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Explorer, what you have to know...

Sur les terres vierges

Getting lost on the tormented land of Djibouti, is putting on the glasses of the geologist and embraces the rare sensation of the pioneer. Lake Assal and the Ardoukoba. From Djibouti-town, an hour and a half are required to reach the chaotic site of Salt Lake, which attracts geologists and volcanologists from around the world. On the road, the eye embraces vibrating immense spaces of heat and dust, where winds and mirages have elected domicile. Siege of intense seismic and tectonic, the region is the result of geological phenomena unique to the world, from which emerged in 1978 Ardoukoba, the latest addition to the Djiboutian volcanoes. A mind-blowing show that gives these torn lands an apocalyptic aspect of beauty, in a chaos of faults and lava. And suddenly, at the bottom of depression, at 153 meters below the level of the sea, in a decor of black lava and saline concretions prodigious Lake emerges as an embedded emerald in the mountains, extended by an ice floe of 65 Km² salt and hot water sources. The contrast of the colors is sumptuous, between the immaculate white of the ice, the dark waters of the Lake and the colors sometimes ochre and black mountains. Yet amid this chaos live men: with a little luck, it is possible to see the salt loading blocks of salt on their camels, towards Ethiopia. The SAFAR Agency helps travelers accompany the procession.

The promise of a timeless moment.


Les sites clés de Djibouti

The evil Al-KharabGoubet

At the extreme tip of the Gulf of Tadjoura, Al-KharabGoubet is a beautiful and disturbing Cove dominated by Devil's Island, an impressive dome that gushed in the middle of the Bay during tectonic movements related to the formation of the Assal Rift. Accessible by the road that dominates it or by boat, the gilding has always suffered from an evil reputation, to such an extent that no Djiboutian fisherman would approach it by boat!

Under the dome would sleep in fact the Gulf of demons, Lair of monstrous creatures who like sirens, would bottom bold the rare men daring to venture near. The site, it is true, has hit the imagination, surrounded by arid mountains that cascade directly down into the waters.

Balho and prehistory

Thrill enthusiasts can pursue further, to the prehistoric Balho site, 80 km north of Lake Assal, and its recently discovered cave paintings. Everyone can see its fragility, in a place little trodden by men.

Balho is also accessible by Randa, in Tadjourah region, passing through the village of Dorra. The track linking Dorra and Balho is wonderful, at the bottom of the Mont Moussa Ali, which culminates at 2,020 meters, near three saline depressions: the SegunSak.

Lake Abbe, lunar landscapes

A day at the start of the capital, after crossing the Grand Bara desert and the town of Dikhil, on Lake Abbé unveils its lunar landscape to the astounded eyes. A real forest of limestone chimneys looking like needles up to 50 meters, surrounded by bubbling water sources, leak from numerous fumaroles the scents of sulphur which offer the traveler the unusual spectacle of a fantasy world. These alignments shredded dissolved limestone, realized in contact with cold water, were carved by the fumes of the underground magma upwelling. This landscape is literally unique on the Earth's surface, since contemplate similar structures, would dive to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, there where the large tectonic plates intersect. Apart from the nomads, the only inhabitants of these places moved back to the borders of Djibouti and Ethiopia are thousands of flamingos, ibis, and pelicans, whose flight is the promise of an unforgettable spectacle.

Lake Assal, addressed land

Lake assal is a natural curiosity of great beauty, in a framework of volcanos and black lava, 153 m below sea level.

This is the lowest point of the African continent. In prodigious decor gypsum and salt concretions, this Lake emerges as a wonderful emerald in hunted in the mountains.

Lake Assal is a show hallucinating, with in the background the black lava from volcanoes that accentuates the contrast of these dazzling tints the azure of the sky is unable to temper.

In addition to tourists, we often encounter trucks carrying salt from the Lake to the Ethiopian Highlands under the amused gaze of sellers of souvenirs. Attention to the hot springs.

The Day forest

When the horizon flattens and mineral chaos subsides, another Djibouti emerges, made of fresh greenery.

