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Danakil Depression Djibouti: 3 Days Lac Abbe & Lake Assal on a Budget (Tips & Costs!)

The Afar region in Eastern Africa never ceases to amaze me. Home to some of the most distinctive and weirdest landscapes, it’s also one of the few places on planet earth where human actions are almost inexistent.

Danakil Depression: Explore Djibouti's Otherworldly Alien Landscape on a Budget
Danakil Depression

Visiting the two main attractions, Lac Abbé and Lac Assal, is FAR from easy. These two lakes are located in the middle of a vast desert, involves excruciating long hours of travel on nonexistent roads. Besides some members of foreign military bases, as well a couple of adventurers like me who feel a fascination to visit countries off the beaten path, there is not much traffic of visitors. Being in Djibouti means you should be ready for VERY VERY minimal tourism.

Djibouti is a trip for the adventurous soul, not the deep-pocketed tourist. You will navigate sun-scorched plains and volcanic craters, learn the secrets of Afar survival from nomadic families, and share hearty meals beneath star-studded skies – all on a budget that won't leave you gasping for air like in most other parts of the continent.

Lac Abbe's Alien Beauty: Budget Travel Guide to Djibouti's Stunning Acid-Green Lake
Sunset at Lac Abbe

ITINERARY FOR Djibouti, Danakil Depression

Day 1 Arrive in Djibouti.

Day 2 Rest and drive to Lac Abbe for sunset and camping

Day 3 Sunrise + Drive to Lake Assal


I flew directly with Fly Dubai, you can also fly via Ethiopia.

Visa application for Indian passport holders is now easy to do online and costs $12. Note that you will need a bunch of documents including a letter from a local guide.


Arabic and French are commonly spoken across the country.


Early November to February is always the best time to visit, especially if you don't enjoy the rains. If you are into diving, then mid-November is also said to be best time to swim with Whale Sharks.


Carry cash and exchange for Djibouti Franch for souveniers. Avoid using cards.


Mine was a long-weekend trip but you can easily organize a diving tour for 7 days or more. Combine with a trip to the two lakes and make it 9 days.


Much like in South Sudan, the luxuries are minimal in Djibouti. At Lac Abbe, I slept in a camp with a basic bed. Request for special food ahead of time if you are vegan or vegetarian.


A solo trip for 3 days cost me $450, find a partner to bring costs down further, including the visa cost. I found a local driver/guide to take me to both the places. His name is Moussa (whatsapp him on +253 77278015).


You cannot go to the desert without a local, but there were no safety issues for women or men. Always exert caution and use common sense. It felt deserted considering it's one of the least visited places on the continent.


Straddling the border between Ethiopia and Djibouti, is this “other-wordly” topological rock formation that would not yield to anyone less than an adventurous soul. The chimneys are contoured, and un-evenly distributed. Some rise a few feet from the ground, with the highest at 50 metres tall.

The Afar depression, in which Djibouti neatly sits, is the site of three tectonic plates parting. As the seam of two plates pulls apart, the crust thins until cracks emerge. Magma escapes and heats underground water. The water boils, forcing its way to the surface.

Getting to Lake Abbe is an adventure in itself. The journey takes you through vast deserts, rocky terrains, and dusty plains, offering a taste of the raw beauty that Djibouti has to offer. Once you arrive, camping under the starry night sky is a must-do, immerse yourself in the tranquility of this remote paradise.

Solo Travel in the Danakil Depression
Solo Travel in the Danakil Depression

My favorite part of the day was when the magical hues of orange and pink painted the sky at sunset, casting a breathtaking glow on the chimneys and the surrounding salt pans.


Picture this: a salty paradise smack dab in the Afar Depression, not minding gravity as it sits at Earth’s lowest point in Africa and third lowest point in the world!

Nestled between towering mountains, this saltwater lake is a sight to behold. As I strolled along, I noticed the greenish patches by the water’s edge. Turns out, it’s not some avant-garde beach party; it’s actually microorganisms throwing a rave that only extreme salt lovers are invited to.

Fun fact: Lake Assal is the runner-up in the “Saltiest Lakes on Earth” competition, losing only to some overachieving pond in Antarctica.


Forget posh safaris and overpriced lodges. This is Africa at in it's purest form. Djibouti's magic lies not in luxury, but in the raw, primal beauty of the Danakil Depression, a land where fire and water sculpt landscapes that defy imagination. 

Danakil Depression: The Adventure of a Lifetime – Affordable and Unforgettable!
My Journey in Danakil Depression, Djibouti

This isn't a curated Instagram adventure; it's a three-day plunge into the heart of a place nicknamed "Earth's Hell," where volcanic chimneys erupt, the ground sizzles under your feet, and the saltiest lake on Earth cradles you. This is an expedition for the budget-conscious explorer, a testament to the fact that the most awe-inspiring experiences aren't exclusive to the wealthy. So ditch the guidebooks and pack your sense of adventure.

Thanks for reading. Leave your questions and comments below.

Lots of love,


To explore more destinations, be sure to check out other blogs for additional insights.


I loved how raw Djibouti was. I didn’t want to leave Lake Abhe when I was there! Love your posts!

Feb 17
Replying to

so happy to hear it brought back fond memories for you :)

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