Trip to Gerewol in Chad with Ounianga and Ennedi
We present a new trip to Chad in which we will combine attendance at the Gerewol festival, one of the most impressive in Central Africa, with the northern route to reach the Ounianga lakes and the Ennedi plateau. A proposal of culture, landscape and nature that turns out to be one of the most spectacular options for discovering this country.
3 days with the Wodaabe at the Gerewol festival
In late September and early October, coinciding with the end of the rainy season, is the Gerewol festival, one of the biggest cultural spectacles in this part of the African continent.
Every year, around Dourbali, about 120 kilometres from the Chadian capital, two large Wodaabe clans (the Sudosukai and the Japto) gather for an impressive “beauty contest”. Their aim is to find a mate, as these nomadic pastoralist families have few opportunities to socialise in their nomadic daily lives.
The Gerewol is a ceremony where men dance and compete to be the most beautiful. The women are the judges and can choose their future husbands. We will be witnesses for three days living with the Woodabe.
The Woodabe are one of the largest nomadic peoples in Africa, belonging to the large Peul or Fulani family. Some researchers and personalities such as the Malian writer and ethnologist Amadou Hampâte Bâ, who was himself a Peul, have identified them as the direct descendants of the men seen in the cave paintings of the Sahara.
For the Wodaabe or Bororo (Peul nomads) there are three essential motives in life:
- The personal aspect. They proclaim themselves to be the most beautiful people in the world.
- Cattle. Cows with big horns are their most precious commodity.
- Family and clan relations.
- As a result of this cult of aesthetics, the Wodaabe are an unmistakable ethnic group. The men wear tunics and turbans, and shave the front of their heads to keep their foreheads clear. Women wear dark tones in everyday life and bright colours at parties. Their hairstyle usually includes two braids that frame their face and give them magical protection. Both have numerous facial tattoos with geometric motifs.
During the festival, men will be seen applying elaborate make-up to enhance their attractiveness during the dances that take place at dusk and in the evening.
This trip to Gerewol in Chad is therefore a unique opportunity to get closer to the different nomadic cultures of the Sahel. If you want to know more about the Wodaabe and the Gerewol Festival, visit our blog post: Travel to Chad’s Gerewol
Ounianga Lakes and Ennedi Plateau
After attending the Gerewol we will head to the north of Chad. We will travel to the Ennedi plateau and the Ounianga Lakes (UNESCO). Considered one of the most spectacular deserts in the world, it enchants all travellers.
Travelling to the Ennedi, one of the Sahara’s mountain ranges, is like being on another planet. It is not a “monotonous” desert – quite the opposite. Ennedi is home to canyons, ravines, oases and one of the largest collections of stone arches in the world. There are also numerous cave paintings depicting nomadic life thousands of years ago, as well as wildlife including the beautiful desert foxes or fennecs, and even ostriches.
The day begins with the sunrise cutting through the stone formations, and ends with the star-studded night. We move around in 4×4 cars with local guides and drivers, making numerous stops to hike and experience the desert. In Kumakonda we always choose the most spectacular places to camp, although it is not difficult to find them. Around every bend, around every corner of this desert, the views are incredible.
In addition to the scenery and nature, along the way we will meet fascinating ethnic groups, many of them nomadic, such as Arabs, Tubus or Fulani. These will be new opportunities to interact with the local population and observe their way of life around livestock and water wells.
And finally, after crossing Ennedi and the Mourdi depression, we will reach the Ounianga Lakes. Surrounded by large groups of palm trees, these lakes offer a surprising sight in the middle of the desert. Their size and different colours, due to the micro-organisms that inhabit them, confirm that this is one of the great wonders of Planet Earth. The effort to get there is more than compensated.
Welcome to experience Chad!