Chad: Ennedi desert, oasis and Gerewol

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Trip Duration Days - 21 Days

Chad: Ennedi desert, oasis and Gerewol

Price Starts from € 3900

Cultural and nature trip for adventurous travelers seeking authentic experiences in the heart of Africa. Some trekking in the Ennedi Desert and tribal meetings in dry savannah of the South. We will move in Toyota 4x4 vehicles through this wild country. We will be accompanied by a chef and local guides from the beginning to the end of the expedition.
Dates: 5-25 february 2020
Duration: 21 days / 19 nights

-The vibrant central market of Ndjamena.
-Ennedi Desert, dunes and magical rock formations.
-Nomatic life.
-Tribu Mbororo- Woodabe with his impressive tattoos.
-Vernacular architecture.
-Natural and wild ecosystem.
Day 1 (February 5): SPAIN - CASABLANCA - N’DJAMENA
International afternoon flight to N’Djamena via Casablanca.

Day 2 (February 6): N’DJAMENA - MASSAGUET - BOKORO
Arrival at N’Djamena at 5:00 in the morning. Hamit, the local guide will meet you at the airport with a sign that will put Last Places. Transfer to the hotel to rest a few hours. Hotel Le Process or similar. After a few hours of rest, we will have breakfast and talk about the activities of the day. We will leave the Chadian capital towards Bokoro.
Night in stores. PC

Breakfast. Morning departure to Abeché. Fourth city in the country, it still retains its traditional oriental perfume, its long sandy streets full of water-laden asses, dromedaries, women with huge basins on their heads, with tomatoes and onions, men with turbans on bicycles without brakes, shy women who they cover their faces when foreigners pass by. Abeché has history and walking through its streets is very interesting.
Free time to get lost in this maze with local restaurants with delicious camel meat and other curiosities that you will find walking through its markets, mosque, etc. We will greet the current Sultan, if he is in Abeché.
Night at Hotel Abeché or similar. AD

Day 4 (February 8): ABECHÉ - BILTINE - ARADA - KALAÏT (8h)
Breakfast. We will continue north, until Ouara (which comes from the word ouar-inaccessible-). It is about the ruins of what was the capital of the commercial sultanate of Ouaddai. It was founded in 1635 by Abd al Karim, son of Yame, of the tribe of the Dschalidja and was for two centuries an important commercial center between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Guinea. Visit the ruins of the former sultanate of the Ouaddai. In 1850, Sultan Mohamed Charif, left Ouara due to a drought that made life impossible in the area and was established in the current Abeche. In any case, the enthronement of the new sultans continues to be celebrated on Mount Treya. After the visit, we will continue to Kalaït.
Camping. PC
Day 5 (February 9): KALAÏT - TOUKOU (5h)
Breakfast. We leave Kalaït and between the Ennedi and the massive Kapka we will arrive at Oum Chalouba, a large town where we will refuel and check the vehicles. Meanwhile, we can walk, buy food, water and have some soft drinks or beers (as always half hidden in a bar of some Christian emigrated to the desert). We will continue and camp near the track in the direction of Toukou.
Camping. MP

Day 6 (February 10): TOUKOU - GUELTA DE BACHEKELÉ (2h)
Breakfast and entrance to the heart of Ennedi. Nature, landscapes and spirituality ... here live the Teda, nomadic tribe of the Chadian desert ... descendants of the cattlemen who drew the red rocks of this desert. Stops to admire Saharan rock art. Encounters with nomads.
Camping before entering Archei. PC

Breakfast. We keep track and visit an incredibly beautiful rock formation, the Argouba Arch. After strolling beneath this immense arch of natural triumph, we will move to one of the most iconic places in Ennedi, the Guelta de Archei. Apart from the spectacular landscape and the mythical dromedary watering holes, Archei is important because this is where the last crocodiles of the Sahara are located. Endemic, living fossil species from when the desert was a vergel of life and vegetation.
Camping. PC

Breakfast. We continue in this beautiful natural landscape. The Ennedi massif is a maze of sandstone cliffs, of unusual shapes in the mountains, on the rocks, in the dunes, in the immense mineral landscape. Very close to the Guelta, we will settle under shadows of acacias and other trees that abound in the area and from there, we will make different excursions on foot.
Camping. PC

Day 9 (February 13): GUELTA D’ARCHEÏ - CAÑÓN DE BACHIKÉ (2h)
Breakfast. Last day to explore the corners of Ennedi. Watering holes with hundreds of dromedaries, donkeys and goats ... nomadic life. Rock formations between the dunes, ancient art of high technical quality, fragile and fascinating landscape. Night under the stars.
Camping. PC

