Bird watching trip report

Bird watching trip report


I was going for work in Djibouti so I asked the company to send me to Djibouti a few days earlier. Djibouti, not a place you go for holiday and when I have to go, well, I took th eopportunity to get a few days of bird watching.

I was in Singapore for a few days of bird watching when they called so I really didn´t had a lot of time to find information about bird watching in Djibouti. I was not surprised as I had not expected Djibouti to be a tourist or a birding destination.

Hotels, not so many to choose from and I booked 4 nights on Acacias Hotel. It was only Sheraton and Acacias Hotel that looked like places where I would like to spend my night. Sheraton, their review was not so good so I chose Acacias Hotel. 10 US Dollars cheaper than Sheraton, but very expensive, almost 250 US Dollars per night.

And I managed to find a birding Guide, but I just got upset when I received his qoutation.

If you want to do birding in and around Djibouti city. It will cost you the following:

4x4 vehicle with AC and driver without fuel per day : $350. This means for 3 days $1050

Logistics preparations fee: lump sum of $590

Guiding fee : Non applicable

If your birding visit is targeted to our only endemic Djibouti francolin, you will may need to go to Day Forest and there I have to book for you for a rough accommodation at there I can book for you. Just let me know your thought and it will cost hereafter.

Package for a night including rough bedroom and meals per day at Day Forest tourist camp: $91

If it fits your expectation, please confirm and let me know which hotel will you stay once you arrive in Djibouti.

In summary the cost estimate for 3 days is :

Vehicle with driver without fuel: $1050
Logistics fee lump sum :$500

Day Forest camp $91 × 2 = $182

An estimate for 3 days : $1732

Plus 5% of Contingencies of the total $1732 : $86.5

The $1818.5

Almost 600 US Dollar per day and well, expensive, but the Logistics fee lump sum :$500 made me furious. This was robbery and I decided not to have anything more to do with this Guide. I have been around the word with private Guides, but I have never seen something like this.

So I left home without a booked Guide Yet another Smiley on hoping for the best.

Djibouti Visa

Apply for eVisa HERE I didnät had any visa when I arrived, and I didn´t had any cash in my valet. They needed 50 US Dollars in CASH for the visa. I was lucky, they let me pass so I could go look for an ATM.

The first ATM was not working and I returned to the immigration. One of the Officers followed me and we found another ATM and I could pay for my visa.


Ethiopian Airlines flight ET629
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Intl   -   Addis Ababa, Bole Intl
                                                   Terminal: 2
04Sep2018 01:14                       04Sep2018 06:10


Ethiopian Airlines flight ET362
Addis Ababa, Bole Intl        -   Ambouli, Djibouti
Terminal: 1                                                   
04Sep2018 09:05                   04Sep2018 10:20
Leaving Djibouti by boat


I didn´t found many hotels that i would like to spend my time at. Sheraton hotel had bad reviews so I chose to stay at Acacias Hotel, 10 Dollars cheaper than Sheraton. 220US Dollars per night so Djibouti is very expensive. A pasta in the restaurant was 30 Dollars. But the hotel was OK

Acacias Hotel

Land transportation

• AOT Limousine between my home and Bangkok International Airport

AOT Limousine

I recommend the AOT or any other taxi service if you are leaving early morning. The price per trip is 1200 Baht comparing to around 220 Baht + about 80 Baht road toll. But the taxi can easily be 1000 baht if you´re getting desperate when not finding a taxi.

Early morning flight and it can be a hassle to find a taxi that want to take you to the airport so I book AOT and the car wait for me outside my apartment.

Leaving Suvarnabhumi and AOT have desks in the luggage claim area, where I use to book my car while waiting for my luggage. There are also desks just outside the custom and you cannot miss them.

•Taxi meter (Public Taxi) from Bangkok International Airport

Arriving to Suvarnabhumi International and they have TAXI Meters leaving from the ground floor. It is quite organised and I was surprised the first time I used a TAXI meter from Suvarnabhumi back home.

