Hike, snorkel and camp from forest to salt flats

Embark on an active adventure along the Horn of Africa on this 11-day Lonely Planet Experience powered by Intrepid. Experience life like an Afar nomad, float on one of the world’s saltiest lakes, snorkel in search of whale sharks and travel in a country with incredible cultures but very little tourism. Explore diverse and sometimes surreal scenery. Hike to Lac Assal, summit Ardoukoba Volcano, trek through Foret du Day National Park, relax on the beach at Plage des Sables Blancs and drift to sleep ‘belles etoiles’ (under the stars) at Allouli. Be the first person you know to come home raving about dreamy Djibouti.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Djibouti City, Djibouti
Finish
Djibouti City, Djibouti
Destination
Djibouti
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience, Walking & Trekking
Code
YGSD
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Discover this emerging travel destination before the crowds do. Very few tourists come to Djibouti, which is sure to change as word spreads about its untouched natural wonders.

  • Strap on a snorkel and dive into the waters of Arta Beach, where (if you’re lucky) the whale sharks that fill the waters will decide to keep you company during your swim.

  • Take an epic hike over the dramatic ravine in Foret du Day National Park to the top of Ardoukoba Volcano, then spend the night camped in a dead forest.

  • Spend the night in a traditional Afar hut in the Grand Bara Desert, perched on a hill with spectacular views of the surreal landscape.

  • Watch the sunrise over the chimneys, salt flats and hot springs of Lac Abbe, which featured in the 1968 Planet of the Apes film.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Some of the best scenery in Djibouti is found on hikes. So, while this trip doesn't require an athletic level of fitness, it’s essential to be at least moderately fit if you want to partake in all activities. The hikes on this trip cover distances of 4—12 kilometres, and you can find further detail in the itinerary.

  • Some nights will be spent sleeping “belle etoile”, which means “under the stars”. Despite the elegant name, this is camping at its most basic. You’ll be on military-style cots without a tent over your head. But hey…that’s what adventures are made of!

Itinerary

Salaam aleikum! Welcome to Djibouti! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 3 pm, followed by a walking tour of the city. See the European Quarter (home to Moorish and European architecture), L'Escale harbour walk and Hamoudi Mosque in the African Quarter. Tonight’s dinner will feature traditional Djiboutian and Ethiopian food.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Djibouti City - Leader Led Walking Tour
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Today we’ll head to Arta Beach, one of the most reliable spots in the world for encounters with whale sharks. Jump in a small boat and head out in search of these gentle giants. Sightings of these huge creatures are most likely from November to January. Later, head back to the city where we spend the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Arta Beach - Whale Sharks Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Our snorkelling excursion will likely be in a small skiff (a shallow, flat-bottomed, open boat). If the sharks are located you will have the opportunity to snorkel alongside them, keeping a four-metre distance at all times. There is a ladder at the back of the boat, but you need to be fit enough to climb in and out of the water. You need to be a reasonably strong swimmer to swim alongside the whale sharks. Snorkelling equipment will be provided for the excursion today.
Take a 4WD journey through the Grand Bara Desert to the otherworldly Lake Abbe, which lies on the border between Ethiopia and Djibouti. Keep your eyes peeled for mirages, as well as animals like antelopes and gazelles. After enjoying a traditional dance during dinner, you’ll sleep in an Afar hut at Campement Touristique d’Asboley. The cluster of permanent nomad-style tents is perched on a hill with views of the spectacular and surreal desert landscape.
Accommodation
  • Nomad Camp (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lac Abbe - Cultural Dance
  • Lac Abbe - Guided sunset walk to Chimneys
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Wake early to catch the sunrise over the shores of Lake Abbe, which featured in the 1968 movie Planet Of The Apes. Marvel at the famous chimneys, salt flats and hot springs. Then embark on a roughly 3-hour hike to the lake, where you may be able to spot flamingos. Return and jump in a 4WD to Lake Assal, passing Dikhil, Yoboki and Gagade on the way. Lac Assal, also known as the honey lake, is a crater-lake that sits atop the Great Rift Valley. It’s one of the world’s saltiest lakes and also the lowest point on land in Africa. Take a float in the lake if you’d like, but remember you've got a night of camping ahead and no hot shower to clean off!
Accommodation
  • Bush camp (no facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lac Abbe - Morning Hike to the lake
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight’s camp has basic military beds. You may wish to bring a sleeping mat for comfort.
Rise and shine for an early morning departure for our hike to Ardoukoba Volcano, which erupted in 1978 after lying dormant for around 3000 years. Take a 4WD across extremely rugged terrain and then hike a moderately strenuous trail to the top of the volcano. Continue walking to the scenic bay of Ghoubbet at the Gulf of Tadjoura and the entrance of the Red Sea for lunch (approximately 5 hours hiking total). In the afternoon drive to Foret du Day National Park (approximately 2.5 hours) where tonight’s camp is within a dead forest.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ardoukoba - Volcano Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Shake off the sleep this morning with a four-kilometre hike through the peaceful forest surrounding camp. Afterwards, pay a visit to a nearby village to get a feel for local life and grab some refreshment in a teahouse.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Foret du Day - Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Depart for Obock after breakfast, stopping en route in Tadjoura. Arrive in Obock, a colonial port town and visit the market and the lighthouse at Ras Bire. Spend the evening in a beach hut.
Accommodation
  • Beach hut (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ras Bire - Lighthouse & Maket Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The beach huts tonight are a basic standard but clean. Showers are in the room while toilets are outside.
This morning, take a scenic boat ride around the Godoria Mangroves. After lunch back in Obock, head to Plage des Sables Blancs, considered one of the best beaches in Djibouti. Your afternoon is free for you to splash around and enjoy the beach at your leisure.
Accommodation
  • Bungalow (multi share) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Obock - Godoria Mangrove boat trip
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
If it is not high tide, we will be unable to enter the bay by boat to visit the Godoria Mangrove.

Air conditioning is not connected at this time of year as it is one of the country’s coolest months.
Today is another free day for you to spend relaxing by the beach. You can take part in kite flying with locals, swim, snorkel or simply catch up on some sleep after an active week!
Accommodation
  • Bungalow (multi share) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Journey back to Djibouti City after breakfast. Hop on the 11 am ferry back to Djibouti City and arrive by around 2 pm this afternoon. The rest of your afternoon is free. Tonight, enjoy a dinner with your leader and group.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This trip comes to an end after breakfast. There is no accommodation included for tonight, but speak to an Intrepid representative if you would like to extend your stay.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

10 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners

Transport

4x4 Safari Vehicle, Ferry

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nights), Beach Hut (1 night), Bungalow (2 nights), Nomad Camp (with basic facilities), Camping with basic facilities (2 nights), Camping with no facilities (1 night)

Included activities

  • Djibouti City - Leader Led Walking Tour
  • Arta Beach - Whale Sharks Tour
  • Lac Abbe - Cultural Dance
  • Lac Abbe - Guided sunset walk to Chimneys
  • Lac Abbe - Morning Hike to the lake
  • Ardoukoba - Volcano Hike
  • Foret du Day - Hike
  • Ras Bire - Lighthouse & Maket Visit
  • Obock - Godoria Mangrove boat trip

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available for the nights in Djibouti City only.
2. The standard of health facilities in Djibouti's capital is limited and very basic to non-existent in outlying regions. Medicines are sometimes unavailable in rural areas and can be expensive. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation (at considerable expense) to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary.
3. A thermarest mattress may be required to make the camping nights more comfortable.

Essential trip information

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