Whilst sitting in my custom designed bird hide that we had sent to Zakouma for our safari, we ran through a few brief calculations and realized just how incredibly lucky we were to be at Zakouma. It will take the beautiful and authentic Camp Nomade at least 15 years to reach the same number of tourists that the Masai Mara has in one single day during the high season!
Watch the VIDEO HERE.
Zakouma is special, and if there is any place in Africa that successfully conjures up scenes that reminisce a time gone by, Zakouma is one of the few. See the photo gallery HERE.
Situated in one of the last accessible and protected wilderness regions along the vast Sahel band, Zakouma offers a one of the very few safari destinations to the northern savannas that mimic those of East and Southern Africa.
Abundance, Adventure and Amazement best sum up Zakouma. Sitting in camp with a cold local Chadian beer in hand after a morning drive watching a flock of over a million Red billed Quelea dodge a plethora of raptors leaves everyone in awe. Zakouma hasnt forgot about the adventurous spirit of safari. Fly-camping along the banks of the Salamat River allows you the option of exploring this untouched region of the reserve. Here, lions don’t know much about humans and whilst walking in search for the rare and enigmatic Egyptian Plover, you may bump into these small maned sub species of lion. A day trip out to the Kacha Kacha market is an authentic cultural experience. There might not be more than 40 tourists who visit this vibrant market each year. Traditional daggers, camel bells, saddles made from Cowrie shells (no doubt still in circulation from the slave trading era) are among some of the interesting local artisans have to sell or trade.
Camp Nomade, as authentic as they come, is positioned along the Riguek floodplain. Wildlife abounds here with large herds of Tiang, the strange looking Lelwels Hartebeest, Bohor reedbuck, herds of Central African Savanna Buffalo numbering over 1000 and the odd Roan navigating their way through flocks of waterfowl that cover the floodplain from one end to the other. The constant rhythm of honking Black Crowned Cranes sets the audio track for Zakouma whilst the gusts of wind from Quelea wings keeps you awake during the heat of day. When the temperature cools, a whistling alarm call from a reedbuck in the blue hour gives away the presence of lions, their silhouettes seen through the transparent walls of the tents. On 3 occasions we had lions walking past camp during the night, and every evening the distant or not so distant calls of territorial males fitted the Zakouma story perfectly. Wild and Exciting.
At Camp Nomade, you can be sure you will be one of only 70 guests a year that have the privilege of seeing such an extraordinary place.
Zakouma is one of the most inspiring examples of a conservation success story. In 2010, African Parks took over management of Zakouma and they have turned this fragile eco-system into a thriving and well protected reserve. It is no wonder that in the history of Chad, Zakouma has become one of its most successful chapters.
Sadly however, Chad ranks low on countries to travel to. There is little wonder why as the surrounding countries like CAR and Sudan have kept the travel warning advisories on edge, turning away at the current and somewhat stable situation in Chad. With a brand new airport and the new Hilton hotel in the capital Nd’jamena, the experience of arriving in Chad has become incredibly easy going.
There is no doubt in my mind that if anyone has a real passion for truly wild places in Africa and a deep respect for sustainability and conservation, Zakouma should be on top of your list!
A fully grown West African Lion, panthera leo senegalensis, with their charecteristic small manes.
The variable coloured Central African Savannah Buffalo, another unique subspecies that abound in large numbers in Zakouma.
Striking, yet very similar to Souterhn Giraffe, Zakouma is the stronghold for Kordofan Giraffe, of which half of Africa's population reside within the reserve.
My custom designed hide built especially for Zakouma's floodplains worked exceptionally well, finished off in Chadian attire.
The best thing about the hide, is that you can get in before sunrise and enjoy the magical blue hour at dawn.
Typical dry season fires that illuminate Zakouma
Abundant, vibrant, Spectacular
An old Buffalo bull pays a visit to the hide near camp
A young Black Winged Stilt from the hide
Authentic, Stylish, Simple... Camp Nomade!
The parks headquarters have become a refuge for elephant bulls in search of a hose down of water
The beautiful Syringa drive way next to the anti-poaching patrol horse stables, favoured by Olive Baboons
A legendary icon of Zakouma
Roan Bull from the hide
The hide perspective
The magic of the Riguek floodplain
Pelicans dominate the floodplains
Camp Nomade is a semi permanent camp that is set up seasonally right in the middle of where the action is
Room with a view
On one of the mornings we casually followed 3 lionesses on foot after we spotted them from within the hide
The Zakouma hide at times was not visible through the wall of quelea
Chaos in quelea, taken from the hide
Endless entertainment infront of camp
The real kind of luxury
Aprroaching a pool of water as the heat of day tapers off
Elegant but noisy Black Crowned Cranes dominate the daily chorus at Zakouma
A lioness drinks amidst a cloud of quelea
Correct positioning of the hide is vital to photograoh some of the shy species of birds