When people consider an African vacation, the landlocked nation of Chad is not usually at the top of their list. In addition to being one of the world's most impoverished countries, it is also one of the most corrupt and violent. Still, adventurous visitors who take precautions will find plenty of tourist attractions in Chad. Check government travel warnings from your home country before you go.
Lake Chad provides water to more than 20 million people in Chad and neighbouring Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. Once the centre of Africa's salt trade, it is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, although climate change and human demand have seen the lake decline in size over the past few decades. As of 2010, the World Bank was funding a feasibility study on a plan that would divert the Ubangi River into Lake Chad, with the hope to return the lake to its former glory.
The best time to visit Lake Chad is from August through December, when water levels are at their highest and migrating birds make it their home. Look for hippos, crocodiles and other wildlife.
N'Djaména, Chad's capital city, is finally making a comeback after decades of civil war decimated its streets and buildings. The nightlife is raucous in certain quarters, with plenty of bars and local music. The historic quarter features an active daily market, where tourists can pick up colourful rugs and jewellery made by the friendly residents. Visit the National Museum for a look back into Sarh culture, with some collections dating to the ninth century.
Zakouma National Park
The Bahr Salamat River and its tributaries cut through the middle of Zakouma National Park in southern Chad. Founded in 1963, Zakouma was Chad's first national park. It is 1,200 square miles of wilderness completely surrounded by the Bahr Salamat Faunal Reserve. Despite having being ransacked by poachers and ravaged by war, the park has rebounded since the government and European Union stepped in 1989 with a restoration project designed to save it. Wildlife is once again plentiful, with more than 40 species of large mammals, including lions and giraffes, and dozens of species of birds making it their home. The park has the largest concentration of elephants in the world. Plan ahead because, although attractions are plentiful, tourist accommodations are spare here, as they are in much of Chad. New facilities, however, opened in Tinga in 2003.
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