Visiting Zakouma National Park for the first time
I went to Chad in March 2019 for a visit to Zakouma National Park. I have had a desire to visit the park since I first heard about it a couple of years ago. It is a place on the wild side with few tourists. I consider it to primarily be an conservation area. So, in a sense not the normal place in Africa for me to visit.
Chad is not the easiest country to visit. You need a Visa and therefore either need to send your passport to one of their Embassies or visit the nearest to get the required papers. Sadly, they have no Embassy in Sweden, so I had to choose from Paris, Brussels, or Berlin. I went for the last one and had a few nice hours in sunny Berlin before I headed back home to Sweden.
On my way to Chad
The flight was effortless even with two transits. Upon arrival in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, I sadly got the news that the flight out the next they had been cancelled. Some technical issue with the Cessna, one of few commercial aircrafts in Chad. Not the greatest of starts, but when you travel to a country with basic infrastructure then these things might happen.
That meant I had to spend a full day at the Hilton which was not bad as I got to relax a bit. I also got to meet the people from UK that was doing the same trip and the next morning we met the rest, two persons from India. On the flight out we also got company from a journalist and a photographer working for National Geographic.
The flight was uneventful until we were tried to land. A big bull Elephant was walking on the runway making it hard to land. It had at least the courtesy to move away so we could land at the second approach.
At last Zakouma
We stayed at Camp Tinga, one of only two camps in Zakouma National Park. I found it alright and would have no issue with staying there once more. The group stayed together at the same place. It was like a group of four rondavels on stilts, due to the annual heavy flooding. I think you grasp easier by watching the short video of the walk from the room to the dinner as well as meet & greet area.
I liked the setup of the camp. They also had a hide just outside of camp. Sadly, I never tried it but will probably next time.
Video: Walking in Camp Tinga 2019
The game drives were all interesting. We got to see most of the animals and birds even if we missed the Leopard. It was a very wild place in most senses, which is both good and bad for a photographer. The animals where clearly not used to tourists and that is healthy considering the amount of poaching that has plagued this part of Africa in recent time.
Still the wildness of the park was a highlight for me. It was also interesting to understand how little is known about this region in the world. I saw a couple of new animals for me and I must say that the Pale fox was striking. The sheer amount of life that gathered at the different pans was staggering to see and to be able to have close interaction with Elephant bulls was inspiring with the knowledge of the history of Elephant poaching in the area.
Video: Zakouma National Park 2019
I hope you have the time and watch this video, approximately five minute long. It is cut clips taken during my stay and show some of the highlights. I must stress that most is recorded with an old GoPro and sadly that means it will be noisy. It might be good to bring down the volume before you watch it.
Conclusions about the visit
I always find it pleasing to visit new areas. It is a fact that a first visit always will be a trial of some sort. I now know more about what to expect and how to prepare for it. What hampered me the most was the weight restrictions of the luggage. That is sadly a hard nut to crack, but I will try. Because, I do plan to revisit Zakouma National Park and that time hopefully for a longer period.