Djibouti - an exceptional diving destination


How did the idea of organizing a group trip to Djibouti come about, and where exactly is Djibouti located?

Here at NiCe Dive & Trips, we specialize in offering unique diving areas and travel destinations away from mass tourism. That's why our group trip in early 2024 took us to Djibouti.

Djibouti is located at the southern entrance of the Red Sea, next to Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

A top-notch diving safari - in the virtually untouched waters of Djibouti and the Gulf of Tadjoura. Djibouti is where the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden meet. The Gulf of Tadjoura is part of the Arabian Sea and therefore part of the Indian Ocean. Bab el-Mandeb, a roughly 27-kilometer-wide strait, connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

Snorkeling and diving with whale sharks

South of Bab el-Mandab, the entrance to the Red Sea, lies the Gulf of Tadjoura, and to the west of the Gulf is the Bay of Goubeth al Kharab. The Gulf of Tadjoura is rich in plankton, which in turn has the advantage that during the peak season, many whale sharks come to feed there. From late October to early February, the food supply is so abundant that countless giants feast in the Gulf, and a sighting can be almost guaranteed.

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NiCe Dive & Trips

Nina Dittrich

NiCe Dice & Trips
Sutainable Tourism

Arriving in Djibouti 

Via Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines offers a convenient connection to Djibouti. The flight time from Frankfurt and Vienna to Ethiopia (Addis Ababa Airport) is approximately six to seven hours. From Addis Ababa to Djibouti, the flight time is one hour.

Upon arrival in Djibouti, we proceeded to passport control. A visa is required for entry, which can be obtained either online (12 euros) (https://www.evisa.gouv.dj/) or on-site (25 euros). Important: If your visa is rejected online, do not panic. Two of our group members faced this challenge. We boarded the plane with the rejected visa and then easily purchased the visa on-site. Under no circumstances should you send your passport to the German or Austrian Embassy from Djibouti, even if you have contacted them by phone. One diver in our group sent his passport to the embassy to obtain the visa - one would expect that the authorities work diligently. Unfortunately, the passport did not return in time for departure. Therefore, we had to quickly apply for a temporary new passport, which allowed entry into Djibouti.

Our travel program included a stay at Djibouti Palace Kempinski, excursions to the Neem Farm, Lac Abbe, and Lac Assal. We then spent a week on the diving liveaboard trip with the ship M/Y Lucy.

We were greeted by a staff member of the ship Lucy at the airport and, after purchasing SIM cards in the city, taken to Djibouti Palace Kempinski. A very nice hotel with spacious rooms. Apart from military personnel, we were almost the only tourists in the hotel.

Strategically, Djibouti is situated between the conflict zones of Somalia, Yemen, and Eritrea. However, Djibouti itself is considered politically stable. At no time did we feel exposed to a security risk. Due to the aforementioned, Djibouti hosts several military bases. Some of the military bases present in Djibouti include:
USA military base
China military base
France military base
Japan military base
Germany is planning to reopen a base, and Saudi Arabia plans to establish a base in Djibouti in the future.

Do not be deterred by this and do not miss out on an unforgettable and spectacular journey for this reason.

That was a brief digression.

After our arrival, we enjoyed the afternoon by the pool and in the evening, we walked through the streets of Djibouti City and visited a small restaurant named "Melting Pot.

Visiting Djibouti City

In high spirits, we set out for an extensive breakfast buffet before settling by the pool. The Djibouti Palace Kempinski boasts several infinity pools offering breathtaking views of the sea and the port. In the afternoon, we had a tour of Djibouti City scheduled. Fathi picked us up, and he showed us the main attractions. Djibouti City, the capital of Djibouti, is renowned for its seaport, which is the 10th largest in Africa. Countless container ships come to this port to prepare goods for further transport.

The population of Djibouti is around one million inhabitants. There's a banking and financial center with a rather cold character. "Multicultural" is a fitting description of the city. Besides French Foreign Legionnaires, the two largest population groups are Somali and Afar. However, guest workers from Yemen and Ethiopia also live in the small country of Djibouti. The Muslim faith is the largest religion. More than half of the population lives in slums, and nomads travel with their camels and goats through the country.

The Hamoudi Mosque in Djibouti City is probably the most famous and worth-visiting architectural landmark, as well as the Cathedral "Our Lady of the Good Shepherd," which was built in the second half of the twentieth century.

After our tour, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at a Yemeni restaurantY. Fresh fish, bread, and sauces were served. Simply exquisite.
Well-fed and satisfied, we ended the evening before heading out for our two-day excursion the next day.