Bangkok Airport Public Taxi Service

• Public taxi stand is located on Level 1 (Ground Level).

• Contact Taxi counter, Level 1 – Ground Level, near entrances 3, 4, 7 and 8.

• Receive a ticket from a taxi queue machine, proceed to the lane number printed on your ticket.

• Taxi fare: metered taxi fare plus 50 Baht airport surcharge, and expressway fees.

• Public taxis serving Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport must be less than 5 years old.

• Public taxi drivers must be certified by Airports of Thailand.

• Passenger drop off at Departures (level 4 – outer curb).


Bangkok Taxi meter

• Public transportation
I would never recommend anyone using the public transportation in Djibouti. And where ever I was going there was only one option, by car so you need a Guide with a 4WD.

My Guide

They gave me the name card for a Guide at Acacias Hotel. I called him and he came down to the hotel and we had a chat. He was charging 300 US Dollars per day and he would come to pick me up early morning. He didnät know anything about birds, but he knew the areas and I can recommen him if you ever go to Djibouti.

There is no web page and the name card only say: Akram Tour Guide - guideakram89(at)


Canon 5D Mk. III
Canon EF 28-300/3,5-5,6 L IS USM
Canon EF 70-200/2,8L IS II USM
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens
Canon Speedlite 600EXII-RT flash
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II
Panasonic HC-W585 video camera

Sound recorder
ZOOM H5 Handy Recorder

Weather / climate

I have been to Africa and the Middle East before so I knew what weather to expect. No need for any winter clothes, shorts and shirt would be enough during my time in Djibouti.

Djibouti - Climate & Temperature
Pictures from

Djibouti - Climate & Temperature - Click picture for full size
Pictures from


Association Djibouti Nature Association Djibouti Nature - Information about birding in Djibouti

African Bird Club

ebird - Find birding hotspots with bird checklists from all over the world

Avibase - is an extensive database information system about all birds of the world, containing over 25 million records about 10,000 species and 22,000 subspecies of birds, including distribution information for 12,000 regions, taxonomy, synonyms in several languages

Cloudbirders - Read birding trip reports from all over the world

Fatbirder - Linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see their sister site: WAND

Fatbirder is a fantastic web page with information from, I think every country in the world. My first stop when I plan for my bird watching trips. There is information about locations and guides, well, pretty much everything you need to know. Sometimes this is the only place I need to visit to plan my trip.

BirdingPal - find a birding Guide around the world


And the web page you cannot live without. I have been around the world looking for birds. I usually have a Guide, but sometimes it is not possible to find a Guide. So, well, I have lost count onhow many times I have had help to ID birds at BirdForum. Joining this forum have been very very good for my bird watching experience. is the place to learn about the worlds climates with more than 4000 locations documented. Each aspect of the climate is represented using colour enhanced tables and professional graphs so that data can easily be compared by switching between locations in different tabs in your browser.

“Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Socotra”

Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Socotra

Birds of the Horn of Africa is widely regarded as the best field guide to the more than 1,000 species of resident, migrant, and vagrant birds found in northeast Africa—and it just got even better. Now fully revised and expanded, this comprehensive, easy-to-use guide has been updated with the latest information on distribution, identification, and taxonomy. New vagrants to the region have been added; color plates, illustrations, and distribution maps have been thoroughly updated and improved; and much more—making this still the must-have guide for birders, naturalists, and travelers in the region.

Places to visit

Goda Mountains - Goda Massif / Forêt du Day

The Forêt Du Day ecosystem is a dry tropical Afromontane mixed woodland in the Goda Massif mountain ranges in the North of Djibouti with an altitudinal range between c. 1200 m to c. 1750 m and is an Important Bird Area (BirdLife International, 2000). It consists also one of the few forested areas still remaining in the country where, historically, the dominant forest tree was African pencil cedar Juniperus procera, which formed a closed canopy forest until a dramatic decline in the last 20-30 years which left a large proportion of the junipers dead or dying, and the canopy open (Bealey et al., 2006).

