about djibouti and things to do in djibouti

About Djibouti 

Djibouti is located on the extreme point of the Horn of Africa, this little portion of land is one of the smallest countries on the continent and certainly among the unknown countries in the world. Djibouti is a haven of peace and symbol of stability in the Horn of Africa tormented by civil wars. What should you know before traveling to this country? The Republic of Djibouti is a unique country in many ways, it is more than a country with a funny name:  let’s discover it together.

Overview and geography:

Djibouti, the surrounding land of the Gulf of TADJOURAH, is a country of 23400km2, the 2nd smallest country in the continent, located on the far east of the Horn of Africa. The country as land border with Eritrea in the North, with Ethiopia in the west side and with Somaliland in the South. Colonized by French in 1862, Djibouti have been called from 1862 to 1967 “FRENCH COASTS OF SOMALILAND” and then from 1967 to 1977 “French territory’s of the AFARS and ISSAS” and since then and independence (it get independence in 27th june 1977) REPUBLIC OF DJIBOUTI.

Djibouti seen on a country scale map

On the images above’s cartographic representation of DJIBOUTI on a global scale, then on the scale of the Horn of Arica and finally on a national scale.

A geostrategic position worthy of envy: 

The country benefits from a privileged maritime position between three continents (Africa, Asia Europe) all the more that the control of Bab-el-Mandeb (the wailing gate) places it at the heart of the geostrategic of the world maritime trade, the corridor of the Stray of Bab-el-Mandeb being one of the busiest in the world. Djibouti enters into the category of those rare states that are at the crossroads of the two maritime areas on a single façade.

The administrative distribution of the country

Djibouti consists of 6 urban spaces (including the city of Djibouti the capital). Each city is the capital of the region in which it is located. Thus the Republic of Djibouti is divided into 5 regions and we have: three regions in the south of the country :

The Arta region:

It is the closest town the capital city (only at 35 km with). Arta is a small town perched on a mountain on the south west shore of the Gulf of Tadjourah. It is prized for its freshness in summer by the population of the city of Djibouti. The only way to get there is by road by personal car or by public transport by bus.  it is on the coast of the shore of Arta in Ras Corali that we find the whale shark between November and the end of January each year.

Ali-Sabieh region:

It is the most southwestern region of Djibouti. The regional prefecture is the town of ALI-SABIEH. It is also the border with Ethiopia Dawanleh. The railway goes there. There are two ways to get to this city either by taking the road by public transport by bus or by train. The city is prized for its freshness, especially in summer.

The region of Dikhil :

It is the westernmost region of Djibouti. The capital of the region is the town of Dikhil. There is only one way to get there by car by taking the national road 1 RN 1. Lake ABBE is located in the Dikhil region.

And two regions in the North:

The Obock région:

Obock is the prefecture of the North East region of Djibouti. It extends from Mabla to Doumeira the border with Eritea. Obock town is accessible by sea. Going there by sea, you have the choice between the ferry which goes there two days a week (Wednesday and Sunday) and otherwise the small speedboat. The 3rd option to get to Obock is by road, around 350km.

The Tadjoura region :

the northern region of Djibouti is called Tadjourah after the prefecture of Tadjourah. Tadjourah formerly called the white city with seven mosques is undoubtedly the ancient city of the whole horn of Africa. It is said to be even older than the city of ZEILAA (in the past the most ancient port city of the Horn of Africa). Geographically Tadjourah is the largest of 5 regions of Djibouti. It is the city symbol of the Afar culture sheltering the hearth of the Sultant of the afars.

Population and culture 

Today, the country has 1, 000, 4000 inhabitants and 60% of the total population (650.000 inhabitants) is living in the capital city. The population is made of two main ethnics groups AFAR & SOMALI and a third minority ethnic ARABIC (99% from Yemen) and some Ethiopians (mostly Amharic and Oromo tribes).

This means that in Djibouti, the capital city: the languages ​​spoken are: the Afar language, the Somali language, Arabic (the Yemeni dialect) and the Ethiopian languages ​​Amharic and Oromo. However, the official language (ie the administrative language) of the country is French and the second language is Arabic.

Yes, there are two educational systems in Djibouti: the French-speaking system, i.e. teaching based on the French language, and the Arabic-speaking system, i.e. teaching based on the Arabic language. English is a living language taught only from the beginning of high school.

The habits and customs

Islam is the unique religion and 99.99% of the population are Muslim. By the way, Islam came to the Horn of Africa by here and it was since 07th century. Djiboutian culture is the image of its population: a mix of all the cultures of the Horn of Africa mixed with the Islamic-Arabic tradition. However, it should be emphasized that originally, the Afar and Somali autochthonous population was typically nomadic. These are people with a transhumance lifestyle, practicing livestock farming and moving with the rhythm of the seasons depending on the abundance of pasture. But the bone marrow of Djiboutian culture is hospitality in the splendid sense of the word.

