Djibouti or the geologists' paradise: 5 sites not to be missed

In 200 million years, Djibouti will undoubtedly be engulfed in a vast ocean. The continuous, albeit low-intensity, seismic tremors observed on its territory are caused by the very slow displacement (2 cm per year) of the African and Arabian plates, at the intersection of which the Republic of Djibouti is located. But until then, we have time to enjoy the geological wonders of the country.

Geologists, SVT teachers, and in general all those interested in geological phenomena will be fascinated by a trip to Djibouti.

This small country alone brings together impressive geological phenomena that have given rise to unique landscapes. Connoisseurs or simply curious travellers will be fascinated by so many discoveries!

1. The Great African Rift

The phenomenon of plate separation, which results in the creation of a valley called RIFT, generally occurs under the oceans. In Djibouti it is possible to walk on the Great Rift Valley Fault African! The rift deviates by an average of 2 cm per year!

On the fault line of the Great African Rift Valley
In a mini lava tunnel

In the world, the thickness of the earth's crust is generally several tens of kilometres. In several places in the Republic of Djibouti, it does not exceed 5 kilometres. That is why we can observe in the regions of Lake Assal and Lake Abbé the fumaroles and other hot springswhich are evidence of a constantly boiling subsoil.

Smoking at the Lake Abbot

2. Lake Assal

Covering an area of 54 km², Lake Assal is remarkable from several points of view:

  • Located at - 153 meters below sea level, it is the point lowest of the African continent.
  • This is one of the bodies of water saltiest in the worldwith a salt content of 348 grams per litre: higher than that of the Dead Sea. This salt, which has been traded by the Afar nomads since time immemorial, is today exploited industrially.
  • Lake Assal at turquoise waterssurrounded by his salt iceThe city, itself surrounded by lava, is of incomparable beauty, praised by famous writers and adventurers such as Joseph Kessel.
Assal Lake ice pack
At the edge of the turquoise waters, on the salt ice floe: shoes are compulsory to enjoy swimming without getting hurt by the salt crystals!

3. Lake Abbe

Not far from the Ethiopian border, Lake Abbe also offers a unique panorama. Its limestone chimneys offer a lunar landscape, much appreciated by photographers from all over the world, especially at sunrise and sunset.

A moonscape

It was even chosen as one of the filming locations for the movie "Planet of the Apes", which is not established....

The sulphurous scents escaping from the numerous fumaroles gave the lake its name. Indeed, Abbot means "rotten"!

Sunset on the lake

The unique landscapes of the chimneys that can reach a height of 50 metresThe presence of the lake, on which you can observe pink flamingos and many animal species, would almost make us forget the presence of the lake! To find out more about nature and animals in Djibouti, click here. nearby !

For several years now, unfortunately, the progressive drying up of the lake has led to its retreat, making it increasingly difficult to observe flamingos because of the quicksand along the shores of the lake.

Be careful though: travelling with a guide is recommended to avoid the risk of getting stuck.

4. The Ardoukoba volcano

The movement of the Earth's plates is also at the origin of spectacular volcanic phenomena. For example, the birth of a volcano in 1978, named Ardoukoba by the famous volcanologist Haroun Tazieff.

This volcano has only had one eruption so far, that of its birth in 1978: an eruption of lava that made it a "red" volcano, which then dumped 12 million cubic metres of basaltic lava.

Lava fields and Ardoukoba in the centre

Not far from there is the Goubet, a large body of water that forms the end of the Gulf of Tadjourah. Better known to the local population as the "Abyss of Demons": even today, few fishermen dare to enter it for fear of being dragged to the bottom by demons.

In the centre of this "lake" is "Devil's Island", which is none other than the crater formed by an underwater volcano: the whole body of water is surrounded by mountains, and the bottom of the lake is black with lava, which makes the atmosphere very impressive.

Le Goubet and its Devil's Islets

Research and diving by scientists - including Commander Cousteau - would prove that the underwater fauna would be particularly impressive and that very large predators would be present, thanks to the currents that favour the entry into the Goubet and make the exit very complicated...

