Discovering the Hidden Gems of Djibouti: A British Traveller’s Guide

Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa, is a small country that often gets overlooked by travellers. However, this hidden gem is worth exploring for its unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Djibouti has a rich history, with influences from Arab, African, and French cultures. The country’s strategic location on the Red Sea has made it a hub for trade and commerce throughout history.

One of the main reasons why Djibouti is a fascinating destination is its diverse landscapes. From stunning beaches to rugged mountains and volcanic formations, Djibouti offers a range of outdoor activities for adventure enthusiasts. The country is also home to several wildlife reserves, where visitors can spot rare species such as the Somali ostrich and the Grevy’s zebra.


  • Djibouti is a hidden gem worth exploring for its unique landscapes and cultural experiences.
  • The best time to visit Djibouti is during the cooler months of November to February.
  • Transportation options to Djibouti include flights and ferries, with visa requirements varying by nationality.
  • Top attractions in Djibouti include the stunning beaches of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the otherworldly landscapes of Lake Assal and Ardoukoba volcano.
  • Cultural experiences in Djibouti include meeting the friendly locals and learning about their traditions, such as the nomadic lifestyle of the Afar people.

The Best Time to Visit Djibouti: Seasonal Considerations

Djibouti has a hot desert climate, with high temperatures throughout the year. The best time to visit Djibouti is during the cooler months of November to February when temperatures are more bearable for outdoor activities. This is also the peak tourist season, so it’s advisable to book accommodation and activities in advance.

For wildlife enthusiasts, the best time to visit Djibouti is during the months of November to March when migratory birds flock to the country’s wetlands. This is also the best time to spot whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjoura. If you’re interested in cultural events, plan your visit around Ramadan, which is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Djibouti.

Getting to Djibouti: Transportation Options and Tips

The easiest way to reach Djibouti is by air. Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport is served by several international airlines and has connections to major cities in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Another option is to take a ferry from Yemen or a land crossing from Ethiopia or Somalia.

Once in Djibouti, getting around the country can be a bit challenging. Public transportation options are limited, and taxis can be expensive. It’s advisable to rent a car or hire a driver to explore the country at your own pace. However, be prepared for rough roads and long distances between attractions.

Top Attractions in Djibouti: From Beaches to Volcanoes

Attraction Description Location Entry Fee
Lake Assal The saltiest lake in the world and the lowest point in Africa Central Djibouti Free
Moucha Island A small island with crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches Gulf of Tadjoura Free
Day Forest National Park A protected area with diverse flora and fauna, including baboons and antelopes South Djibouti Free
Arta Beach A popular beach with calm waters and stunning views of the Gulf of Tadjoura Gulf of Tadjoura Free
Grand Bara A vast desert plain with unique geological formations and occasional wildlife sightings South Djibouti Free
Godoria Hot Springs A natural hot spring with therapeutic properties North Djibouti Free

Djibouti offers a range of attractions for visitors to explore. One of the must-visit destinations is Lake Assal, which is the lowest point in Africa and one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. The lake’s unique landscape and crystal-clear waters make it a popular spot for swimming and snorkelling.

Another top attraction in Djibouti is the Day Forest National Park, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including baboons, antelopes, and over 300 species of birds. The park offers hiking trails and camping facilities for visitors to enjoy.

For history buffs, a visit to the historic town of Tadjoura is a must. This ancient port town is known for its well-preserved architecture and traditional way of life. Visitors can explore the narrow streets, visit the local market, and learn about the town’s rich history.

Cultural Experiences in Djibouti: Meeting the Locals and Learning Their Traditions

Djibouti is a melting pot of cultures, with influences from Arab, African, and French traditions. The country’s diverse population includes Somali, Afar, and Issa communities, each with their own unique customs and traditions.

To experience Djibouti’s cultural heritage, it’s recommended to visit local villages and interact with the locals. Many communities are welcoming to visitors and are happy to share their traditions and way of life. You can participate in traditional dances, try on traditional clothing, and learn about the local cuisine.

Djibouti is also home to several cultural events and festivals throughout the year. One of the most important festivals is the Festival of Lights, which celebrates the country’s independence. During this festival, the streets come alive with music, dance, and fireworks.

Food and Drink in Djibouti: Must-Try Dishes and Beverages

Djibouti’s cuisine is a reflection of its diverse cultural heritage. The country’s cuisine is heavily influenced by Somali, Afar, and Arab traditions. One of the must-try dishes in Djibouti is “lahoh,” a type of pancake made from fermented dough. It is often served with a spicy meat stew called “maraq.”