The Day Forest. The Bankoualé oasis and it`s beautiful waterfalls flow all year,supplying water to green gardens of regional palm trees, crowned with their thick fanned leaves. Since these paradisiacal gardens stretch on the foothills of the mountainous region of Mount Goda (between 1200 and 1700 meters), which enjoys a mild climate, it has become a sanctuary of many animal and plant species. The top of the mountain is where it is located, the Day Forest is the last vestige of the African rainforest Sahara before desertification. Giant juniper, wild olive trees, acacias, jujube, impressive strangler fig trees and other specimens of vegetation scratched the surface of the earth are the living place of a varied fauna francolin, genets and even monkeys...

The massive Mablas

Obock town is the starting point for excursions to the mangroves of Khor Angar Godoria (only a small motor boat ride away), the flagship of Ras Bir, and exceptional volcanic site of Ras and Ras Doumeira Syan.

In the hinterland, the Mablas, green massive temperate climate, still very little used, is styled in the second forest in the country. The site is beautiful and is used as the favorite playground for sporty drivers in the bush, while mountaineering enthusiasts, from amateurs to experienced professionals, will find the place enchanting. As in the Day Forest, plant species appear to have survived prehistoric times and flourished on site.

The archipelago of the Seven Brothers

Some sites like the archipelago of the Seven Brothers, falling on Obock and the Maskali Moucha Islands, Beach white’s sands and the Goubet are real botanical gardens. The temperature (always higher than 22 ° C), salinity, clarity and purity of the sea are at the ideal conditions for the growth of shallow coral reefs thousand colors, whose hosts are characterized by diversity, richness, elegance, delicacy, the singularity of their forms. No words can be used to describe the exuberance of colors that is offered to the eye.

The incredible abundance and unprecedented density of Djibouti seabed makes an assembly of unique habitats. In this heavenly universe evolve 167 species of coral, colorful fish myriads clown fish, butterfly fish, angelfish, green and blue parrots, 27 species of sharks, turtles, moray eels, manta rays, several species of dolphins to name a few ...

Tadjourah, the city of Rimbaud

The first Gulf crossing must necessarily be by sea, from the pier to the dhow of Djibouti-ville where travelers await departure time on busy docks filled with miscellaneous goods and scents. During the crossing, it is not uncommon to attend a ballet of dolphins that usually accompany the dhows to bid them a good trip. Then after three and a half hours on the small boat, the white city and palm trees stands in the horizon. The capital of the sultans of Tadjourah, the city of seven mosques, had its glory days when the caravan went back to the Abyssinian Empire. Today is a quiet little town of just 10,000 inhabitants, where camels still await the discharge of goods. Do not miss touristic visits like the local blacksmiths, the house of the legendary Arthur Rimbaud, and its artisans deployed on every street corner.

Obock a la francaise

The former "capital" of the French protectorate is one of the cores of the Afar community, a town bathed by the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea and turned towards Yemen. With its rows of arcaded houses whitewashed, Obock evokes travelogues adventurers of the nineteenth century, with its marine cemetery full of history.

All around the city, sandy beaches welcome camels come taste the fresh leaves of mangrove, while the majestic sites ranging from arid to lush vegetation make it the favorite destination of Djibouti to researchers.

Colorful Ali Sabieh

In majestic red mountains, 750 meters above sea level, the town created a century ago is the last station of the railway before Ethiopia. The flaming colors of its environment contrasts with the blinding whiteness of its houses inlaid with coral, and give Ali Sabieh has a specific character, made of excitement around the station where along the rails, women and children offer travelers all kinds products.

Dikhil sweet

Pretty little town on a rocky promontory, Dikhil is a busy crossing point between Djibouti and Ethiopia. Illuminated by the main avenue of pink Lauriers, circled in the oldest palm grove in the country, it is a city of colors, covered with mosaics, including typical endogenous Muslim mosques architecture.

Moucha Island

It is a small semi-desert island of the Republic of Djibouti at the entrance of the Gulf of Tadjourah, about fifteen kilometers off the capital.

