Chad

Chad  is a landlocked Country located in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya on the north, Sudan on the east, Central African Republic on the south, Cameroon and Nigeria on the southwest and Niger on the west. It is the fifth largest Country in Africa in terms of land size.
Chad has 3 main regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanian Savannah in the south. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the largest wetland in Chad and the second-largest in Africa. The capital N’Djamena is the largest city in the Country.

Chad’s official languages are Arabic and French.

Because of its distance from the sea and the Country’s predominantly desert climate, Chad is sometimes referred to as the “Dead Heart of Africa”.

The main physical structure of this fascinating Country is a wide basin bounded to the north and east by the Ennedi Plateau and Tibesti Mountains, which include Emi Koussi, a dormant volcano that reaches 3,414 metres (11,201 ft) above sea level. Lake Chad, is the remains of an immense lake that occupied 330,000 square kilometres (130,000 sq mi) of the Chad Basin circa 7,000 years ago. Although throughout the centuries Lake Chad’s size considerably shrank to “only” 17,806 square kilometres (6,875 sq mi), and its surface area is subject to heavy seasonal fluctuations, the lake is Africa’s second largest wetland.

Each year a tropical weather system known as the intertropical front crosses Chad from south to north, bringing the wet season that lasts from late May to October in the southern region, and from June to September in the Sahel (central part of the Country).

The Sahara gives way to a Sahelian belt in Chad’s centre. In the Sahel, a steppe , mainly thorny bushes (mostly acacias), gradually gives way to the south to East Sudanian savannah in Chad’s Sudanese zone.

There are lots of interesting itineraries that Chad offers, but even though the Country is currently considered safe, we strongly recommend to travel with a very expert guide and strictly follow and respect the rules of this mostly Muslim Country.

A tour starting in ‘Ndjamena (the capital) continuing to the Ennedi Plateau (with its geological structures resembling the shapes of towers, pillars, bridges and arches) ending in the Guelta d’Archei, an important water reservoir, will offer you some of the most stunning scenery you can ever imagine.

If you love wildlife, and we certainly do, you can opt for a hidden gem, something unique that will kick you back in the past, in a time when Africa and wildlife were unexplored and pristine, wild and authentic.

There are very few places left nowadays that can still convey that unique genuine feeling and Zakouma is for sure one of these.

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ZAKOUMA

Situated just south of the Sahara Desert and north of the fertile rainforest regions, Zakouma has become a safe haven for Central and West African wildlife including the Kordofan giraffe and elephant, the latter of which had experienced a 95% decrease in number due to rampant, indiscriminate poaching prior to African Parks’ involvement in managing the Park. Poaching led in fact to a massive decline in the elephant population, more precisely, from 4,000 in 2002 to just 450 in 2010.

African Parks took over management of the park in 2010, and due to effective law enforcement measures and community networks, poaching has been practically eradicated with only a few individuals lost in the past six years. As a natural consequence the elephant population is finally on the rise, with over 500 individuals censused in 2016, the first increase in over a decade.

Security has been restored and Zakouma is now a coveted tourism destination, to the benefit of adjacent communities whose livelihoods have considerably increased. Zakouma is one of the most inspirational conservation success stories of our time.

Currently the elephant population of Zakouma is on the rise, with new-born calves being observed since mid-2013 onwards and with a population that fairly exceeds 500 individuals. Other species in the park are also increasing in number, including giraffe, roan antelope and Lelwel’s hartebeest. The park’s buffalo population, reduced to a scanty 220 individuals in 1986, numbers over 10,000 today.

During 2018 six rhinos will be reintroduced thanks to a deal between African Parks and the South African government.

Communities work with the park to ensure the protection of wildlife. By extending the park’s communication network to villages, the flow of information has been improved so that communities can notify park authorities of any suspicious activity or threat.

The park’s Tinga Camp and Camp Nomade have experienced a robust flow of local and international tourists, providing local employment and trade opportunities.

WHEN TO VISIT

The park is open November till May and closed for flooding the rest of the year.

The time to get the most exciting sightings runs from March to May, just before the rain starts falling.

From the beginning of March, the temperatures tend to increase to 40°C – 45°C/104°F –113°F (28°C/82.4°F late evenings and early mornings). Insects and mosquitos presence is minimal during this time of the year (except tsetse flies dwelling along some areas of the Salamat River). Towards the end of the dry season the chance of an early rain shower is pretty likely. The rains usually start in earnest during the second half of May but can potentially start in April.

WILDLIFE

Giraffes: Kordofan giraffes can be considered the symbol of this park. This National Park was created in the early sixties in order to protect this endangered species (only 70 of them were remaining back then).

Things have substantially improved for the Kordofan giraffe since, and now more than a thousand roam free in the reserve.

You would see them almost every day and sometimes in very big herds.

Lions: Zakouma boasts a good and healthy population of lions.

A recent census has estimated that more than 150 lions dwell in the park and you will easily see them during game drive.

Elephants: elephants deserve a few words: from a population of around 5,000 (someone say that years ago the Zakouma elephants were part of a bigger “community” of more than 300.000) in 2005 their number had been reduced by poaching to fewer than 450.

