Adventure Excursion: Ancient Caravans of Chad

rotating_banner_cha

[November 3-20, 2015]

Join Justin Huff, the Africa director for MTSobek, on the very first U.S.-run adventure in Chad in November 2015. Explore the lakes of Ounianga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and marvel at epic dunes and scenic oases as your journey wends through a breathtaking landscape.

OVERVIEW

The Republic of Chad straddles two unique zones: the fertile savannah of the south and the great deserts to the north. This exciting trip explores the Ennedi Plateau in northwest Chad—home to a diverse group of nomadic peoples—and follows ancient caravan routes that have been traveled for millennia and are still used today! Learn about the country’s exquisite natural beauty and complex cultural history as you journey by comfortable four-wheel-drive vehicle, and travel both on and off-road through landscapes filled with rustic villages, multicolored rock formations, date palm oases, azure lakes, vast dunes, and beautiful mountain peaks.At night, your own caravan will set up camp to rest before another day in this magical land. MTS has designed this entirely unique camping adventure for the intrepid traveler who craves wild landscapes and new cultures—this is raw Africa at its best.

banner_2016_old_cha

 

ACTIVITIES

Cultural touring, hiking, campingChad_Map

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

    • Take the road less traveled and discover Chad’s wonders with MTS—the first U.S. tour company to offer trips here!
    • Follow real camel caravan routes of the Kereda, Gorane, Bideyat and Arab nomads, and discover the Ennedi Plateau’s amazing sandstone rock formations.
    • Explore the lakes of Ounianga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and marvel at epic dunes and scenic oases as your journey wends through a breathtaking landscape.

JOIN US!

For booking inquiries contact: Tanya Rinaldi (tanya@mtsobek.com ); Tel: +1 510 594 6000 ext 6031.


ITINERARY

Duration: 18 days | Start Location: N’Djamena | End Location: N’Djamena

[ Day 1 : Arrive N’Djamena, Chad ]
Welcome to N’Djamena, the Republic of Chad’s vibrant capital and largest city. With colorful markets, squares and city streets buzzing with life,N’Djamena is an atmospheric African city. Founded in 1900 as Fort Lamy by French commander Émile Gentil, and considered a significant trade hub for the region long before, it continues to be Chad’s economic center–with many of the grains, dates, and other produce that we’ll see transported on the caravan routes coming from (or going to) N’Djamena. At the airport, you’ll be greeted by an MTS representative, transferred to your luxury hotel, given a brief trip orientation with your guide, and allowed to finally rest after a long trip. Tonight, we’ll gather for a welcome dinner in the hotel’s outstanding restaurant, where we’ll be treated towarm African hospitality and fine dining in a modern setting.

LODGING: Kempinski Hotel N’Djamena – N’Djamena

day_cha_ndjamena

[ Day 2 : N’Djamena ]
After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll leave the hotel for a guided tour of the city to see N’Djamena’s sights. We’ll breathe in the aroma of fragrant spice sacks market, marvel at folk crafts at the Chad National Museum, visit the Grand Mosque and handicraft boutiques, and see Chadian fisherman poling tiny wooden boats across the Chari River–we may even see a hippo sunning itself on an island in the middle of the river, while people go about their daily work.

Lunch today will be served in the home of a Chadian family, where we’ll get to sample local fare. A popular local dish is called “esh,” which is millet porridge with a thick sauce of tomato, goat’s meat and regional spices, followed by sweet biscuits and fresh dates. Lunch ends with a delicious cup of green tea.
This evening you will enjoy a festive welcome dinner.

INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
LODGING: Kempinski Hotel N’Djamena – N’Djamena

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 4.04.39 PM

[ Days 3 – 4 : Massaguet to Abeché ]
Wake to a refreshing shower in the hotel (it’s eight days until we bathe again in Lac Bokou!) before embarking on a magical desert caravan journey. Over the next two weeks, we’ll blaze a trail along dusty roads with vast desert expanses, speckled with rocky outcrops, majestic massifs, palm forests, and villages. We’ll pass nomadic tribes, and locals herding cows or camels, and marvel at the serenity of the landscape. Nights in the desert are truly amazing as our camp becomes the only 5-million-star hotel in the world!