The island has a mangrove and is best known for the beauty of the underwater world and as a diving site. A few small islands and the island of Maskali are at close proximity to Moucha. Together they are best known as the moucha islands and are the tip of a coral reef.

The islands Moucha was used in 1914 by Henry de Monfreid weapons cache as he tries to sell contraband. After the deposit is discovered, a "detachment indigenous guards" was installed on the island, where access was prohibited. The monitoring station was abolished in May 1915.

In April 2008, President Guelleh announced plans to lease the island to Chinese investors who plan to build a luxury hotel and casino.


Bankoualé. Land of the Afars. Enclosed land. Within hours, the sea seems forgotten. The track climbs. In this region of mountain, remains only a landscape of stone, a mineral universe punctuated with scattered villages, only but a few simple huts and toukouls made of palm and wood. During the summer, the citizens of Djibouti come to breathe a little bit of the lands freshness. In winter, it is the turn of a few tourists and hikers...

The Bankoualé road is one to be conquered. Set in an area of mountain, between 1200 and 1700 m, the track is wave of smooth pebble, a squiggly slope where even 4 × 4 are struggles to overcome. Here and there, a few acacia trees clinging to the rock punctuate green spots an ocher and gray wall of rock. We also come across strangler figs that seem to hug their root these rocks so omnipresent.

The camp Bankoualé was founded in April 1997 by Houmed Ali, a child of the country, to contribute to local development, job creation and indirectly in the promotion of agriculture and handicrafts by purchases of fruits, vegetables, and handicrafts. Initially, there were only four toukouls (round huts), a restaurant and kitchen. But in six months, Houmed managed to establish fourteen toukouls. And today the site has 20 huts. There are even six showers and toilets and toukouls have electricity by installing solar panels (A luxury in this location).

On the way to the village of Ardo where here too rock is always omnipresent.Here villagers cannot rely on cattle .Most families have at least one person who works in Djibouti-ville, in the administration since the economy is concentrated there. During winter, Bankoualé includes just seven homes. During the summer, driven by the heat, many return and they number up to forty.

In the different villages, the land is divided by tribes and goats are marked so that they graze in the right fields. This seems somewhat unreal as they seem to go about from one place to another. We will cross a dreaming camel, a hyrax (mammal that looks like a big groundhog), some colorful songbirds but neither baboons nor dig-digs (small gazelles) are present in the area.

Village Ardo, we pass a school. The children are curious, friendly, the women are essentially more timid. Beyond the school, they you see people carrying water, wood, working the land, preparing food, tea, with children. Worthy, slender, they seem to wear these villages at arms.

A curious exchange between one of the photographers in our group and a few children.

Fatuma welcomes us in handicraft cooperative for the women of Ardo. Here women work the Dom palm and carry baskets decorated with natural dyes but also earrings, purses beads. Created in 1992 to support local crafts, the association brings together 60 women from six communities in the Bankoualé region, whose name evokes precisely a species of palm tree. Each carries the objects of their choice and decide its price. Customers are mainly campers. With this additional income, these women manage to have a regular salary for the year. In Djibouti, we will meet the magnificentMasso, which will tell us more about the association and the projects of the cooperative.

Water. This is perhaps the key word here. Which the land lacks .Every morning the Bankoualé villagers gather around the well. Water is scarce, yet the villagers of the region Bankoualé managed to create small gardens one of them a magnificent mango garden as an oasis of greenery and freshness planted in the middle of the rock, a miracle in this mineral world, an Eden where hikers come picnic in summer when the heat is unbearable in Djibouti, to cool off with the juicy mango fruit.

It's the end of our stop in Bankoualé. We are already leaving. This time, heading to Lake Assal salt floe.


What to do in Djibouti

Tracks and discoveries

Tourist camps

Share magnanimity of nomads, feasts under the stars, walks with a camel caravans carrying salt from Lake Assal to Ethiopia for exchange against sorghum: all this is possible that Djibouti, the country or local cultures have not yet been affected by changes in the modern world.

