Djibouti - Facts

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  • Advance Notification: An Agent is mandatory unless your yacht is less than 30ft. Be sure to contact your Agent in advance. See Clearance for details.
  • Djibouti is located in the Red Sea, opposite Yemen, and is a small country of just 23,000 sq km.
  • The population is made up of Somalis (60%) and Afars (35%) and in the second half of the 19th century became a French colony (called French Somaliland) which gained independence in 1977. Djibouti port is the main supply route for land-locked Ethiopia.
  • Djibouti is a convenient port of call for both east or westbound yachts. Those bound for the Mediterranean arrive in Djibouti during the NE monsoon, mainly between January and March.
  • Exploring the Gulf of Tadjourah and Ghoubet Al Khareb should not be missed, however, obtaining permission is rather complicated, greatly eased by using the right agent.
  • Diving here is excellent as industrial fishing is banned and the coral reefs are healthy. It also helps that the water temperature is close to 30 degrees. Between November and January the coast is frequented by the 40m long whale-shark.
  • Djibouti sits on the Afar Triple Junction where the African, Somali and Arabian tectonic plates meet. As a result, the scenery is spectacular with volcanic rock, lava flows, hot springs, salt lakes, petrified forests, and an almost extra-terrestrial landscape.
  • The French maintain a naval base in the port which means that provisioning is good, better than Aden, although as the majority of goods are imported they tend to be more expensive.
  • Repair facilities for yachts are very limited, although you may be able to find a few workshops capable of carrying out simple repairs.
Green blue water surrounded by yellow sand and arid rock with white crusts of salt around its edges
Lac Assal is a saline lake located 155 m below sea level and the world’s largest salt reserve. It is connected to the sea by a subterranean channel.

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Djibouti was last updated 10 months ago.

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  1. August 29, 2023 at 4:39 AM
    Frank Weiand says:

    Arrived with SY Leeloawadee in Djibouti Port on 21.Aug 08.00PM. Stayed on Anchor and got check in next morning. Within 1hour, all check in was done incl. Navy inspection, visa and port authority.
    Agent Hassan was amazingly supportive with all we needed. Arrange taxi, food delivery, fuel, boat cleaning, diver…..
    Just perfect service.
    Total cost:
    Diver – 5 hours 45,- USD
    Diesel: 1.4 USD / Ltr.
    Agent: 350,- USD check in, check out and all authorities incl.
    There are big supermarkets nearby, but all is very expensive in Djibouti. A box of Beer 60,- USD
    Taxi to Town: 5,- USD
    People is very friendly and we had a very pleasant stay. Some good restaurants in town.
    We left Djibouti on 25th 7.30AM towards Socotra. All weather models ( Predict Wind Professional) are more or less wrong in this area. WE stayed between the two traffic zones heading East. Lots of ships around us all the time.
    The Navy war ships has a higher presence there due to the EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta. There are warships all over, even from China.
    An Japanese airplane flow over us one time checking in and contacted on channel 16. We checked in daily at 8.00AM by email to UKMTO and got a return message after minutes.
    A Spanish Fregatte send me an e-mail with contact detials of all officers on duty and asked me to contact them for any help or in case of anything suspicious happend.
    We felt safe all the time and no issue while under way in the Gulf of Aden.
    Now its 29.th August and we are leaving the International Transit Corridor in 2 hours, going down S.

  2. May 22, 2023 at 9:08 AM
    Patrick Catellani says:

    Djibouti Sailing Permit issue – 5 to 21 May 2023

    Preface:
    Sailing Yacht Tabata III – 24mt ketch – 5 crew
    We are sailing around the world collecting underwired video footages, especially shark’s videos.
    Everywhere we go we hire local agents for assisting us with formalities clearance and logistic. We notify our arrival 4 to 5 months ahead so that agents have time to organize.

    Case:
    We arrived in Djibouti on the 5 May 2023. Our local agent was Mr. Ahssan Phoenix of Red Sea Up Down Yachting Agency. Our requirements were to get assistance for boat and crew clearance, organize refueling, get sailing permit and authorization to dive in the Tadjoura Gulf and at the Seven Brothers Islands.
    The 5th of May at our arrival, Mr. Ahssan greeted us and took us to the immigration office for passports stamps. Afterwards he arranged the boat inspection by Custom/Cost Guard department.
    All was done the same day. In the afternoon Mr. Ahssan told us that we could depart for our trip within Djibouti waters. We asked if we had to get any documents and the answer was NO and we were good to go.
    We departed from Djibouti harbor on the 6 May and sailed towards the Western area of the Tadjoura Gulf. After two days of sailing and diving we were approached by a navy boat (Marine National) whom crew brusquely ordered us to return to port with machine guns in sight. They’d escorted us for 10 hours back to Dhibouti harbor where we arrived at midnight on the 8 May. The Harbor Master officer told us to drop anchor in the bay and wait. So we did waited….for 9 days! Took over a week to understand the issue. The problem was (apparently) caused by the agent Mr. Ahssan Phoenix whom didn’t applied for all of the necessary permits. Every departments stated that was not our fault but despite this, we had to stay in port until investigation was completed. The police arrested Mr. Ahssan Phoenix on the 10 of May (and released him 4 days after) therefore we hired another agent as is impossible to foreign to deal with local authorities. Our new agent Mr. Mohamed Ali of Djibouti Faucon Du Golf agency, did a great job and within 24 hours managed to get us the missing permits (Affaires Maritimes and Agence National du Tourisme di Djibouti permits), but nevertheless the authorities (Harbor Department and Navy) denied us the permission to move.
    Days were passing with no news so we lost hope and interest in exploring Djibouti waters and we decided that was time to leave the country. We contacted our embassies (French and Italian) for help and within minutes the case was solved and we were free to move again. Apparently embassies made few calls to some generals whom kicked some asses .
    Moral of the story: if you plan to stop in Djibouti just for rest and refuel with no need to sail within the area the procedure is very simple: on arrival contact Harbor Master, Immigration and Custom (boat inspection is done by Guard Coast). An agent can simplify this process. If you plan to stop longer and sail along Djibouti cost-line, which is very beautiful and deserves to be visited especially by divers, Please be aware that permits request procedure is quiet complicate and you need an agent to assist you for this. We highly recommend Mr. Mohamed Ali – WhatsApp +25377880007 email: [email protected] who is the most experience agent with best contacts. There are many offices that you need to ask for permission to navigate within Djibouti waters. Some will issue a document others will simply acknowledge your request and give verbal consent. Those offices are:
    1. Djibouti Harbor Department (verbal authorization)
    2. Immigration Office (verbal authorization)
    3. Custom Office (verbal authorization)
    4. Affaires Maritimes (will issue permit – costed us 500USD)
    5. Agence Nationale du Tourisme de Djibouti (will issue permit)
    6. Coast Guard (verbal authorization)
    7. Marine Nationale (Navy) (verbal authorization)
    We were told that also Harbor Police Office (other than harbor Master) need to be notified but we have no confirmation on this.

    Djibouti authorities are not use to have private sailing yacht cruising around and the agents/officers themselves are not clear about which permit need to be requested and in which order.

    You must notify to all office, through your agent, your intended itinerary and every night anchorage point. Provide them copy of boat registration and crew list. Everyone there uses WhatsApp and the offices accept that the documentation is forwarded with this system.

  3. February 27, 2023 at 1:10 PM
    profile photo
    sue-richards says:

    Report received from Sailing Vessel TUVALU from Barcelona, Spain [www.tuvalubarcelona.es]

    Update Gulf of Aden:

    Between the 12th to the 26th of February 2023, we sailed with our Dufour 40 Performance TUVALU from the Maldives (Uligam) to Djibouti. It was a fast trip with most of the day’s nice winds between 10 to 15 knots, so we have been running the engine only for around 48 hours.

    The European MSCHOA and the British UKTMO who are protecting the area are still present, contrary to the latest news (saying that they will cease military protection at the end of January 23). We had flyovers twice by a military airplane, talking to them on VHFCh. 16. We also sent to both organizations our daily position through IridiumGo, starting the reports once we left Maldives. We had absolutely no issues with pirates.

    We sailed the 600 miles of the ETCM virtual channel in between the transiting cargo ships channel, in a 2 miles-wide area. There are many cargo ships, and at all times you can see several of them – so, you are never alone! But if you are sailing in the area in between, then you are free of them and it’s quite safe.

    We left our AIS on, as MSCHOA recommend yachts do, as well as our PredictWind Tracking page: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/SV-Tuvalu/

  4. February 19, 2023 at 7:40 AM
    flyingfish says:

    We are about to leave Djbouti after an enjoyable weeks stay. We heartily recommend Ahssan as agent. His will go beyond to help and while Djibouti is expensive his fee is reasonable. The 2 day trip to Lac Abbe is fantastic.

  5. August 8, 2020 at 11:56 AM
    marjolein says:

    I just want to let you know that Djibouti is open since 17th of July. I saw that it still stated that it is closed, but that information is not correct anymore. I hope someone can adjust it.. thanks!

    Marjolein