Day 10 (February 14): BACHIKÉ CAÑÓN - FADA (1h)
Breakfast. Departure to Fada, capital of Ennedi. Magnificent landscapes and arrival in Fada, where we will announce our presence to the authorities (there is no tourism and they have to understand what we do for those places), we will take something fresh in a bar and secure Archei direction (2h). There are impressive (and very unknown) cave paintings in the area of ??Fada and Archei.
Camping around. MP

Day 11 (February 15): FADA - LAKE OUNIANGA SERIR (9h)
Breakfast. The desert keeps changing and we find the first great dunes that appear and disappear. We pass through an area where we still find remnants of the war with Libya, missiles, tanks. We will stop to rest in a village with water wells and continue to Ounianga Kebir, already in the Ennedi desert. In the village we can have something fresh while filling up the gas tanks and the guide introduces himself to the authorities. Camping in the surroundings of Ounianga Kebir, which means "big lake" in Arabic. Beautiful lake of metallic blue color, surrounded by palm trees and impressive orange cliffs where the dunes of the depression of Mourdi die ... a spectacle!
Camping. MP

Breakfast. Ounianga lakes are a unique anomaly in the world. Located in the middle of the Sahara (1,300 kilometers from the capital of Chand, N'Djamena), we find five lakes, the largest being those of Ounianga Kebir (Great Ounianga) and smaller, those of Ounianga Serir (Small Ounianga) a a quarantine of kilometers of these. Yoan is the largest lake, with an area of ??4 km2 and a depth of 25 meters! It is dominated by a strong excavated in a cliff, from which the Ottoman Empire intended to establish in this remote area its more than evanescent authority in the early twentieth century. There are blue, green, red lakes. Freshwater and salt water. Surrounded by sand or nestled in rocks. Ounianga Kebir and Ounianga Serir is the point of arrival for an extraordinary journey through the Saharan desert of Borkou. 2 nights around Ounianga Serir, where we can even take very cool baths in one of the lakes! Trekkins by the lakes and the village Ounianga Serir. Impressive visual spectacle in one of the most beautiful parts of the Ennedi. Chad, Borkou, Ennedi and also the most remote Tibesti, are an unrepeatable and unknown destination ... to know ... to recognize.
Camping in this paradise oasis. PC

Day 13 (February 17): LAKE OUNIANGA KEBBIR - BIR KORAN (7h)
Breakfast. Route back to the south. Stops en route (landscape, paintings, villages, markets ...)
Camping. PC

Day 14 (February 18): BIR KORAN - KALAÏT - BATINÉ DJENÉ (8h)
Breakfast. Route back to the south. Stops en route (landscape, paintings, villages, markets ...)
Camping. PC

Day 15 (February 19): BATINÉ DJENÉ - MOUSSORO - N’DJAMENA (8h)
Breakfast. Route back to the south. Stops en route (landscape, paintings, villages, markets ...)
Hotel in N’Djamena. PC

Breakfast and route to Loumia to know the Chad of the savanna tribes. Route to the Woodabe tribe region to attend a Gerewol ceremony, undoubtedly one of the most spectacular tribal festivals in the world. It is a great concentration of nomadic groups belonging to the PeulWoodabe cultural group that display all the arts to “flirt”, trade and make deals… it is worth getting lost for a few days in this great festival of the African Sahel and enjoy unique images that happen once a year.
Camping. PC
Day 17 and 18 (February 21 and 22): LOUMIA - GUELEDENG - BERÉ- NAÏGOTO - MOURAÏ - WOODABE GEREWOL
Breakfast and two whole days to do immersion in the annual festival of the Woodabe people. It is a minority town in Chad but very recognizable. They are nomadic shepherds, from the trunk of the Peul, whose real name is Woodabe. The term Mbororo was applied by the Hausa and is somewhat derogatory: "those of the dusty flock." They are distinguished from the rest by their greater height, their fine features and their natural elegance, which complement them with a delicate cult of body beauty. Many declare themselves Islamic but all retain animistic beliefs and perform practices of ancestral magic and fetishism. Their medicinal remedies and their talismans are much in demand by other tribes. They maintain a unique and close harmony with the cattle. The Woodabe, as transhumant shepherds that they are, move the cattle to the beat of the seasons. In July and August they look for the pastures grown after the occasional rains and then take the herds to the In Gall area to perform the "salty cure". It is the so-called Worso, moment of meeting between the various clans, who take the opportunity to catch up on the news (weddings, births, deaths), to solve disagreements, perform rites of initiation into adulthood and organize camel races. Also to prepare the party that now begins: the Gerewol.

Our camps are close to yours and we attend the preparations. For example to the makeup and costumes of men. First, the sisters help them, straightening their hair, braiding it to compose drawings and stringing sachet-talismans. Then they alone are painted in ocher, yellow or reddish tones, depending on the moment and to highlight the white of eyes and teeth.

