weekend away - Djibouti
Written by Boris Kester
Only a two-hour drive from Djibouti city youll find yourself in the midst of an impressive landscape, surrounded by a volcanic backdrop, salt lakes, and lava fields.
Djibouti may not feature widely on the tourist radar, but head just out of the city and youll discover many natural wonders. Lake Assal is a unique place to visit not only because, at 155m below sea level, it is the lowest point of Africa, but also because it is the second most saline lake in the world after Don Juan Pond in Antarctica.
It is the largest salt reserve in the world, and for many centuries the local Afar tradesmen have taken bricks of its salt on their camels to the highlands of Ethiopia, to trade them for coffee, musk, and other goods. These, in turn, were then sold on markets at the coast, and exported overseas.
For a long time, the precious salt itself was used as currency. It is therefore nicknamed White Gold: an important commodity in the desert landscape of Djibouti.
No matter when you go, it is hot here, and the salt crust is so thick you can walk on it in some parts.
Forget about taking a refreshing dip here: even where there is water, it is so dense its original name is Buhayrah Asal, or honey lake, for its thickness. Still, a visit is recommended, if only because you may still find a camel caravan carrying chunks of white gold to the mountains in the west; the salt trade continues to this very day.
Head back to the coast for a swim: Djibouti is a great site for diving and snorkelling, being the place where the waters of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean meet. Its also among the few locations where the harmless whale sharks are known to visit on an annual basis.
Qatar Airways has three flights a week from Doha to Djibouti> Book Now
Djibouti Palace Kempinski
Situated on the beachfront, The Djibouti Palace Kempinski offers 320 rooms, suites, and apartments with exceptional panoramic views of the beautiful Gulf of Tadjourah. The hotel has two infinity pools looking out to the Red Sea, or you can head straight to the beach for relaxation or watersports. Unwind with a treatment at the hotels K Spa, offering treatments from Ayurvedic to European. Dining options include Lac Assal Fine Dining, the only gastronomic restaurant in Djibouti.