At higher altitudes, the under storey consists principally Buxus hildebrandtii, whilst in peripheral and lower areas the main species are Acacia seyal, Acacia etbaica and Acacia mellifera. Scattered large Ficus sp. occurs throughout. Beyond the forested plateaus at high altitude are extensive basalt plains with scattered shrubs including many Euphorbia sp. There are valleys with permanent open water in many areas, favoured habitat of the regionally vulnerable endemic Bankoualé palm Livistona carinensis.

is the home to 70% of the land based biological diversity. Ecology of this landform is considered an isolated outlier of the Ethiopian Montane forest hotspot & Ecozone, as important island of forest in a semi desert.

In terms of ecosystem of global and national significance, the Forêt Du Day is the home to 70% of the land based biological diversity and hosts a variety of rare, extremely arid-adapted globally threatened as Critically Endangered Djibouti Francolin, Leopard, Dragon and Livistona trees. Further it has survived for many centuries as biological diversity genetically reservoir and important natural resources to feed and contribute the community livelihood in a highly desert landscape in areas of the Djiboutian dry highlands.

Further, at Forêt du Day, the juniper woodland, which is a rest of an ancient forest, is in poor condition with a high proportion of trees dead or dying. Other concerns include firewood collection on lower slopes, hunting and human disturbance. Part of Forêt du Day was declared a National Park in 1939 and more recently protected area, but the designation is no longer valid before than at present time (Government 2004). In addition to its biodiversity importance, Forêt du Day Ecosystem provides natural resources (fire wood, grazing pasture) and environmental services (water supply, erosion control) which are vital to local livelihoods. The deteriorating natural environment is therefore of concern to local people.

The reasons for the poor condition of the juniper woodlands of Forêt du Day is unclear, but overgrazing by cattle, camels and goats, is certainly a major factor, possibly exacerbated by acid rains, climate changes and fungal diseases with no scientifically study evidences. Other threats include firewood collection, hunting and human disturbance. Although the species’ ecology and biology are also poorly known and its persisting behaviour to occur in dead and extremely degraded juniper woodland remains unclear for its long-term survival.
- From

The Goda Mountains

The Goda Mountains lie northwest of the Gulf of Tadjoura, Tadjoura Region in Djibouti. They rise to 1,750 metres (5,740 ft) above sea level and are the nation's largest heavily vegetated area and is the second highest point in Djibouti. A part of the mountains is protected within the Day Forest National Park, Djibouti's only national park.

The ecology of this landform is considered an isolated outlier of the Ethiopian montane forest ecological zone, an important island of forest in a sea of semi-desert.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

To drive up the mountain to the Day Forest National Park and you have to stop at a military camp when coming up the mountain. Not allowed to take pictures of amy military and police instalations or personel in Djibouti. There is a camp in the village called Day Forest tourist camp. I would not have wanted to live there. But there are several Hemprich's hornbills in th evillage. And according to my Guide it is one of the few places to see the Hemprich's hornbill.

Ali Sabieh and Assamo Garden

Ali-Sabieh/Assamo is located in the south-eastern and distanced from Djibouti city, the capital of the country about 120 kilometres. It is an area bordering with Ethiopia and Somalia and constitutes low hills and medium altitudes mountains intersected by wadis “dry rivers” and with large zones of sparse acacia, mixed shrubs and some small gardens developed in the broader wadis where ground water accessibility is easy.

By its geographical location in the border with Ethiopia and Somalia, diversity of bird species of this site shows a mix of species which differs from other IBAs b in Djibouti. The wadis with acacia shrubs support northern crombec, Arabian warbler, black bush robin, grey-headed batis, yellow-breasted and black throated barbets, yellow-necked spurfowl, and rosy-patched shrike.

