Lac Assal with the Chinatown Hotel staff
I had been walking around Djibouti City for three days asking tour companies, taxi drivers and just ordinary people about how to get to Lac Assal, but all were saying that it is nearly impossible to do with buses/hitchhiking and others quoted me with 350usd or so for a tour. It was not before me and my travel mate Eli went to Chinatown Hotel that we managed to strike a deal with Mr.Li who was running the place. He said, “just let me know what you are able to give and we have a deal!”. We gave him the price we wanted to pay and as we shook his hand he said that he would let us stay the night for free, throw in some dinner and drinks in the night and take us for free to the Somalians border. We were super happy and had a great time with Mr. Li and Mr.Wong who cooked delicious meals for us during the stay.
The next morning we were up early (quite hung over from the night before) and got into Mr.Wongs car to sleep the two hour journey to what is Africa’s lowest point and the Worlds saltiest lake. Instead of sleeping though we watched herds of camels walk along the road, we stopped for a view of what looked like a smaller version of Grand Canyon and finally for a view of Lac Assal/the salt lake.
Coming down and walking on the salt, floating on the water and climbing salt rocks I felt like it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been (the photos don’t nearly justify it!). It was like Uyuni in Bolivia mixed with the white sand banks in the Maldives mixed with the dead sea in Israel.
There were three big tour buses there at the same time as us with nearly a hundred tourists, but they were there just for ten minutes to take some photos before turning around and driving back, while we got to stay to swim, see the lake from different angles and go to the boiling lake next to the salt lake. There we picked some tiny fish from a cold freshwater lake and boiled them together with some eggs in the boiling lake to put it all with some salt from the ground on the baguettes that we had brought.
Lac Assal is the reason to visit Djibouti and has made me rank the country from one of the lowest (after just visiting the capital) to one of the highest. Going to Djibouti without seeing it would be like visiting Cairo without visiting the pyramids. A top experience that just cannot be missed.
The water is the saltiest in the World, so you will float without even trying!