Getting there & away
Yes, it’s possible to cross the Red Sea to Mokha (Yemen) ! Rudimentary dhows leave from Djibouti City port but there’s no fixed schedule – they usually run on a twice-weekly basis, more if there’s enough demand. It costs DFr5000 and the crossing takes about 20 hours. Don’t forget to get your passport stamped at the Police de l’Air et des Frontières Office (350289; 24hr), inside the port area in Djibouti City.
Overland travel to Eritrea is possible but there’s no reliable transportation scheduled between Assab and Obock. Traffic is limited to shared taxis (usually 4WD Land Cruisers) from Obock to Moulhoulé, the last town before the border. Then other taxis ply the route from Moulhoulé to Assab in Eritrea. It’s about four hours from Obock to the border (DFr2000) and from the border to Assab another 3½ hours (Nfa300). At the time of research there were about two weekly services, but there’s no fixed schedule and taxis leave only when they have enough customers.
Note that there’s no formal immigration office on the Djiboutian side (but there is talk of setting one up). If you can’t get your passport stamped at the border, don’t forget to do it either at the police office in Obock or at the office of the Police de l’Air et des Frontières (350289; 24hr) inside the port area in Djibouti City. When leaving Djibouti City for Eritrea, it’s also best to go first to the Police de l’Air et des Frontières and ask for an exit stamp – unless they send you to the police office in Obock.
There is a daily service between Djibouti City and Dire Dawa – an arduous 10- to 12-hour ride on a gravel road. You’ll take your first bus to the border town of Gelille, then another bus to Dire Dawa. Buses leave at dawn from Ave 26. The company is called SPB (826573, 828838).
If you want to enter Djibouti from Ethiopia via the border town of Galafi, the only option is to hitch a lift with one of the legions of trucks that ply the route between Addis Ababa and Djibouti City via Awash, Gewane, Logiya and Dikhil (about three days). Prices are negotiable. This option is best avoided by women, but it’s the best option for those driving, as it’s entirely sealed.
Passengers can hop on the old Djibouti City–Addis Ababa train and get off at Dire Dawa. The train leaves three times a week. From Djibouti City to Dire Dawa (via Ali Sabieh), the minimum journey duration is 13 hours. Buy your ticket one day in advance at the railway station (358070; Ave F d’Esperey; 7am-noon Tue, Thu & Sat). Take note that this train is notoriously dilapidated and unreliable.
Battered 4WD Land Cruisers headed for Hargeisa leave from Ave 26. In principle, there are daily services, all leaving in the afternoon (DFr5000, front seat). It’s a gruelling ride that can take up to 20 hours. Good luck!
Djibouti has one international gateway for arrival by air, Djibouti-Ambouli Airport (341646), about 5km south of Djibouti City.
Air France flies to Paris (France). Djibouti Airlines has flights to Dire Dawa (Ethiopia), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Hargeisa (Somaliland). Yemenia Yemen Airways flies to Sana’a (Yemen) and Paris (via Sana’a). Eritrean Airlines operates flights to Asmara (Eritrea) and Dubai. Daallo Airlines flies to Dubai, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Nairobi (Kenya), Paris and London, and has flights to Hargeisa (Somaliland), Burcao (Somaliland), Bossasso (Puntland) and Mogadishu (Somalia). Kenya Airways flies to Nairobi (Kenya).
All airlines flying to and from Djibouti have an office or a representative in Djibouti City.