These survivors were so unnaturally stressed that they actually stop breeding, and were so traumatized that started congregating and moving about in just one herd.

Nowadays things are getting much better and no poaching has been recorded since African Parks took up the management of the Park.

The elephants have started breeding again and many new born have been spotted in the last few years.

As a result of this they currently behave in a more natural way. You can occasionally run into small groups here and there but the majority of the herd still remains hidden and you have to go and look for them.

Antelopes: in Zakouma you will find a stunning variety of antelopes in dazzling great numbers.

You will see animals everywhere, simply incredible!

You will see waterbuck, oribi, hartebeest, kudu, tang, reedbuck, roan and red-fronted gazelle, just to name a few.

Primates: olive baboons are almost everywhere, but if you are lucky enough you might also spot some Patas monkeys, bushbaby and Tantalus monkeys.

Leopard: there are leopards in the park but not as many as you would think due to the abundance of typical preys. They are rarely seen and they try to avoid human contact, probably because Zakouma has never had a lot of tourism; leopards are not used to human presence and they have a tendency to hide when they hear you coming.

Cheetahs and Wild dog: they are both present in the park but very rarely seen.

The Nocturnal ones: mongooses of any kind, caracals, jackals, servals and honey badgers (this is a very special place for servals and honey budgers) are frequently seen during night drives.

 

BIRDLIFE

Zakouma is a paradise for bird-watchers, especially during the dry season, when all the birds congregate in stunning big flocks around ponds and water holes.

Thousands of black crowned cranes, white pelicans, storks of every kind, egrets and herons, ducks and geese just to name a few.

Something unique and absolutely stunning (you will not find anything like this anywhere else) is the presence of a multitude of red-billed queleas, living and moving in an immense flock of up to 10 million birds!

Colorful bee-eaters, barbets, rollers and raptors of any kind, vultures and secretary birds will join in and make a real feast for your eyes!

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Visa

A visa is required for most travelers to Chad.  This has to be obtained, prior to arrival from your closest Chadian Embassy. Visa application is not cost free and relevant documentation, under the responsibility of the traveller, is required. An invitation letter will be provided by Zakouma National Park once your booking is confirmed and they have received the passport information of each traveller. Make sure you have all the necessary visas prior to your departure from your home Country.

Police Registration

On arrival in Chad it is required of each individual to report to a police station to register your entry in the Country. On arrival in N’Djamena an African Parks representative will meet you at the airport and collect your filled form along with your passport and 2 passport photos.  Your passport will be returned to you when you get back to N’Djamena.

Yellow Fever Certificate & Airport Arrival Advice

A “Yellow Fever Certificate” is required to enter Chad.  You will be asked to show it once you are through immigration so make sure you have it readily at hand.  On collecting your luggage, you will be required to produce your luggage tags to prove that the luggage is being collected by the legitimate proprietor. Your luggage will then have to go through the scanning machine.

Photography

Photography is not allowed in public places in Chad and the airport is no exception.  Police is always on the lookout for cameras so please keep all camera equipment & phones in your bags when traveling through the airport. We have special permission for tourists to use cameras in Zakouma National Park, however we strongly advise all guests to respect the law and local communities by not taking photos when visiting a village or market while in N’Djamena or around Zakouma.

Other tips when traveling to Chad

Chad is a predominantly Muslim Country so we kindly ask everyone visiting to respect this.  Please dress conservatively when in N’Djamena and when visiting local communities.  Men are advised to wear trousers; women are advised to wear trousers too, plus a long sleeved shirt and a head scarf.  You will not always have to wear a scarf on your head but it is wise to have one with you all the time throughout your stay. 

Malaria and Vaccinations

Malaria is the most dangerous disease in Africa, and it also occur in some areas of Chad.

Taking all precautions, included an adequate prophylaxis is strongly advised.

It is essential to take all possible precautions and measures to prevent mosquito bites, also in low risk areas, by wearing suitable clothes, repellent,  mosquito nets.

Please visit your travel clinic in time before your departure, in order to have the appropriate medical advice for your specific case from a specialized doctor, who may prescribe prophylactic tablets to prevent malaria.

Be aware of the fact that malaria can be contracted also if you are on prophylactic prescription drugs, therefore in case of symptoms like headache, muscular and joint pain, fever, shacking chills and in some cases nausea, diarrhea and fatigue consult a doctor right away and make sure to mention you travelled to malaria infested areas.

Symptoms usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite, even if some kind of infection can appear up to 4 years after the original bite, anti-malaria tablets may delay the appearance of symptoms.

Vaccinations for Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Polio should be reviewed and updated if necessary.

See above the Yellow Fever requirements.

Medical Insurance

It is essential to subscribe an adequate travel insurance policy prior to your departure. This should cover any medical situation such as hospitalization, as well as cancellation of your journey and evacuation from the host Country.

Usually lodges in the wildlife parks require guests to have a medical insurance.

Currency

Chad currency is the Central African CFA franc (XAF).

Having some USD cash could be an option.

Electric Plugs

In Chad the power sockets are of type D, E and F. Check out the following pictures.

(We strongly recommend to bring a universal adapter)

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