Zakouma experiences two contrasting seasons every year, the wet season (May/June – October) and the dry season (November – May). During the wet season the park is completely drenched and is closed to all tourist activity. At the end of the wet season, all the roads are re-graded in time for the opening of Tinga Camp and Camp Salamat in mid-November.
Early/Cool dry season (November & December)
Although certain roads are still closed in November, the large bodies of water remaining after the rains attract thousands of pelicans fishing the rivers and pans for catfish. Game is fairly dispersed, although sightings in Zakouma are always good. It is a lovely time to visit as the bush is beautifully lush and green which provides excellent photography opportunities.
Middle/Cool dry season (January & February)
As the water starts drying out, birds and wildlife become more concentrated. Large flocks of quelea start moving through the park and roost in their millions in certain trees. Water birds start congregating around the large pans and herds of thousands of antelope and buffalo begin frequenting the main bodies of water. January can be very cool with early morning and evening temperatures dropping as low as 10°C /50°F making it a great time for camping in the park at Camp Nomade. Guests are advised to bring warm clothing for early morning and night drives. Midday temperatures can still reach 30°C. As there is still a fair amount of water throughout the park, game sightings are possible virtually anywhere.
Late/Hot dry season (March, April and May)
With some of the best wildlife viewing you will ever experience, Zakouma is becoming renowned for its vast numbers of game during these peak months. Central African buffalos in herds of up to a thousand, roan antelope, Tiang and Lelwel hartebeest, to name a few, congregate in large numbers around the remaining pools of water, which in turn attracts the predators. These pools are also densely populated with black-crowned cranes, spur-winged geese and white-faced whistling ducks. From the beginning of March the temperatures tend to increase to 40°C - 45°C/104°F –113°F (28°C/82.4°F late evenings and early mornings). Insects and mosquitos are minimal during this time (except tsetse flies along parts of the Salamat River). Towards the end of the dry season there is always the chance of an early rain shower or two. The rains generally start in earnest during the second half of May but can potentially start in April.
The park is open to visitors from mid-November to the end of May. US$/CFA exchange rate 1US$ = 585CFA (27/08/2015)
Expats & International visitors:
Should there be an incident while you are travelling, it is greatly beneficial for us to have the necessary travel insurance information at hand – reducing the need for calls and allowing for prompt action or assistance – whether it is of a medical nature or lost baggage or a missed flight. We highly recommend taking out travel insurance, particularly due to the nature of the destination.
Detailed passport information is required – names, nationality, birth dates, expiry dates, etc. – and we would request that you please scan your passport (relevant pages) and send per email to your Guide/operator this is so that we can provide an invitation letter to Chad to help obtain your visa. Note that visitors to Chad must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months with at least 2 consecutive/side by side blank pages on entry for stamps. Should there be insufficient blank pages in your passport then entry into or exit from a country could be denied.
A visa is required for most travellers to Chad. This has to be obtained prior to arrival from your closest Chadian Embassy. Visa applications, costs and relevant documentation are the responsibility of the traveller. An invitation letter will be provided by Zakouma National Park once your booking is confirmed and we have received the passport information of each traveller. Kindly ensure that you have all necessary visas prior to departure from your home country. Camp Nomade and its staff, Private Guides and operators cannot be held liable should entry be denied.
On arrival in Chad it is required for each individual to report to a police station to register their arrival in the country. We have organised with the authorities that an African Parks representative can do this in your place. This will require the attached “Police Registration” form to be filled in by hand and brought with you to Chad. On arrival in N’Djamena an African Parks representative will meet you at the airport and collect your completed form along with your passport and 2 passport photos. Your passport will be returned to you when you arrive back in N’Djamena.
Yellow Fever Certificate & Airport Arrival Advice
A “Yellow Fever Ceritficate” is required to enter Chad. You will be asked to show this once you are through immigration so make sure you have it readily at hand. On collecting your luggage you will be required to produce your luggage tags to prove that you have the correct luggage. Once accepted your luggage will have to go through the scanning machine. The airport is very crowded and we recommend to all Camp Nomade clients that you tie a piece of red ribbon to your luggage to make it easier for our “meet & greet” personel to help you find your luggage.