On Days 3 and 4, we’ll follow the alluvial plains of Chad Lake as far as Massaguet and then pick up the trail towards Abeché, residence of the Sultan of Ouaddai and capital of the Ouaddai region. Our travels trace the Sahel(pronounced suh-HEEL), the biogeographic zone that straddles the Sudanian savannah to the south and the Sahara Desert to the north. Along the way, we’ll see the many temporary flood plains and watercourses that feed the region’s lush vegetation, characterized by several different species of acacias, toras and small doum palm forests. We’ll continue east into the region of Guéra with its large granite outcroppings, stopping along the way to visit colorful markets. Guéra is home to the Hadjerai and numerous nomadic groups, who we may see traveling along the caravan trail. Our route then shifts northeast into the region of Ouaddaï, where we’ll end the day in the market city of Abeché. We’ll find the best place to camp based on the beauty of the landscape, the type of ground (sand or argil not grass or rock), and the privacy of the spot. Our cook will set up first and then we’ll pitch our tents, under the guidance of the trip leader, before relaxing with a hot meal under the night sky.

INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

day_cha_herder

[ Days 5 – 6 : Abeché to Archeï ]
After leaving Abeché, we will continue north into the Sahara Desert, and the southern borders of the Ennedi Plateau. This area is inhabited by the Gorane people, a shepherd group of 100,000 people that travel through this region, following the grazing-lands towards Sudan and the east. As we continue northward to Fada, the imposing Ennedi massif starts to become visible, rising majestically out of a flat plateau. One hundred kilometres after passing through Kalait and seeing the peak of Ouaguif, we’ll leave the caravan trail and detour into the massif to the wide Archeï oued, a dry but verdant valley that only sees water during the rainy season. A beautiful succession of Tassilian rock formations formed by sand and wind surrounds the oued, taking magical shapes of castles and cathedrals.

INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

day_cha_archei_camels (1)

[ Days 7 – 8 : Archeï Region ]
Next we’ll explore the Archeï oued, an important water source for nomads that stretches for about 30km and ends in a wide rocky, fertile amphitheater, which opens to gorges and a guelta (a permanent water-gathering point). During this highlight of the trip, we’ll have a chance to encounter the nomadic Tubu people as they go about one of their oldest and most important activities–bringing their caravan of camels to the water to drink.

The Archeï gorges, and the famous peaks of Terkei and Toukou, are situated in a landscape of unforgettable beauty. The gorges are home to magnificent ancient rock paintings, found at the borders of the oued in natural shelters on the cliff faces. To top it off, if you look carefully you may spot one of the last living specimens of Saharan crocodiles (cocodrilus niloticus). Have your camera ready!

INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

day_cha_croc (1)

[ Days 9 – 10 : Fada – Mourdi – Derbili ]
We’ll head northward back to the caravan trail to Fada, a typical Saharan village and the prefecture seat of the Ennedi Plateau, whose traditional homes–made of acacia wood and thatched palm fronds–are gathered around the old French colonial fort and animated marketplace. The town center forms a lush oasis abundant with date palms where we’ll likely meet some of Fada’s Gorane people.
After exploring Fada, we’ll head into the Ennedi Massif, where we’ll ascend a long sandy and stony trail that brings us to the Mourdi, a vast region of sandy dunes and isolated mountains.
We’ll then journey over the dunes of the Mourdi, following the ancient caravan route that connected the salt pits of Ounianga region (Demi, Teguedei and Ounianga) to the southern Chadian villages and the northern Libyan oasis.

INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

day_cha_village (1)

[ Days 11 – 12 : Demi – Teguedei – Ounianga Lakes ]
The caravan trails brings us to Eyo Demi, a reddish sandy formation whose eponymous village is composed of a few date palms and humble homes made of sand. Set against this wild and dramatic landscape, villagers live by trading the area’s “red salt,” which is obtained by the rudimentary method of drawing it from the open-air salt pits and later brought south by the caravans to be exchanged for millet and sorghum. Given the amount of trade along this route, we’ll likely see one of these caravans on the move.

