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Adventure seekers may not have heard of Djibouti, and for many it's simply a transit point for Ethiopia. Yet Djibouti City, the capital, has so much to offer visitors, and its location off the well-worn tourist trail only adds to its appeal. Book a flight to Djibouti with Qatar Airways to discover why more and more travellers are flocking to its shores.
The country's spectacular scenery, snorkelling and diving opportunities, and stunning, white beaches have turned this once-secret corner of East Africa into something of a tourist hotspot.
Blessed with beautiful shorelines and glass-clear waters, Djibouti offers the chance to swim with whale sharks; but you should also make time for the country’s Wild West, where you will find Devil’s Island and Lac Assal.
Djibouti City’s African Quarter is a great place to start. Head to Place Mahmoud Harbi, where you'll find a network of alleyways lined with shops and stalls, selling everything from handicrafts to clothing. Also investigate the European Quarter, with its Moorish buildings and whitewashed houses.
No trip to Djibouti would be complete without seeing Lac Assal, a crater lake in the west of the country, 150m below sea level. It is worth the journey; some of the most breathtaking views of Devil's Island and the lake itself can be experienced on your drive.
Djibouti has always been a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts, and the reefs here are teeming with all sorts of sea life. For an unforgettable experience, book a trip to snorkel with whale sharks, the gentle giants of the sea.
A day trip to the Goda Mountains, in the north-west of the country, is ideal for those who are fond of hiking and hill walking. Or you could simply spend your afternoon exploring Tadjoura. This is the oldest town in Djibouti, sitting at the foot of the Goda Mountains. It has an Arabian feel, and is a great place to while away a sunny afternoon.
Of course, if all that seems too strenuous, you could simply spend your trip lazing on one of the Gulf of Tadjoura's white sandy beaches and appreciating the stunning views.
Be aware that Western food in Djibouti can be over-priced. However, if you're interested in high-quality local cuisine, dining out can be a rewarding experience.
Expect food with a French twist, such as the popular French seafood restaurants in Djibouti City. And French influences can often be found in Somali, Ethiopian and Djiboutian dishes, along with Middle Eastern spices. Look out for specialities such as sambuusa (Somali samosa), garoobey (porridge with cumin) and Fah-Fah (spicy boiled beef soup). Canjeero, a type of flatbread, is a staple in the Djiboutian diet and is served with most meals.
For local handicrafts and fabrics, Djibouti's Association des Femmes de Tadjoura is the place to head for hand-woven Afar basket-ware. Larger department stores in Djibouti City will often accept payment in US dollars, but beware of the high conversion rates. It is far better to pay in local currency (Djiboutian franc).
Travel to Djibouti and you'll find plenty of markets selling crafts and curiosities. Ethiopian coffee is a popular purchase and is reasonably priced. Try to steer clear of mass-produced gifts and carvings from Kenya and India and buy local goods. Colourful boubous (dresses), bead wallets and wooden vases are all produced in the country.
Essential facts about Djibouti
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip