'Where on earth is Djibouti?' we hear you ask. Well, to be honest we're loath to say, because it might put you off going. How about these for a motley collection of neighbours? Eritrea to the North West; Yemen to the North East, Somalia to the South East and Ethiopia pretty much surrounding the rest. So, on paper (and Ethiopia aside) Djibouti is not exactly the obvious place to spend your precious holiday time. But that would be to overlook one very muscular, very heavily armed and very visible factor - the presence of the US military's Horn of Africa Combined Joint Task Force - which is based in the country. Quite simply, you don't mess with Djibouti.
Formerly known as Obock, then French Somaliland, and finally the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, the name Djibouti is positively tame by comparison. With the comforting presence of the military might of the US in mind, we highly recommend a Djibouti holiday for several reasons - the extraordinary scenery of the inland salt pans; the incredible marine life and, most importantly of all, because you'll never again lose the 'where I've been' game.
This tiny country has more than enough to warrant a trip, either in its own right, or more likely in combination with Ethiopia. A series of salt lakes dot the landscape, with Las Assal in the Afar Triangle a mere 509ft below sea level, making it the lowest point on land in Africa and the third lowest land depression on Earth after the Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee. The whole area is extremely bright and glitters with crystallised salt, so sunglasses are a must, and what little water there is is the most wonderful turquoise.
Another Lake, Lac Abbe, makes for a perfect overnight adventure destination with the sunsets here some of the best on the planet, and so little light pollution that at night a dome of stars stretches down to the horizon in all directions. This is where three tectonic plates meet and this subterranean activity has created bizarre terracotta-coloured chimneys that rise like termite mounds from the flat white ground.