After a hearty breakfast, our transfer was already waiting for us, and we embarked on the three-hour journey to the Neem Farm. We had a lunch break in the small town of Dikhil before continuing on the highway.


Neem Farm

Near the village of As Ayla lies the Neem Farm, which practices a new form of agroforestry. The farm is named after the Neem trees that are abundant there. In addition to the trees, tomatoes and other crops are cultivated. The Neem Farm is located next to a wadi, a valley or riverbed that only carries water after heavy rains; otherwise, no water is visible on the surface. However, just a few meters below the surface, there is groundwater that belies the dusty landscape. This groundwater is used to irrigate the plants on the Neem Farm.

Our first stop at the Neem Farm was brief since it was already afternoon, and we had to make our way to Lake Abbe to arrive on time for sunset.

Lake Abbe - an exhilarating ride:

Lake Abbe is located in the middle of the desert, and the journey there is a very bumpy and adventurous ride. We had a lot of fun, and all our joints were realigned. First, we stopped at a viewpoint, and wow, what a view! That alone made the trip worthwhile. Lake Abbe is a chain of six interconnected lakes, with Lake Abbe being the focal point of the Afar Depression. This lake is considered one of the most inaccessible areas on Earth, and the scenery is unique. The shoreline is dotted with limestone cones up to 50 meters high, formed from deposits of hot underground thermal springs. On the way to Lake Abbe, we encountered an impressive array of wildlife including camels, monkeys, warthogs, donkeys, and goats. We reached our destination just in time for sunset. The area around Lake Abbe is truly fascinating. Of course, many photos were taken, and the atmosphere was enjoyed. However, one thing you must bring is insect repellent as millions of these pesky creatures swarm around in the evening. We didn't just leave with memories; we also took home souvenir mosquito bites.

It was already dark when we made our way back to the Neem Farm. The drive through the desert in the darkness was even more thrilling. We even drove over an unpaved airstrip used by military units.

At the Neem Farm, we enjoyed pizza, salad, and delicious cake before ending our evening on the terrace.
The next day, we headed to the incredible Lake Assal.

Neem Farm Djibouti
Neem Farm Djibouti
Neem Farm Djibouti
Neem Farm Djibouti
Neem Farm Djibouti
Neem Farm Djibouti
Neem Farm Djibouti
Neem Farm Djibouti
Djibouti Neem Farm
Djibouti Neem Farm
Djibouti Neem Farm
Djibouti Neem Farm
Djibouti Neem Farm

Lac Assal

For breakfast, we were treated to eggs prepared in various styles, fresh bread, coffee, and freshly squeezed juice. Afterwards, Felix, the manager of the Neem Farm, guided us through the farm, sharing insights into its origins and cultivation practices. In addition to plants, the Neem Farm also houses cows, goats, and turtles. Approximately seven dogs roam the premises, each one friendlier than the last. However, these dogs serve another purpose besides delighting guests; they deter hyenas from encroaching too close to the Neem Farm in the desert.

Before continuing our journey, lunch packs were prepared for us to ensure we wouldn't go hungry.

Lake Assal

Located in the Afar Depression west of the Gulf of Aden, Lake Assal is remarkable for being the lowest point in Africa, sitting at an incredible 155 meters below sea level. After Gaet'ale in northern Ethiopia, this salt lake is the second saltiest body of water on Earth outside of Antarctica, with a salinity level of 35%, approximately ten times higher than that of the oceans. Lake Assal offered us a stunning backdrop with salt crystals adorning its shores due to evaporation, creating a truly magnificent sight and perfect photo opportunity.

Following the conclusion of this two-day excursion, we returned to the Djibouti Palace Kempinski for the night. The next day marked the beginning of our diving safari aboard the M/Y Lucy.

Lac Assal Djibouti
Lac Assal Djibouti
Lac Assal Djibouti
Lac Assal Djibouti
Djibouti Lac Assal
Djibouti Lac Assal
Djibouti Lac Assal
Djibouti Lac Assal

Djibouti - Liveaboard M/Y Lucy

It's time; we could hardly wait for our diving safari to begin. But before that, Dawit, the manager of the diving safari ship, invited us to his home for lunch. We were treated to delicious Ethiopian delicacies, which were simply delightful and highly recommended.

In the afternoon, we were picked up and taken to the port, where we were ferried to the Lucy on a Faluka (dinghy) instead of a Zodiac. The crew, consisting of Egyptians, Djiboutians, Ethiopians, and Somalis, eagerly awaited our arrival.

