We drove southwest through the Petit Barat and the Grand Barat, two dry lakes. We drove straight through over the lake bed of the Grand Barat. It was smooth driving, much better than on the road with potholes. Apparently, this was a lake some 15 years ago. It seems as if it occasionally becomes a lake again when it rains enough.
From the Grand Barat we drove further southwest on a dirt road through the desert to Lac Abbé with its limestone chimneys. I stayed there in a tented camp. We watched sunset over the chimneys and sunrise the next day. The limestone chimneys are fantastic to see.
The next day we drove north to Lac Assal, the lowest point in Africa at 150 m (490 ft) below sea level, and from there to Tadjoura.
The connection to Ethiopia is mainly through the road. There is a never ending stream of big trucks flowing between Djibouti and Ethiopia. There is a railroad between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, but passenger traffic ceased years ago and the line is in desperate need of repair. Currently there are efforts under way to repair and improve the rail line and resume passenger and cargo traffic. This is done in connection with the construction of the new port that will exclusively handle Ethiopian cargo.
Besides Djibouti City, there are five villages, two villages of the Afar people, two of the Somali people, and one for VIPs.
Djibouti is quite dirty in many planes, quite different from Ethiopia, which was quite clean everywhere.
Many of the local people are still nomadic, they follow the rain. This makes it difficult to provide education and medical services.
Street scene in Djibouti. (776k) Street scene in Djibouti. (706k) Street scene in Djibouti. (663k) Local bus. (603k) Many areas where not very clean. In general, Djibouti was much dirtier than Ethiopia. (625k) Mosque in Djibouti. (624k) Old train station on the line from Djibouti to Ethiopia. (662k) Statue of the liberator of Djibouti. (705k) The city center looked very nice. (1029k) Some traffic lights seemed to be solar powered. (815k) There were quite a few goats on the streets in Djibouti, at least outside the city center. (669k) Dogs were mostly sleeping in the heat of the day. Dogs were more frequent in Djibouti than in Ethiopia. (665k) Abandoned car skeletons were everywhere. (591k) Beach in Djibouti. There were mostly local people on the beach. (534k) Port of Djibouti. (600k) Market in Djibouti. (726k) Market in Djibouti. (892k) khat sold here. (706k) Local women. (848k)
Tadjoura. (787k) Downtown Tadjoura. (776k) Beach in Tadjoura. (751k) Resort near Tadjoura. (723k)
Along the road
Adding a second spare tire and water for the drive through the desert. (684k) We needed spares. (878k) Truck stop near Djibouti city. (626k) View of the Petit Barat, a dry lake. (726k) Goat herd in the Petit Barat. (612k) Heat mirage in the Grand Barat, a large dry lake. (569k) Dust track in the Grand Barat from car moving in the opposite direction. (699k) Dust devil in the Grand Barat. (561k) Local people in the Petit Barat. They may be on the way from Ethiopia to Yemen. (593k) Local people on the way from Ethiopia to Djibouti. They drive their cattle five days across the desert to sell them in Djibouti. (528k) Oasis in Dikhil. (1115k) The road to Lac Abbé. (780k) The road to Lac Abbé. (793k) Local settlement near Lac Abbé. (907k) Local settlement near Lac Abbé. (649k) Nomad camp near Lac Assal. (937k) Nomadic local people follow the rain. This settlement was recently vacated. When the rains return, so will the people. (1423k) Settlement near Lac Assal. The blue tons are put next to the road for water delivery by the government. (833k) Camp at Lac Abbé. (759k) House of local people on Lac Abbé. (613k) Transport camels. They may be on the way from Djibouti to Ethiopia with salt. (711k) Selling khat directly from the truck. (710k) Chewing khat. When the khat arrives from Ethiopia around noon, everything shuts down and people just hang out and chew khat. Every household spends insane amounts of money on the drug. (858k) Garbage near settlements. (666k)