Wildlife Group Tour

Chad Group Tour - Zakouma and Wildlife of the Sahel

9 days

from £5,595pp
  • Gain a privileged insight into African Parks' pioneering conservation
  • Search for the park's large herd of 400 elephants, renowned for their unique behaviour
  • Explore a landscape that seasonally floods and is alive with migratory birds
  • Benefit from the expert knowledge of one of the few guides to have visited Zakouma

Led by Doug Macdonald, explore one of Africa’s most remarkable parks. Spend a week staying at the simple but comfortable Tinga Lodge, setting out on a series of game drives and bush walks through this fascinating landscape.


Flourishing under the stewardship of African Parks, Zakouma is squeezed between the sands of the Sahara and the jungles of the tropics. Famed for its resurgent elephant population – once poached almost to extinction – the park forms a haven for the region’s wildlife, which includes Kordofan giraffes and West African savannah buffalos.

Explore during the dry season, when this impressive landscape can be accessed at will. Wildlife abounds in Zakouma. And whilst it is the elephants that steal the headlines – moving as they do in one vast super herd – the sheer number of other species is just as impressive. Lions, leopards and numerous antelope species all inhabit the park, whilst recent sightings have confirmed the presence of cheetahs.

On the ground and in the air, the birdlife is also spectacular. Huge flocks of black crowned cranes inhabit Zakouma, as well as pelicans, Abyssinian ground hornbills, maribou storks and black-capped gonoleks.


Doug is a professional safari guide who is based in Zimbabwe and has been leading safaris for over 20 years. Knowledgeable and personable, he is extremely experienced in guiding across Africa. Despite the remoteness of Zakouma, he is lucky enough to have visited several times before and is one of the few guides that can claim to really know the park.


Zakouma is a unique safari destination, but it is not for the first-time traveller to Africa. If you are lucky enough to have visited Africa a few times and are looking for something different then Zakouma certainly offers that. It also affords a level of exclusivity rarely found elsewhere, with Tinga Lodge the only conventional safari lodge in the park.


Each day will be slightly different, but the focus will be on wildlife and exploration throughout. Early starts guarantee better sightings, particularly given the hot temperatures that Chad experiences during the middle of the day. Therefore, days are likely to be long, usually with time to rest during the hottest part.


Tinga Lodge is simple, but comfortable. The rooms are cool, have mosquito nets over the bed and have en-suite bathrooms. In N’Djamena, the Hilton is of an excellent standard and is easily the best accommodation available.


Dry and hot. Rain at this time of year is almost unheard of, but daytime temperatures can reach the mid-thirties. However, the night is much cooler, with temperatures falling to around 15ºC.


A high level of fitness is definitely not required, with relaxed bush walks the most exerting part of the trip. However, it is important that you be able to cope with the heat, which is certainly more challenging than during a South or East African safari.


Whilst Zakouma is renowned for its elephants, sighting them can never be completely guaranteed. However, with a week spent in the park, the odds are good. Other commonly encountered animals include lions, leopards, hyenas, antelopes, giraffes, buffalos, servals, jackals and possibly cheetahs.

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accompanied by an Expert Guide
  • Internal flights and transfers
  • Meals (as indicated)
  • Park Entrance Fees (as indicated)
  • Seven nights at Tinga Lodge and one night at the Hilton N'Djemena

what is excluded

  • International flights
  • Tips
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa


Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Arrive N'Djamena
Arrive in Ndjamena. International flights are not included in this itinerary, but we will happily book them for you should you wish.

Suggested flights are with Ethiopian Airlines

12/01/2019 London to Addis Ababa ET 701 at 20:15 - 06:50

13/01/2019 Addis Ababa to N'Djamena ET 939 at 10:15 - 12:20

N'Djamena is one of the poorest capitals in the world - its international airport must be one of the smallest international airports in a capital city.

Surprisingly, N'Djamena is home to a thriving horse scene. Every Sunday from December to June, the residents of N'Djamena flock to the spectacle of racing on a dusty track not far from the presidential palace. As a result it is worth trying (although it is not always possible) to coincide your visit so that you have a Sunday at the races.

You will be staying at Hilton N'Djamena, room only

Day 2

Travel from N'Djamena to Zakouma (Air Transfer Journey)

Zakouma is 3,000 square kilometres, a sixth of the size of the Kruger. Its habitat is varied and in parts reminiscent of Kafue and Luangwa in Zambia and also Mana Pools in Zimbabwe. The park is largely flat riverine forest and grassland plains. Large pans, around which numbers of wildlife and birdlife congregate in the dry season, are dotted throughout the park. Lonely inselbergs rise up on the horizon.

You will be staying at Tinga Lodge, full board

Day 3

Game drives in Zakouma National Park
Much of the time on game drives will be dedicated to tracking down Zakouma' s remarkable elephant population. Extraordinarily the elephants in the park all live in one single super-herd, however they are difficult to get close to as they spend a lot of their time in thick acacia seyal forest.

