Lake Chad, a journey to the epicentre of Chad’s nomadic cultures

A trip to Lake Chad, epicentre of Chadian nomadic cultures, mythical crossroads of four different countries and a semi-aquatic labyrinth full of islands. An exciting region that we will explore for a week.

After many years of travelling all over Chad and after acquiring a deep knowledge of the country, we propose a unique and fascinating itinerary around the mythical Lake Chad and its basin. A trip with an ethnic character, focusing on the transhumant cultures that graze on the islands in the interior of Lake Chad and around the lake. We will also get close to sedentary cultures, for example by visiting a women’s cooperative working with spirulina.

On this trip to Lake Chad we will immerse ourselves in the different ethnic groups that graze during the dry season in this region. We will live with Boudouma pastoralists on the central islands of the lake, in what is probably the largest cattle camp in Chad and perhaps in all of Central Africa. We will also visit Fulani (YaYais and Weilas) and Kanembus seasonal nomadic pastoralist camps. On our route we will also meet Kredas (Tubus) and Arab pastoralists.

In addition, we will travel and sail through a landscape of enormous beauty. If the Sahel never disappoints the eyes and senses of the traveller, we guarantee that Lake Chad will not leave you indifferent. It is a natural and cultural wonder. The traditional Kanembou mud architecture, the horizons dotted with acacia trees and soft sandy hills, the expanses of water in the lake that turn this region into an infinite labyrinth full of birds, are just some of the highlights of the scenery through which we will travel.

Lac Tchad

The markets in this part of the Sahel are spectacular, and we will visit the largest in the region. A brutally colourful visit, where Fulani, Boudoumas, Kanembous, Hausa, Kredas, Arabs and other ethnic groups come together once a week. But this is not the only market we will be visiting…

We will spend an afternoon trying to locate the large herd of elephants in Lake Chad, a real anachronism in this part of Africa (the most northerly herd in Africa) which adds a different touch to the trip.

Lake Chad is a mythical place in Central Africa.

One of the great symbols of the continent, like Kilimanjaro or the Sahara Desert. Divided between Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon since 1880, it was for a long time a great inland sea that watered the life of the Sahel.

The nomadic cultures of Chad

We believe that there is no country in the world that can compare with Chad in terms of nomadic culture and transhumance. Neither for the enormous diversity of ethnic groups that graze in Chad, nor for the number of livestock owned by these groups, nor for the enormous distances of transhumance that some of them carry out.

Lake Chad and its basin is perhaps the largest epicentre of pastoralist cultures in the African Sahel. Ethnic groups vary depending on the time of year. Some nomadic groups such as the Suwa Arabians move south in the dry season, others such as the Boudouma, Kanembou and some Fulani move to the islands of the lake.

Approaching these cultures will be fascinating for the traveller, a world that disappears and a great number of human stories with names and surnames will be presented before us. And with it, a world of conflicts with neighbouring nomads and farmers, always over the control of water and the right to use the land. Conflicts that spread all over Africa.

Lake Chad islands, Boudouma camps

We will take a large canoe to sail for several hours on Lake Chad. We will visit some islands in the interior of the lake. Our objective is to meet and live with the Boudouma shepherds in a gigantic seasonal cattle camp.

The Boudouma, one of the ancestral peoples of Lake Chad, are thus those who live and move within the lake. They could be considered “water nomads”, although the meaning of Buduma is “the people of the reeds”, probably because they build their houses and fishing boats out of papyrus reeds.

No other people wanted to or succeeded in adapting to the maze of islands that form a treacherous and confusing archipelago for human beings. And this is the secret of their independence and freedom.

A visit to the Buduma cattle camps is undoubtedly one of the most attractive visual treats in the Sahel.

The Buduma use boats of different sizes, depending on whether they are used for fishing or for transporting the family, belongings and small animals (goats, chickens, etc.). Of course, they know how to swim from a very young age and are able to stay under water for a long time.

Every night Boudouma shepherds light bonfires on the islands of Lake Chad to keep the insects away from their prized kouri cows, the emblematic and endemic species of Lake Chad, creating an indescribable atmosphere. We will see how the shepherds make their herds of hundreds of cows swim across the waters of the lake in search of fresh pasture…

We will spend two nights on the islands with the Buduma.

Travelling in inland Lake Chad, Fulani and Kanembus camps

We will leave the Buduma camps behind and travel to other islands where nomadic Fulani herders share islands with nomadic Kanembus herders. On our lake crossing we will visit spectacular weekly markets.

Spirulina cultivation in Lake Chad

In another section of Lake Chad, we go to meet the women who cultivate spirulina. This algae, which is now a coveted “superfood” on the markets of half the world, has become an opportunity for them. The FAO has provided funds for them to set up a cooperative and work with an improved collection and packaging system.

The cooperative brings together 145 women dedicated to cultivating spirulina. Or rather, extracting it from the waters of Lake Chad. They dive halfway down their legs, their coloured dresses rolled up, and extract the algae, which they then dry in the sun and grind up for sale.

They are Kanembou women who are proud of the work they do and of their empowerment through the cooperative.

  • Toyotas Land Cruisser 4×4
  • Canoeing on the lake
  • Kumakonda guide.
  • Local guides
  • All visits as described
  • Cooks
  • All necessary government permits for travel in northern Chad.
  • Letter of invitation to Chad necessary to obtain the visa.
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off service in local taxis.
  • Tents for two people and sleeping pad.
  • Two nights (arrival and departure day) at the Irisor hotel in double room with breakfast.
  • 3 meals per day (not included in local restaurants).
  • Mineral water (1 bottle of 1.5 l per person per day).
  • Exception: No meals are served on arrival and departure in Ndjamena.
  • Flights
  • Chad visa and visa formalities (optional: 200€).
  • Taxis to get around N’Djamena.
  • Soft drinks, alcoholic beverages.
  • Tips for local guides or cooks (optional).
  • Travel and cancellation insurance.
  • Meals are not included in N’Djamena or in restaurants along the route.

    Travel with us​

    If you prefer, you can contact us directly by writing to info@kumakonda.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

    2600€ /PERSON.

    Trip details

    27 January 2025,
    4 February 2025,

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      Travel with us​

      If you prefer, you can contact us directly by writing to info@kumakonda.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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