It is possible to tour the country in passing only through these camps, meeting the two major Afar and Somali nomadic cultures of the Horn of Africa. Escaping from modern days constant quick pace lifestyle into the simple slow paced time of nomads, the rhythm of men, the sound of songs and stories, a way of living full of hospitality where friendships are recognized as social structure. It is truly an unforgettable experience.

Founder of Aden, an association that serves as a relay with integrated tourism camps, Dominica Lommatzsch was the first to make a discovery trail from "Salt Caravan" initiated by Djiboutian. This experience of Western travelers in 1988 allowed the opening of the circuit. At the same time, Djibouti opened the first Home encampments with simple installations - daboytas or toukouls - created with the agreement of local people and traditional structures.

Installed on the outskirts of villages or near such attractions Lake Abbé - where the first hotel is 2 hours away - these camps aim to involve local people in tourism (preparing meals, local crafts, guidance, sharing expertise, etc.). We find nearly a dozen, from inside the grounds - encampment Houmed Loita at Lake Abbe - to the beaches - camp Ouboucky created by Abdou in cooperation with fishermen from Obock. Beyond being initiated projects,created and managed by Djibouti, they have the merit of involving villagers to integrate the landscape, keeping with the traditional architecture, using local materials (Dom palm wood sometimes, often stone) and thus highlight the diversity of sites and landscapes without denaturing them.

When Djibouti seeks to strengthen its tourism sector, where it feels and senses that many exceptional sites still relatively pristine and unexploited might appear as so many tempting Eden’s, these camps appear as a cape, guideline the hope of a new tourist model, the example of a Djibouti that is " know tourism" territory for the good of the people . The country is at a turning point: between hosts and travelers.

Diving in Djibouti

The Republic of Djibouti has a coastline of 370 kilometer long from Raps Doumeira's north to Loyada’ssouth, a vast territorial sea area that is characterized by its richness and divers marine ecosystem.
The funds are intact due to a minor diving activity thus the funds are preferred to those of the Red Sea.
Come dive amidst a multitude of fish and corals of invigorating colors, in a sea at that’s at an ideal temperature all year round.

Whale Sharks

Up to a height of over 12 meters in the Red Sea, the whale shark is the largest fish. Is easily recognized by its massive silhouette contrasting with its placid evolution. Every year between November and February it is to visit the Djibouti coast the species visits Djibouti's waters between November and February.

It was no coincidence that «objective Atlantis " held its treasure hunt in Djibouti this November. Where in addition to a great human adventure, the participants got the opportunity to meet this sea giant.

Swimming alongside a whale shark moving swiftly with its mouth wide open, filtering water to retain only plankton and small fish.

Every year, whale sharks can be easily observed from Tadjourah. Dozens of them gather on the same area within 5 meters deep and close to the coast, there are young ranging in size from 3 to 8 meters. The adults rather stay off at the entrance of the Gulf.

Traditionally, Djiboutian do not differentiate them from other sharks. Divers, however, crowd at this time of the year to swim alongside these large grey animals dressed in white pokadots.

Every day, diving clubs take the curious and conscious of the richness of this marine life to cautiously approach their boats to the sharks. The briefing for divers is clear: only snorkeling, no sudden movements, and a minimum distance of 3 meters to respect. The government, realizing the country's marine wealth, is working on legislation for the protection of whale sharks.

Scientists around the world are addressing in turn seriously on the presence of whale sharks on these places and are faithful to these recurring appointments to better understand these animals.

Today two major assumptions are made:

  • • The first argues that sharks are merely passing through Djibouti every year ... but their origin as their destination are the unknowns of this theory.
  • • The second promotes sedentary animals in the area, and outside these periods of surface observation, sharks remain just off the coast of Djibouti ... but deeper.

Transmitters were attached to some sharks, but without finding viable to date. One of the devices was even found in the hills of Djibouti, an onlooker having left there after finding it on a beach, the animal simply got rid of it! : Declares Luc Poirier manager of the Blue Lagoon, local diving club.

For him as for many others, the presence of these giants of the sea remains a mystery and this only reinforces the exceptional nature of the Djibouti meetings.

