Overland through Niger, Chad, Central African Republic

Foy

Explorer
Bill Kennedy Shaw was a first class act without any doubt. The Hungarian 'FJ Expeditions' by Andras Zboray are always interesting reads, as are the Sahara travels of Austrian Reinhard Mazur - http://www.tlc-exped.net/ReiselisteSahara.html
Yes, Bill Kennedy Shaw's writing was of a style which I much enjoyed. I'm sure I've read his LRDG book 5 or 6 times. Some of it probably wouldn't pass muster under the microscope of political correctness these days, but he was likely true to his generation and his upbringing, education, and experiences. I've appropriated one of his phrases as my own, one which he used to describe low-light sunrises and sunsets in the desert: He referred to arranging one's affairs in order to be in position to observe a sunset as "bagging sunsets". I frequently do the same. I think I first learned about William Kennedy Shaw by reading Saul Kelly's 2002 release "The Lost Oasis: The Desert War and the Hunt for Zerzura, another fine read.

Foy
 

sg1

Adventurer
What a wonderful report. I have been traveling in the Sahara several times (I was a member of the Sahara Club too) in the 1980s. In the 1990s I spent some time working in Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d´Ivore and Ghana. My dream has always been to see Chad and Niger but I never dared because of the security situation. I am glad that it seems possible now.
 

Xenobian

Active member
Yes, Bill Kennedy Shaw's writing was of a style which I much enjoyed. I'm sure I've read his LRDG book 5 or 6 times. Some of it probably wouldn't pass muster under the microscope of political correctness these days, but he was likely true to his generation and his upbringing, education, and experiences. I've appropriated one of his phrases as my own, one which he used to describe low-light sunrises and sunsets in the desert: He referred to arranging one's affairs in order to be in position to observe a sunset as "bagging sunsets". I frequently do the same. I think I first learned about William Kennedy Shaw by reading Saul Kelly's 2002 release "The Lost Oasis: The Desert War and the Hunt for Zerzura, another fine read.

Foy
Agreed, an excellent writing style and formed so much of my early interests in the desert regions. What an experience of have traveled in his era.... I would be happy if I could write an account even a fraction as good (which I doubt!)
 

Xenobian

Active member
What a wonderful report. I have been traveling in the Sahara several times (I was a member of the Sahara Club too) in the 1980s. In the 1990s I spent some time working in Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d´Ivore and Ghana. My dream has always been to see Chad and Niger but I never dared because of the security situation. I am glad that it seems possible now.
Thank you. All wonderful countries, and an overland trip around Ivory Coast is a big pull.... Chad is ok, I did not encounter any problems there in terms of security, in general. My view, based on my experiences in the past few years is that it is more or less as good as it will get, so there is a window of opportunity. How long that window stays open is anyone's guess. Niger is perhaps a bit more iffy, it will get complicated if you want to go north of Agadez, but ultimately doable if you have a strong determination.
 

Xenobian

Active member
As a few of you are keen to see some more pictures from Chad, here is a small photo dump of some that I quite liked....

On the shores of Lake Chad near Bol, people washing, cooking and chewing fat at the shore. Most people were far too busy to even notice two foreigners walking around taking a few photos. The police on the other hand, were a different story altogether. The police at Lake Chad were the most difficult people to deal with that we encountered during the entire trip. Eventually, we were allowed to take a rented pirogue out to visit some of the islands (with an escort of course). They were initially unbothered with us, and tried to fob us off with 1. it is illegal to go there (which is not so) and 2. horror stories such as "Boko Haram are hiding in these islands, they will kidnap and execute you"... Far fetched for all sorts of reasons, and completely contrary to recent previous overland trips across all of Northern Nigeria and Cameroon (including Lake Chad from the other side) - we insisted, the eventually agreed, with escorts (for payment, naturally).
LAKE CHAD WASHING.jpg

Approaching one of many small islands on Lake Chad. The amount of rubbish accumulated was unpleasant, but not altogether surprising.
PALMS AT LAKE CHAD.jpg

Camels on the outskirts of Bol, near to Lake Chad.
CAMELS NEAR LAKE CHAD.jpg

A typical roadside store in Chad. In this case, somewhere not too far north of Ndjamena (formerly Fort Lamy).
ROADSIDE STORE CHAD.jpg

