Djibouti is a republic defined by contrasts. Its culture, landscape and size boast unique contradictions that guarantee to make a visit to the country a memorable voyage of discovery.
Nestled in the Horn of Africa on the coast of the Gulf of Tadjourah between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, Djibouti’s unique location positions it as one of the most strategically important countries on the African continent, despite its small size.
Reflecting the country’s geostrategic significance the capital, Djibouti City, home to one of the largest ports in East Africa, is a bustling metropolis boasting five star hotels, restaurants and clubs. Yet beneath the veneer of urban bustle, the city’s distinctly traditional Arab and European charm remains. Moorish inspired arcades and whitewash houses laid out in a grid formation in quarters with colonial architecture contrast with crisscross alleyways lined with stalls and shops in the sprawling Arab quarter.
The stark differences seen in Djibouti City pale into insignificance compared to the contrasts of the country’s unique geological landscape. Salt lakes, dormant volcanoes and lava fields, limestone chimneys puffing steam and deep canyons are juxtaposed with green mountains and attractive beaches dotted along the edge of the Gulf, scenery that few countries in the world can match.
Against this backdrop Djibouti hosts the perfect setting for a range of outdoor adventure sports. Everything from hiking in the lush green Goda Mountains, home to the Forêt du Day National Park, to snorkeling and diving with whale sharks in the Red Sea coral reefs can be enjoyed. Kitesurfing and windsurfing are also popular and for the more adventurous the salty desert plains can be explored by windsurfing on wheels.
Accommodation catering to a range of budgets is readily available both in the capital and beyond. The government of Djibouti is committed to promoting ecotourism and recently launched a program to build more eco-bungalows using biodegradable materials and solar energy. As such Djibouti hosts some of the best Eco travel in East Africa. There are a number of sustainable stays in the hinterland that provide a rare peek into the life of nomadic tribes.
Djibouti offers travellers so much – a cultural and historical richness, a stunning and unique landscape and a rare opportunity to experience aquatic and land animals in their natural habitat. To be able to explore all that Djibouti has to offer a realistic timeframe for visitors is ten days. The country is a genuine African secret waiting to be explored.
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