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Rediscover Chad

Zakouma, Chad

  • Horse racing in N'Djamena (capital city)
  • See Chad's last remaining elephant herd
  • Astounding concentrations of birds
  • Genuine camel markets
  • Vibrant nomadic Pastoralists (The "Nomads")


Why Chad

Chad, as a safari destination, is unburdened by cliches, because most people know very little about it. This destination is not for the first timer or African novice. Indeed, it is for the intrepid safari enthusiast looking for a new experience in Africa.

The first time I visited Chad, I searched for any literature I could find on the country. This proved difficult- no guide books, no romantic safari stories and no trip advisor reviews!

However hard I looked, it seemed Chad was in the process of being "rediscovered."

Chad has had a very turbulent past - hence it has been off the tourist map for some years. The way has been opened for guides (and now tourists) recently and the timeline is one of a conservation success story to be proud of.

The last refuge for wildlife in Chad has been the Zakouma National Park. Here, the donor funded organisation, "African Parks" has been tasked with the restoration of the wildlife, securing the park from Sudanese poachers and opening up tourism in Chad, once and for all.

The turnaround has been remarkable. Most notable, is that they have secured the safety of the last remaining elephant herd in Zakouma (in Chad in fact). In response to the ivory poachers tactics of hunting the elephants on horseback, Chad's elephants have formed one last remaining massive herd (more than 400) as a 'safety' strategy against the hunters. After decades of not breeding, the herd has finally relaxed and several calves have been born - sure sign that the elephants are less stressed.

Read more about Chad's elephants here

Why Chad

Now that Zakouma is secure and safe, politics are relatively stable in Chad and tourists are slowly starting to return, African Parks have recently opened a stunning "mobile camp" in Zakouma.

"Camp Nomade" is derived in part from the nomadic herder camps that wonder the grazing lands surrounding the park. Care has been taken to source local materials and furniture from surrounding markets, artisan markets and craftsmen. The camp is simple, yet luxurious and with no permanent structures (just the way we at Wildland Safaris like it!). The camp goes up for 4 months between December and January each year - it is "mobile" and so can be located where game is most concentrated, and be removed at the end of the season without a scar on the landscape.

Have a look at photos of the camp here

Wildlife in Zakouma

It is all about seeing something different and unique here.

The park boasts healthy populations of buffalo - with their interesting black and orange coats (similar to the redder forest buffalo in fact).

Chadian lions are fairly common and relaxed - research suggests they are more closely related to the Asiatic lions!

We saw a healthy population of a sub species of giraffe - Kordofan Giraffe. Most of the population of this sub-speciesare located in very hostile countries (Sudan, CAR, DRC), which makes seeing them breeding and relaxed in Zakouma, a rather rewarding sight.

Bird life is outstanding as Zakouma's floodplains hold water well into the dry season. Birds in the form of pelicans, countless duck species, Black Crowned cranes by the hundreds and colourfull Northern Carmine Bee-eaters are present in big numbers.

Noisy flocks of millions and millions of Red-billed Quelea that drink at dawn and dusk are entertaining.

The antelope are in good numbers in Zakouma, with concentrations swelling as the temperature increases and the water sources retreat. The peak concentrations start around March - April, although temperatures get well into the 40's!

Antelope species:

Buffon's Kob

Tiang (very Topi or Tsesebe like)

Lelwel's Hartebeest

Bohor Reedbuck

Waterbuck

Red-fronted Gazelle

One of the highlights for me was seeing the herd of 400 elephants - very skittish still though!

Zakouma is excellent for night drives - lots of civets, mongoose and honey badgers! We even saw a "Pale fox" on one of the drives.

We spent a couple of days actually venturing out of the park - first to visit the "Kach-Kacha" market and then to see the nomadic people of the grasslands.

Certainly, this was one of the best and most authentic markets I had ever visited - I am sure there was no supermarket or real shop within 800km of KachKacha!

Private Guides / Visiting Zakouma

You can only visit Zakouma with an affiliated private guide (they don't take direct bookings). The camp must be booked out in its entirety for a full week and so a group of 6 or more is needed.

Please enquire about logistics, visas and other important information about visiting Chad - every visit requires a lot of planning, which is why they insist you travel with a private guide that has been to Chad and Zakouma before.

Wildland Safaris, are of course, affiliated.

I have had the great privilege to be able to visit Botswana (both on several mobile safaris and high end lodges) and can say without hesitation that Wildland Safaris and guide-owner James Haskins provides one of the best experiences in the sector. James is by far the most dedicated and professionally competent guide I have known. His company has provided us with a well organised and comfortable safari while James went out of his way to provide us with exceptional game viewing and the trip of a lifetime.
Christine Klass