The elephants are the poster boys of Zakouma and a rare conservation success story. Their numbers spiralled down from an estimated 4,000 in 2005 to around 450 in 2012. However, since the involvement of African Parks, security has improved, so too community engagement and the decline in elephant numbers has been reversed.

Until January 2016, not a single elephant had been poached in three years and numbers are once again rising. Due to hundreds of years of persecution they are still very wary of people, but thanks to conservation efforts are becoming more tolerant and habituated. Breeding herds are a little edgy, but the bulls are settling down.

You will be staying at Tinga Lodge, full board

Day 4

Game walks in Zakouma National Park
With a private guide and accompanied by an armed ranger, a walk or walking safari is a great way to appreciate a very different side of the landscape and learn more about the intricacies of the ecosystem. It is not a forced march and a walk may last from half an hour to a couple of hours. It is about going slow and taking time to admire the landscape. The focus is on insects and plants, discussing their role in nature.

Whilst Zakouma may be most famous for its vast elephant herds, it is the staggering amount and diversity of wildlife that make this park unique. It is an entirely different experience to a safari in southern or eastern Africa. The utter profusion of wildlife, often seen in groups of hundreds or thousands of animals at a time, is incomparable. The birdlife is also incredible, with pelicans, geese and cranes seen in their thousands.

You will be staying at Tinga Lodge, full board

Day 5

Night drives in Zakouma National Park
In the evenings, there might be a chance to embark on a night drive. Night drives in Zakouma are a real treat. The chance of seeing nocturnal predators is always a thrill, but there is also an abundance of Africa's smaller predators. The chances of seeing servals, pale foxes and civets are good. The glint of crocodiles' eyes in torchlight along the Salamat River is also quite a sight.

You will be staying at Tinga Lodge, full board

Day 6

Local market visit
During the dry season, nomadic herders settle around the park. Visiting these communities is a reminder of the hospitality and generosity of such peoples. It also gives an opportunity to visit the local markets - there is a bustling trade between the nomads and local villagers. On one hand there is a market for livestock, largely male dominated, and on the other, a small rickety stall selling a variety of goods from salt to nuts, from leather to brass bells, from to mobile phone chargers. Photography is not generally well received in the market; however, you are encouraged to purchase from the stalls.

You will be staying at Tinga Lodge, full board

Day 7

Possible Fly Camping
During your stay there may be a chance to fly camp on the banks of the Salamat River, in the very centre of the park. This allows for unique experience in a new area of Zakouma. Wild, remote and completely isolated, this campsite is perfect for appreciating the raw, unexplored beauty of the park. Listen to the nocturnal animals wake up as the sun goes down and perhaps even have time for a quick night drive, in the hope of spotting a leopard.

You will be staying at Tinga Lodge, full board

Day 8

last day in the park
Today is your last day in the park and your guide will help make it memorable by including walking, game driving and night driving if suitable.

You will be staying at Tinga Lodge, full board

Day 9

Travel from Zakouma to N'Djamena (Air Transfer Journey)

Depart N'Djamena
Depart N'Djamena. Suggested flights are with Ethiopian Airlines

21/01/2019 N'Djamena to Addis Ababa ET 938 at 13:50 - 19:50

22/01/2019 Addis Ababa to London ET700 at 01:50 - 06:35



Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Tinga Lodge

Tinga Lodge

An old government-style lodge of some fifty years ago overlooking the Rosse River....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Chad

Bridget Cohen, Travel Expert

"Bridget had a great knowledge of the areas being looked at and given I have spent time in both countries, it required someone who completely understood the type of camps preferred."

"Bridget's service was very personal and friendly whilst maintaining a professional manner. All my questions were dealt with promptly and efficiently."

Read More

Illona Cross, Travel Expert

"Illona was quite simply brilliant. She listened and carefully noted what we thought we wanted, made suggestions and came up with an itinerary which suited us down to the ground."

"Excellent personal service; well-informed local knowledge; dependable outcome; quality of experience."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Expert

Doug Macdonald

Doug Macdonald
Doug Macdonald was born in Zimbabwe, into a family of adventurers and explorers. His grandfather was also one of the first Europeans to canoe down the Zambezi River, heading into Mozambique on his quest to find minerals.

Doug’s father was like-minded and spent much of his young adulthood in the bush, before passing on this knowledge to his sons - teaching bushcraft to Doug and his two brothers. Doug first joined the safari industry in 1989, working in Hwange National Park, then Matusadona National Park, where he concentrated on achieving his Zimbabwe Professional Guide's License.

Doug has travelled and guided through many countries in Africa, from well-known safaris areas to some very unusual destinations, such as Zakouma National Park in Chad. It's this experience and knowledge of this park, and the wild areas of Africa, that Doug will bring to your safari experience.
Enquire about this holiday:

Group Size:

Min 3 / Max 6

Tour Expert:

Doug Macdonald

Holiday Ideas in Chad

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey


  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides


  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates


  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom