Updated February 2019
Very few overlanders visit Chad. Access is only feasible from Cameroon.
Boko Haram operate around Lake Chad, Njamena is dangerous too (robberies) and the Sudan border is tense, but crossable (2018 report).
The BET (far north) is safe enough but this lull seems to be ending.
CFA exchange rates
CFA (Afrique Centrale – XAF) is exchangeable 1:1 at local markets in border areas (Mao, N’Guigmi) with CFA (Afrique de l’Ouest – XAO) and in banks in Agadez, Zinder and N’Djamena.
Price of fuel
In N’Djamena: diesel 550 CFA/L, petrol 650. Up north you buy by Libyan fuel the barrel (2oo litres). Currently petrol is 125,000 Cfa/barrel in Faya and Zouar, and 75,000 in Bardai but changes on a monthly basis. Within the last year in Bardai it’s been as low as 50,000 and as high as 150,000. Diesel one imagines, a bit less.
Needed by all Europeans. Besides Bruxelles and Paris, there’s a consulate in Niamey (on the spot about 15,000 CFA) as well as Paris. You will need to present a valid Yellow Fever vaccination and if you’re flying in, a photocopy of your airline ticket. You may also need an invitation letter from a local. See 2018 report link.
Carnet not needed at any border. For a fee of about 5000 CFA, a ‘Laissez-Passer pour Vehicules’ will be issued at all custom border posts,
including Daboua when arriving from N’Guigmi, travelling along the Lake Chad route. It is no longer mandatory to see Customs at Bol or Mao. [no one’s done this for years]
Registration: Tourists visiting Chad have to register at the ‘Commissariat Centrale’ in N’Djamena (30 minutes, 1 passport photo, no cost). Stamp in passport will be checked at road checkpoints.
Autorisation de Circuler: every traveller needs either an ‘Ordre de Mission’ (NGOs, companies) or an ‘Autorisation de Circuler’. This document is available free within one or two days from Ministère du Development Touristique, de la Culture et de Artisanat. You will find it near a roundabout close to the Novotel. Have your passport ready and know all places you will be going to visit, best in alphabetical order. They will organise it with the Ministère du Interior and send you there to collect it; it’s nearby.
In northern Chad (Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti: ‘BET’) tourists must be accompanied by a local guide. A local 4×4 costs around €120 a day with driver.
Sample prices: Fada-Demi-Lakes-Gouro (6 days) 140,000CFA.
Gouro-Yebbi-Meski-Faya 170,000 CFA (5 days). See also this (2010) this (2011)and this (2013).
Unless coming up from the south, Chad is the tough and expensive proposition to visit independently, although fly-in tours do cover the BET. Left: detailed OCHA map of Tibesti (2010).
You can transit Chad to Al Junaynah in Sudan-Darfur; an enterprising overlander managed to do so in 2018; the first for a couple of years. In a car you will be escorted or join a convoy east to El Fasher from where you’re on your own again.
The Lake Chad route from Niger from Nguigmi is still Boko territory and best avoided. The capital is also said to be risky for muggings and the like.
Pistes across mined areas are found in many parts of northern Chad including Erg de Djourab, Ennedi, Tibesti, Ounianga, Faya-Wour, Col de Yei Lulu on piste from Zouar to Seguedine (Niger). Banditry also occasionally arises along the Abeche west-east road and a conflict over gold mining is brewing in the far northern Tibesti (see map, left). Bush camping is not recommended on the Lake Chad route from Niger.