The people of Chad are some of the most fascinating, charismatic and genuine that one can meet. Their nomadic spirit, rich culture, and festivals offer unparalleled experiences that become harder to discover. Ennedi and Zakouma both offer such different, pristine and one off experience – that perfect blend of wildlife and nomadic culture!
Although getting to Chad can be challenging, the same can be said for anywhere truly interesting. If it were too accessible, the mystique and untrammelled paths would disappear. The journey before you reach there - and once you arrive, it is hard to leave!
I recently revisited Zakouma National Park and can guarantee the most amazing cultural and adventurous experience. It’s an extraordinary national park and conservation success story that’s home to epic endemic wildlife. Witness first-hand the rewards and dedication of the NGO, African Parks who manage the park and have been responsible for repopulating Zakouma National Park after the poaching epidemic which has now been all but eradicated. This national park is a major Chadian success story covering now almost 1,200 square miles.
Zakouma National Park sits in the south of Chad and is one of Africa’s best kept wildlife secrets – an unknown park in a little known country that harbours huge numbers of iconic wildlife species. A trip there will take you to a natural paradise in the very heart of Africa, home to 44 species of wildlife such as antelope, elephant, giraffe, lion, leopard, primates, wildebeest and more.
The opportunity of travelling through the region with its impressive scenery, stopping in village’s en route and meeting local communities following traditional lifestyles, almost untouched by the modern world is a humbling experience and something one will always remember.
In Zakouma, one spends each day on a game drives, marvelling at nature unfolding around you, as millions of red billed quelea take to the sky, making it turn black with their sheer numbers. Fly camp on the Salamat River where we searched for huge herds of elephant that live there and where we saw predators such as lion and leopard and enjoy a total wilderness experience far from the crowds often only found in better known African parks and reserves.
In Ennedi, visit the sandstone massifs, sculpted over time by water and wind erosion, staying at the seasonal Warda Camp or fly camping where no other tourist facility exists. Explore a region where one can see remnants of the extraordinary history of human occupation dating back to the Neolithic period, recorded through a multitude of preserved archaeological sites, consisting of engravings, rock paintings and mausoleums. And that is what you feel here – an overwhelming pioneering spirit, yet accomplished in comfort, affording the luxury of the finest guides in Africa and space – with no other tourist face in sight.
Whilst not an ersatz, luxury East African safari, instead the luxury represents space and time, scenery and wildlife and exclusivity. Chad offers a superb opportunity for those who want to make an economic contribution to the country, to the reserve and to ensure its sustainable model for a light footprint. Here one can experience pristine wildlife and culture in a hidden corner of the continent, and an unbeatable sensation of true off the beaten track travel.