Last revised Feb 2016
What am I paying for exactly?
All food (including bottled water, where available), fuel and accommodation in Chad, plus foam sleeping mattresses and local guiding and support services in the 4WD and on the camel trek.
What is not included?
Return flight to Ndjamena from where you live. Visa for Chad. Souvenirs. Travel insurance. Suggested flight timings will be given in the booking form.
So what will the tour cost me in total?
The tour price of £3200 plus flights (from £500 return) and a visa (from £100).
I’m worried about attacks by Islamists. Is Chad safe?
The capital and the Lake Chad region saw Boko Haram attacks in 2015. We don’t go near the lake and we don’t hang around in Ndjamena any longer than necessary. Up north the avowed hostility of the Tubu towards jihadists makes it one of the last places in the Sahara where AQIM/Daesh will get a foothold. Note that some government travel advisory pages may not concur with this interpretation.
What are the real dangers out there?
A car accident, though Gerbert is a desert driver of many years experience, and we will be the only vehicles for miles. Then there are the usual desert camp perils of fire burns and thorns. Spraining an ankle on the trek. Headache from too much sun without headwear. In other words, nothing serious. There may be mine fields from the 1980s war with Libya, but over the years they have been clearly cleared or marked off and are well known to locals.
What will the weather be like?
In Ndjamena hot and muggy. The further north we go the more arid the climate, and as we rise into the mountains the cooler the nights. Strong winds can blow through the Borkou from the northeast, dropping the temperature. Expect the usual extremes, though without actual frost.
Ndjamena climate data
Fada (Ennedi) climate data
Bardai (Tibesti) climate data
What sort of vehicles will be used?
Gerbert is driving up from Cameroon in an old HJ60 Toyota Land Cruiser (left) that will have done a lap of Africa. The 60 is still known across the Sahara as one of the most solid Land Cruisers. The local agency will supply something like a Toyota Galaxy (right) a more modern Land Cruiser Prado-like vehicle. We will all rotate daily so that all get a share of the least bad vehicle, or we can all sit in Gerbert’s 60.
What do I need to bring?
Bring a tent inner against mozzies and a good sleeping bag. Local, thorn-proof foam mattresses will be supplied. Hiking boots for the rough walk up Emi Koussi, down into Trou and other excursions. A Camelbak-type water bladder and headtorch. Warm clothing for winter camps – expect nights in the Tibesti in January to get chilly. Day or night, headwear is a very good idea – a cheche (turban) works well. A change of clothes, camp shoes, washing items and medicaments, a day pack for the walks, a walking pole or two and anything else you might need to make your holiday as tolerable as possible. There is very little chance of rain.
What will a typical day be like?
Assuming we camped out in the desert, around dawn the cook will get the fire going for breakfast. We’ll get up, eat breakfast, pack up and set off walking along the piste while the crew break camp. Soon they’ll catch up, we’ll get in the cars and drive on. We’ll find some shade or shelter for a relaxed lunch then get to our camp a couple of hours before dark, have a tea and repose or otherwise occupy ourselves until the evening meal, after which we’re again free to do as we wish.
Note that the schedule can unravel for any number of reasons (usually a glut of punctures), requiring longer unplanned days.
Do we travel every day?
No. Besides the trek up Emi Koussi, there’ll be days- or part days off exploring Archei, Ounianga and Bardai.
What about recharging my gadgets?
Best to either bring a bunch of batteries for cameras or rely on a USB that fits into a car’s 12-volt socket. It’s unlikely we’ll encounter much electricity in the north.
I’m not from the UK, or even the EU. Is that a problem?
No, as long as you can get the visa. Guidelines will be given on how to get a visa. There is no Chad embassy in the UK – Paris or Bruxelles are nearest so from the UK probably best to do it with a visa agency.
What is the accommodation and food like?
A 3* hotel in Ndjamena, rudimentary desert or mountain huts where available, but mostly wild camping in the desert. The food I don’t know, but best to assume it may not be up to the standard of the best former tours in Algeria and Niger. Breakfast is tea or coffee and probably desert bread (right) with jam or vache. Lunch may be a salad with tea and biscuits or nuts on arrival at camp. Dinner might be soup and pasta or rice with meaty stew and dates plus tea for afters.
I am a vegetarian, is that problem?
In my experience desert cooks don’t fully get this concept and may struggle to separate meat extracts and juices from your meal.
How about alcohol?
Probably not available outside the Ndjamena hotel.
What happens if one of the cars packs up?
We try and fix it or at worst, call in a replacement.
Or if I injure myself and can’t walk
There will always be a car to sit in and you can sit out the volcano trek if you’re not up to it.
How hard is this volcano ascent?
Don’t know but the gradient won’t be gruelling; more likely the terrain will be. Emi Koussi (3445m) is a regular feature on Tibesti tours and so is not the challenge that the higher Kilimanjaro is.
Can I leave the tour at any time?
Not really. You’ll be listed on a special permit to travel in the far north with an agency and must stick with them.
Do I need any inoculations?
No. There may be mozzies in Ndjamena and some oases in the evenings. Wear full length clothing and repellent to avoid bites. Cheap self-supporting (no pegs or guys) mossie domes or inner tents will be handy here.
What happens if I get diarrhoea?
This usually occurs in more touristy restaurants where food is not prepared freshly or re-used. These places don’t exist outside the capital, and even then it’s not usually bad enough to profoundly affect your holiday. Just keep drinking and keep a toilet roll handy. I’ll carry pharmaceutical rehydration sachets as well as Imodium-like ‘blockers’, though you may prefer your own supply.
Do I need travel insurance?
Yes. And it needs to cover you for northern Chad. It is possible that this may be hard to obtain on account of blacklisting by some government travel advisories.
Will my mobile work?
In the capital and maybe a couple of northern towns.
I demand lightning-fast wi-fi!
Beyond Ndjamena, dream on.
Do I need a GPS and a map?
Not needed but some like to keep track of their location or record the route for later review.
Is ‘sahara-overland.com’ a registered tour company?
No, it’s just the name of my website. The booking form includes a disclaimer that you’re undertaking this recce tour at your own risk.
What legal guarantee do I have that you will not just run off with my money?
None, but with my prominence on the Internet and in travel publishing this would be a dumb move and anyway, I want to enjoy organising a few more tours yet!
When will I know if the tour is confirmed?
When there are four confirmed bookings. Booking status here.
If I change my mind late in the day can I get my deposit back?
Only if someone takes your place.
My question is not addressed here?
All the info that I can think of is on these web pages, but they get updated from time to time. Please email me with any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.
I’m up for it. What do I do next?
Email me and I’ll send you a booking form. Fill it out and send it in with arrangements for the £500 deposit. If all is in order you’ll get a confirmation email, telling you when the £2700 balance is due. Please note, I reserve the right to decline your booking and return your deposit without reason. If you cancel, your deposit can only be refunded if someone takes your place. If the tour is cancelled (most likely due to security issues) your deposit will be refunded in full.
Why is the deposit so high?
The internet makes it easy for people to buy things on a whim, thinking there’s little to lose if they change their mind. On some of my earlier tours this has resulted in a false impression of interest and late cancellations at a time when it’s too late to fill places. I now set high deposits on all my tours to discourage this (although there are always cancellations). A high deposit is an attempt to separate dilettantes from the genuinely interested with a real commitment to the tour – something which always improves the quality of the group, especially when things go wrong.