Chad has always been someplace where travellers wave goodbye to their comfort zone and say hello to adventure. Put simply, Chad is a country and an experience that visitors never forget. If Ghana and Gambia are ‘Africa for beginners’, Chad is ‘Africa for the hardcore’.
Situated just south of the Sahara Desert and above the fertile rainforest regions, Zakouma has become a safe haven for Central and West African wildlife. Zakouma National Park, created in 1963, was Chad’s first national park, and has an area of almost 3,000 square kilometres. It is entirely surrounded by the Bahr Salamat Faunal Reserve. Zakouma National Park is an untamed African wilderness and is one of the last remaining intact Sudano-Sahelian ecosystems in Africa.
Due to its close proximity to the centre of the Chadian Basin, the terrain of the park is almost exclusively flat with the exception of the beautiful granite inselbergs found in the south-west near Ibir. As one of three national parks in Chad, Zakouma forms an integral part of the conservation of flora and fauna in the region, as well as being the only game viewing destination offering guest accommodation in the country.
Zakouma is an area of contrasts and like many parts of Africa, the ecosystem has two very distinct seasons, the wet season and the dry season. There are however very few areas where the contrasts between the two seasons are so dramatic; affecting fauna, flora and terrain alike. The dry season lures the wildlife to the heart of Zakouma, where pans surrounded by fertile floodplains and pools in the main river systems (Bahr’s Salamat , Korom and Dikere) provide drinking water and grazing throughout the dry months.
The concentration of wildlife is astonishing (by next year it will be a “big 5” destination after they have reintroduced black rhino), the birding way out-performs the greats like the Okavango. But it is the sheer volume of wildlife and the huge herds around every corner that is Zakouma’s real attraction. And for the birder, there are tons of specials that will rapidly expand your African lifer list.
Zakouma has become a safe-haven for Central and West African wildlife and has become an incredibly productive ecosystem supporting phenomenal abundance and biodiversity. Although the free roaming African elephant is the better known species, the park is an important refuge for numerous other species, many of which are threatened elsewhere within this eco-zone. The fauna of the park includes 66 mammal species of which 16 are large mammals. Species such as the Kordofan giraffe, lion, Lelwel’s hartebeest, pale fox, elephant, Central African Savannah buffalo, Western greater kudu, tiang, roan antelope, Defassa waterbuck, Buffon’s kob, red-flanked and Grimm’s duiker, oribi and Bohor reedbuck and Red-fronted gazelle are of continental importance. Larger species include leopard, cheetah, Spotted hyena, Striped hyena and wild dog, while smaller species include civet, serval, caracal, jackal, honey badger & African wildcat. Three species of primate are found in the park, namely the Olive baboon, Patas monkey and Tantalus monkey.
The best time to come is March and April when the animals congregate around watering holes making for spectacular game viewing. It is not possible to visit June-October because of the rains. Come and experience this wonderful wilderness destination and be a part of the Zakouma success story – all tourism revenue is put directly back into park management. Start pencilling in dates for next year and getting your own group together… you will not be disappointed.
Bird watching in the park is an extremely rewarding experience. Not only in the number of species (currently 373) but also in the sheer abundance of water birds including ducks, geese, Black Crowned and Wattled Cranes. Seeing tens of thousands of these birds at a pan in the dry season is not uncommon. Zakouma has most of the Sahelian ‘specials’ such as Beaudouin’s Snake Eagle, Sahel Paradise Whydah, Black Scrub-Robin, Bearded Barbet, Little Grey Woodpecker, Western Bonelli’s Warbler and Rose-ringed Parakeet. The common birds seen during the dry season (mid-November to end-May) are Long-tailed and Greater Blue-eared Starling, Pygmy and Variable Sunbirds, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Black-headed Gonolek, Western Grey Plantain-eater, Red-throated Bee-eaters, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Namaqua Dove, Brown Parrot – all watched over by the ever present pair of African Fish Eagles and ubiquitous Black Kites. Raptors are well represented with 39 species having been recorded in the park.
As the dry season approaches, thousands of Red-billed Queleas move to the open pans of Zakouma National Park. As temperatures rise, the Quelea’s burst into action and become “sardines of the sky”, moving in a perfectly choreographed spectacle, skimming over the water with a susurration of wings. Even for “non-birders”, the flight display of millions of Quelea turning the sky black is truly awesome!
The abundance of wildlife at Zakouma National Park makes this area one of the world’s top safari destinations. Never in your wildest dreams will you believe that anywhere in North Africa can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the great wildlife and safari destinations of East and Southern Africa. Yet, nothing will prepare you for how truly great Zakouma National Park in Chad is and how well it stacks up as a must-see safari destination for travellers with a passion for wildlife and true wildernesses. Even the most ardent safari explorers and guides, who have spent many decades exploring the remotest corners of Africa, are overwhelmed by the entire experience.
About Origins Safaris
At Origins Safaris we are passionate about wildlife, cultural heritage, adventure and exploration. We customize each and every safari to your personal requirements and expectations, ensuring an exclusive, unique and authentic experience every time.
Origins Safaris is a family business, founded in 1963 by Don and Margaret Turner. It is managed today by two subsequent generations of the family, and predominantly by Don’s son, Steve. We are so much more than just a travel broker – our years of experience, professionalism and reliability means that we go the all important extra mile, to make sure your dream safari is safe, memorable, educational and most of all great fun. We are renowned for our meticulous safari planning from start to finish, and the highest standards of natural history.
Origins Safaris provide that crucial “sound advice and impeccable service” so seldom found by other companies. We have 50+ years of authentic African safari experience and the know-how to make your trip run as smoothly as possible.
Let Origins Safaris help you to experience this abundant and untamed African wilderness. Contact us on www.originsafaris.com for more information.
Origins Safaris – Authentic African Experiences Since 1963