Chad: Ennedi desert and Ounianga lakes (with Gerewol extension)

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Trip Duration Days - 19 Days

Chad: Ennedi desert and Ounianga lakes (with Gerewol extension)

Price Starts from € 3900

Expedition-trip to one of the most beautiful deserts of our Planet: dunes, rocky formations, and hundreds of cave paintings that show us a more fertile Sahara with complex ancient civilizations. The itinerary focusses on ethnography and nature, and has been designed for those adventures who seek genuine experiences in the heart of Africa. We will travel around on a 4x4 Toyota ve- hicles and there will be treks on foot in the Ennedi Desert, Ounianga Lakes and to tribal commu- nities. An anthropologist expert in Chad will come along, as well as a cook and local guides the entire expedition.
For lovers of colour and ancestral ceremonies, there is an extension to Mongo region (at 6h drive from Yamena) to attend a Gerewol ceremony.

Guide: Joan Riera, Anthropology and Sociology degree by Richmond University (UK). He has been working in Africa since 2002, where he has lived and studied several tribal societies. His first ethnographic expedition to Chad was in 1998. Languages: English, French, Spanish.
Dates: 13- 31 march 2022
Duration: 19 days / 17 nights

PRICE PER PERSON (in twin shared room): 3,990 €
Single supplement: 300 €
Group of 6 - 10 travelers


GEREWOL EXTENSION, PRICE PER PERSON (in twin shared room): 1,500 € Group of 2 - 6 travelers

* All transfers
* Domestic flight Yamena-Faya Largeau
* Transportation in 4x4 vehicles
* Anthropologist guide
* Local guide specialized in the desert
* Drivers and mechanics specialized in the desert
* Cook
* Bottled mineral water to drink and purified water for showering
* Excursions mentioned in itinerary, visit permits and permissions to access
* Driving permits, tourist permits, Police permits and immigration permits
* Accommodation in hotels and tents (camping gear included, except sleeping bag)
* Full board along the whole itinerary, except lunches and dinners in Yamena
* Basic insurance

* International flights + taxes
* Meals or drinks not mentioned in “included”
* Visa (aprox. 200 €)
* PCR tests
* Tips
* Cancellation insurance
* Any other service not mentioned in “included”

DAY 1 (Sunday 13th March): EUROPE-YAMENA
Flight to Chad. Afternoon arrival in Yamena. Transfer to hotel by taxi. Accommodation in Hotel Mercure Le Chari in Yamena. BB.

Breakfast at the hotel. Visits to the centre of the city and surroundings like the capital of Sao Kingdom of Gaoui (ceramics and vernacular architecture). Accommodation in Hotel Mercure Le Chari in Yamena. BB.

Day 3: YAMENA-FAYA (domestic flight)
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning we will enjoy a panoramic flight over the desert to reach Faya Oasis, old Faya Largeau, present northern capital and one of the biggest oases of Ennedi. Paper work. The inhabitants of this huge palm grove have traditionally lived off the salt, natron and dates trade caravans with Libya: Nowadays, this huge settlement lives on the military base as well as the trade with Libya. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to visit little street markets and the alleys of this quaint place. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and departure to Ouadi Dom through harsh terrain of dunes and rocks which will make our drive difficult. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and departure to Ouniaga Lakes. We will arrive at the salty lake in the middle of this Saharan landscape, OUNIANGA KEBIR (“big” in Arabic), fantastic metal blue lake surrounded by palm trees and orange dunes reaching its shores. Ounianga Kebir is the biggest and most impor- tant settlement in this remote area, and is the trading hub and the most important military post in this part of the country. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast. We are in a place of aquifers and lakes. BOKÜ, the smallest and one of the few fresh water lakes, is perfect for a refreshing swim. From here, we reach OUNIANGA SERIR (“small” in Arabic), UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012, where its lakes change colour according to the time of day. The name Ounianga comes from the Ounia tribe who lives in this area. They are the descendants of the former slaves who used to take care of the salt mines and cultivate the palm groves of their masters. After their freedom, they adopted a nomadic life and left the palm groves. A really amazing place. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast by the lakes. Last photographs and we continue up to Ouadi Tebi, already on the foot of Ennedi Masif. We will spend the night in Ouadi Tebi. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast. We will continue through a sandy area on our 4x4 vehicles along an isolated and harsh but unique landscape. Little by little, the terrain gets easier and smother, which means we will have arrived at the Mourdi Depression. At about 200 metres above sea level, this depression is like a giant sandy river which we must cross from shore to shore, but the “next shore” is at 120 km away. As we move forward through the plains, the presence of the MADRÁ Mountains indicate the end of the Mourdi Depression and the proximity of the remote settlement of DEMI. Demi village lives on exploiting the salt from the village and the nearby salt mines of TEGUEDEI, of which they are owners. We arrive at Niola Doa where we will spend the night. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and visit to the engravings, unique in their style. In 1954, the first engravings were found and the last ones just 20 years ago. What makes this place unique is the huge size of human rep- resentations with a lot of ornaments, usually on naked bodies. Sometimes they are depicted in groups, others alone. Nowhere else in the Sahara, not even in Ennedi, can we find such engrav- ings. Experts cannot find an explanation to this uniqueness. The Saharan art experts interpret the engraving richness of Niola Doa as ritual scenes, probably carried out in special occasions, when body decoration was part of a more complex whole which included dancing and chanting. In some occasions, these geometric patterns in Niola Doa have been compared to some body decorations (painting and scarification). Few people come to this place and not many know the exact whereabouts of the existing engravings. After the visit, we will continue to the Ennedi Mountain Range. We will spend the night in Ouadi Eliche. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and departure to Fada, important trading settlement in Ennedi and its administrative capital. Visit to the market full of people from all over Ennedi. From Fada, we will plunge into Enn- edi. This region is nearly as big as Switzerland so, it has a lot to offer. Here our routine slows down a bit and we will have time to wander around and take pictures, and marvel with the wonderful landscape which surrounds us. We need to choose, so we will visit the most iconic places of Enn- edi. There are canyons of huge red walls, towering rocks and many arches, as well as other curi- ous rocks shaped by the wind and water. Along its hidden corners (DELI GUELTA, TASSILI TOKOU, MANDA GUELI, OYO, BASSIKÉ, etc) we will discover magnificent cave paintings which decorate walls and caves, which have nothing to envy to those in TASSILI N’AJJER in Algeria. We will arrive at Houbaiké where we will spend the night. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and departure to Kessebi Well, an ancient must stop for those who crossed in camel caravans from Chad Lake to the Red Sea. One can still imagine those golden days of trans-Sa- haran trade of nomadic peoples who used to ramble freely in the desert. We will continue to Terkei and Elephant Arch, where we will spend the night. Accommodation: camping. FB.

