Lake Assal, the lowest point in all of Africa

Country Information: The capital is also Djibouti. About 900,000 people live here and the official languages are French and Arabic. Islam is the dominant religion. The time zone is 7 hours ahead of EST.

Jim’s Perspectives:

Djibouti, uninterestingly, translated means “the pot” … and this is one of those countries that is mostly unremarkable. It is a molten waste land: miles and miles and miles of nothing but black volcanic rock, and an occasional sprinkling of acacia trees and wandering camels to break the monotony.

Djibouti City, the capital, is home to a large US military base, visible from the airport. You can see a large imposing US flag flying over the base. There are also French, German and Spanish troops here, and the Chinese have just built a new naval base and port here.

I visited the famous Lake Assal in 2018, the lowest point in all of Africa, and the third lowest in the world. It was 45 degrees C (115F) … and humid! It was an interesting place to visit, as were the tectonic plates near the lake. Apparently, this area is the beginning of Africa’s Rift Valley.  I also visited the shore line of the Red Sea.

Lake Assal is the saltiest body of water in the world except for a pond in Antarctica (yes, the saltiest lake in the world is in Antarctica, called Don Juan pond!). The lake can be walked in and touched, so visitors can walk in and feel the salty waters. Travelers interested in other water-related adventures can travel alone or use the popular company Rushing Water Adventures in Djibouti for booking an excursion, which has stellar reviews for the guided tours to several places around the country for kayaking, snorkeling, sightseeing, or whatever it is that travelers want to do. To see the very evolutionary old whale shark or to catch some fish, head to Arta Beach about an hour and a half from the capital.

Travelers will be surprised to see that many people in Djibouti consume qat, part of a plant which is chewed for its mild amphetamine-like properties. Qat is banned in most places in the world, but is very popular here and is bought and consumed daily by customers.

This is a sleepy country, with significant geographical importance. With no oil or gas reserves, its economy is dependent on foreign occupants, each wanting access to the vital shipping lanes in the region.

I stayed at the Kempenski Hotel, which was fabulous.  Beautiful room, oceanfront location and excellent service.

Some cool geological formations in Djibouti


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