Djibouti’s capital is evolving at a fast pace, and there’s a palpable sense of change in the air. Thanks to its geostrategic importance and its busy port, Djibouti City has been transformed from a sleepy capital to a thriving place. Yet, under its veneer of urban bustle, the city remains a down-to-earth place, with a fascinating cultural and social mix. Traditionally robed Afar tribesmen, elegant Somali ladies and businessmen all jostle side by side.
Djibouti City boasts good infrastructure, including hotels, bars, clubs and restaurants – it’s the place in the Horn of Africa to treat yourself to a fine meal. It’s also the obvious place to organise forays into the fantastic hinterland, or boat excursions.
Located on the Ethiopian border, Lake Abbe is a desolate, steaming lake surrounded by limestone chimneys and a lunar landscape used as the “Forbidden Zone” in Planet of the Apes.
Lake Assal is Africa’s lowest point (157 m below sea level) and the saltiest lake outside Antarctica. Its shores are largely salt pans and is located close to Ardoukoba, which last erupted in 1978.
Moucha Island is a small coral island off the coast of Djibouti. It is located at the center of the Gulf of Tadjoura. The island has a total population of about 20 inhabitants, which increases considerably during the summer.
The country’s wildlife live in a harsh landscape with forest accounting for less than one percent of the total area of the country. The wildlife is spread over three main regions; from the northern mountain region of the country to the volcanic plateau in its southern and central part and culminating in the coastal region. The Djibouti francolin, a critically endangered species of bird, can only be found in Djibouti.
Forêt du Day National Park
Most species of wildlife are found in the northern part of the country, in the ecosystem of the Day Forest National Park. At an average altitude of 1,500 metres (4,921 feet), the area includes the Goda massif, with a peak of 1,783 metres (5,850 feet). It covers an area of 3.5 square kilometres (1 square miles) of Juniperus procera forest, with many of the trees rising to 20 metres (66 feet). This forest area is the main habitat of the endangered and endemic Djibouti francolin bird and the endangered vertebrate Platyceps afarensis (a colubrine snake). It also contains many species of woody and herbaceous plants, including boxwood and olive trees, which account for 60% of the total identified species in the country.
The nation has been recorded to contain more than 820 species of plants, 493 species of invertebrates, 455 species of fish, 40 species of reptiles, three species of amphibians, 360 species of birds and 66 species of mammals. Wildlife of Djibouti is also listed as part of the Horn of Africa biodiversity hotspot and the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden coral reef hotspot. Mammals include several species of antelope, such as Soemmerring’s gazelle and Pelzeln’s gazelle. As a result of the hunting ban imposed since early 1970 these species are now well conserved. Other characteristic mammals are Grevy’s zebra, hamadryas baboon and Hunter’s antelope. The warthog, a vulnerable species, is also found in the Day National park. There have also been recent reports of dugongs and Abyssinian genets spotted in the nation’s coastal waters. Green turtles and hawksbill turtles can also be seen along the coast where nesting takes place.