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Djibouti: Tadjoura

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Tadjoura | Djibouti | Africa

[Visited: October 2006]

We visited Djibouti right in the middle of the Ramadan period. Apart from having to do more of an effort to find food, and finding people often tired and shops closed, we were not directly affected by it. This would change on our way to Tadjoura. After a drive with great views over the Bay of Ghoubbet and through the volcanic landscape around Ardoukoba Volcano, the minivan climbed up the empty road. Almost all other passengers asleep, it seemed we were well on our way to Tadjoura. Suddenly, on a straight stretch of road, the driver completely lost control of the minivan and we hit the shoulder of the road. Hitting big rocks that rocked the minivan, the driver woke up and finally managed to steer us back to the asphalt. He had simply fallen asleep, exhausted by sleeping very little during the night and not eating during the day. It was much later when we finallly arrived and installed ourselves in one of the few hotels, just outside town and right on the shore.

Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): Playing football on the beach of Tadjoura

The next day, I went to town in the afternoon for a walk. Tadjoura, although tiny, is one of the oldest towns on the East African coast, dating from at least the 12th century. For a long time, it was the seat of the Afar Sultanate, and still now it is governed by a sultan. Obviously, the strategic position of this northeastern tip of Africa was also important back then, and Tadjoura was the port from where goods were transported to the highlands of Abyssinia (current Ethiopia). Not much has changed: while Tadjoura has declined in importance, Djibouti nowadays thrives on the tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia and sees many hundreds of trucks driving up and down to the highlands. In earlier days, camel trains had much the same function; although they still exist, the bulk of goods is transported by truck. The goods are different though: Tadjoura was used for slave and ivory trade, among others. The decline of Tadjoura set in when the railway line from Djibouti was opened.

Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): One of the seven mosques of Tadjoura

Tadjoura has for long been called La ville blanche, or the White Town, obviously because of the whitewashed walls of its houses. Walking around the pleasant town is especially beautiful near the waterfront, later in the afternoon, when the white of the walls reflects a soft, warm light and Tadjourans go for an afternoon stroll. There are not many sights of importance in this town, although some of the mosques are nice enough to see. It is mostly the people and the atmosphere that make Tadjoura a good place to relax and have a quiet time without the hassle, chaos and noise of much larger Djibouti.

Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): Women taking a stroll on the boulevard of Tadjoura
Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): Girl in a koran school in the streets of Tadjoura
Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): Woman selling qat in the streets of Tadjoura
Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): Shop on the waterfront of Tadjoura
Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): Man leading his camel over the boulevard of Tadjoura
Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): Waterfront of Tadjoura with beach, boats and people
Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): Boulevard of Tadjoura: going for an afternoon stroll
Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): View of Tadjoura in the morning
Picture of Tadjoura (Djibouti): Detail of mosque on the waterfront in Tadjoura

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