From Demi, the route bears west to the Ounianga Serir, by way of Teguedei, a palm grove seasonally inhabited for the date harvest. In Teguedei, we’ll see the first lake of the Ounianga region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in a sandy basin surrounded by palm groves that spring up from the multicolored sandstone formations. From the beautiful rocks to the golden dunes descending into the water, Ounianga Serir is one of the most magnificent landscapes of the Sahara. The water here is fresh and comes directly from the sand, and the salty soil creates lakes of different several densities and colors ranging from the blue to the green.

We will spend our days trekking along the dunes and the palm groves with the opportunity to bathe in the Lac Bokou, which will feel like a miracle of nature when we get there! Trip members are not allowed to use soap in the lake, but we’ll provide plastic basins with soap away from the lake. Once refreshed we’ll head for Ounianga Kebir, the last outpost of the oasis, with a market offering an abundance of goods brought here from Libya.

INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

day_cha_toubou (1)

[ Days 13 – 14 : Ounianga to Kora ]
We’ll leave the market outpost of Ounianga Kebir heading southward through some gares, or narrow canyons, which gradually open to the expansive dunes of the Erg du Djourab (or “sea of sand dunes”) and Kora regions. Kora’s beautiful landscape is a mix of sand dunes, palm oasis, and sandstone rock formations.

INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

[ Days 15 – 17 : Bichagara – Sahel – N’Djamena ]
On the last few days of our caravan, we’ll continue south through Bichagara to see its unusual rock formations before heading to Kalait. From there, we’ll travel southwest into a wild, pre-desert area where Arab nomads come to graze their camels on the grass. We’ll continue heading south to the Sahel, stopping to visit the small villages and nomadic settlements we’ll see along the way.

Once we reach Moussori, we’ll pick up the road that crosses the savannah back to N’Djamena. On our last day, we’ll have the use of day rooms with showers, so we can rest, relax and freshen up before our flights home. After dinner, we’ll transfer to the airport and say farewell to our traveling companions.

INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

[ Day 18 : Depart ]
Your flight departs the tarmac early this morning.

INCLUDED MEALS: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner


PRICING

{Pricing per person}
Land price: $6,175
Single supplement: $700
Small group surcharge (up to 6 guests): $700

WHAT’S INCLUDED: 
• Expert leadership
• Accommodations as noted in itinerary (or similar)
• If applicable, tent or safari accommodations and all arrangements in the field, including camp and cook staffs,
comfortable and roomy two-person tents, kitchen and dining tents, and other community equipment
• Meals as noted in the itinerary
• Airport transfers
• Sightseeing as noted in the itinerary
• Ground transportation
• Additional guides and porters where necessary
• Tips for lodge, hotel, or camp staff
• Entrance fees and permits, unless noted separately in costs
• Basic medical and evacuation insurance

WHAT’S NOT: 

        • International airfare and entrance fees and permits, unless noted separately in costs. • Meals not noted on itinerary • Insurance other than basic medical and evacuation insurance noted above (we strongly recommend you purchase the supplementary trip insurance offered by Mountain Travel Sobek, which included trip cancellation insurance • Optional tipping to leader, guides, and local staff. • Excess baggage charges and airport taxes (international–varies by location) • Medical immunizations • Personal items

BOOKING DETAILS

For booking inquiries contact: Tanya Rinaldi (tanya@mtsobek.com ); Tel: +1 510 594 6000 ext 6031.


Comments

  1. Mike O'Connor says:

    I note that there are travel advisories in effect for both the US and Canada. do you recognize any of these concerns?

    • David Stanley says:

      The travel advisory warnings are overblown. I just returned from an Ennedi trip similar to this and never felt threatened. Your guides will know how to take care of you much better than bureaucrats in faraway countries.