Roads and transport in DJIBOUTI

Like many African countries, in Djibouti there is a lot of progress to be made in terms of transport in relation to the high cost and the quality of public transport. Once landed in Djibouti and you want to circulate you will not have the embarrassment of choice with regard to transport.
If you are going to the north of the country then you have two choices:
1* By sea:
– or you take the ferry. The ferry makes one return trip per day.
During the week, on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, she makes a round trip between Djibouti and TAJOURAH. While on Sundays and Wednesdays, she makes a round trip between Djibouti city and OBOCK.         The ferry does not operate on Tuesdays.
2* By road: 
– In a private vehicle (personal or rental) in all comfort.
– By public transport: these are mini-buses in a pitiful state, where you will be 15 people with drivers included. We strongly advise tourists not to use these means of transport.
– By hitchhiking! you will have very little luck, not because the Djiboutians are mean but quite simply that there are very few vehicles driving north.

If you are going to the West or  Southern regions of Djibouti  then you have one choice:

By road:
– In a private vehicle (personal or rental) in all comfort.
– By public transport: these are mini-buses in a pitiful state, where you will be 15 people with drivers included. We strongly advise tourists not to use these means of transport.
– By hitchhiking! you will have very little luck, not because the Djiboutian are mean but quite simply that there are very few vehicles driving north.

there is only one road to leave Djibouti city the national road RN1 which then drifts on secondary roads often in poor condition.

Since 2018 there is one exception for travel to the South. indeed, it is possible to take the train to go to the city of ALI-SABIEH.

Air connection

Whatever your point of departure to disembark on the territory of DJIBOUTI, you must present a visa unless you are from SINGAPOR or Chinese. This sine qua none condition fulfilled, there are three ways to enter DJIBOUTI.
The first way is by air by plane. There are very few direct flights landing in Djibouti. Among the direct flights we have: fly Dubai, Turkish airline and of course air France. The other flights are regional. Among the regional ones we have Ethiopian airlines, Kenya airways but it passes through Addis ABEBA and finally we have Djibouti airlines which flies to Somaliland, Somalia, Ethiopia and one or two flights a week to Yemen.

the other entry routes to Djibouti

Apart from the air connection, it is possible to enter Djibouti via the road border and by the railway.
So please note that the passenger train has a working system. Indeed, on odd days the train leaves Djibouti for Ethiopia and on even days the train travels from Ethiopia to Djibouti.

If you come by train then you have the right of entry with an E-visa and or you can get the visa on arrival at Djibouti station.
On the other hand, you enter on Djibouti crossing land border then the visa stamped on the passport is obligatory. There is no arrival visa at the road border whether at GALILEH, GALAFI, BALHO and finally LOYADA

Travel formalities:

To access Djiboutian territory, you have to confirm  your good tourist intentions. So even if you have the entry visa to Djibouti you must always have the following document with you : return ticket , hotel room booking , letter of invitation, Certificate of vaccinate, or PCR negative test

Covid19 requirement:

You need to show a COVID vaccination certificate or negative COVID test to enter Djibouti. If you’re unvaccinated and want to enter Djibouti by air, you’ll need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before your flight. If you’re arriving by sea or land, you’ll have to pay for a PCR test on arrival (if you are not vaccinated).

 Visa requirement:

Passport validity:

Like many counties, if you want to travel to Djibouti, you’ll need to hold a passport with a minimum validity period of 6 months. Also, the local authorities require that your passport contains at least two blank pages.


No matter your country of origin, you’ll need a visa to enter Djibouti. To apply for your eVisa, you’ll need to follow strict Djibouti visa requirements. You’ll need a passport with at least six months of validity from the planned date of stay, your flight reservation, an invitation letter, an accommodation address and a credit card.

Visa exempt countries:

Citizens of Singapore    holding ordinary passports can enter Djibouti without a visa and stay for an unlimited period.

Similarly, nationals of China    with passports endorsed “for public affairs” can also enter Djibouti without a visa and stay for an unlimited period.

Accommodation in Djibouti:

Accommodation, in all regions of Djibouti in general and in the capital in particular, is an area where there is a lot of progress to be made both qualitatively and quantitatively and especially in relation to the accessibility of price. In relation to quality, we are talking here about hygiene, the quality of mattress materials and others.

