Chad offers opportunities for adventure on a grand scale, in a way that very few other places can match. The most remote and least visited country in the Sahara, Chad is home to dramatic landscapes and people that rarely see western visitors â€“ an intoxicating combination.
To complement our trip to the Ennedi Mountains, this longer trip visits what has long been described as the desertâ€™s final frontier â€“ the foreboding Tibesti Mountains, pushed up against the northern border with Libya. Out of bounds for a long time, with a little care and a lot of planning itâ€™s now possible this stunning region. Expect a tough journey â€“ we will be crossing vast empty spaces on our journey from the capital to the north, reaching the important town of Faya Largeau, significant for its place on the traditional routes across the desert. From here we head into the breathtaking landscapes of the Tibesti, home to volcanic peaks and some of the most isolated settlements on earth. We meet the Tubu people, a fiercely independent group and true adepts at living in such harsh conditions â€“ exploring their settlements we see how they have managed to carve a live for themselves here. We also delve into prehistory, seeing ancient rock carvings and paintings among the stones. Crossing rocky plateaux, tackling vast fields of sand dunes and following the courses of long dried up riverbeds, the landscape here is diverse and constantly changing. With virtually no facilities outside of the capital we spend our nights camping, immersing ourselves completely in the desert experience.
A groundbreaking trip for true Sahara enthusiasts.
Day 1 – N’Djamena
Arrive in N’Djamena and transfer to the hotel. Overnight Le Meridien or similar.
Days 2 and 3 - N'Djamena - Abeche
Set off via Bahr el Ghazal, reaching Massaguet and numerous villages and markets. Passing settlements of Ab Toyour, Bitkine, Mongo and Oum Hadjer through the beautiful region of Guera and Vultures Mountain. Arrive in Abeche, the ancient capital of Chad.
Days 3-4 – Salal – Kouba - Faya
The track follows and then skirts the depression of the Bahr el Ghazal, the gazelles' river, an ancient river from the Paleochad period. After the small villages of Salal and Koubba Oulanga, we continue northward. The track then enters the Erg du Djourab, the main obstacle for trade between Faya and the capital. After approximately 80km of tough driving across the dunes, we reach the town of Faya Largeau, with its large palm groves. Overnight camping. (BLD)
Days 5-6 – Borkou
The track crosses Borkou, winding round the dunes and tidy palm-groves. We will pass villages and our track heads north crossing the wonderful region of the Kouroudi Tassili. We continue to the Emi Koussi plateau, driving around the foot of the volcano – the highest mountain in the Sahara at 3415m. Overnight camping. (BLD)
Days 7-8 – Enneri Miski – Birni Erde
Spend these days exploring the area around Emi Koussi. We follow the course of the Enneri Miski, surrounded by tassili rock formations, where paintings and rock engravings show evidence of prehistoric civilisation. To our west we see the peaks of the majestic Tarso Tieroko. Excursions on foot allow us to learn a little more about the region. We continue to the well of Birni Erde, very important for the Teda people, who have built a small village nearby. Overnight camping. (BLD)
Days 9-10 – Yebbi Bou
Heading through the mountains our track takes us sometimes through natural gorges and at other times across stony hills. We drive towards Yebbi Bou, a typical Tubu village. Nearby a deep canyon is home to one of the prettiest palm groves in the region. Overnight camping. (BLD)
Days 11-12 – Zumri – Bardai
Skirting the gorges of Yebbigué, the track alternates between hard and rocky stretches to long routes into the green ‘enneri’ (wadis) of acacias and tamarisks; we head round the Tarso Voon and Tarso Toon, two imposing volcanic structures. In the Enneri Zoumri valley we can find some green oases, settled where the imposing sandstone gorges allow room to build and till the land.Bardai, situated at 1000m altitude on a ledge of striking mountains, is the main town of the region. This oasis is just emerging from many years of terrible war and starting to take its place once more as an important trading post – although small, it is the only one for hundreds of kilometres. Overnight camping. (BLD)
Days 13-14 – Trou au Natron
We ascend in altitude, travelling past the Oudinger Gorges until we reach a height of 2200m. At the top, the crater of Trou au Natron appears. A white surface of sodium covers the bottom of the crater and it is used as a salt pasture for the animals, accompanied there by Tubu, after a precarious descent amongst the crags. We descend on foot to the bottom, then return to meet our vehicles. Overnight camping. (BLD)
Days 15-16 – Zouar
The track that takes us to the plateau of Enneri Tao at 650m of height is difficult, but the sight on the horizon of the first dunes of the Erg of Bilma and, to the north, the view of the spires of Sissé, more than makes up for it. We head towards Zouar, home of the Dardai, the spiritual and traditional leader of Tubu families of Tibesti. After leaving Zouar we tackle the Daski plateau and arrive in a region of high rocky peaks and sand - a landscape of unforgettable beauty. Overnight camping. (BLD)
Days 17-19 – The Journey South
A spectacular journey of around 700km, in total emptiness, crossing fields of dunes and barren plains, to reach the Sahel. There are few settlements here but we will be entering the lands of the Keraida and Daza nomads, who are continually on the move in search of pasture for their livestock. Overnight camping. (BLD)
Day 20 – Mao – Mondo – Douguia
Back into a more settled landscape, passing typical African villages. We then head to Douguia, situated on the banks of the Chari River opposite Cameroon. Arriving here in the late afternoon,there should be time to shower and enjoy a cold drink while watching the sunset. Overnight Douguia Camp. (BLD)
Day 21 - N'Djamena
This morning we take a pirogue ride on the Chari River, past fishermen and small settlements - if we are lucky we may see hippopotamus, and the birdlife here is good. In the late afternoon we head back to N'Djamena and then transfer to the airport. (BL)
Please note: While every effort will be made to adhere to this itinerary, it may be necessary to make amendments depending upon the local conditions when we travel.
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