Wadis with Tamarix patches support nightjar species (possibly European and Nubian nightjars). The gardens host large numbers of Somali bulbul and Rüppell’s weaver, Blue napped mousebird, individual grey headed kingfisher, red-billed oxpecker, crimson-rumped waxbill, green-winged Pytilia, shining and Variable Sunbirds, and wattled starling. Ali-Sabieh/Assamo is the only area in Djibouti where the Abyssinian scimitarbill, eastern violet backed sunbird and pale chanting goshawk have been observed.

Additionally, the area hosts two globally threatened mammal species such as Endangered Leopard Panthera pardus pardus and Vulnerable Beira antelope Dorcatragus megalotis.
- From

Dikhil and `As `Ela

• `As `Ela
`As `Ela

The Goda Mountains lie northwest of the Gulf of Tadjoura, Tadjoura Region in Djibouti. They rise to 1,750 metres (5,740 ft) above sea level and are the nation's largest heavily vegetated area and is the second highest point in Djibouti. A part of the mountains is protected within the Day Forest National Park, Djibouti's only national park.

The ecology of this landform is considered an isolated outlier of the Ethiopian montane forest ecological zone, an important island of forest in a sea of semi-desert.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As Eyla or Diksa (Arabic: ايلى‎), It is located around 160 kilometres southwest of the capital, Djibouti City, it has an estimated population of 684 people. It is located along the National Highway 6.

Interesting drive through the desert until you reach `As `Ela. Drive through the “town” and leave the main road going South for 10 minutes and you reach a garden. There was a lot of different birds in this area.

• Dikhil
There isn´t muh in Dikhil, but the Ferme Agro Pastorale De Dikhil. You need to ask for permission to enter the small garden. During my visit there was a lot of Rüppell's weavers weaving nests in the garden. To get the permission, I don´t know, my Guide arranged it.

But across the road from the small gate to the garden ther eis an office. Walk 100 meters down the road, to the left looking from the gate and the office is on the right hand side. Try to ask there, they are friendly.

Djubouti bird watching map

Bird checklist

I never use any bird lists, but since I try to make it in to Cloudbirders. A very helpful site when planning your birding trips. But they ask for a bird checklist, and if I use their service, of course I want to contribute as well. My two first bird watching trip reports was rejected by Cloudbirders.

So I started to take ideas from the reports I found on Cloudbirders. So I have started to use bird lists, eBird generate one for me and I can post it on Cloudbirders. I will post my birds on eBird and on my different “BIRDS THAT I HAVE OBSERVED” pages.

Check lists can come in handy to find out the local name of the bird etc. And Avibase have a list with pictures and sounds, excellent!

So I will post bird checklists here and if my Guides provide me with checklists I will also post them here.


Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World

Djibouti bird checklist from Avibase, click HERE

Djibouti, Dikhil bird checklist from Avibase, click HERE

Djibouti, `Ali Sabieh bird checklist from Avibase, click HERE

Avibase is providing you with bird checklists from all over the world. And I´m impressed by their web page. Select country and area and you get the bird checklist. Like the PDF files I got from Avibase on the links above. You also get the checklist with pictures and sounds.

The best part is that you get the local names of the birds and the online checklist gives the names in English plus the language you have selected. But it seems like the PDF cannot handle some alphabet.

For example the Japanese language so it is blank in the PDF checklist. But it worked excellent with Swedish. But you get them in the local language on the online version.

Bird list

I only listed birds I have got on picture before I started with eBird in November 2019. Now I record all the birds that I can identify. Before that see the DAY TO DAY reports and my lists of observed birds in different countries.

And you can visit my list of “Birds I have seen in Africa

My eBird checklists can be found HERE


Click on the links below for daily bird watching results:

5 September 2018: Flying to Djibouti

6 September 2018: Bird watching in Goda Mountains

7 September 2018: Bird watching in Ali Sabieh and Assamo Garden

8 September 2018: Bird watching in Dikhil and `As `Ela

Bird watching trip report




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