Accommodation in Djibouti is a question that deserves attention. Compared to neighboring countries SOMALILAND, ETHIOPIA and even ERITREA, accommodation in Djibouti is disgusting. The situation is poor in Djibouti city in the capital and is even more catastrophic in the interior regions. Going from the state of painting of the bedroom walls, through the furniture and mattresses to the bathroom fixtures (sink faucet with leak, broken sink flush) there is nothing accommodation service equivalent to billing required!
Can you pay the installment for last month.

Accommodation in Djibouti city the capital:

International standard hotels

This is not an exhaustive list but there are around twenty hotels in the city of DJIBOUTI, the capital.
On the list there are two hotels which are under  international standard (4 stars). these hotels are   Kempinski Palace, Sheraton which are located in the North East district of the city at 10 minutes from the airport.
Then there are the low standard hotels which are Les Acacias, INTERNATIONAL ESCALE, MENELIK, RESIDENCE EUROPE, LE LAURIER and ATLANTIC, which are 3-star hotels. Quite expensive for the services provided. However, these hotels have the privilege of being located in the heart of the city center in the middle of the European district. Among these hotels my favorites are HOTEL EUROPE and ESCALE INTERNATIONAL.

Budget level standard hotels

In third position, the following list arrives: (Auberge Heron, DJIB GUEST HOUSE located in the North East district 13 minutes from the airport), (RAS DIKA, COMFORT, HORSEED, AUBERGE AV13, LAGON BLEU ) located in the city center at 8 minutes from the airport) and (AUBERGE BOULAOS 5 minutes from the airport). These are hotels suitable for budget travelers compared to the standard Djiboutian rate. My favorite on this list is the DJIB GUEST HOUSE hotel. The Comfort and Horseed hotels have bad level in terms of hygiene.
Finally there is the list of hotels located in the immediate proximity of the airport. These are fairly recently opened hotels but a little expensive compared to the service provided. These are the hotels: RED SEA APARTMENT, VIRGINIA, JANO HOUSE, GOLDEN AIRPORT.
Please note that the hotel RESIDENCE BELLEVUE only offers accommodation in studios or apartments for periods of fifteen to one month minimum. The PLEIN CIEL hotel is currently undergoing rehabilitation work.

Accommodation at Arta town:

HOTEL DE LA PAIX It is an average hotel. very little frequented by tourists

Sunny Hill Center It is basically a hotel training center. To date, a hotel has been added. Rather nice and frequented by locals as well as expatriates. Counted from $70 per night.

Accommodation at ALI-SABIEH town:

Le Palmerai This is the only place to stay in Ali-Sabieh. As far as you are concerned, the hotel is old, really mediocre in every way and on every level. Counted from $70 for accommodation.

Accommodation at DIKHIL town: 

Le Palmerai  This hotel has also long been the only hotel in the city of Dikhil. As far as you are concerned, the hotel is old, really mediocre in every way and on every level. Counted from $70 for accommodation.

GOBAAD New hotel, inaugurated in 2021, safe clean, out of the city. Relaxing. Good restaurant. The most recommended one of the Dikhil town and count  from 60 to 75$ per night

AUBERGE Small hotel but very new. Acceptable in average.

Accommodation at TADJOURAH town:

Corto Maltese  Near the port, very poor service. Basic accommodation.

Le Golfe The oldest hotel of Tadjourah. The owner is Italian& Ethiopian family. Near the port, very poor room service. Basic accommodation (old).

It has a very good restaurant with a good catering service. 60$ for overnight and breakfast.

Gadileh RESORT hotel 4 stars hotel. Very news inaugurated in 2023. Good services, safe, clean very relaxing quiet area away from all noise with sea view. Counted 141$ per room.

Accommodation at Obock town:

Village Mer Rouge  Very well located, outside of the city, calm resting far from all the noises with access to a private beach. Strongly recommended & it is th only hotel in all Obock region.

Main touristic attractions:

Djibouti is certainly a geographical smallness but all the opinions agree to say that a tourist immensity. Among the reasons giving it this touristic dimension is its unique natural landscape in the world such as Lake ABBE lunar landscape of breathtaking beauty or Lake ASSAL. This country is also a gem of geology because you can see the open sky separation between the African and Arabian tectonic plates.

Djibouti the capital city:

This city the capital, economic and administrative of the republic of Djibouti, has inherited a rich cultural and architectural heritage urban mix of influences from Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It drains almost all the political, economic and administrative activity of the country.

Whales shark 

Undoubtedly one of the most popular activities: swimming with gentle sea giants at Arta beach and Ras Coralli. In Djibouti it is on the coast and not in deep sea.


Most popular attraction. Only 2 hours by car from the city of Djibouti, it is the saltiest point in the world and the lowest in Africa.


