Kempinski Blog Article
Djibouti is a country unlike any other and more travellers around the world are discovering its magnificence. Traditionally famous for its strategic location rather than its tourist attractions, the country has long hosted international military bases, but its naturally beautiful and varied landscapes are finally getting the global attention they deserve.
Here we run through some highlights from this wonderful, yet relatively unvisited nation.
In today’s world, it is growing far more difficult to find areas unspoilt by commercialisation, with tourists travelling to all corners of the earth. Djibouti, on the other hand, provides a refreshing escape from the crowds, with its wonders lying far away from the well trodden path. Visitors to Djibouti are treated with quiet, yet spectacular attractions and will leave the country puzzled as to why more of the world’s travellers have not ticked it off their lists.
The nation is the unofficial gateway to the Suez Canal, hence the historical military association, and therefore visitors to Djibouti can expect to experience a wide variety of people and cultures.
It is the third smallest country in continental Africa, but with so much to see and do, it certainly won’t feel like it.
The majority of non-African visitors will require a visa to enter Djibouti and these are generally valid for either three or six months, depending on the amount paid.
Most people will arrive at Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, which is only three miles from the city. Taxis are the most convenient way of making this short journey and notice boards within the airport provide a good guide on the fares you should expect to pay. Tourists should be aware that prices can increase by 50% at night.
Public transport is fairly limited, partly due to the country’s developing relationship with tourism, so taxis, private transfers or hire cars are the best methods of getting around. Minibuses provide a more immersive alternative, with typical capacity ranging from eight to 30, and transport people between major locations.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Djibouti, relax in the most luxurious hotel in the Horn of Africa. Djibouti Palace Kempinski is just a ten minute drive away from the airport and is located at the crossroads between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, offering sensational panoramic views.
With average temperatures not dropping below 22°C (72°F) all year-round, the neighbouring ocean waters dazzle in the tropical sun, and the hotel’s enticing spa and pool facilities feel all the more refreshing.
The food in Djibouti has been influenced by nations all over the world, from its African neighbours, to France, the country’s former occupier.
Meat forms a major part of the local diet and lamb, goat and even camel feature frequently on menus. Fah-fah is a traditional dish, with goat combined with vegetables and chillies to produce a delicious stew.
Samosas are also found across the country and are eaten at all times of day. The pastries are fried and hold tasty fillings of meat and vegetables, often served with a spicy sauce.
Fluffy banana fritters provide the perfect way to finish off a traditional meal, giving you the energy to set off to explore more of the country’s sights.
Djibouti’s natural splendour and adventure activities provide the biggest draws, with rugged volcanic landscapes and incredible sea life thrilling all kinds of visitor. We have created a guide on some of the highlights, but the team at the Djibouti Palace Kempinski will be able to provide even more local insight, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Djibouti is one of the best places in the world to encounter whalesharks, the biggest shark on earth. Time your visit in line with their peak season (November to January) and you are almost guaranteed to see these magnificent creatures. Tour companies offer the opportunity to dive alongside the whalesharks, so you can really appreciate the colossal size of the species.
The nation’s violent volcanic history is best viewed at Lake Assal, located 100km inland from the city. The lake is set over 150m below sea level (the third lowest point in the world) and is surrounded by a circle of imposing volcanoes, making for an incredible spectacle. With stunning white salt flats in the vicinity, the dark lava deposits look even more beautifully contrasting. The water itself is ten times saltier than the ocean, so swimming isn’t advised, but its photogenic nature makes it well worth a visit.
For those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the capital, Tadjoura provides all the charm and culture of Djibouti without the big-city feel. The pretty white houses on the waterfront reflect beautifully in the ocean, while tourists can wander the quiet streets underneath a towering mountain backdrop. It is one of the oldest towns on this side of Africa and visitors will enjoy strolling through the centuries of history.
The Maskali and Moucha Islands
Located just an hour from Djibouti’s port, the Maskali and Moucha islands are a great escape from the dryness of the inland, offering picturesque diving and snorkelling spots. The coral reef is home to a rainbow of fish, while warm, white sands are perfect for lounging on. Turtles are also known to make appearances, making underwater excursions even more rewarding. Being so close to the mainland capital make the islands easily reachable for day trips.
Djibouti is an incredibly varied and rewarding place to visit and our team at the Djibouti Palace Kempinski will be delighted to help plan your trip.