Arriving into Faya-Largeau
FAYA LARGEAU.jpg

Artisanal goldmining is big business in northern Chad, oftentimes we came across pickups full of migrant workers in search of riches. Here, in Faya, is one of many gold buying stores. Most of the other shops here are set up for supplying this new gold rush, just as with California, the Yukon and Alaska in times gone by. The frontier feel of town was very obvious.
GOLD BUYERS FAYA.jpg

Not in want of gold extraction tools, I opted for a local headscarf (very convenient in the desert) from this haberdasher.
HEADSCARF HABERDASHER.jpg
 

Xenobian

Active member
Just a few of some of the many (many) rock carving sites we visited (mostly mapped, some apparently not so, which we documented in detail). I believe these ones are around 6,000 years old.
ROCK CARVINGS.jpg

Fantasies of nature, near Bardai.
FANTASIES OF NATURE BARDAI.jpg
 

Xenobian

Active member
Camels resting on the piste from Bardai north towards the Libyan frontier.
RESTING CAMELS.jpg

Old colonial era schoolhouse in Bardai, it was seemingly abandoned with several classrooms in a complete mess with old exercise books strewn across the floor and left to the elements.
OLD SCHOOL BARDAI.jpg

Young men of the Tibesti, here in Bardai.
YOUNG MEN OF TIBESTI.jpg

Mosque in Ounianga Kebir.
MOSQUE IN OUNIANGA KEBIR.jpg
 

Xenobian

Active member
Outcrops on the fringes of the Ennedi, during the long drive south from the Lakes of Ounianga towards Abeche.
OUTCROPS OF ENNEDI.jpg
 

Xenobian

Active member
Young shepherds near to Ouara (ruined city).
YOUNG SHEPHERDS NEAR OUARA NR ABECHE.jpg

A scene in Biltine (about 100km north of Abeche) where we make a short stop in search of more fuel (as always).
BILTINE.jpg

The majestic Roan Antelope, in or near to Zakouma National Park, southern Chad.
ROAN ANTELOPE.jpg
 

Piha

Active member
Wow, just wow...!!!!! Fabulous stuff.

Thank you so much for taking the time to post your words and photo's, I've really enjoyed this thread.

Outside of the National Parks did you encounter much wildlife? Anything from spiders or scorpions to large mammals?

I haven't travelled in Africa (yet) but in India/Nepal I was delighted to see wildlife, especially a grumpy cobra as I MTB'd past her hidey hole, elephants causally grazing in the Western Ghats and although we didn't see the animal, we awoke one morning in the mountains to discover the paw prints of a snow leopard just 1 metre from the front door of our tent.
 

Xenobian

Active member
Wow, just wow...!!!!! Fabulous stuff.

Thank you so much for taking the time to post your words and photo's, I've really enjoyed this thread.

Outside of the National Parks did you encounter much wildlife? Anything from spiders or scorpions to large mammals?

I haven't travelled in Africa (yet) but in India/Nepal I was delighted to see wildlife, especially a grumpy cobra as I MTB'd past her hidey hole, elephants causally grazing in the Western Ghats and although we didn't see the animal, we awoke one morning in the mountains to discover the paw prints of a snow leopard just 1 metre from the front door of our tent.
I'm glad that you really enjoyed them....

I assume you refer to Chad and maybe CAR too, so to answer for those, the short answer is no, we did not encounter too much wildlife outside of the national parks. The exception to this would be camels, which we saw a lot of in Chad (all regions). In general, you are quite unlucky (or lucky?) to see much by way of snakes or scorpions deep in the desert, I don't recall seeing any on that trip, although in the past I have - but rarely. Camping near Lake Chad I heard some sort of animal outside the tent, perhaps a wild dog, but did not see what.

I hope you got to see the snow leopard in daylight also!
 

Christian P.

Expedition Leader
Staff member
A couple more questions that I am sure other people are also curious of:

-Did you travel by yourself or with a partner/friend? One vehicle?

-I think you said your vehicle is a Toyota HZJ78? What year/model? any picture of it? Did you have any issue?

-How long was the trip total?

-How was it during Covid? Any additional issue? I read this interesting article this morning about Malawi:

 

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