Published: December 4th 2009December 4th 2009
Djbouti, another country, another place that was not even on my list few months ago. Due to the fact that I was able to do a stop-over in Addis Ababa, why not go a little further. Addis to Djibouti is only 250usd return, just short of a hour flight. After my short night in
Addis, here I am, my 80th country, and the 20th in which I dive. Not many flights here, and the airport is a small messy place, with an outrageous 60usd visa fee. Well, I guess this balance my free visa in Ethiopia. The plane is full of men, mainly in the military, or link to
the military. You can see it clearly with all the uniforms at the airport. The airport itself is in the middle of a huge military base. Here are 2000 American GI's, but also 3000 french soldiers and their families, as well as the germans, spanish, japanese, norwegian armies. And
may be more, but those are the one I saw. Since Somalia has gone in the business of pirates, this is the place where foreign countries try to launch a counter attack on the pirates.
I quickly made my way to the
port, for a 45 minutes speedboat trip to Moucha Island. Another place, another world. There is no internet here, and electricity doesn't run all day long, provided by generators. Imagine, we are around 50km to Somalia in the South, Eritrea is around 50km in the North. Djibouti is also the port of Ethiopia which doesn't have any sea direct access. Yemen is just on the other side of the Straight of Aden, around 70km around from here...and Sudan is not that far away! Not really a safe area these days. But Djibouti is safe, thanks to all these soldiers and bases. And you can see them, Navy ship all around, helicopters and Mirage 2000, and other Air Force planes are all around. A true show of every minute for me.
So why Djibouti...well...easy, diving! From early october to january, the place enjoy a full pod of whalesharks. But be careful, mid-december to end of January, be ready for some serious rain (I did not experience it, but been told)! My main issue was to find info on diving in Djibouti. This is due to very few divers and tourists around. It seems that they have only 4 diving clubs.
2 are military clubs, out of reach for me. This leave you with a small club, and the Lagon Blue that I used.
My base...Moucha Island. Green/Blue clear waters, sun...a lot of sun, in the middle of "nearly" nowhere. 10 bungalows, totaling 20 rooms, but very very few people. During my 4 nights here, I went from 10 guests, to being the only guest on the Island. My first diner was spent with a young student/bartender from Norway. He is currently studying ethiopian music and languagein Addis. And did get here from Addis by buses and trucks, quite impressive! I learn a lot on Ethiopia, and mainly that a lot of info I got last week was not correct. So my last entry is full of mistakes. First, Ethiopia is mainly coptic christian, I had no idea about this. Second, Addis Ababa stand at 2400 meters high...way higher than that I was told. I also learnt the difference between north Somalia, south Somalia and the place called Somaliland, a "dangerous" place these days in Ethiopia.
Next two nights where shared with four young french, oil expats in Sanaa, Yemen. Being here, I realise in which kind of paradise
we have the chance to live in Thailand!
Let's get back to the diving! First, whalesharks. Well, if they are here, there is a reason, and this is the surplus of planctons, meaning a reduce visibility to between 10 and 20 meters. Not bad, but not great either. Next important point. The whalesharks are here, a pod of between 10 to 20 of them. But they stay in one little bay, and at the surface. So forget about huge sighting while diving, this is a snorkeling experience, and an hour by speedboat from Moucha Ilsand. Seeing whalesharks while diving in magical. A magic I'm fortunate to have experience twice, the last time in May with Ma'ri south of Phuket. Today, it is snorkeling, what you lose in magic, you gain in the number of genteel giants you spot. In most places, there is a boat, and your little group jump in the water each time you encounter a whaleshark. Here, you stay in the water, and those who stay on the boat spot the whalesharks for you. This means that you
can encounter whaleshark "arriving" on you...and this is also magical! I have stop to count at ten encounters
in less than 30 minutes. Enjoy the pics. Next year, same period we'll try to be in Mozambique with Ma'ri, to spot more of our great friends!
Beside the whalesharks, I did 7 dives. Diving is very nice here, not top 10, but definitivey worth the trip. Moray eels, Blue spotted rays, Tazars, hips of Lion Fishes and Nudibranchs. All this, with a lovely coral architectures as a nice bonus.
Not many tourists here. Most of my buddy divers where french soldiers. Imagine, they work from 6am to 1pm...and at 2.30pm, they are diving, not bad. Quite interesting to ear also...we saw 3 whalesharks this morning...this is from a Mirage 2000 pilot, who spotted them from his fighter jet the same morning! School children can dive here every week-end, nice. The week-end here is on Thursday and Friday.
On my last day, I stay in Djibouti city. Ok, there is not much to see and the place could do with some paint and a good cleaning. I wanted to go to visit Lac Assal, one of the biggest salt lake in the world, but that was a little too expensive for a single morning. Did I tell
you? Djibouti is not really cheap, thanks to the thousands of soldiers based here. But hey, without them, I'm not sure the place would be safe to travel.
One more country, one more dive...and I'm back home to my love ones. Few more trips in the coming weeks, but nothing to blog on. For our next entry, another remote place, another diving place...this time, we will go to paradise...with Ma'ri!
There are more photos below