After breakfast, we will soon get to Manda Gili. At the far end we will see the first dark rock forma- tions. We are entering the ENNEDI MOUNTAINS through TERKEI region. Soon we arrive there while exploring Oyo Labyrinth, the natural habitat of the fennec, the famous desert fox, and shelter of the caravans which still cross the desert. Before arriving at Terkei, ARCHEI GUELTA, the natural environment of the last alive specimens of Saharan crocodiles, witnesses of remote times (Nile crocodiles), is awaiting us. These crocodiles live in cyclopean walls along the ravine where herds of camels and goats that graze in the area come to drink every day. Sometimes, the famous beasts remain hidden avoiding human presence, but their footprints and remains reveal their existence. To have the best views over the Guelta, we will have to walk for about one hour, but the effort is really worthy. Night at the Guelta. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and departure to the memorable Aloba Arch, one of the biggest natural arches of the world. We will stop along our way to wells, nomadic settlements and we will enjoy spectacular views. We will continue to Bachikele Guelta, another must stop for caravans, where they stock up on water to cross the desert. We will set camp at the foot of Julia Arch. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and departure through the desert up to Kalait. We will camp in the afternoon before arriving at the makeshift and surreal population of Kalait. We leave the most inhospitable desert behind and slowly come back to the hustle and bustle of the new trans-Saharan routes. Accom- modation: camping. FB.

From the Prefecture of Kalait we arrive at the ancient ruins of Ouara, where we will sleep among the remains of what once was the old capital of the Sultanate Kingdom of Ouaddäi, today in Abeché, district capital. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and departure to Abeché. PCR test. We will visit the souk and the Palace of the sultan. Along a tarmac road we will arrive at Mongo area, where we will encounter Fulani nomads and Arabs with their herds of goats and cows on the shores of Lake Fitri. Night at Bokoro. Accommo- dation: camping. FB.

Day 17 (Tuesday 29th March): BOKORO - NGOURA - MASSAGUET - YAMENA
Breakfast and early departure from Bokoro to Yamena along a tarmac road. We will arrive in Yamena at lunch time. PCR test (immediate results).Transfer to hotel. Accommodation in Yamena in Mercure Le Chari Hotel. HB (lunch)

Day 18 (Wednesday 30th March): YAMENA-FLIGHT
Breakfast. Last visits and shopping. Transfer to airport for the international flight home, scheduled time 19:40. BB. Flight Chad-Europe.

Day 19 (Thursday 31st March): ARRIVAL HOME

Breakfast and departure to Abeché. PCR test. We will visit the souk and the Palace of the sultan. Along a tarmac road we will arrive at Mongo area, where we will encounter Fulani nomads and Arabs with their herds of goats and cows on the shores of Lake Fitri. Arrival at Fulani-Woodabe camp. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and chat with the clan chiefs. The Gerewol ceremony starts in the camp. We will be able to see how the young men decorate their faces and hair in a showy way. Their objective: attract the young girls from another clan. Apart from the relational aspect, the Gerewol is meant to make the clans that live apart to come together. In these occasions, transactions are carried out and bonds are reinforced. A unique aesthetic in the African Sahel and a semiotic connection with the animistic Fulani past are also preserved. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Breakfast and last moments of this unique ceremony in the African Sahel. We say goodbye to the Woodabes and depart to Korbo, refuge of the Dangaelat or Hadjerai culture (pagans). Upon arrival, we will greet the elders and the local king and ask for a visit to the old village and the veg- etable helmets worn by the old women during harvesting festivals. Accommodation: camping. FB.

Day 19 (Thursday 31st March): MONGO-YAMENA (8H)- FLIGHT HOME
Breakfast and goodbyes to our Fulani-Woodabe hosts. Route back to Yamena with several stops on our way. Arrival and transfer to Chez Wou Hotel where we will have a day use room for a shower and PCR test (immediate results). At the appointed time, transfer to airport. BB. Flight Chad-Europe.



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!