You will appreciate the panorama and the atmosphere of these volcanic places, thanks to the picnic stops that Africorne offers you in its tours.

5. The Great Bara Desert

Djibouti also has its deserts, and among them, the Grand Bara.

We can only be surprised by the mirages and the swirls of sand of the Great BaraThe desert is a vast expanse of desert, 30 km by 10 km.

Wildlife lovers will enjoy meeting the gazelles ...

Gazelle at Grand Bara

And sailing enthusiasts will appreciate an activity for young and old, which is ideal at Grand Bara: sand yachting!

Windsurfing at the Grand Bara
Installation for a day at the Grand Bara

Travelling to Djibouti

I hope I have conveyed to you some of my enthusiasm for the discovery of all these landscapes and phenomena. There is something for everyone, however, I advise you to focus on the period between October and April to avoid the (very) hot season in Djibouti! Moreover, you will find more information about the climate and the diversity of the landscapes of Djibouti in this article !

If you are planning a trip to Djibouti, you can also read the other blog posts to find out more, and don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

14 réponses

  1. Hello
    I had the chance to stay in Djibouti for several months in 77 and to discover all these places mentioned in this article.
    As well as Obock ( 78° in the sun) on the other side of the Gulf of Tadjoura and the islands of Mouscha and Maskali.
    So many amazing memories of this country, thank you for reminding me of this.
    To describe what I've seen a book wouldn't be enough.

    1. Thank you Patrick for sharing your experience in Djibouti. And if you feel like coming back, do not hesitate to contact Africorne Travel!

  2. J ai séjourné à Djibouti de 1978/1980
    J au vu « naître  » l Ardoukoba et garde un merveilleux souvenir des sorties aux îles Mucha Mascali ainsi qu au lac Assal et lac Abbé

    1. Bonjour Danielle
      Oui Djibouti est un pays de « contrastes », avec la montagne, la mer, le désert…et des sites qui ne laissent personne indifférent. Si vous envisagez d’y revenir n’hésitez pas à contacter Africorne Travel !

    1. Bonsoir Jean Michel
      Oui Djibouti est un pays méconnu et à l’écart du « tourisme de masse », heureusement.
      Si vous avez des amis ou de la famille qui aiment sortir des sentiers battus, n’hésitez pas à leur recommander un séjour à Djibouti.
      Bien cordialement

  3. Je suis heureux d’être un fils de ce beau pays. Je vous suggère également à découvrir le mystère du SUD en l’occurrence le mont Arrey, la localité Assamo, l’ancien rail du chemin de fer(CDE) …

    1. Bonjour Moustapha; Vous avez raison le sud du pays est également plein de belles surprises; outre le lac Abbé bien connu et les localités d’As Eyla et Koutabouya , il y a la région d’Assamo et son campement au milieu d’une aire naturelle protégée, le village de Dasbiyo, la ville d’Ali Sabieh…Africorne Travel transporte ses voyageurs dans toutes ces régions !

  4. J’ai fait un séjour Djibouti de 1999 a 2002, que de merveilleux souvenirs.
    De super contact avec les Djiboutiens qui sont adorables, des nomados aux sables blancs, des journées a Moucha et Maskali et Noël et Nouvel An à korenbado.
    Distribuer des bonbons et des bouteilles d’eau aux villages sur la route du lac Abbé et en plus plus voir les dik-dic, les guépards et les ânes c’était tout simplement génial.
    La forêt du day, malgré une attaque de cynocephalles.
    Les envols de flamand rose, les fumerolles, les fonds marins, le poisson yeminite.

    1. Bonjour Arlette,
      Oui c’est un merveilleux pays. Nombreux sont les nostalgiques de leurs séjours à Djibouti. N’hésitez pas à me contacter si vous souhaitez revenir avec des amis ou de la famille. J’ai un appartement sur plage pour loger mes voyageurs lorsque nous revenons à Djibouti ville.

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