My first thought when I woke up in our hotel in Djibouti City was ‘OMG I’m going to swim with whale sharks today’ and then the panic set in ‘What if we don’t see the whale sharks’. Armed with snorkel masks, we drove ten minutes to the port by the Gulf of Tadjoura where the local fishermen were selling their catch from the morning, it was a hive of activity with lots of real characters.
Whale sharks are drawn to the clear waters of Djibouti between October to February. They are the largest fish in the world with sizes of 5-10 metres long. With mouths up to 5 metres wide, they filter their favourite grub, plankton, through its gills making it safe to dive or snorkel with these graceful kings of the ocean.
We spent a few hours scouting for whale sharks in the Gulf of Tadjoura and we had to be ready to jump in the water as soon as a sighting was made. As we visited in February, there were less whale sharks in the warm sea but we were lucky to have a few encounters and the sheer joy to see these beautiful fish up close is unexplainable! On one occasion, I was right above the whale shark, only a metre away… obviously my GoPro decided to fail me and would not turn on but the memory is stored firmly in mind. Don’t forget to have a snorkel round the reefs along the coastline too, you’ll see many bright fish darting in and out of the healthy corals.
Swimming with whale sharks and exploring the chimneys by Lake Abbe are just two of the reasons Lonely Planet highlighted Djibouti as one of the Best In Travel countries for 2018. I would recommend adding this to your bucket list now!
TIPS: You will need 4 hours in the boat as the ride out of the port and scanning the ocean for sightings of the whale sharks can take time, depending on how lucky you are. I think next time I will go in the middle of high season (November to January) in the hope to see more whale sharks.
Trip organised by Trekkup from Dubai
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