Djibouti has also been classified by the Lonely Planet travel guide publisher in the 10 countries to visit in 2018, due to the richness of its natural heritage, especially its white sand beaches along the Gulf of Tadjourah and the Red Sea – home to the largest concentration of whale sharks in the world – and scuba diving sites around the Seven Brothers Islands.
On April 19, 2018, the European Council of Tourism and Commerce (ECTT) named Djibouti “World Capital of Culture and Tourism 2018”, highlighting the progress made by the country in the development of its brand image to the world. ‘international.
Among the elements taken into account by the ECTT are the high concentration of sites on the UNESCO World Heritage Indicative List, notably the salt lake Assal, which, at 150 meters below sea level, is the lowest point on the African continent, home to dormant volcanoes and black lava fields; the Day Forest National Park, unique ecosystem; Abourma and its rock carvings.
In order to meet the expected rise in arrivals and develop tourism outside the capital, efforts are being made to attract more investment in the hotel industry.
While the World Bank cited the introduction of a uniform and transparent incentive tax policy as a key factor in the increase of overnight stays, from 5,715 in 2003 to 15,995 in 2013, investments remain low, being limited almost exclusively to Djibouti city, the center of business tourism.
Hotel demand is therefore high: room occupancy rates were 82.6% in 2015 compared to 78.6% in 2014.
The country is also seeking to attract investment in a luxury hotel project on the Ras Siyan Peninsula on the Red Sea coast, designed to accommodate tourists arriving in Djibouti from the future Ahmed Dini Ahmed International Airport.
Djibouti city, built from 1886 to 1900, in Arabic style houses, concentrates all the economic and administrative activity of the country.
In discovering its streets, the traveler will stop first Place du 27 juin 1977 (former place Menelik). Located in the city center, very shaded, it is distinguished from other places in the capital by its arcades of Moorish inspiration, which is home to many souvenir shops and multiple terraces of cafes.
From the Place du 27 juin, you can go to the Place Mahmoud-Harbi (formerly Place Rimbaud) through picturesque streets that intersect. Between two stalls and food bazaars, a large number of shops specialized in sound and photography, where you can buy the latest gadgets at attractive prices.
Place Mahmoud-Harbi, where the smuggler poet Rimbaud once stored his stocks of weapons, is the market, dominated by the minaret of the Grand Mosque. Very typical, teeming, crowded with donkey carts, she is the soul of the capital.
Peninsula surrounded by fine sandy beaches, the Snake Plateau naturally leads to the Government Pier, a majestic sea-front stretching from the presidential palace to the yacht club. Sailors and water-skiing enthusiasts can meet each other, and for strollers, they can always admire the colorful spectacle offered by the dhows that dock here.
Metropolis under a blazing sun from May to September, Djibouti knows no real animation at the end of the day and in the evening. Djibouti by night, it is Djibouti of the popular districts where the crowd invades open-air restaurants, at extremely low prices; Djibouti Avenue Thirteen and Rue Mouche where swarm tailors, street vendors and curious looking for a change of scenery guaranteed.
Sixteen kilometers from Djibouti, a track in good condition. Bordered with the Republic of Somalia, the village of Loyada has a beautiful beach and a picturesque palm grove, and houses the tombs of the great historical leaders of this region. Halfway between Loyada and Djibouti, the small village of Damerjog and Wadi Atar with its gardens with traditional irrigation systems.
Five kilometers from Djibouti, the Ambouli gardens are the lungs of the capital. There was a time when Ambouli’s ride was done in the evening to appreciate the discreet charm of his Yemeni gardens.
To discover Ambouli, you have to leave the road, step over the river, and plunge into the labyrinth of small gardens that smell like jasmine and the flower of the khadi. Between vegetable crops, we discover with delight real fields of flowering bushes.
About ten kilometers from the capital, Doralé beach is a favorite walking destination on Friday (official day of rest), inhabitants of Djibouti.
Squirrels of the sand scamper for provisions; the gray spots of the dig-digs settle on the hostile environment; the gazelles stop, attentive to the slightest gesture, and throw their slender legs in the fields of stones at the first sound. Sometimes packs of cynocephali cross the road.
In the wadis, populated with tamarisks and beautiful aloes, the rock engravings appear sometimes on the rocks with very smooth faces. Barrens of black stones, cylindrical in shape, dot the territory: it is about old buildings and monuments of the time Gallas, which hold perhaps the key of the history of Djibouti.
Fifteen kilometers from Djibouti, this beautiful beach is accessible by the track or by the sea. There are three restaurants on the seaside.
Arta climatic health resort, forty kilometers from the beautiful paved road capital, is at nearly eight hundred meters above sea level. It is a place of relaxation and freshness from where one has a magnificent panoramic view on the gulf of Tadjourah and the massif of Day.
In a beautiful setting of red mountains, this first “District” of the south enjoys a pleasant climate thanks to its altitude (750 m).
