Travel & Tourism
Chad, located in the heart of Africa, can be a difficult and challenging place to visit because it is expensive and remote. However, by investing effort into preparing for the trip and taking safety precautions while there, travelers may gain a memorable experience visiting Chad’s traditional villages dotting the savanna landscape. N’Djamena is urban compared to most other areas of Chad since the country is still primarily rural.The Tibesti Mountains and Lake Chad are two of the most beautiful natural landmarks in Chad. The latter is only 5% of its former size due to climate change and population growth, so it should be on every adventure traveler’s list of places to see before it disappears.
What to Do if You’re Stuck in Chad
1. Lake Chad: Lake Chad, once the world’s biggest lake, has been altered more severely by climate change than almost any other location on the African continent or in the world. In only 35 years, Lake Chad has decreased by 5 percent of its former size as a result of seasonal monsoons changing course and farmers using more water for irrigation. Although the landscape has changed, it’s still a popular place to fish and boat. Visit soon because in ten years it might not be here anymore.
2. Markets:The historic quarter of N’Djamena is the best place for tourists to find excellent deals on souvenirs like carpets, clothing, carvings, and more. The market operates daily from dawn to dusk and offers an opportunity to see how locals interact while socializing and haggling over prices. Keep in mind that you’ll have to sort through some junk before finding hidden treasures here though!
3. N’Djamena’s Central Mosque: The central mosque in N’Djamena, which may be seen from almost everywhere in the city, is a prominent landmark. The complex also contains a library, a lecture hall, and two schools, but visitors should be able to converse Chadian Arabic if they want to get much out of them.
4. Stroll in N’Djamena: N’Djamena might not have the extensive tourist traps that Dakar and Nairobi do, but it more than makes up for it in vibrancy. You’ll learn just as much about the culture by people watching on Avenue Charles de Gaulle Anyway, which is lined with embassies, upscale eateries, and homes reminiscent of Chad’s time under European rule.
5. Tibesti Mountains: The Tibesti Mountains have a barren, dramatic terrain of canyons and sheer rock faces topped with forest that make them an intriguing destination. The Toubou people still live in traditional settlements within the range, but they are wary of visitors.
6. Zakouma National Park: Although poaching has been an ongoing issue in the park, recent replenishments from the Chadian government and European Union have made it a prime destination for wildlife sightings once again. Some of the animals you can expect to see there are elephants, wildebeests, antelopes, and lions.
When should you go?
The best weather for traveling between cities is during the dry season (September to June); however, tourists are unlikely to be doing much of that given the current situation. Although Rebel activity also increases during that time, so the period between June and August may actually be the safest one for visiting–even if it’s a bit more inconvenient.
Getting around and getting in and out of the place.
Visas:All visitors, with the exception of nationals from a few neighboring African nations, must obtain a visa and present valid identification before registering with the national police within 72 hours of entry. Visas should be obtained in advance.
Transportation: Road conditions in Chad are unfortunately abysmal outside of the capital city, N’Djamena. The only mode of transportation available is by car though, so drivers must be cautious as bandit activity is rampant and preys on those driving foreign cars. Additionally, there aren’t many gas stations or repair shops should you need them. Most areas of N’Djamena are accessible either by foot or car; however, a number taxis frequent the wealthier neighborhoods if needed.
Safety and Security
Before traveling to Chad, it’s normal to feel some apprehension about safety. At Africa.com, we frequently travel throughout the continent ourselves and consult the following resources to ensure our own safety:
• Guidance for UK citizens travelling to Chad from the government.
This website is very timely and frequently updated, which is handy if you’re planning a trip to Chad. The perspective taken on this site assumes that you WILL travel to Chad despite the risks, and provides good guidance so that you understand what those risks are before making your final decision.
• The State Department of the United States has issued a Travel Alert for Chad.
In a recent article, Africa.com stated: “Can be seen as overly cautious and discourage travel to destinations that many reasonable individuals would find safe.” They have access to the CIA’s knowledge, so they are aware of things that other people aren’t. Take a look at what they’ve got to say about Chad.
1. Chad is home to more than 200 indigenous ethnic groups, each with their own language. Chadian Arabic is the most common dialect used as a way for these groups to communicate with each other, but visitors can usually get by in French too- especially in N’Djamena. Remember to learn at least a few phrases before your travels!
2. The majority of Chad’s population is Muslim, although social standards, especially with regard to women’s attire and conduct, are typically more permissive than those in North and West Africa. It is extremely important to eat with your right hand only; many Chadians, whether Muslim or not, find it insulting to utilize their left hands while eating, and the issue will almost certainly come up since most people eat with their hands other than in posh eateries.
3. The Central African CFA franc is the official currency in Chad, which is different than the West African CFA franc. Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea also use this currency. You will have trouble finding places that accept credit cards so it’s best to change your money at the airport or a large bank inside N’Djamena.
4. Chad officially requires a permit for all photography, but this rule is rarely enforced. However, police may use it as an excuse to confiscate your camera or demand a bribe. If you plan on staying in Chad for a long period of time and taking many photos, you might want to consider getting the permit.
5. Malaria is still a problem in Chad, especially during the rainy season. Take antimalarial drugs with you as well as insect repellent and mosquito nets, since many hotels do not provide them.