The following day, Sunday, after obtaining clearance from the coast guard, we set sail. Our planned diving safari included the following destinations:
Evangiliste - a submarine discovered as recently as 2022
Seven Brothers
Gulf of Tadjourah
The Crack - where the Arabian and African tectonic plates meet, known as Ghoubet al Kharab


Unfortunately, due to the Middle East conflict and the situation in Yemen, we were unable to visit the Evangiliste submarine and the Seven Brothers. These locations are located just ten kilometers from Yemen, making it too risky. It's disheartening that political conflicts prevented us from exploring these sites, prompting reflection on human behavior and actions.

Nevertheless, we remained undeterred and had an incredible and eventful diving safari in Djibouti.

Whale Sharks from Tradjourah

As mentioned earlier, Djibouti is renowned for its whale shark sightings in Tadjourah. Given that we traveled towards the end of the season, we hoped luck would be on our side, and indeed it was. We had the pleasure of snorkeling with approximately seven whale sharks. During one of our four night dives, we even encountered a whale shark, making the experience unforgettable! The whale sharks in Tadjourah, Djibouti, are remarkably calm, though one must be cautious to avoid collision as they unexpectedly change direction, swimming directly towards us without considering evasive maneuvers.

The Crack - Arabian and African tectonic plates in a single dive

The infamous diving spot, The Crack, located within Ghoubet al Kharab, deserves special mention. This site offers dives ranging from shallow to deep. The Crack is where the Arabian and African tectonic plates meet. Underwater, a fissure widens and narrows, allowing divers to simultaneously touch both continental plates. We began our dive at the deepest point, 40 meters, and then explored the fissure's surroundings. Despite limited visibility, which added to the excitement, the dive was beyond impressive. We enjoyed it so much that we returned to the same spot the following day for another dive. Our guide and ship captain, Abdallah, is extremely knowledgeable about Djibouti's diving sites. Finding the entrance to The Crack isn't easy, but with Abdallah, it was no problem. Underwater, we had several photo sessions to capture this magical moment.

Another must-visit dive site is La Passe, where timing is crucial due to extreme currents, including upwelling and downwelling. The best time to dive is at the peak of low tide transitioning to the beginning of high tide. La Passe is teeming with fish and various sea turtles.
Of course, we also explored other dive sites such as Ras Eiro, Turtle Bay (truly deserving of its name; we saw at least 12 sea turtles during our dive), Ras Foll, Finger Reef, Le Dome, and Plateau Ras Eiro.

Each dive site in Djibouti is unique, and even though visibility isn't always optimal, a diving trip to Djibouti is worthwhile, especially for whale shark encounters.

Finally, a few words about the M/Y Lucy:

The safari ship is showing its age, and luxury enthusiasts might not find it suitable. Just like all our activities during the trip were real adventures, the ship itself is an adventure. The crew and Captain Abdallah were incredibly attentive without being intrusive. The food on the M/Y Lucy was excellent and varied. For drinks, coffee, tea, water, and soft drinks are available, and it's possible to bring alcohol onboard. Some of us enjoyed a Gin and Tonic as a sundowner on some evenings. Before the safari began, the crew even provided tonic water without hesitation.

Diving is done using the Faluka, a dinghy. In most cases, diving is done with a Zodiac, but not in Djibouti. Here, a small wooden boat takes you to the dive sites. Initially, we were skeptical, but we soon discovered that the rides on the Faluka were quite comfortable.

In conclusion

Djibouti, a diving destination for adventurers and explorers, is an absolute must-see. Don't miss out on this exciting, diverse country with its. Don't be afraid due to news reports on television and radio; Djibouti is not a place of violence, likely because 99% of the residents chew khat leaves. Of course, there are always exceptions; "bad" people exist everywhere, even in Germany and Austria. Nevertheless, we were thoroughly impressed and hope to explore the Evangiliste submarine and the Seven Brothers on our next tour.

For more detailed information, feel free to contact us; we'd be happy to share insider tips.

Tauchsafari Djibouti
Tauchsafari Djibouti
Tauchsafari Djibouti
Tauchsafari Djibouti
Tauchsafari Djibouti
Tauchsafari Djibouti
Tauchsafari Djibouti
Diving Djibouti
Diving Djibouti
Tauchsafari Djibouti
Tauchsafari Djibouti
Walhaie Djibouti
Diving Djibouti
Walhaie Djibouti
Diving Djibouti
Diving Djibouti

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