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!
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.
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 hoping to catch some rays and get your feet wet while in Djibouti. Head to Moucha island, about 30 minutes from the port. It offers a nice relaxing place to have a beer and soak in the hot sun. There is a dive shop located by the beach where you can rent some snorkeling or scuba gear.
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.
La Caravane du Sel
They organize excursions in camels to the Valley of the Rift and the depression of the Asal Lake (153 metres under the sea level, the deepest in Africa) surrounded by dead volcanoes, to the Denakil area to see the nomad affar tribes, diving, etc.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
It's one of those days when we have nothing better to do that we decided to go on a trip. One of the guys we know got a vehicle and drove us to Lake Assal. Lot of people when they hear Lake Assal it's gonna be like a beach resort but what they didn't know that there wasn't much of a water around here.
Lake Assal is the lowest point in Africa ar 500 feet below sea level. Since there is no river flowing out of the lake , it is ten times saltier than an ocean which makes it the most saline body water in the world
Diving is possible, but expensive (french and american soldiers with too much money to spend) You can find travel agencies in the city center, ask around. The upmarket hotels can help you also.
I think it is better and cheaper in Eritrea.
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
don't miss lac Assal, a 2 hours trip from the town.
see more pics at http://site.voila.fr/djibouti_web
go to lac Abbé, a more long trip to feel like walking on the moon ...in africa!
if you can afford it, go to Musha island, ask Bruno (www.dankali.dj ) to rent a tent .
don't go there on thursday and wednesday, too much people...in the week time, you'll have the whole island for your eyes only.
go to the sables blancs beach, a unique moment for snorkellers
Llot Du Heron, DJIBOUTI, DJ
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
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