Wildlife Group Tour

Chad Group Tour - Zakouma and the wildlife of the Sahel

Departing 2nd - 10th March 2020

9 days

from £5,780pp
  • 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.

Game drives are led by Doug, in an open vehicle with room for six window seats. The vehicle will, however, have a roof. Early morning drives set out at dawn when the wildlife is most active. You return to camp for breakfast and perhaps a walk. In the afternoon, you will embark on an afternoon tour, with a sundowner stop along the way to appreciate the beautiful light on the landscape. You will return to camp after sunset.

On one of the days, Doug will try to arrange for you to visit a local village on the outskirts of the park. This will take all day and you may have a game drive later if there is time. On another day, if possible, you will have a chance to camp in a temporary camp by the river in comfortable dome tents (this cannot be guaranteed). Doug will do his best to ensure that you see and do as much as possible during your stay, including a visit to the headquarters of African Parks, where vital work is done on wildlife monitoring and protection.


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.

Departing on:
  • 2nd March 2020

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

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
2nd Mar 2020 10th Mar 2020 £ 5,780 £ 875 £ 560 Doug Macdonald Available
  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

  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters
  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa


Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

This is a small group tour with a maximum of six people guided by professional guide Doug Macdonald.

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:
01/03/2020 London to Addis Ababa ET 701 at 20:15 - 06:55 and on 02/03/2020 Addis Ababa to N'Djamena ET 939 at 10:05 - 12:10

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.

A Day in N'Djamena
You can take time to relax at the Hilton N'Djamena, which is located within lush gardens that surround a wonderfully refreshing pool, and the spa is also at your disposal during your stay. However, if you would like to explore the city, consider booking an outing with a guide and driver who can collect you at the Hilton N'Djamena and must accompany you throughout and return with you to the hotel.

Perhaps make a visit to the Grand Marche, a bustling market in the heart of the city where absolutely everything imaginable is on sale. It is particularly interesting to see the spices on offer. There is also a nearby craft market, where local artisans offer a variety of African art, jewellery, and trinkets. You might also like to see the nearby Avenue Charles De Gaulle, the Chad National Museum or the Grand Mosque.

You will be staying at Hilton N'Djamena, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Drive from N'Djamena to Zakouma (Road Journey)

Have breakfast and prepare for a long drive to the Maramures region and the village of Breb.

The drive will be around six hours so the group will stop for lunch en route. This is a lovely opportunity to visit a local market or just stroll around the centre of an ordinary Romania town. Depending on how time is going, we will try and stop at Gherla, a small town know for its Armenian church, said to host a painting by Reubens.

You will arrive in Breb in the late afternoon. Take some time to discover the village and its surroundings or just relax and settle in. Breb is a beautiful and well worth spending some time.

Have dinner in Breb in the house of a local family.

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.

First day in Zakouma
Once you have had lunch, checked into camp and familiarised yourselves with the surroundings, your guides will give you a briefing of the park and the conservation work of African Parks.

Afterwards, start your exploration of Zakouma on your first game drive. Zakouma is a safe haven for some of Chad's most endangered and endemic wildlife including the Kordofan giraffe, the African elephant and now the black rhinoceros.

Game drives are conducted in specially adapted open 4x4 vehicles driven by your guide. Your guide has exceptional knowledge of the park, the wildlife and especially the huge bird populations that visit the park. Afternoon game drives include a refreshment stop to view the sunset, whereas morning drives include a stop along the way for coffee, tea and biscuits.

You will be staying at Tinga Lodge, full board

Day 3

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 4

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 5

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 6

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 7

The Elephant of Zakouma
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 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)

The flight will take about two hours and on arrival, you can choose to be transferred back to the ho

Depart N'Djamena
Depart N'Djamena. Suggested flights are with Ethiopian Airlines:
10/03/2020 N'Djamena to Addis Ababa ET 938 at 14:25 -20:25 and on 11/03/2020 Addis Ababa to London ET700 at 01:20 - 06:35. 

International flights are currently not included in the costs. 


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....

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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."

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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."

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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 5 / Max 6

Tour Expert:

Doug Macdonald

Departure Date (S):

  • 2nd March 2020

  • Moderate Activity - The tour may occasionally involve slightly longer walks, but nothing over 4 hours. The tour will involve visits to a variety of sites throughout the duration of the itinerary and be at a moderate pace.

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