Djibouti is a small country in East Africa, but it started to gain some interest, especially for those who visit Ethiopia, which is a neighbor of Djibouti. While this may not be a country on your bucket list, you may be surprised by what you can find. But, as with any other country, some research is required before you start planning your trip. After all, the saying ‘In Rome, do as Romans do’ can be applied to every single country in the world. Even so, you will find that Djibouti is not a complicated country. It may not cate to many of your pleasures, but it still has its charm. Below, you will find some information that will guide you during your trip.
First of all, let’s cover the visa policy of Djibouti. You will find it pretty lenient. There are three categories of travelers. Unfortunately, the first one is rather short. It includes the citizens of Singapore who are visa exempt. As a result, they can travel to Djibouti with only their passport. Some treaty was signed with Kenya so that its citizens can travel to Djibouti without a visa, but it is yet to be enforced.
The second category is formed by the people who are eligible for a Djibouti visa on arrival. In this category are all nationalities, except for Singaporeans, of course. However, you will find information online that visas on arrival are no longer available, but that is not true. The system was supposed to be replaced by the electronic visa system, but it is still in place. You will not be granted one if you do not have a return or onward flight ticket. Keep in mind that the airline you are traveling with will sell you a ticket, and you will be informed that it is refundable. In reality, it is not.
Last but not least, the people who are eligible for a visa on arrival, which is all of them, also qualify for an electronic visa. The system was introduced on 18th of February 2018, and its purpose was to entirely replace the visa on arrival system. That is yet to happen. To apply for a Djibouti eVisa, you need a passport that is valid for at least another 6 months from the date of arrival in Djibouti, as well as a return/onward flight ticket. The document allows you to remain in the country for no more than 31 days. Keep in mind that a Djibouti eVisa is valid only if you enter the country via the Ambouli International Airport.
The best time to travel to Djibouti is October through April. The temperatures are more bearable during that period. After all, the country’s climate is very hot, humid, and arid, mostly in the summer. The only thing that soothes people who live there is the breeze in the coastal city of Djibouti. Make sure that you pack appropriate clothes and a lot of sunscreen. Heat exhaustion is common among travelers who do not come prepared for the very high temperatures.
The official languages in Djibouti are French and Arabic, but most people speak Somali and Afar. It would be best if you learned some phrases before you go there, at least enough to get around. Unfortunately, English is spoken only at a few tourist facilities, but taxi drivers, as well as locals, do not know it, and you may find it challenging to manage when you are outside the hotel. It may be difficult, but it will save you a lot of trouble.
Since we are talking about a very small country, there are not many attractions. However, there is one that may interest you. We are referring to Lac Assal. It is situated 150 meters below sea level, making it the second-lowest point in the world. You must hire a car to get there, and you should expect a very bumpy ride. The roads, mostly the ones that are outside the capital city, are destroyed by the truck traffic that happens between Ethiopia and Djibouti. But the trip will be worth it. You will pass by the Devil’s Island, which provides stunning views. You will like the scenery a lot.
If you are looking for some fun activities, you will find some, especially in the capital city of Djibouti, which oddly enough is also called Djibouti. If you want, you can go scuba diving. The country may be arid, but it does have a coastline. The underwater life is rich with many reefs and numerous species of colored fish.
Kayaking is also available in the Gulf of Tadjoura. The waters are pristine, and you can explore as much as you want. If you have the physical condition to paddle for a few hours, you can reach untouched places where you can snorkel and enjoy yourself on some isolated beaches. Not too bad when the temperatures are barely tolerable.
While in Djibouti, you will hear about an herb called Khat. It is a stimulant very popular with the locals. It comes from Ethiopia each day, and it is not expensive. However, before you indulge in such a treat, keep in mind that you are in a foreign country. You should not do it unless you are sure. If you travel alone, it is better not to. At the same time, remember that you cannot fly out of Djibouti carrying any Khat. That is seen as illegal activity, and you will be prosecuted.
While Djibouti is a relatively safe country, some unfortunate events have happened in the last years, which is why we advise caution. Natural hazards are common and include earthquakes and droughts. The cyclones from the Indian Ocean can cause heavy rains as well as flash floods, so keep an eye on the weather while there. Use common sense when going out of the cities since banditry is known to happen.
Before you travel to Djibouti, you should buy travel insurance. Otherwise, you risk being asked for cash as soon as you find yourself in a hospital. You will be asked for money for every single procedure. A Yellow fever vaccination is necessary for those who come from infected areas, and cholera is quite common. Take all the essential precaution against it. While not mandatory, you should get a vaccine against typhoid as well. To avoid contracting malaria, carry pills, mosquito repellent, as well as nets.
We know that Djibouti may not attract you at first, but if you feel like it, you should give it a try. Who knows? It may surprise you.