Another popular dish in Djibouti is “skoudehkaris,” a rice and meat dish cooked with spices and vegetables. Seafood lovers will also enjoy the fresh fish and seafood dishes available in coastal areas.

To quench your thirst, try “shaah,” a traditional Somali tea made with milk, cardamom, and spices. Another popular beverage in Djibouti is “marqa,” a spiced coffee served in small cups.

Accommodation in Djibouti: Where to Stay and What to Expect

Djibouti offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. In the capital city of Djibouti City, you’ll find luxury hotels with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay. There are also mid-range hotels and guesthouses that offer affordable rates without compromising on quality.

For those looking for a more unique experience, there are also campsites available in national parks and along the coast. These campsites offer basic facilities but provide an opportunity to sleep under the stars and be closer to nature.

When choosing accommodation in Djibouti, it’s important to consider the location and proximity to attractions. Some hotels offer guided tours and activities, which can be convenient for exploring the country.

Outdoor Adventures in Djibouti: Hiking, Scuba Diving, and More

Djibouti is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with a range of activities to suit every interest. Hiking is a popular activity in Djibouti, with several trails available in national parks and nature reserves. The Goda Mountains, located in the Day Forest National Park, offer stunning views and challenging hikes for experienced hikers.

For underwater adventures, Djibouti is known for its world-class scuba diving sites. The Gulf of Tadjoura is home to vibrant coral reefs and a variety of marine life, including whale sharks, dolphins, and turtles. There are several dive operators in Djibouti City that offer guided dives and equipment rental.

Wildlife enthusiasts will also enjoy visiting the Arta Beach Reserve, which is home to a variety of bird species and marine life. Visitors can go birdwatching, snorkelling, or simply relax on the pristine beaches.

Shopping in Djibouti: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Djibouti offers a unique shopping experience, with a range of local products and souvenirs to bring home. One of the best places to shop is the Central Market in Djibouti City, where you’ll find a variety of goods, including spices, textiles, and traditional crafts.

For those interested in traditional Afar handicrafts, the village of Bankouale is a must-visit. Here, you can find handmade baskets, pottery, and jewellery made by local artisans.

When shopping in Djibouti, it’s important to support local businesses and buy authentic products. Avoid purchasing items made from endangered species or those that have been illegally imported.

Tips for Travelling in Djibouti: Safety, Etiquette, and Practical Advice

When travelling in Djibouti, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Djibouti is a relatively safe country, but it’s always advisable to take common-sense precautions such as avoiding isolated areas at night and keeping an eye on your belongings.

Respect for local customs and traditions is also important when visiting Djibouti. Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or rural areas. It’s also polite to ask for permission before taking photos of people or their property.

When travelling in Djibouti, it’s advisable to carry cash as credit cards are not widely accepted. It’s also a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport and other important documents in case of loss or theft.

By following these tips and being respectful of the local culture, you can have a memorable and rewarding experience in Djibouti. Whether you’re exploring the country’s natural wonders, immersing yourself in its rich cultural heritage, or simply relaxing on its pristine beaches, Djibouti is a destination that is worth exploring.


What is Djibouti?

Djibouti is a small country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Ethiopia to the west and south, and Somalia to the southeast. Its capital and largest city is Djibouti City.

What is the population of Djibouti?

As of 2021, the estimated population of Djibouti is around 1 million people.

What is the official language of Djibouti?

The official languages of Djibouti are French and Arabic. Somali and Afar are also widely spoken.

What is the currency of Djibouti?

The currency of Djibouti is the Djiboutian franc (DJF).

What is the economy of Djibouti based on?

The economy of Djibouti is largely based on its strategic location as a gateway to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is a major transshipment hub for goods entering and leaving East Africa, and also hosts several foreign military bases. Other important sectors include tourism, telecommunications, and banking.

What is the climate like in Djibouti?

Djibouti has a hot and arid climate, with very little rainfall. Temperatures can reach up to 50°C (122°F) in the summer months.

What are some popular tourist attractions in Djibouti?

Some popular tourist attractions in Djibouti include Lake Assal, the lowest point in Africa and the saltiest lake outside of Antarctica; the Day Forest National Park, home to a variety of wildlife including baboons and antelopes; and the beaches along the Gulf of Tadjoura. Djibouti is also known for its scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities.

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