Chad Travel Guide
With foreign embassies around the world discouraging travel here, it may come as no surprise that Chad is not somewhere you will experience fully booked hotels and tour bus traffic jams. Formerly part of the Federation of French Equatorial Africa, landlocked Chad has the largest mountain range in the Sahara Desert, giving it the sinister name ‘Dead Heart of Africa’. While you will find its citizens anything but dead-hearted, experiencing the country’s civil warfare, diet of only rice and plagues of locust may give its nickname greater meaning.
When to Go
The climate in Chad is always hot.
The best time to visit Chad is between the months of November and February.
The worst time to visit Chad is between June and September when the rains are nonstop.
Note that during the holy month of Muslim Ramadan, all activities within the region almost come to a stop.
Getting There & Away
Although damaged in 1981, the international airport in N’Djamena has been restored and is now serving several international and domestic flights. Within the country, Chad has a poor transportation system due to the inadequate expansion of transport facilities. The typically unpaved roads and highways become impassable during the rainy season and most journeys should be embarked on in anything less than a four-wheel drive. Night driving virtually guarantees an ambush by bandits, and foreigners and religious persons have not been exempt from these attacks. Rail links are unusable.
Health & Safety
Serious outbreaks of cholera and malaria are common, while upper respiratory infections, diarrhea and AIDS are also rampant. Take necessary precautions, as if you do get sick, the medical facilities in Chad leave a lot to be desired. Common medicines are often unavailable or lacking in supply making it essential that you bring even simple first-air items with you.
The unrest caused by recent rebel attacks in Abeche and Biltine has lead to foreign embassies around the world advising against travel here and wisely so. In fact, the government declared a state of emergency in some of the eastern regions in November 2006 making these regions one of the last places you should go for a vacation even if you are a daredevil.
Food & Hospitality
Generally, it is difficult to find accommodation in Chad. However, there are few good hotels in N’Djaména, a hotel complex in the Xakouma National Park and a few small hotels at Sahr. International cuisine is available in most high-class restaurants and hotels, but you will need an extra suitcase of cash to pay for it. The staple diet of the locals is rice, and tasting different combinations of rice each day may enlighten you as to why the country is otherwise known as the ‘Dead Heart of Africa’.
Two days in N’Djaména.
One day each at the National Museum and Zakouma National Park
One whole day at Lake Chad.
N’Djaména: the capital city of Chad, it is slowly regaining its former reputation as a lively city with its upbeat atmosphere that is complemented by bustling markets and stores that sell colorful rugs and jewelry.
National Museum: the National Museum in N’Djaména is a must-visit destination in Chad, featuring the country’s culture, traditions and many artifacts dating back to as early as the 9th century.
Zakouma National Park: is located on a plain where the Bahr Salamat, including its tributaries, are settled. This national park is home to elephants, lions, giraffes and other wild wonders. Watch out for the poachers, who have already claimed a large percentage of the park’s animals.
Lake Chad: once the center of the lucrative salt trade in Africa, Lake Chad is one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. The lake is fast shrinking, and those who don’t visit soon might just miss it!
Beer tasting: visit the Gala Brewery to smell the sweet aroma and taste the delicious flavor of Moundou’s beer, considered one of the finest beers in the country. Watch you don’t tip over as you back out.
Sightseeing: at Abéché, the former capital of the Ouadaï sultanate. Explore its surrounding desert, old markets, mosques and cobbled narrow streets.
Camel racing: haven’t seen camels racing before? Then catch the exciting camel races held in the Tibetsi Mountains, home of the Toubou tribe. Although they look rather cute, these furry friends can spit at any moment so give them a wide berth.