The gentle giants of Djibouti

The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is undoubtedly the most spectacular sea creature on the planet, with 12 to 15 meters in length and weighing up to 12 tonnes.

From November to March, Djibouti transforms into to a strategic observational spot to see these giants.

Arta plage’s bay is, indeed, one of the few places in the world where concentrations of whale sharks appear in nearshore waters where they can be easily observed and photographed. Fins, mask and snorkel are more than sufficient to meet these sharks, full of grace and beauty. Completely harmless, swimming open mouth to absorb the plankton, they also have the distinction of being very playful! Diving and swimming alongside them is simply magical. Whale sharks however have a very rough skin which acts as an abrasive to human skin. It is therefore advisable to be very careful and keep a safety distance of a few meters...

Its numbers have declined steadily, and since 2002 the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has classified the whale shark among the endangered species. Aware of the importance of these giants of the seas for the development of tourism Djibouti, the authorities have taken all necessary steps to ensure their protection (Decree of 22 April 2004).


In the waters of the Gulf of Tadjourah and the bay of Goubet, corals experiencing ideal conditions for the most complete development and more lush.

Specialists in diving and life under the sea view certain sites as true botanical gardens in which life manifests itself with greater intensity.

Manta Ray

Difficult to explain. You must see the show to have a clear idea since no description can't disclose its variety, delicacy and elegance of stony coral colonies; No representation can tell the singularity of the forms and the variety of shades countless host of reefs.


Sea fishing

Fishing is an exciting activity that you can practice in Djibouti. Boat or the shore, you will never be disappointed because the catches are impressive.

The fishing area is 1 hour from Djibouti towards the province of Arta. It's easily accessible by boat. This fishing site is interesting because the seabed pass very quickly 700m to45m to finish on a shoal of 9 m.

The pass Goubet called Chasm Demon is certainly the most interesting fishing area. Sea coming from the Gulf of Aden rushes into the pass which is separated in the middle by a tiny island.

Since it's a low tide fishermen get the best results, because all the predators will be at the rendezvous. The list of different species of fish is too long to mention.

But the main fish that haunt the pass are ignobilis trevally, barracuda, snappers, emperors, sharks, lich, king mackerel and yellowfin.


Discover the fauna

The Republic of Djibouti has wildlife found mostly in arid areas of the Horn of Africa. This abundant wildlife suffers no hunting pressure and is easily observed in its natural environment.

Some mammals such as gazelles andantelope are threatened on the plan and included in the Red List of the UEN.

Others are more abundant.

Le pays compte plus 54 espèces de mammifères terrestres, 60 espèces d’oiseaux, 36 espèces de reptiles et quelques 79 espèces de papillons.

The country has more than 54 species of land mammals, 60 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles and some 79 species of butterflies.

The country has 54 species of land mammals, panthers, leopards, cheetahs, gazelles several families (gazelle Waller, also called Soemmering géréruk of Pelzeln, klipspringer, stocky small antelope), jackals, Hamadryas monkeys etc...

Djibouti is also an ornithological crossroads that has 360 species of birds, including endemic species such as francolin or beaumarquet, residents of forested areas of medium altitude.

Several observation sites are remarkable, such as Day and Allols, especially the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb.

With a coastline of 370 km long from north to Ras Doumeira Loyada South, Djibouti has in the top 10 of the most beautiful underwater worlds. Djibouti became the meeting place for experienced divers as well as novices thanks to its preserved funds.

The incredible abundance and unprecedented density of Djibouti seabed makes assembly of unique habitats. In this heavenly universe evolve 167 species of coral, colorful fish myriads (clown fish, butterfly fish, angel fish, green and blue parrot), 27 species of sharks, turtles, moray eels, manta rays Several species of dolphins ...

Here are some species you can observe in Djibouti:


The Republic of Djibouti occupies a prime position in East Africa, with its open sea, gulf and ocean: Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean .But above all, it enjoys a privileged location, limit of two major biogeographic groups: African-tropical areas traversed by the North-South migration flows, one of the chokepoints is the entrance to the Red Sea, the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb .So twice a year, in spring and autumn, there are hundreds of millions of birds, mostly raptors, crossing the few nautical miles separating Africa from Arabia (no more than 30 km separate North Yemen from Djibouti ). The few 370 km of coastline are very popular .At least 80 species of resident and migratory birds find shelter and food.