Photography is not allowed in public places in Chad and in the airport particularly the police are on the lookout for cameras so please keep all camera equipment & phones in your bags when travelling through the airport. We have special permission for tourists to use cameras in Zakouma National Park so it is not a problem here. However we advise all guests to respect the law and local communities by not taking photos when visiting a village or market while in N’Djamena or around Zakouma.
Other tips when travelling to Chad
Chad is a predominantly Muslim country so we ask everyone visiting to respect this. Please dress conservatively when in N’Djamena and when visiting local communities. For men we advise you to wear trousers and for women too, trousers, plus a long sleeved shirt and a head scarf. You will not always have to wear the scarf on your head but it is always wise to have one with you.
Visitors need Yellow Fever inoculation certificates, which they will be asked to present on arrival in Chad by customs, so make sure it is easily accessible and valid. Visitors are also advised to contact their doctor or travel clinic at least eight weeks prior to travel for up-to-date advice on the vaccination requirements and health precautions. All international visitors to Zakouma need to make sure that they have the appropriate medical insurance before they travel to Chad. Zakouma's own medical insurance covers paying guests for both Tinga Camp and Camp Nomade for emergency evacuation to Johannesburg, so please make sure that you are covered for "Repatriation Cover" to get you home to your country of residence if necessary.
Zakouma is a malaria area and all visitors are advised to take the appropriate prophylaxis prescribed by their doctor. It is difficult to bring aerosol insect repellents into Chad, so we suggest guests bring an insect repellant in cream form. Make sure you cover up with long sleeve shirts, trousers and closed shoes in the evenings.
Tsetse flies can be a problem along certain parts of the heavily wooded Salamat River and in the south of the park. While they have a nasty bite, they are generally harmless and no known cases of sleeping sickness have occurred in Chad. Tsetse flies are attracted to dark colours so it is advisable that visitors wear khaki and lighter colours and make use of insect repellents.
Both Tinga and Camp Nomade offer bottled water. Tinga also has filtered water available. Although brushing teeth at both camps with the tap water is fine, we would advise against drinking the water.
Although Chad has been at peace since 2008, its neighbouring countries are currently areas that people are advised against visiting by most governments. Zakouma is in a secure location and surrounded by bush with 24-hour protection by our patrolling anti-poaching teams. For more information on security in Chad please click here to download our "Security Update" PDF.
Zakouma is a 12-14 hour drive from Chad's capital, N'Djamena (860km). Vehicles are available for hire from N'Djamena at a daily rate of around 200,000 CFA for a 4X4, including fuel and a driver. This rate varies depending on the operator.
There are three entrance gates to the park, the main one being Goz Djarat in the northeast. From N'Djamena take the main road to Abéché and turn right at Ngoura (± 200km from N'Djamena) towards Mongo, Abou Deia and then on to Am Timan. The turnoff to the park (a stone signpost) can be found on the right 12km before the town of Am Timan. The entrance gate at Goz Djarat is about 1.5 hours drive from the main road and it is a further 45 minutes' drive to Tinga. You drive past the park headquarters "Zakouma" and continue for a further 7km to Tinga. There is usually good game viewing between Goz Djarat and Tinga Camp.
When travelling by road through Chad one needs to pay toll fees at various roadblocks along the way. If you are self-driving, make sure you have some cash in local currency with you, although it is advised to rather travel with a driver who knows the route.
For those who prefer to fly, two air charter companies fly into Zakouma –Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and RJM Aviation. If you have an air charter arranged please check on the luggage weight allowance, especially in the hot months (it is usually 15kg per person). Soft bags are preferable. The park airstrip is 15 minutesǯ drive from Tinga Camp. Please ensure we have your arrival time for collection at the airstrip.