Djibouti, a small and arid desert country in eastern Africa, is overshadowed by its much larger neighbors, Somalia and Ethiopia. Despite its size, Djibouti’s strategic location along the Red Sea and in close proximity to the Arabian Peninsula has made it a vital stepping stone to another continent. The country’s appeal to tourists lies in its dive sites, clean beaches, and rich culture, all condensed into a petite area. This academic and critical rewrite of the original text aims to provide a comprehensive guide to traveling to Djibouti by discussing when to go, how to get there, health and safety, food and hospitality, itineraries, highlights, and activities.
When to Go:
Djibouti is generally a desert with minimal rainfall and very high temperatures. The country is prone to droughts and earthquakes due to its climatic conditions, and it experiences occasional cyclones during the wet season that cause flash floods and heavy rains due to its proximity to the Indian Ocean. To avoid such weather-related issues, it is best to visit Djibouti during the cooler months of October to April.
Getting There & Away:
Djibouti has two significant airports, with Djibouti City being the main entry point. Most of the roads in Djibouti are unpaved and passable only by four-wheel drive vehicles, making land travel difficult and uncomfortable. Traveling to the outer regions of Djibouti can be done by rail or boat, which is less painful for travelers. Livestock often litter the roads, making it dangerous to drive, especially after dark since most of the roads do not have electricity.
Health & Safety:
Djibouti has had several reported cases of bird flu, so it is best to avoid visiting poultry farms or live poultry markets. Additionally, travelers should stay away from wild, domestic, or caged birds to avoid contracting the disease. Waterborne diseases are also a risk, so it is advisable to drink bottled water to avoid diarrhea or worse. Djibouti has a high threat of terrorism, and western travelers may be targeted. Wearing traditional clothing might help blend in and avoid unwanted attention. Furthermore, Djibouti has a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, so it is critical to take necessary precautions if engaging in any holiday romance.
Food & Hospitality:
Due to minimal rainfall, Djibouti’s food options are limited to fruits and vegetables. Other types of food and meat are imported from nearby countries. The country is predominantly Muslim, and drinking alcohol in public places is not encouraged. However, seafood is available along the coast. The majority of comfortable hotels in Djibouti are found around the harbor of Djibouti City. Despite Muslim customs, skimpy swimwear is permitted at hotel swimming pools and public beaches.
For travelers planning a trip to Djibouti, here are some suggested itineraries:
- Two days in Djibouti City
- Three days in Tadjoura
- Two days in Les Sept-Freres islands
- A day each in Lake Abbe, Lake Assal, and Maskali and Moucha islands
Djibouti City, the country’s capital and a crucial harbor, is the main entry point and hub of international trade. Visitors should not miss the Hamouli Mosque and the Presidential Palace. Tadjoura is renowned for its spectacular dive sites, such as Trevalley Valley, Ras Ouan, Ras Ali, Sables Blancs, and Alices Fault. The Les Sept-Freres islands, made up of volcanic islands, are another popular dive destination. Lake Abbe is known for its hot springs frequently visited by nomadic shepherd.