In all hot (or very, very hot like here) countries, which were once colonized by Europeans, people have always managed to "find" a climate station to escape the heat of the coast: Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, Pano Platrès in Cyprus, etc. In Djibouti, it was Arta who was chosen by the French military. The station, a district capital, is located at an altitude of 800 metres.
The beach of Arta is freely accessible and there are a few boats to negotiate a dive towards the whale sharks. The site is also much appreciated by wealthy Djiboutians, including the President of the Republic, who traditionally has a summer residence there. It is always cooler there than on the coast (but the coolness is still very relative in summer), sometimes ten degrees less. The altitude also allows you to enjoy a superb panorama of the Gulf of Tadjourah and the Goda Mountains. The sunset is not to be missed.
Arta is also a seismic station. The seismic observatory, managed by the CERD (Centre d'études et de recherches de Djibouti) and the Institut de physique du globe in Paris, studies, analyses and classifies the ground movements in the region, using hundreds of sensors scattered all over the place. You will surely see small white antennas used to take readings, while walking around the Ardoukoba volcano for example. You can ask to visit the centre (to be arranged in advance), to better understand the exciting game of plate tectonics taking place in the Djiboutian territory. You will discover that you are walking here on a ground that is in almost perpetual motion (from 15 to 2,000 shakes a day). When you leave the centre, the rift will hold no secrets for you. This visit is therefore highly recommended before going to the fault zone, or on your way back.
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