Travel to Chad
With a population of around 12 million inhabitants and a surface area of 1,284,000 km², about two and a half times Spain, in the heart of Africa, Chad is one of the largest countries on the African continent. To travel to Chad is to travel to a country with a great diversity of ethnicities, cultures and landscapes. A crossroads between the Maghreb countries and sub-Saharan Africa.
Chad’s three different climatic zones – Saharan, Sahelian and Sudanese – are full of natural and cultural wonders, such as the Ennedi Massif (UNESCO), the Ounianga Lakes (UNESCO), the Tibesti Mountains (proposed for UNESCO), Lake Chad, the Zakouma National Park and the anthropological sites where the ancient hominids of Djurab were found.
Is it safe to travel to Chad?
Travel to Chad and in particular to the Ennedi massif, the Ounianga lakes, attending the Gerewol festival or visiting Zakouma is perfectly safe.
For the more adventurous travellers looking to explore regions off the beaten tourist track, Tibesti and Lake Chad are uncharted paradises. These two regions may be subject to travel restrictions.
The Ennedi Massif, inscribed by UNESCO in 2016, is located in the eastern Sahara, northeast of Chad, and is one of the six mountain ranges of the Sahara.
One of the main objectives of travelling to Chad is to visit the Ennedi Massif, one of the most sublime corners of the African continent.
Over millions of years, wind and water erosion have sculpted the wonderful Ennedi Plateau, carving canyons and valleys that make up a spectacular landscape. The permanent groundwater is essential to sustain the ecosystem of the Ennedi massif, nurturing the flora, the increasingly abundant fauna thanks to the new Ennedi Nature Reserve project managed by African Parks and the people who live here.
Thousands of images have been painted and engraved in the caves and rock surfaces of Ennedi, constituting one of the largest collections of rock art in the Sahara. The exceptional value of the Ennedi massif is due to the combination of three aspects: natural beauty, relictual bio-diversity and rock art.
And although the Ennedi massif is usually visited in 15 to 20 different locations concentrated in a space similar to the Madrid region (8.000 km2), much of this territory (like Netherlands 40.000 km2), known as the Eden of the Sahara, has yet to be explored.
Eclipsed by the Ennedi plateau and the Ounianga lakes, the Mourdi depression and its seas of dunes and rocks is another part of the Chadian Sahara worth exploring.
Undoubtedly, the possibility of flying and taking photographs and videos offers a breathtaking perspective of the sublime nature through which we are travelling.
In this “travel to Chad” post we will combine some images taken by me, mainly using a drone, and others taken by some of my travel companions such as Edwin Edelelenbos, Enrique Pidal or María Tudela.
Welcome to planet Chad
A fantasy landscape like no other. The erosion of wind and water has created endless rock formations and breathtaking canyons. Although many tell us that similar landscapes can be found in Algeria, Jordan, the USA or Namibia, all passengers agree that none of these destinations can compare to the Ennedi, neither in size, nor in variety, nor in its fascinating culture.
Many times people interested in travel to Chad ask us about the natural stone arches of Ennedi. There are countless of them, we could spend two weeks just visiting arches. Here are some images of the most representative arches of the Ennedi massif.
With a height of 120 metres and a width of 77 metres, the Aloba Arch is the largest arch in Africa and the second largest on the planet. A true wonder of nature that is hardly known or visited.
To get an idea of the proportions, I share another image taken from below showing several fellow travellers.
Another masterpiece made by nature. Eroded sandstone arch, called Djoulia arch, in the Sahara Desert, Ennedi Natural and Cultural Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chad.
More stone arches from the Ennedi Plateau
In addition to the Aloba and Djoulia arches, there are many other incredible examples such as the Elephant Arch, the Djoli Arch, the Petit Aloba Arch or the Arch of the Tooth.
To travel to Chad; the fantasy of the Peaks of Ouimina
After several years of making trips in Chad, knowing like few others the terrain in which we move, we have managed to have the best possible locations to set up our camps. Incredible places to spend the night, which combine the most spectacular landscapes of Chad and at the same time offer us shelter from the winds and harmattan typical of these African lands.
