Djibouti is in the Horn peninsula on the Gulf of Aden. The country can be divided into three regions; the coastal plain and volcanic plateaus in the central and southern parts of the country and the mountain ranges in the north. Much of the country is wasteland with virtually no arable land.
- - the capital and by far the largest city
- — the only national park in Djibouti
- on the Ethiopian border is a desolate, steaming lake surrounded by limestone chimneys and a lunar landscape used as the "Forbidden Zone" in Planet of the Apes.
- is Africa's lowest point (157 m below sea level) and the saltiest lake outside Antarctica. Its shores are largely salt pans and nearby is Ardoukoba, which last erupted in 1978.
ClimateDjibouti's climate is very hot, humid and arid, especially in the summer. The summer heat is moderated, however, by a sustained breeze in the coastal city of Djibouti. From October to April, the temperature is cooler, with occasional rain. Cyclones from the Indian Ocean create heavy rains and flash flooding.
Visa requirementsMost nationals can get a visa on arrival for 15,000 DJF or 90 USD (as of November 2018), valid for one month. Transit visas are valid for 10 days and are available on arrival at the airport to nationals of the European Union, Scandinavian countries and the USA for 10,000 Fdj. If you plan to enter by land you have to arrange for visas in advance. Visas can be obtained from neighbouring countries (e.g. embassy in Addis makes visa within a day). Where no Djibouti embassy exists, they can often be obtained from the French embassy. The types of visas include: Entry (visa de séjour); Tourist (visa de tourisme); Business (visa d’affaires); and Transit (visa de transit). Those travelling on Singapore passports can get a visa free. It is possible to make e-visa, though there are many reports of rejections and delays without any explanations.
Djibouti-Ambouli International Airportconnects Djibouti with Ethiopia, Eritrea, France, Kenya, Qatar, Somalia, Somaliland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Air France and Djibouti based Daallo Airlines operates flights to Dubai–International Airport and Hargeisa . The airport is south of the city.
By carThere are roads from Djibouti to Assab (Eritrea) and going west into Ethiopia via Dikhil. Those using them should be aware that road conditions are generally poor and personal security might be at risk when travelling, particularly to Ethiopia. Visitors are advised to check transit regulations as political conditions in Ethiopia and Eritrea are changeable. There are no formal border posts with Eritrea. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended for the interior. There is a new highway from Djibouti to Tadjoura. Traffic drives on the right. It is advisable to carry water and petrol on any expedition off main routes. An International Driving Permit is recommended, although not legally required. A temporary licence to drive is available from local authorities on presentation of a valid UK driving licence.
By busBuses operate from Djibouti to most towns and villages throughout the country. Buses leave when they are full. A minibus service operates in Djibouti, stopping on demand. A flat-fare system is used.
By boatThere are ferry services connecting Djibouti to Yemen. Djibouti City is one of the main ports of eastern Africa so it's well traveled.
- Taxis are available in Djibouti and from the airport to the town, as you exit the airport there is a big billboard displaying expected taxi fares, look for it; also in Ali-Sabieh, Dikhil, Dorale and Arta. Fares can increase by 50 percent after dark.
- Bicycling is a great way to get around the small capital.
- Ferry services sail daily from L'Escale (Djibouti) to Tadjoura and Obock. The journey takes about three hours.
Lake Assal150 m below sea level, Lake Assal is the third-lowest point on Earth. You'll need to hire a car or ask someone who lives in Djibouti to drive you there. Expect a rough ride: the roads outside the capital are destroyed by the truck traffic between Djibouti and Ethiopia. The road passes within sight of the Devil's Island, and some impressive views. Expect to be awestruck.
- Lake Abbe is one of the most desolate places on Earth and is dotted with limestone chimneys standing as high of 50 m. It was described as lunar, and Planet of the Apes was filmed here.
- Scuba diving — Despite the country's arid landscape, off the coast lie several reefs teeming with all sorts of life.
- Sea kayaking — Sea kayaking allows you to enjoy the Gulf of Tadjoura and Ghoubet Kharrib in an eco-friendly way, with the possibility of observing whale sharks and sea turtles.
- Whale shark tours — You can also go snorkelling or diving with whale sharks, although the chance of seeing them varies throughout the season (70-80% in Nov-Jan and close to zero during warmer months).
The currency of Djibouti is the Djiboutian franc, denoted by the symbol "Fdj" (ISO currency code: DJF). The Djiboutian franc is pegged to the US dollar. You can convert dollars to francs with local street money changers located in the Djiboutian market area. The street money changers are women who line the street waiting to convert foreigner currencies to francs. Whilst generally honest brokers it is still advisable to have your a ready and check the exchange rate in advance. Most of them speak a basic English.
ShoppingKhat: A leafy stimulant popular with the locals. The herb is flown into the country each morning from Ethiopia and arrives by truck in Djibouti's Central Market at about 13:00. It is fairly inexpensive, but quality varies greatly, so shop with caution. Khat may not be taken out of Djibouti through the airport.
You can purchase general merchandise and food items at the larger department stores using US dollars. The tourist traps will see you coming a mile away and hit you with ridiculous conversion rates and tourist prices. If you have access to Camp Lemonnier, go to the disbursement office for the best rate.
Visitors should be aware of the risk of banditry outside the capital city.
Malaria risk, predominantly in the malignant falciparum form, exists year round. Resistance to chloroquine has been reported. Mefloquine, doxycycline or atovaquone/proguanil are recommended.
The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is over 3% or 1 in 33 adults. Protect yourself.
Tap water is not safe to drink unless it has been boiled or otherwise sterilized.
Casual wear is widely acceptable, but Djibouti is a Muslim country and certain codes of behavior should be observed. Shorts are generally not appropriate outside of hotels, beaches, or sport activities.
There is also a U.S. military presence in Djibouti: more that 2,000 personnel at Camp Lemonier across the runway from the international airport.
There is a 3G phone nextwork in the country that runs on 900MHz. The maximum speed is 7mbps but expect it to be lower. You can get 1GB of data for about US$3. More info can be obtained here