The Afar people who live in the mountains near Mt. Goda haven’t seen such a green landscape for the past twenty-five years. Rare, torrential rains this past November surprised many.
Our tour group walks through Foret du Day National Park (Dead Forest), which takes its name from juniper, box wood, olive and fig trees deemed lifeless from the geothermic activity below. The area contains several endemic plants, as well as one bird – the Djibouti spurfowl.
Another member of our tour group now coughs into the open air as we sit around the table for a redundant dinner. The crud starts to spread. Doesn’t anybody cover their mouth when they cough? We retreat to the huts for the night.
The rains not only greened things up but washed out roads as well. Therefore, tomorrow morning we shall embark on a lengthy hike through a colorful river canyon from the village of Day, to Bankouale. We serve as a test group for this hike, as the guides will adjust conditions for future hiking tours based upon our experience.
Early morning mist exhilarates our souls as we descend into the colorful canyon.
Evidence of a recent raging river displays boulders wedged high in tree limbs. Our guide, Omar Ta Ta, blazes a new trail at a slow pace.
The terrain consists of boulders, rocks, and layers of colorful mineral rich rock beds.
Fifty shades of rock line the canyon walls and keep our spirits high.
We misjudged the length, difficulty level, and time required to complete this hike, no doubt due to zigzagging around boulders, etc.
Finally, we feel the finish line approaching when we pass a few desolate dwellings outside a small village.
Our tour group dynamics have changed from initial concerns back in Djibouti City, to joking around and forming friendships.
Starving from this eight-hour hike, we devour lunch like a pack of hyenas. After sharing showers, Marilynn and I also devour the remains of our alcohol stash, with the promise of purchasing more tomorrow.
In the morning, we walk through the village of Bankouale, where we see typical Afar housing huts, while mingling with the locals.
Marilynn is quite a hit with the kids. Between the high fives and selfies I can’t hardly drag her away.
One of our tour group members gives a soccer ball to this village, a cool practice she does throughout the world.
Into the Land Cruisers for a beer run! Wait a minute, this hotel charges by the bottle? One case of beer would cost us over $144US! Forget it. Our livers will be happy to get several days off anyway. (always look for the positive)
Off to have lunch at Omar Ta Ta’s family house in the village of Tadjoura. His mom and sisters serve us delicious, traditional fare. Thank you!
Tonight, we sleep in Beach Bungalows (outdoor toilet) on the Red Sea near the village of Obock. Something’s wrong with being on a beach without beer!
Back into the Land Cruisers after breakfast to crawl over rough roads for more “Djibouti Massage” on the way to visit the market in Obock. In an effort to kick up the rather bland food we purchase some hot green chili sauce in a plasic baggie.
We check out the second highest lighthouse is Africa and then head to the Gadoria Mangroves, where we take a short boat ride and eat lunch.
Our final two days we spend on the white sand beach at Plage des Sables Blancs Campment, where good snorkeling awaits. But still no cold beer!
Marilynn and I decide to sleep outside under the stars on military cots with mosquito nets. Oh no. Not the best time or situation for vomiting and diarrhea to hit, but it does. Have we caught the bug from that fellow traveler or did the hot chili we bought at the market contain a parasite? Or maybe we just need a beer. Whatever the cause, it was one very long night.
At least the illness invades us on the final two days of the tour, where we do pretty much nothing but lay on the beach. So I guess it was just “a bit unfortunate.”
Our Djibouti adventure leaves us with an overwhelming sense of fascination, wonder, and a few unforgettable experiences. Hiking around and through peculiar and diverse geological formations was a definite highlight. And while we know that there are good people all over this planet, the people of Djibouti without a doubt rank among the friendliest we have encountered. Bottom line, we are so grateful for this experience and wouldn’t change a thing. Not even the tour group.
Thank you Intrepid Tours and thank you, Abundant Universe!