With places like the Ouimina peaks in the Ennedi Massif, travel to Chad is an unforgettable experience.
Sunset is possibly the best time of day to explore the rock formations of the Ennedi massif on foot.
Gueltas, permanent waters
The term ‘guelta’ is of Arabic origin and is synonymous with oasis. These oases are the manifestations of the groundwater that outcrops in the deepest part of the canyons of the Ennedi massif.
These gueltas, full of water, play a vital role in the socio-economic activity of the local nomadic population, who roam between the west and east of the Ennedi region.
Although there are more and more private wells where water is extracted with a motor and the herders pay for the water used, the large camel herds that roam the Ennedi region still enter the gueltas to find water at no extra cost.
In the Ennedi massif we usually visit two gueltas (there are several others such as the Maya guelta) with permanent waters where shepherds take their herds of dromedaries to drink in the dry season.
Guelta of Bachikele
Located in the easternmost part of the normally visited part of the Ennedi Massif is the Bachikele Gorge. A beautiful, narrow canyon where it is usually possible to find hundreds of dromedaries. Outside, dozens of monkeys watch from the rocks as visitors pass by.
In the picture, we show you the Bachikele Guelta, the narrowest of the Ennedi massif.
Guelta of Archei
In this one, the Archei Guelta in the early morning, before the herds of camels take the guelta for themselves.
The waters, often coloured black by the excrement of hundreds of dromedaries that enter Archei every day, meander winding through rock walls over 100 metres high.
There are caves in these walls. In some of them, the ones on the outside, we can see some cave paintings. Other caves are used by nomads to rest, drink tea or store their belongings.
The Guelta of Archei is perhaps the best known place not only in the Ennedi Massif, even in the whole of Chad. A natural scenery that looks like a scene out of papier-mâché.
Unless the waters of the Guelta are low and can be crossed on walk, the visit to Archei is in two parts. The first is from inside the canyon, which offers a view from below, and the second is the panoramic view from the natural lookout point at the top of the canyon floor. To reach this viewpoint you normally have to walk for about an hour.
Another of the most spectacular canyons in the Ennedi Massif is Bechike, where nomadic shepherds with their large herds of dromedaries are also a common sight, and they often go in search of some of the waterholes.
Wells consisting of a simple hole in the ground from which water is drawn with a rope and a container.
The Oyo Labyrinth, another impressive formation in the Ennedi Massif.
At the foothills of a large dune and the so-called Mont Saint Michel de l’Ennedi is a veritable labyrinth of stone formed by erosion. Entering Oyo is like entering an imposing citadel. In the depths of the labyrinth, sheltered from the winds, we usually set up camp one of the nights.
Hubaike, sand and stone
One of our favourite locations in the Ennedi massif. Situated on a hill, this spectacular labyrinth of rocks set in golden sand offers possibly the most beautiful sunrises on the Ennedi. The remains of an ancient settlement can also be found here.
Pinnacles and the great dune of Chigou
The hike up the great dune of Chigou offers a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding pinnacles. In front of it, there are several examples of “mushrooms”.
Remnants of the Bir Kora war
One of the most surprising aspects when we travel through the different battlefields in northern Chad, known as the Toyota war, is the state of the remains of the war machinery. It is incredible that the ironwork, which has been abandoned in the desert for more than 30 years, is perfectly clean, polished and smooth, even the ones that have shrapnel in them. You really get the feeling of being on a set. I suppose that these same environmental conditions and erosion are what have shaped the majestic landscapes of the Ennedi and Tibesti.
Caravan Oasis of the Ennedi Massif
In winter some Gorane and Anakassa herder families undertake a month long journey with their families across the Ennedi. In Kumakonda we have located some wells and oases in rarely visited areas of the Ennedi where these caravans spend the night and/or rest.
Travel to Chad with Kumakonda
At Kumakonda we are experts in Chad. We have been travelling around Chad for years and know the whole country like few others.
These are some of the places we visit in the Ennedi Massif but they are not the only ones. We usually spend four days in this amazing region on each of our trips.
You can join one of our scheduled departures, which we recommend, or you can travel to Chad privately with a tailor-made trip for 3 or more travellers.