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Introducing Djibouti

Small in size, big in ambitions. Djibouti may be one of the tiniest, youngest and least-known nations in Africa, but it could also well be the most talented or, depending on your perspective, the most opportunistic. While its larger, more powerful neighbours are embroiled in a never-ending border dispute, Djibouti stands out as a haven of stability and neutrality.

Sadly, for the few travellers who venture here (except, maybe, for the French, who colonised the country and are more acquainted with its assets), Djibouti is usually nothing more than a transit point on the road to Eritrea or Ethiopia. But, you would miss out if you limited your experience of the country is waiting around in Djibouti City for a connecting plane, train or bus. Why not settle in for a while and enjoy its dishevelled nightlife, luscious cuisine and well-organised infrastructure? Better still get out of town and immerse yourself in eerie lunar landscapes, such as the other-worldly Lac Abbé or the vast salt lake, Lac Assal. Or visit the verdant slopes of the Goda Mountains, which rise like a green surprise in the northwest of this otherwise sun-bleached land. Djibouti is also a great place for a few days’ strenuous activity, with hiking, diving, snorkelling with whale sharks (whisper it softly) and even windsurfing on wheels (yes!) readily available. For such a tiny speck of land, there’s a startling variety of adventure options. But if you need to recharge the batteries, you could simply laze on a pale-sand beach in the Gulf of Tadjoura. True, Djibouti will put a dent in your wallet, but if you have a penchant for bizarre or secretive places, be sure to squeeze it into your African odyssey. It could hold you captive longer than expected.