Intense, alien, and relatively unscarred by tourism – Djibouti’s a worthy addition to your travel plans, says Georgina Wilson-Powell
I say Djibouti. You say – bless you? A tiny east African nation, Djibouti is one of Lonely Planet’s top places to visit in 2018. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, they’re used to it here. Curled like a C around the Gulf of Tadjoura between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, Djibouti has been both an Arabic and a French colony (it’s a prime trading spot between the Middle East and Africa), but was granted independence 40 years ago.
Tourism hasn’t really bothered Djibouti until recently, when the country’s unique geological makeup starting attracting adventurers interested in extreme landscapes and prehistoric history. The desolate rocks and crevices on the dusty horizon hide rich pickings for archeologists, dotted as they are with prehistoric art.
Aside from dusty history what’s so great about it? According to Lonely Planet, “this petite nation is in the process of being ripped in three by diverging tectonic plates. Magma seethes beneath ever-thinning crust; Martian-like deserts spew steam from fumaroles; and sunken lake shores glisten with huge salt crystals.”
While a trip here might not be quite as dramatic as that sounds, rural Djibouti certainly could double as a Star Wars set complete with strange phenomenon. Lake Assal is one of the most alien places on earth.