These migrations of birds can be observed in the north .The stretch of coastline between Ras Doumeira north and the village of Kho Angar south is on a North-South-North migration corridor for many birds euro -Asian .This movement roundtrip relation between half a million birds (raptors, terns in particular).


Are hunted for their shells .Normally it is forbidden to kill a turtle in its shell .The turtle eggs are protected .They are easy to observe and usually pass on the beaches of Djibouti.


Are difficult to capture because they run very fast .They are mostly captured for their skin, horns by poachers but they are a protected species. One can easily observe dik-dik near bushes and Pelzeln gazelles (including at grand Barra).


The monkeys are the main animals of Djibouti (after the camel) and they are hunted for their skin .In mountain you can see many Hamadryas (around Randa): large massive muscular monkey with a pink butt and faceits face is also flat and has elongated snout ("Dog Muzzle"), round ears and patch on the head (beware aggressive monkey especially if you disturb it with her little!).

The cheetah

It is an endangered animal .It is hunted for its skin, but the species is protected because the species count is declining.

The dromedary

It serves as a traditional means of transport .The animal is slaughtered for its bladder, but it’s also used for producing milk that can be bought all over Djibouti and supplies high energy to the body.


We respect them; thanks to them nomadic earn their living
Food forgoats: sometimes the plastic paper, tree leaves (all possible waste)

The Green Monkey

Medium sized monkey, rounded head, slender body and long tail. In both sexes: flat face, black, white whiskers framed. Olive green overall color more or less reddish except white ventral legs. Hands and feet light gray, small thumb preventing taking small prey.

Statut à Djibouti : espèce présente, commune mais très localisée sur la façade maritime du Goda en l’état actuel des connaissances. La dynamique de la population est inconnue mais en probable progression du point de vue répartition et effectif.

Abyssinian hare (hare CAP)

Animal with rabbit vibes that have very long ears a rather large head, short and wide muzzle, clear eyes, large. It also has a Tail with long hair

Djibouti status: This species, common, locally very common in favorable coastal plain habitat type.

The common jackal

Morphology close to dogs, the common jackal has a fine head, long legs, a bushy tail and a slender body.

Djibouti status: This species widely distributed, subject to catch, poisoning and traps.

The honey badger

Animal of the corpulence of a small dog, but more compact and with short and thick legs.

Djibouti status: present species. The distribution is indeterminate and the dynamics of the population is probably regressive over time given its detestable reputation among farmers.


Very big cat, with its fur and ears "in plumes." with a white face; ventral parts of an orange beige and cream spots.

Djibouti status: low density and thus rare. The caracal are cryptic animals which blend easily with the environment.


The beaches

Have 372km of coastline with islands, Djibouti has many unspoiled beaches. If it is not cultural sunbathing on a beach, they are loved by tourists because Tranquil and clean, they are ideal for a peak lunches with family or a swim in the crystal waters.


Closest to Djibouti, excluding the purely bathing beaches of the plateau du serpent, is that of Doralé, 8 km from the capital, very seaside too. You can rent bungalows and have three restaurants offer their services.

Khor Ambado

Located about 15 kilometers from the capital, this beach is an oasis of white sand stuck in a volcanic relief.

One can also camp and have food from two good restaurant that serve delicious dishes.

Arta Beach

It is a beautiful beach located thirty kilometers from the capital.

This is a diving base submarine and fishing do not forget the kit (fins and snorkel masks) as riffs are very beautiful.

A small friendly restaurant awaits.

The white sands

This beautiful beach is located on the other side of Tadjourah Gulf. A professional camp is located there. Divers can find happiness, especially for diving and snorkeling.

Many other beaches are around 372 kilometers of the country's coast. Everywhere, you'll be surprised by the beauty of the beaches and water transparency but also the richness and diversity of wildlife underwater