They have an excellent resident pride of lion, good numbers of the Kordofan giraffe (50% of the entire Kordofan population live in Zakouma) zebra, Defassa’s waterbuck, Lelwel’s hartebeest and the beautiful and fairly rare Roan antelope together with a wonderful array of birdlife (over 373 species recorded). And if you time it right, you can see the beautiful and vividly marked carmine bee eaters which return to Zakouma in March.
It is home to several black rhino too. The joy is that for regular safari goers, it shakes them out of their comfort zone as one is seeing entirely new species of antelope and giraffe not encountered on safari anywhere else in southern or East Africa. A safari here is reminiscent of Africa 100 years ago.
This is a safari which will appeal to a traveller seeking an untouched, pristine and rare experience, guided by Africa’s finest guiding fraternity. Safaris are conducted by open vehicle and on foot, where one learns so much more and feels at one with nature.
There is also a fabulous cultural aspect where one can see villages which are entirely untouched and unused to tourists. Visit the vibrant cattle markets where jewellery and trinkets can also be found, witnessing Arab caravans, traders coming to market on their camels, replete with their Bedouin camps in tow. One can reach Chad relatively easily from Paris or Addis Ababa and it makes a wonderful combination with Ethiopia.
Since African Parks’ involvement in Zakouma National Park in 2010, this now serves as one of their greatest success stories. This region is probably the last stronghold for wildlife in the western and Central African region. Here one stays at the impossibly romantic and beautiful Camp Nomade with just a handful of simple, gauze tents, allowing one views right across the Rigueik pans where flocks of two thousand black crowned cranes dance, pelicans and doves fly in great numbers and a large variety of antelope come to graze.
With a strong lion population, one can sometimes hear them call each night and lion sightings are numerous, too. The sitting room affords infinite views across the plains, teeming with wildlife and is relaxed, decorated in an elegant, Moroccan/Bohemian style.
Even better still, the experience is elevated as Zakouma operates on a philanthropic basis. Every safari entering the park directly benefits the local community – of which African Parks employs 200 people. This means that when you travel there, the impact you have is measurable. The park fees are contributing towards the rangers and the anti-poaching initiative as well as the local community as a whole.
African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation, formed to protect and rehabilitate some of the largest reserves in Africa in partnership with governments and local communities.
Our safaris to Chad depart in February, March and April and are taken on a private basis (one takes over the camp exclusively), led by the top private guides in Africa. A safari to Zakouma should be viewed as a long term investment into the park and not just ‘a safari’. This is a safari for people who deeply care about the long term future of the park and all its inhabitants.
The safari element lasts for a week, starting off with the first night at Ndjamena, the capital, staying at an excellent hotel, and then flying by private charter into Zakouma. One then stays a week in this wildlife concentrated region, with a couple of nights fly camping (in the drier months, the large herds of elephant move along the Salamat River). Since the expansion of this park this year, wild dog can be found further north in the Park and again, may be a reason for moving camp.
Another fantastic option is that one can now combine the Sahara desert with a safari to Chad at Ennedi, a UNESCO world heritage site offering the perfect complement to a wildlife safari. Here one can find preserved archaeological sites, rock painting and mausoleums as well as entrancing scenery and extraordinary, untouched culture.