At a Glance
Dates: February 10th - February 18th, 2024
Extension: We currently offer a six-day pre-extension to Somaliland focussed on the beira antelope
Prices: £1,950 pp sharing (no single supplement), excluding international flights. The pre-extension is priced at £2,250 per person, based on a minimum of four clients joining. Private extensions focussed on marine life, including whale sharks, can be offered on request.
In a sentence: Explore one of the least-visited countries in all of Africa, with the chance to spot rare wildlife including the elusive beira
Very few people have even heard of Djibouti, and even fewer could point to it on the map. Nestled on the coastline where the Gulf of Aden gives way to the Red Sea, this unassuming corner of the continent is hardly an ecotourism hub. Those tourists that do come here generally flock to Djibouti's coastal waters, where colourful corals and abundant marine life can be found, headlined by the gigantic whale shark. But, inland, the ecotourism potential is hugely specialised and, therefore, remains largely untapped.
This itinerary takes visitors to the Day Forest, a stronghold for the endemic Djibouti francolin, but also one of the few remaining chunks of wilderness in the country. Dittilou is the best place to spy this bird, but a passing visit to Bankouale may even reveal the presence of Djibouti's last leopards. Further east, Djalelo is a spot where the enigmatic Somali sengi and Speke's pectinator might be spotted. But the jewel in Djibouti's mammal-watching crown is the remote Assamo, where Djibouti's last beira cling on in the Ali Sabieh hills. Sightings of this special and unassuming antelope are rare, but this remains the best place to see them.
This is an adventurous tour, in a little-visited country. Accommodation is extremely basic, logistics are rough around the edges and wildlife cannot be guaranteed. But, especially when paired with our pre-extension to Somaliland, this is a rare and exciting chance to hone in on the under-appreciated wildlife of a stunning and rarely-seen area.
On arrival into Djibouti City, you will be met at the airport by your Pictus Safaris guide and transferred to your city centre apartment, shared with other Pictus Safaris guests. Here, you will meet any clients who have flown in from Hargeisa following their pre-extension to Somaliland. Dinner will be served at a local restaurant in the city tonight, where a pre-tour briefing will also take place.
Day Forest NP - Randa
This morning our exploration of Djibouti begins in earnest. Our drive today takes us first west, following the southern coast of the Gulf of Tadjoura. After a drive of around three hours, we arrive at Lac Assal. This saltwater lake lies at the edge of the Danakil Depression and is thought to be the third lowest-lying place on earth. The level of salinity is extremely high, and so there is no wildlife here, although a salt mining industry has taken off and this area is one of many that makes salt a key export for Djibouti.
After a chance to admire the stunning landscapes of Lac Assal, it is a further two-and-a-half hour drive back east to Tadjoura, where lunch will be taken at a local restaurant. A short drive away is the main 'campement' at the edge of Day Forest National Park, Djibouti's main, and oldest, national park. The accommodation here is extremely basic, but local guides are happy to escort walks into the sparse 'forest' that covers the surrounding escarpments. We will embark on a short walk this evening, taking in the stunning views towards the Gulf of Tadjoura, and listening carefully for any rustling that may indicate the presence of the endemic Djibouti francolin.
Following dinner back at camp, we hope to be able to spend some time in an elevated position using a thermal monocular to scan for nocturnal wildlife. This permission is not always forthcoming, and there is a deep sense of unease amongst local guides when it comes to being out at night. The Day Forest is the largest ecosystem that still retains leopard in Djibouti, and predation on goats is frequently reported by local villagers, but sightings are extremely rare.
Day Forest NP - Bankouale
We begin today at dawn, with a quick breakfast taken at camp, before we head down the escarpment in search once more for the Djibouti francolin. Early in the morning is when these birds are at their most vocal, but even when their calls become cacophonous it can be challenging to finally get a sighting of this cryptic animal. With plenty of patience and a chunk of luck, we hope to gain unobstructed views today.
Following lunch at camp, we will hike for approximately four hours to the well-maintained, but again basic, Bankouale Camp. This hike is, for many, the highlight of their visit to Djibouti, offering unparalleled views and a real sense of the beauty of this remote area. After dinner tonight, we again hope to be able to seek out any nocturnal wildlife in the area using thermal monoculars.
Day Forest NP - Dittilou
Another early start allows us to spend much of this morning exploring the Bankouale area. The rockier areas, above the treeline, are home to occasional rock hyrax, with grivet monkey also being regular visitors to camp. If extremely lucky, striped hyena or even caracal may be seen, although there are very few records in this area.
Lunch will again be provided in Bankouale, before we continue by foot to the oldest camp in the park, Dittilou. Well-situated, but poorly looked-after, this camp is again in a lovely area, and is home to perhaps the feistiest troop of grivet monkey in Africa. If time allows, we will enjoy a short hike from Dittilou this evening in an attempt to locate caves being used by bats.
After a final morning in Day Forest NP, which we may use to target Djibouti Francolin again if it has evaded us so far, we will drive the rough track east from camp and head down towards the Gulf of Tadjoura once more. It is around a three-hour drive to the lovely Djalelo Protected Area, and the eponymous Djalelo Camp. Set up by a local conservation organisation, this basic camp offers access to one of the richest ecosystems in Djibouti.
A quick chance to settle in to the spartan huts will be followed by a late afternoon game drive in our closed vehicles. Fauna that may be spotted here includes the Somali sengi, as well as Soemmering's gazelle, Hamadryas baboon, dorcas gazelle, Speke's pectinator and Salt's dik-dik. A nocturnal activity will again be requested, that may allow us to spot rarer residents, including wild cat, honey badger and striped hyena.
The full day today will be spent in Djalelo, with morning and afternoon game drives focussed primarily on Speke's pectinator and Somali sengi.
Djalelo is wonderful, but today we depart to our next destination - Assamo. This camp, deep in the far south-east of Djibouti, is extremely remote, but arguably offers some of the most pristine environments in the country. Arriving by early afternoon, after a quick lunch en route at Ali Sabieh, we will head out on an afternoon game drive with a sole target in mind - beira. These elusive antelopes persist here in small numbers, and we will focus almost exclusively on them this afternoon. As we search, we may bump into gerenuk, Somali sengi, Hamadryas baboon, Salt's dik-dik and more.
Our final morning game drive will again focus on beira and Somali sengi, before returning to Djibouti City, stopping at Ali Sabieh again for lunch. Accommodation tonight will be provided at a city centre apartment, shared with other guests.
The tour ends with a transfer back to Djibouti Airport.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in February 2024 aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources. The tour will run from February 10th to February 18th.
The cost of this trip is £1,950 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinking water is included, as well as beer - other alcoholic drinks, or soft drinks, are not included. We are pleased to confirm that there is no single supplement for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £975 must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Djibouti at the end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Djibouti. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Djibouti will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Djibouti entry visa for UK citizens is $12 - these can be obtained on arrival at Djibouti, or ahead of arrival by applying for an e-visa.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Djibouti in February is hot and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 27 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 23 degrees Celsius, although it will get colder than this at higher elevations. It almost never rains.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
There are currently no security concerns in any of the areas visited on this tour.
To secure a booking on this fantastic holiday, please fill out the details below.