You have to leave the capital by the paved road that leads to the Ethiopian border via Dikhil. About thirty kilometers from Djibouti, turn left at the intersection of Arta. We arrive at the small semi-nomadic village of Ouéa. The wadi, which runs at its foot in winter, has dug a kind of pot, a vast natural reservoir where hundreds of goats and camels come to drink permanently.
Further on, one reaches the little Bara, and especially the great Bara, a vast desert stretch twenty-five kilometers long by more than ten wide, stretching as far as the eye can see. It is a plain of white clay, withered and cracked. Two particularities: the frequent mirages, and the abundance of animals (gazelles, digdigs, antelopes, fennecs, hyenas, jackals and camels). Hunting is prohibited there as in the rest of the country.
Tadjourah is a quiet little town by the sea. The capital of the sultans of Tadjourah, the city of seven mosques, had its heyday when the caravans went back to the Abyssinian Empire, long before the railway was commissioned. . At present, its assets are seaside, with its magnificent white sand beaches.
Pour aller à Tadjourah depuis Djibouti, il faut compter deux heures et demie avec le bac ou trois heures et demie en boutre ou 15 minutes en avion ou deux heures par route goudronnée (130 km). La première traversée du golfe doit nécessairement s’effectuer par mer. Beaucoup moins rapide que par voie aérienne, elle n’en présente que plus de charme.
Dans son environnement de montagnes, la ville blanche présente son visage le plus séduisant lorsqu’on l’approche par mer. Les petites cases de bois de jadis ont cédé la place aux maisons en dur, blanchies à la chaux. Ici et là, apparaissent les minarets des mosquées qui donnent à Tadjourah ce cachet si particulier qui fait tout son charme.
Randa and Bankoualé.
Situation 35 km from Tadjourah at 700 m altitude, the village of Randa benefits from a nice cool climate that allows the development of fruit gardens even more than the abundant rains that fall on the nearby massif du Day (17 km ) provide him with many sources.
A quarter of an hour from Randa, the oasis of Bankoualé and its beautiful waterfall that flows in all seasons is another goal of walk. A small stream feeds small gardens dominated by unique palm trees in the country. About twenty meters high, they are surmounted by a thick bouquet of fan-shaped leaves.
The forest of Day.
From Randa, a visit to the primary forest of Day is absolutely essential. At 1500 m altitude, the climate is probably the most pleasant in the country. The clouds often remain at the half-slope of Mount Goda, covered by the remains of a primary forest. Giant juniper trees, acacias, wild olive trees, as well as jujube trees and other specimens of a striped flora from the surface of the earth cover an area of 3.2 km2 that has been erected as a national park.
In the presence of fog, the condensation that occurs is sometimes considerable. The soil, soaked as after a shower, gives off a beneficial moisture that allows plants and trees to survive despite too much rainfall. In winter, from December to March, the temperature drops some nights to a few degrees just above zero.
The region of Dikhil.
After crossing the Grand Bara in its length, thirty kilometers of paved road still separate the motorist Dikhil. They are carried out very quickly, and then appears this little coquettish town, located on a rocky promontory. In place of its white houses and its main bay of laurel roses, there existed fifty years ago only a group of small huts of nomads.
At present, Dikhil boasts a beautiful palm grove of ancient origin and a swimming pool dating back to the year 35. Its privileged location makes it a very popular crossing point between Ethiopia and Djibouti. Thanks to the tarmac road linking it to the capital, the city of Dikhil has become very prosperous. It has about 30,000 inhabitants and offers visitors small local restaurants.
For the traveler, however, Dikhil is only a stage between Djibouti and one of the most picturesque tourist sites of the territory: the Abbé lake.
The Obock region.
To go to Obock: by ferry (3h30), by dhow (about 4h30) or by plane (25mn).
This former abandoned capital lives essentially small trade and fishing. It has a population of just under 30,000, a few restaurants, a cinema, a tourist center and a diving center. It also possesses perhaps the most beautiful beaches of Djibouti, the most important near Obock sheltering a marine cemetery loaded with history. For divers, the Obock drop is the most beautiful in the Gulf.
Hot springs and sulphurous vapor emanations, known in the region for their therapeutic properties, are currently the subject of specialist studies, desirous of rational use. However, located by the sea, they are regularly covered at high tide.
The birthplace of Djibouti’s colonial history, Obock occupies a special place in the spirit and heart of every Djiboutian.
To the north-east of Obock is the Mablas mountain range, still little known, which is capped with the second forest of the country (at 1250 m altitude).
Game is abundant: many cynocephali, ostriches, leopards and panthers among others. The air is fresh and invigorating, and the plant species are the same as Day. Thanks to the presence of a waterfall and several sources flowing at their feet.
The adventurers will find their happiness in the Mablas which offer all the possibilities of climbing, for the beginner as well as for the confirmed climber.