Extra-terrestrial landscape, or even lunar or still piece of the planet Mars on earth. A real hidden gem. Available on two days trip it is a place that is worth the detour.


This beach is the most beautiful beach in the entire republic of Djibouti. Located (15 minutes by car by track and 05 minutes by sea) from the town of Tadjourah, the white sand is today a holiday village with two types of accommodation: bangalow and hut. It is a great snorkeling site with its flourishing coral in all seasons populated by marine species. bathing and sunbathing are pleasant to take on the white sand beach


Nestled in the heart of Djibouti, the GODA Mountains is made up of localities such as DAY, BANKOUALEH and DTHILOU. GODA stand as magnificent natural wonders that beckon adventurous souls. Offering a unique combination of rugged landscapes, dramatic cliffs, and breathtaking vistas, the GODA Mountains are a must-visit.  It is a destination for nature enthusiasts and explorers alike. these are excellent sites for hiking and where you can see most of the wild life such as the green monkey, the endemic Djibouti francolin (FRANCOLIN OCHROPECTUS), the damon de rochet etc…It includes the rest of a primary forest, that of Day, a remnant of Sahara vegetation and Arabia a few thousand years ago (giant acacias, juniper trees, wild olive trees, jujube trees, etc.). …also including the remnant of a primary forest.


The allols are the depression and its salt lakes located in the north of Lake Assal. The Allols are difficult to access and are supplied with seawater by underground fractures. Made up of vast expanses of salt, the landscape is very different from lake assal : there are many hot springs, small swamps, narrow stretches of surprising greenery where grows the tree from which one draws the wine of palm : the doum palm. Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Djibouti, the Allols region is a hidden gem that awaits intrepid travelers seeking a unique and unforgettable experience.


For discovery and explorer  lovers, the prehistoric site of Abourma is a must to see. The rock paint is located at 80km north of Lake Assal. Some sites are exceptionally rich and contain prehistoric rock art. These well-preserved ecosystem remain an open book to be consulted. The rock engraving of Abourma contains another more complex rock art from prehistory. It deliver  nearly 3 km of rock engraving a variety of themes that reflect the behavior, the social stratification and the organization of a pastoral life gone.

Obock region

The Obock region has significant tourism endowment.  The islands of the 07 brothers and several mangrove sites, (including the forest of GODORIA, KHOR ANGAR and Ras Siyan)  are habitats for many terrestrial and marine animals representing a significant biodiversity. They are also the meeting place for a large number of birds (green heron of the RED SEA, pelican waterfowl).

The city of OBOCK 

Capital of the region, can be reached by sea (03 hours by ferry, 1hour 40 minutes by speedboat) and by overland 240 km from the capital city. It houses the first residence of the first Governor of the Territory, Mr Léonce Lagarde, and current home of the prefect of the Obock region. This city also evokes the travel stories of adventures of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, internationally renowned smugglers, the house of Monfreid and its marine cemetery full of history.


Ras-Bir is a cape of the Gulf of Tadjourah on the territory of Djibouti, located a few kilometers northeast of the town of Obock at the entrance of the RED SEA. There is a lighthouse 60 meters high, the highest in East Africa and Fourth in the continent. It indicates the southern entrance to the RED SEA and the eastern end of the Gulf of Tadjourah.


On this marine cemetery steeped in history, rest the bodies of French soldiers who died of an unknown fever and after their boat stranded on the  Obock coast during their trip to Indochina at the end of the 19th century.


the city of Obock is the starting point for excursions to the mangroves of Godoria and Khor Anghar in a small motor boat  or by land over bumpy road toward Ras-Bir lighthouse and the exceptional volcanic site of Ras Siyan In the hinterland, the Mablas, a green massif with a temperate climate is located the second forest of the country


No description can account for the abundance of colors available to eyes The seabed of the seven Brothers archipelago makes it a collection for unique habitats In this heavenly world, a multitude of corol’s species, fish and other marine species do evolve The archipelago of seven brothers is considered by divers around the world as one of the reference sites sites to discover absolutely

Mousha island

This picturesque island is known for its stunning marine life, pristine beaches, and breathtaking landscapes. Mousha Island is the haven for marine enthusiasts and nature lovers. Dive into the crystal-clear waters surrounding the island and witness the vibrant and diverse marine ecosystem. Be amazed by the flourishing corals, colorful fish, and other fascinating sea creatures that call this island home.  Explore the lush mangroves that fringe the island, creating a unique and ecologically significant habitat.  Mousha Island is a sanctuary for various bird species and provides a nesting ground for endangered sea turtles.

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