Ardoukoba Volcano, Lac Assal and swimming with Whale Sharks

Djibouti Travel Blog

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Pelzeln Gazelles
Geologically Djibouti is very much alive. The most recent eruption was the Ardoukoba Volcano, which erupted in 1978. We did a morning walk to check out this volcano. The landscape is an extraordinary geological showcase of faults, folds and recent and ancient lava. (the most recent lave is the blackest). From the crater there was a great view of Lac Assal and the Bay of Ghoubbet.

On our way from the volcano to Lac Assal we saw 6 Pelzeln Gazelles. Very skittish creatures! As we drove through the mountains a facinating and colourful lake appeared, the Lac Assal. Situated at 153 meters below sea level, Lac Assal is the lowest point on the African continent, and the third lowest in the world (after Israel´s Dead Sea at 400 m, and the Sea of Galilee at 208 m).
Lac Assal
It is believed that the lake once was linked to the Bay of Ghoubbet and the Gulf of Tadjoura. Although a volcanic zone still separates them, it is thought that the lake may be fed sea water through underground fracture lines. The lake contains 3 billion tons of salt and the salt layer is 80 meters thick. The water contain 348 gram salt per liter and that is 13 times higher than in the Dead Sea. We went "swimming" there and it was just like floating in the Dead Sea. Easy to lay back and read a magazine!

The Arabic, African and Somali teutonic plates are sliding apart by 2 cm a year. In one million year this will create an Ethiopian port and in a very distant future, a Ugandan coast line. A new passageway, a new sea and a new East African Continent are being born!

Back on the boat we had lunch as we sailed from the Bay of Ghoubbet out of Devil´s Cauldron.
It was important to get through the narrow channel to the Gulf of Tadjoura before the currents became to strong. In the narrow gully at the mouth of the bay, violent currents can reach speeds up to 9 knots. Not a place for small boats or little boys! Safely out of the cauldron we anchored near Arta Plage at around four o´clock, which gave us enough time for snorkeling. This time it was not shallow water with reefs, but deep water. We were looking for whale sharks..........

Wow, is the only thing I can say. We were sitting in a little boat looking for the typical shark fin. Oh, and there it was. Right next to the boat, a huge shadow. My goodness, this creature looked enormous. By now we were sitting on the edge of the boat and one of the crew was screaming: go, go ,go. I did not think, just did what I was told and before I knew it, I was in the water about 1 meter from a 6 meter long whale shark. This was so unreal. Never in my life had I thought that I would be swimming with whale sharks. It was an amazing experience. These gigantic fish slipping through the water so elegantly and so quietly. It was a bit frightening too!
sarahsan says:
I had never heard about Lac Assal either Ian! Must admit that I hadn´t read the trip dossier very well before I went, so the lake was a great surprise to me!
Posted on: Oct 28, 2012
Dr_Seuss says:
Had never heard of Lac Assal. The swinning with sharks would have been great, once it registered just what you were doing :D
Posted on: Oct 27, 2012
sarahsan says:
Yes Ineke! It was a fantastic experience.
Posted on: Dec 18, 2009
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Pelzeln Gazelles
Pelzeln Gazelles
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Ardoukoba Volcano
Ardoukoba Volcano
Ardoukoba Volcano
Ardoukoba Volcano
Inside the volcano
Inside the volcano
Inside the volcano
Inside the volcano
View of 4 volcano craters
View of 4 volcano craters
View of 4 volcano craters
View of 4 volcano craters
View from Ardoukoba Volcano
View from Ardoukoba Volcano
Lava tunnel
Lava tunnel
Lava formation
Lava formation
Lava formation
Lava formation
Boiling water
Boiling water
Crack in the earth
Crack in the earth
Restaurant in the desert
Restaurant in the desert
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Salt
Salt
Salt
Salt
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Me reading a magazine
Me reading a magazine
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Lac Assal
Salt
Salt
Salt crystals
Salt crystals
Tortoise Island and Devil´s Islan…
Tortoise Island and Devil´s Isla…
Picknick area at the beach
Picknick area at the beach