Discover dreamlike landscapes in little-seen Djibouti

This active exploration along the edge of the Horn of Africa is not for the faint of heart. However, if you want to 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, then this is the adventure for you. The scenery is diverse and spectacular, with everything from volcanoes to hot springs and salt flats ready to be discovered. Get active on hikes to Lac Assal, Ardoukoba Volcano and Foret du Day National Park, then 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.


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

Why you'll love this trip

  • Discover this emerging travel hotspot before the crowds do. Fewer than 100,000 tourists arrive here every year, which is sure to change as word spreads about Djibouti’s 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

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 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 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, as well as animals like antelopes and gazelles. 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
  • 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 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 3 hours, before jumping back in the 4WDs and heading to Lake Assal. You will pass by 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!

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.
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 a moderately strenuous hike to the top of the volcano. Continue to the scenic bay of Ghoubbet at the Gulf of Tadjoura and the entrance of the Red Sea for lunch (approximately 5 hours hiking). In the afternoon drive to camp within Foret du Day National Park (approximately 2.5 hours), where the dead forest creates a stunning landscape.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with basic facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ardoukoba - Volcano Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Shake off the sleep with a four-kilometre hike through the peaceful forest surrounding camp this morning. Afterwards, pay 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
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)
Included Activities
  • Ras Bire - Lighthouse & Maket Visit
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 Blancs, 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 (shared facilities) (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 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 (shared facilities) (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

Hotel (3 nights), Bungalow (3 nights), Nomad Camp (with basic facilities), Camping with basic facilities (2 nights), Camoing 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

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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