They change their conical hats for headdresses-headband with multiple ornaments that end with a large ostrich feather. They have several outfits ready -to which more striking and careful-, they drink a potion that they claim to attract women and rehearse smiles, grimaces and visas. The various clans meet in a common place following the instructions of the master of ceremonies.

The party begins with several dances: the Rummi (welcome) and the Yakee (call to the lineages) to finish off with the Gerewol. Here the men change the skirt of zebu skin for a white one, and they are distributed in long rows, shoulder to shoulder, swaying in the rhythm of slow and repetitive salmodias that increase in rhythm and volume. They show their teeth - very white in contrast to the black of the lips - and move their eyes in a peculiar way. The ceremony lasts several hours and aims to attract the attention of women, also dressed in gala, who join the dance individually to point to the male they have chosen. They do it by touching their heart with their hand and immediately the couple is discreetly lost at night. The ritual is repeated several days, with which we can attend its different phases. In the hours of rest they will approach our stores to sell us a necklace or simply to be interested in our lives. At night, with the ecstasy of the dance, some will take us by the arm to place us in a place where we can better see the courtship. On the second day we will greet each other as longtime neighbors. On the third day, at the farewell, there will always be hugs and some tears.
Camping. PC

Breakfast and farewell to our wonderful hosts. The last tattooed nomads of the African Sahel. We will return to N’Djamena and spend the night on the road.
Camping. PC

Breakfast. Departure to N’Djamena. Lunch in the capital and last visits and afternoon purchases (craft market). Farewell dinner at Hamit's house.
Hotel in N’Djamena. PC

Day 21 (February 25): N’DJAMENA - FLIGHT HOME
At dawn, transfer to the airport at the indicated time. Flight back home.

Chad Visa
A valid passport and a visa are required for travel to Chad. Applications for visas have to be made in advance in Paris. Last Places assists all travelers that need any type of help applying for the visa. We recommend that passports be valid for six months from date of arrival.

Vaccines and Travel Health
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is essential for entry to Chad. Malaria is prevalent in the country. It is wise to take Malaria prophylaxis when travelling through Southern Chad. If you only travel to desert areas there are less chances of getting malaria mosquitoes. Said this, we recommend to bring anti-malaria tablets. Water supply is unsafe to drink, visitors should drink bottle water. Visitors should also avoid eating unpeeled, unwashed fruit and vegetables.

Security in Chad
Chad has experienced in the recent past war and social unrest. Today, a strong government, petrol income, and a general improvement in people’s lives make Chad one of the safest countries in West and Central Africa where to travel too. N’Djamena is a safe city though one must be careful in markets with pickpockets as in most parts of the World. The Tibesti Desert region, bordering Libya is often closed to foreign travellers due to the chaos reigning in Libya. One must check the situation before travelling there. Another area that needs special attention is the Sudan border where Darfur conflict has caused the displacement of thousands of people into Chadian territory, creating big refugee camps at the border.

When to go to Chad
Travelers can visit Chad all year around. Last Places offers trips to Chad all year around. Said this, the best time to visit Chad is from December till April with an average temperature of around 25ºC and very little chance of rainfall. The month in which you decide to visit will largely depend on your ability to deal with high temperatures, as the heat can rise to around 40ºC during the hotter months between May and October. Ennedi and other deserts can be visited all year around but southern tribes and Zakouma National Park can only be visited between December and April. Afterwards the region gets flooded and completely impassable.

Currency in Chad                                                                                 
The unit of currency is the Central African Franc (FCFA). Visitors should bring enough cash for their needs. Money can be exchanged at the airport or at the bank. Euros are changed without any problem. Credit cards are only accepted in larger hotels, and cash withdrawals are not possible. Few ATMs in N’Djamena accept foreign cards.

Time in Chad
GMT +1

Electricity in Chad
Electrical current in Chad is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round pin attachment plugs are in use.

Communications in Chad
The international dialing code for Chad is +235. There are many more mobile telephones than fixed lines and the mobile coverage around N’Djamena and other main centers is much more reliable than fixed lines. Internet access is rare out of N’Djamena.

Language in Chad
The official language of Chad is French, though in desert areas, very few tribal people speak French or understand it. Teda and Arabic are the common languages north of N’Djamena. In this case a local translator is needed. French is spoken widely in the South of Chad.

Prohibitions in Chad
Do not take photographs of government buildings, or use binoculars near them, as this could lead to arrest.

Chad is a secular country, however Islam is strong in the north and centre of the country. It is thus quite difficult (and not recommended) to search for or to consume alcohol, at least outside of the cities. In the bush villages (including the Muslim ones in the centre of the country) you can drink artisan beer served in calabashes, but do note that it packs a deceptive punch and is to be avoided if you are concerned.

In N'Djamena, in the larger cities, and in the south of the country, alcohol consumption is not a problem!