See Lake Assal and Ardoukoba Volcano as you hike, snorkel and swim through Djibouti.

With its mix of hiking and snorkelling, this trip is not for the faint hearted. However, if you want to experience life like a nomad as we traverse the Djibouti landscape, float in one of the world’s saltiest lakes and go in search of whale sharks then this expedition is right up your alley. The scenery is diverse and spectacular, passing everything from volcanoes, hot springs and salt flats to beaches and forests. Hikes to Lake Assal, Ardoukoba Volcano and Foret du Day National Park are rewarded with free time on the beach at Plage des Sables Blancs and sleeping “Belles Étoiles” (under the stars) at Allouli.


Start
Djibouti City, Djibouti
Finish
Djibouti City, Djibouti
Country
Djibouti
Style
Original
Theme
Expedition, Walking & Trekking
Code
YGSD
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 4, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • The chance to get up close and personal with whale sharks in the Bay of Ghoubbet on a snorkelling adventure

  • Sleep overnight in a traditional Afar hut at Campement Touristique d’Asboley, perched on a hill with spectacular views

  • Watch sunrise from the shores of Lake Abbe, which featured in the original ‘Planet Of The Apes’ movie thanks to its famous chimneys, salt flats and hot springs.

  • Hike through the Day Forest National Park

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip requires a good level of fitness. You’ll be getting out and about on several hikes (noted in the itinerary), which range from 4 kilometres to 12 kilometres. They’re not necessary overly technical, but the conditions will be testing.

  • 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 hed. But hey…that’s what adventures are made of!

  • We’ve put a lot of research into putting this new trip together, however that doesn’t mean it will run perfectly. In fact, because it’s brand new we expect a few bumps along the way. But in our experience, we find that if you keep an open mind and flexible attitude you’ll discover that a little detour here and there can make things more interesting. However, if this is something that concerns you then we recommend holding off and booking this trip in another year or so when the kinks are ironed out.

Itinerary

Salaam aleikum! Welcome to Djibouti! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 3pm, 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
You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Today we’ll head to Arta Beach for a potential thrilling whale shark encounter in the Bay of Ghoubbet. This is one of the world’s most reliable spots for seeing these giant, gentle creatures in the wild. Between November and January whale shark sightings are common although not guaranteed. They are wild animals after all! Then it’s time to 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 or when the sharks are located you will have the opportunity to swim/snorkel alongside them, keeping a 4metre distance at all times. There is a ladder at the back of the boat but you need to judge yourself fit enough to climb in and out of the water. You also need to be a reasonably strong swimmer in order to swim alongside the Whale Sharks. They glide along pretty quickly (and effortlessly!).
Snorkelling equipment will be provided for the excursion today.
Take a 4x4 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, antelopes and gazelle. After enjoying a traditional dance during dinner, you’ll sleep in a traditional 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
  • Camping (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 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 hike to the lake, where you may be able to spot flamingos. The morning hike should take around 3hrs, before jumping back in the 4x4s and heading to Lake Assal. You will pass by Dikhil, Yoboki and Gagade on the way.

Lake 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 dip (or a float) in the lake if you’d like.

Tonight we camp under the stars on military beds with no tents.
Accommodation
  • Bush Camp (no facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lac Abbe - Morning Hike to the lake
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
The military beds are basic and you may wish to bring a thermarest for comfort.
Early morning departure for our hike to Ardoukoba Volcano, which erupted in 1978 after lying dormant for around 3000 years. Take a 4x4 across extremely rugged terrain and then hike (moderately strenuous) to the top of the volcano (approximately 5 hours hiking). Continue to the scenic bay of Ghoubbet at the Gulf of Tadjoura and the entrance of the Red Sea. The afternoon is free to relax on the beach. The camp tonight is a basic standard and can often be windy.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ardoukoba - Volcano Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Rise early and leave for Foret du Day National Park after breakfast. The dead forest here creates a stunnning landscape. Take a short (4km) hike through the forest towards our camp, then visit the Day Village. Here we witness village life and visit a traditional local house for tea/coffee.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Foret du Day - Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning we depart after breakfast to stop for lunch in Tadjoura. After lunch we head to the Red Sea Village Camp in Obock; a historic town of colonial times. Here we visit the market and the lighthouse at Ras Bire. Tonight's accommodation consists of huts on the beach.
Accommodation
  • Bungalow (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning we drive to visit the Godoria Mangroves. Here we take a scenic boat ride around the mangroves. After lunch back in Obock, head towards Plage des Sables Blanc, considered to be one of the best beaches in Djibouti. Your afternoon is free to splash around and enjoy the beach before spending the night in comfortable rooms. While the rooms do have air-conditioning they are not connected at this time of year as it is one of the countries coolest months.
Accommodation
  • Bungalow (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Obock - Visit to Godoria Mangrove
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 mangrove.
Today is another free day beachside. You can take part in kite flying with locals, swim, snorkel or simply catch up on some sleep after all that hiking!
Accommodation
  • Bungalow (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast we start our journey back to Djibouti City. Hop on the 11am ferry back to Djibouti City and arrive by around 2pm this afternoon. The rest of the afternoon is free before a final group dinner tonight.
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 us if you’d like to extend your stay.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

10 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners

Transport

4x4 Safari Vehicle, Ferry

Accommodation

Bungalow (3 nights), Bush camp (no facilities) (1 night), Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nights), Hotel (3 nights)

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
  • Obock - Visit to Godoria Mangrove

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This is an expedition trip and requires a minimum of 4 people to depart. Please do not book any non-refundable flights or services before the departure is guaranteed to depart.
2. Expedition trips may not suit everyone. While a lot of research and planning goes into putting together an Expedition itinerary, they are pioneering and innovative by nature. If smooth, ripple-free travel is what you’re after, perhaps wait until they (possibly) become established trips. But for those with a yearning to veer off the beaten track and explore free of crowds and preconceptions, this is an adventure above all others.
3. 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.
4. A thermarest mattress is required to make the camping nights more comfortable

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.