Tailor-Made Holiday

Djibouti - Salt Lakes and Whale Sharks

8 days

from £2,750pp (excluding flights)

Explore Djibouti’s riches – both on land and in the sea. Combine swimming alongside whale sharks with the chance to visit the geological wonders of the country’s interior and to revel in the rich Afro-Arabian culture. Pocket-sized and too often overlooked, Djibouti offers an experience that is hard to find elsewhere.

  • Swim and snorkel in the Gulf of Tadjourah beside the world’s largest fish
  • Explore the magical landscape of the remote Lac Abbe
  • Visit the lowest point in Africa, the incredibly saline Lac Assal
  • Experience Djibouti City – a melting pot of culture, cuisine and architecture

This journey uses Djibouti City as a base for exploring this tiny, eponymous country. With sights only a day trip away, have the chance to see a huge amount in a short time. Begin with a relaxed tour of the capital city itself, where a smorgasbord of cultures, languages and ethnicities fill the busy streets. Explore the African and European quarters – rich in contrasting styles of architecture.

After a night’s rest in the seafront Djibouti Palace, set out by boat in search of whale sharks. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, swimming and snorkelling beside these incredible creatures is almost indescribable. It is only during the cooler winter months that these epipelagic fish visit to feed in the Gulf of Tadjourah, arriving in such numbers that they are rarely elusive.

Leaving the coast behind, head in land to explore Djibouti’s remarkable interior. Admire the impressive landscape of Lac Abbe – dotted with steam-belching stone chimneys, as well as the vast salt pans of the iconic Lac Assal – the lowest point on the continent. Finish the trip with an exploration of the northern forest and mountains. More lushly vegetated and home to millennium-old woodlands, this region contrasts wonderfully with the arid south.

WHY WE LIKE IT

This trip provides a wonderful introduction to this unfamiliar, yet fascinating country. Accommodation at the Djibouti Palace is as comfortable as the landscape is wild, whilst the joys of swimming with whale sharks contrast wonderfully with the ethereal landscapes of the Djiboutian lakes. A real melting pot of cultures and experiences, this journey is not quite like any other.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 2750 £ 800

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Addis Ababa overnight

Day 2

Fly Addis Ababa to Djibouti City


Once a quiet, forgotten Red Sea port, this fusion of Africa and Arabia now bustles with life. Its colonial history ever-present but fast becoming a more distant memory, the city is benefiting from investment thanks to its strategic position looking out over the Gulf of Aden.

But this growth and burgeoning modernity has not come at the expense of tradition; a multitude of cultures, languages and ethnicities still brighten the busy streets. Crumbling French buildings, gleaming new office blocks and white-washed mosques meld together to form a metropolis of character and vitality.


Djibouti City Tour
Explore Djibouti City, visiting its most interesting areas. These include the European Quarter, the lively market in the African Quarter and the harbour district. The first of these areas, the European Quarter, is littered with French colonial buildings. The highlight amongst these is the Place du Juin 1977 - a bustling square that somewhat confusingly features a heavy dose of Moorish architecture. In contrast, the African Quarter is dominated by the vast Hamoudi Mosque, whose whitewashed minaret towers over the city.

Also visit Damerjog village, which lies a short way outside the city. This small village gives a glimpse into everyday rural life and is mainly inhabited by the Somali-speaking Issa clan.


You will be staying at Djibouti Palace Kempinski, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Whale Shark Tour
Depart early for the harbour and board the Deli. The boat will then set sail for Plage Arta and Ras Eiro, which are around two hours away. Once at the site, there will be the chance to swim and snorkel with these incredible creatures. Filter feeding and slow moving, whale sharks are the largest known species of fish - measuring up to 14 metres in length. Eat lunch on the boat, before returning to Djibouti City for dinner.


You will be staying at Djibouti Palace Kempinski, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Lac Abbe and Southern Circuit Tour
Leave early for Lac Abbe, which lies in the southwest of the country, on the Ethiopian border. Located in the geologically significant Afar Depression, the lake sits on the meeting point of three tectonic plates. The surrounding landscape is sensational and brutally Dantean: limestone chimneys emit clouds of steam, hot springs bubble with minerals and featureless salt flats shimmer in the heat.

After having time to explore this inhospitable terrain, return to Djibouti City via the villages of Asbahalto and Kouta Bouya.


You will be staying at Djibouti Palace Kempinski, Bed & Breakfast

Day 5

Trip to Lac Assal
Set out to visit the iconic Lac Assal, stopping en route to admire the Canyon Adaleh and Lake Goubet - believed to be home to Djibouti's version of the Loch Ness Monster. The lowest point in Africa, the saline Lake Assal lies 155 metres below sea level. With no outflow, the lake is ringed by a vast salt field - the largest in the world. Exploited by Afar nomads traditionally, the area is now protected and considered a national treasure. This landscape is fascinating and alluring; the white crystalline salt pans contrasting beautifully with the blues of lake and sky.


You will be staying at Djibouti Palace Kempinski, Bed & Breakfast

Day 6

Foret du Day and the Northern Circuit
Head north and visit the beautiful Foret du Day, which sits at 1,600 metres above sea level. An ancient woodland area, it is now a national park. Afterwards, visit the idyllic village of Randa, found in the Goda Mountains. This area is home to the endemic francolins of Djibouti, as well as - rarely sighted - black panthers.

Also explore Tadjourah, a picturesque town that is squeezed between the sea and the Goda Mountains. The town has an Arabian feel to it, with numerous mosques and white-washed houses.


You will be staying at Djibouti Palace Kempinski, Bed & Breakfast

Day 7

Transfer to the airport in the afternoon.

Fly Djibouti City to Addis Ababa

Day 8

Fly Addis Ababa to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Djibouti Palace Kempinski

Djibouti Palace Kempinski

Situated on a peaceful peninsula that juts out into the warm waters of the Gulf of Tadjourah, the impressive Djibouti Palace is located just outside the hubbub of the city....

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Djibouti

Bridget Cohen, Travel Expert

"Bridget had a great knowledge of the areas being looked at and given I have spent time in both countries, it required someone who completely understood the type of camps preferred."

"Bridget's service was very personal and friendly whilst maintaining a professional manner. All my questions were dealt with promptly and efficiently."

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Chris Johnston, Travel Expert

"Chris was always there for any questions and we felt he was genuinely interested in making this next trip as memorable as possible - which it most certainly was!"

"Excellent advice and information on our very first Steppes holiday. Chris was exceptionally helpful and patient and he treated us as individuals instead of tourists, by taking time find out what we wanted from our trip."

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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