Weary of the hustle and bustle of Djibouti City? Have a soft spot for endangered species? The well-organised wildlife refuge Decan is about 10km south of Djibouti City (in Douda, on the road to Somaliland), an easy two- to three-hour excursion from the capital. It’s not a zoo, but a small nature reserve, with its own ecosystem. You’ll see eight endlessly appealing cheetahs, four lions, as well as ostriches, turtles, Somali donkeys, caracals, squirrels, antelopes, kudus, zebras and porcupines.
Run by a French vet, Decan was set up as a rehabilitation centre for various species that have been orphaned or illegally caged for trafficking purposes. There are plans to extend it from 30 acres to 600 acres, down to the coastline, which would encompass a mangrove area. Birders, rejoice: a dedicated birdwatching area was under construction at the time of writing – expect to see flamingos, ibises, herons and spoonbills. Decan also runs education programs for customs officers, the police and school kids. Watching the big cats being fed (usually around 5pm) is just one of the many exhilarating moments at Decan. Volunteers are welcome. The only practical option for getting here from Djibouti City is by taxi (DFr3000, including waiting time).