old residential and office buildings, as well as a couple of old mosques with very sturdy minarets. It's poor and dirty compared to the West, but not as appalling as some Third World countries.
Day two: rent a car and go to Lake Assal (hot and saline: beautiful rocks of various kinds for sale - don't haggle too hard - imagine having to make a living there!); continue by the coast to Tajourah. Nice scenery, the latter town is "trois fois rien" but there is a pleasnt "centre de loisirs" at the entrance of town, where you can get a reasonably priced beer in the shade by the sunside. Gazelle and dik-dik walking around on the premises.
Another little excursion I took was to the border of Somaliland: take a right on your way to the airport (there is a sign "Somalie") and follow the road. First you gou through a car junkyard, then you pass a checkpoint (no check), then you feel like you're entering a regular dumping ground. Indeed, the road forks and the asphalted road to the left leads into the typical smouldering dump ground that you associate with the Third World. If you don't turn left at the fork but continue straight there is a nice hardened (but not asphalted) piste leading to the border. Not much traffic, laid-back atmosphere. All in all from Djibouti ville to the border takes half an hour. (This tip is really only for border freaks.)
For you VTers who are Geology buffs this is a very import spot know as the The Afar Depression. Lake Abbe is a plate tectonic triple junction where the spreading ridges that are forming the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden emerge on land and meet the East African Rift.
AND, the central meeting place for these three pieces of Earth's crust is right here around around Lake Abbe. The Afar Depression is one of two places on Earth where a mid-ocean ridge can be studied on land, the other being Iceland.
And you luck VTer you got to visit it on line how about that!!
The Moucha and Maskani islands are good for wrecks. There are 3 or 4 around.
The islands are close to Djibouti town so are good if you do not have time for a week-long cruise to Tadjoura or the Seven Brothers. Boats heading out to those two areas will usually do their first and last dive on the islands.
Warning: to enjoy the wrecks you will need to go below 30mtrs. Good air management is therefore essential.
Wreck penetration is possible in the engine room of some wreck but not on others. Ask your dive guides.
The gulf of Tadjoura is easier diving than the Seven Brothers. Currents are not as strong or inexistant. Some dead coral here too, esp. table coral.
This is THE place to see the whale sharks. The sharks can be seen near Arta beach or in the Ghoubet. You can't scuba with them, just snorkel.
Viz is generally not so good due to the rich plancton on which the sharks feed.
Near Arta is a French Foreign Legion training camp. On your way to shark watching or diving you can see the guys running around in full gear by 40+ celsius or zooming around in ribs. Very entertaining!
Apart from whale sharks, look for small stuff, have a night dive or two and enjoy your dive!
The Seven Brothers are seven Islands in the narrow part between Yemen and Eritrea. They are imaginatively named: the West Island, the East Island, the Double Island etc...
Currents are strong and this area is not recommended for beginners.
Glabal warming is killing some coral and Yemenite fishermen have all but exterminated the sharks. You can still see turtles, dolphins, morays, Napoleon wrasses and lots and lots of fish.
Viz is medium to medium-poor depending on currrents & plancton blooms
There are 2 major diving areas in Djibouti:
1) the Seven Brothers - Les Sept Freres- at the narrowest part of the Red Sea, between Southern Eritrea and Yemen;
This is good for typical Red Sea stuff but currents are strong. The sharks have almost all been killed by teh Yemeni fishermen and piracy is alive & well
2) the Gulf of Tadjoura, including the Ghoubet al Kharab
Poor viz due to plancton but lots of whale sharks from early October to late December
You can also dive the Moucha and Maskani Island, which are closer to Djibouti town.
The VTer can visit the Lowest and hottest Point in Africa which is Lake Assal, Djibouti: 512 feet / 156 meters below sea level. Lake Assal is also the saltiest body of water in the world -- yes more than the dead sea. The other cool thing for a VT geek like me is that it is where the Great Rift Valley flows on its way to the Red sea. The rift valley is what makes up the great lakes in Africa, what the Victory falls flow over and than leads into the Red sea across to Asia and ends at the Dead sea. The former lake floor is a huge salt flat that is great to Wind sail on. When salt trading was king this was the place.
You can see the salt Beds in photo four below
You can take a dhow ferry to the second largest and oldest city in Djibuti, Tadjoura. This was the originally like Zanzibar and “Arab” trading port and it was the the seat of the Afar Ad-Ali abli Sultanate. By about 1840 or 50 Tadjoura was a major slave market; with about 6,000 people a year left mostly from Ethiopia enslaved via this ports. Once Tadjoura came under French control, the slave trade was abolished there by decree on 26 October 1889. When the French move the capital and built the Franco-Ethiopian railway Tajoura's importance declined.
Today Tadjoura is home to about 27,700 people and is one of those African mystery cities from another time -- the whitewashed buildings glisten in the sunlight as you come in by ferry and is known for its beautiful white beaches. Really is a place time has forgotten and not at all touristy ---yet!!!!
Menelik Square has been the main hang out for the French and the cruse ships passagers going through the Suez Canal since 1897 when it was named after Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia in honor of the agreement between the French and Ethiopia when the boundaries of the protectorate, marked out in 1897.
You can sit here have a nice French coffee and watch the French foreign legion hang out when they are off duty.
The island is so beautiful and just 30minutes boat ride from the port. It is also a paradise for snorkling lovers and scuba divers. The beaches are clean and the rocks are magnificent. However, the island is not a typical tourist paradise, where it would be a nitemare for the reason the facilities built on this island are meant for French Legionaires and army only. You have to be well prepared for things like sun shade, mat, food, tent (if u plan to stay overnite), drinking water etc ......and please be reminded that even the public toilets and water taps are meant for the army only, eventhough you are French, you have to be in the army or the family member to be allowed to use them. What a horse *** !!!
But I still like the island so much, the water, the beach, the scenary, the birds, the rocks.....it really worths to spend a day there. And if you r lucky, u might see some dolphines on the way to the island..........
If you are in Djibouti and want to escape the chaos of the city I suggest you go to this little escape. The refuge houses seven cheetahs , gazelles, turtles and exotic birds. It cost 500 DF to get in the site so you can wander around. There is not really a whole lot to see on this refuge but at least it's nice break from the city scene.
Be careful with the gazelles they might look friendly but a couple of them try to gored us with their horns. Make sure to keep a distance from them and if they start charging you don't run. Also be careful while you are walking in the park there are lot of briar trees with long spikes so be careful when walking around.
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