Salt Caravan Expedition in Chad
At the end of November 2024 we offer you a fascinating walking/dromedary expedition through the most beautiful desert in the world: the Ennedi of Chad. In this “Salt Caravan Expedition” we will accompany a group of camel drivers from the Mourdi region, northeast of the Ennedi, on their annual journey from their home village to the salt flats of Oudi Doum, on the western edge of the Ennedi.
For 12 days and 350 kilometres we will travel on foot or on camels along some of the mythical Saharan routes in search of salt. On this trip we will also have the privilege of visiting the most beautiful landscapes and places of the Ennedi at a slow and leisurely pace, as we will cross it from east to west.
Description of the Ennedi salt caravan route
We will leave Ndjamena, the capital of Chad, to travel for four full days by 4×4 to the Mourdi Depression. There, in a small village of the Mourdian ethnic group (Gorane) located in the north-east of Ennedi, the camel drivers will be waiting for us to embark on this caravan expedition.
On this trip we will accompany a group of more than 16 Gorane camel drivers and more than 60 camels from their home village to the salt flats of Ouadi Doum for 12 days. We will do it on foot or on camels, crossing 350 kilometres of the most beautiful landscapes and sites of the Ennedi and the Mourdi Depression.
Canyons, valleys, rock formations, dune chains, oases and rocky areas are just some of the places we will be travelling through on this caravan expedition.
We will cross the entire Ennedi from east to west and pass through the impressive and beautiful Mourdi Depression, visiting places such as Aloba, the Noi Valley, the Oyo Maze, the Archei Gorge, the Ouimina peaks and the impressive Ashule formations.
One of the most interesting aspects of this trip is that we will be able to live day after day with the Gorane shepherds in their annual search for salt.
Tea, prayer, bonfires for warmth, caravan sunsets, the “pilgrimage” along this centuries-old route, will leave us with images of remote times that refuse to disappear and that will never fade from our memory.
Once we arrive at the Ouadi Doum salt flat, we will see the extraction and loading of the salt into the saddlebags, and then we will travel back to Ndjamena in our vehicles. The return route will be through Faya and Djourab, and will take us three full days.
How will we travel in this Salt Caravan Expedition?
From the fourth day of the trip we will leave our vehicles for the next 12 days.
We will not have access to the vehicles at any time, although they will always be kept in the region in case there is an emergency or we need important goods. When we arrive at the Ouadi Doum salt flats, they will be waiting for us and we will be able to return to NDJ in them.
Each traveller will have a camel to sit on, or can walk if they wish.
Important: The caravanserais cover a daily route of approximately 30 kilometres. Normally they walk 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon.
We will adapt to the pace of the camel drivers and they will not adapt to us.
We will take cooks and all our luggage with us loaded on the camels. Also water, tents and the necessary logistical material.
It goes without saying that you need to be in good physical shape and have a positive attitude to endure the hardship of the journey.
The initiatory journey, context
As every year at the end of autumn, taking advantage of the good temperatures in the Sahara, different families from the Gorane, Zaghawa and Arab ethnic groups celebrate the survival of one of the oldest and most fascinating cultures in the world with each trip across the sands: the Salt Caravans.
As we saw on our last trip, many families in this part of the Sahara are still reluctant to succumb to motorised transport, which now effectively connects the remote salt mines with the commercial centres of the Chadian desert.
Unlike in the other Saharan countries, several caravan routes are still active in Chad, and they are very busy.
Some of them lead from Bao and Amdjaras, near Sudan (Zaghawa herders) to the Demi or Ouadi Doum salt flats. Others go to these same salt flats from the East Ennedi or from Mourdi (Gorane herders). Further south, Arab shepherds and camel drivers travel from the Batha, Salamat or Chari Baguirmi region to the Faya or Bir Liwa salt flats north of Lake Chad.
This is an “initiatory” journey that takes several weeks to complete and involves only the men of the family or village.
Once the salt has been obtained and returned to their places of origin, these caravanners will keep some of it, and with the rest they will barter or sell it directly.
If you want to know more about the mythical salt caravans of the Sahara, read our post about Salt Caravans. And if you want to make this dream come true, don’t hesitate to ask us for more information.