Wedged between Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Djibouti is a small country overlooking the Gulf of Aden. It was once part of the Land of Punt, an ancient kingdom that exported gold, ivory and blackwood. Despite its small size, Djibouti encompasses a huge diversity of landscapes, including dramatic canyons, volcanic lava flows and salt-rich lakes.
Things to do in Djibouti
With its fascinating towns and striking natural scenery, Djibouti is an underrated African gem.
Explore Djibouti City. Serving as the country’s capital, Djibouti City is a bustling port at the entrance to the Red Sea. Whitewashed colonial buildings cluster in the European Quarter, where you’ll find restaurants that reflect the city’s cultural diversity. Soak up the sights, sounds and smells of the African Quarter market before admiring the multi-tiered minaret of the Hamoudi Mosque.
Visit Lake Assal. Lying at 155 metres below sea level, Lake Assal in the Danakil Desert marks the lowest point in Africa. Its emerald water is 10 times saltier than the sea and is surrounded by black lava fields and dormant volcanoes. Join a guided jeep tour to experience its otherworldly landscapes and see the ominously named Island of the Devil in the Gulf of Tadjourah.
Wander the streets of Tadjourah. Directly across the Gulf of Tadjourah from Djibouti City is the town of Tadjourah, which has existed since at least the 12th century. It is often referred to as “La Ville Blanche” due to the whitewashed buildings that frame its port. Soak up the comings and goings from one of the laid-back cafes while listening to the call to prayer ringing out from Tadjourah’s many mosques. The town also makes an ideal base for visiting Day Forest National Park, which is home to the rare Djibouti spurfowl.
Getting around Djibouti
Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport is the main aviation gateway to Djibouti and has flights to destinations across Africa and the Middle East. Trains connect from Addis Ababa to Djibouti while ferries travel from Yemen. Buses travel throughout the country, although renting a car and driver is a more convenient way of getting around.