Gerewol festival holiday in Chad

During Gerewol, young men paint themselves and perform to seduce young women. This deeply traditional and vibrant event is equally as seductive for the handful of lucky travellers who witness it each year.
Camping in the Sahel meeting the Wodaabe tribespeople Durbali market witnessing the Gerewol festival watching camel racing, singing, dancing and male beauty contests
Price
£2425To£2499 excluding flights
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Duration
8 Days
Type
Small group
Group size
Up to 12 people
Reviews
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Description of Gerewol festival holiday in Chad

Few Western travellers will ever get to experience the Gerewol festival – one of the most spectacular in Africa, yet one that has barely been changed over centuries. This week-long festival occurs when the semi-nomadic Wodaabe people travel across the Sahel on foot, camel or donkey, and come together to feast, dance, race and – ultimately – to find a lover or a partner. The classic image from the Gerewol festival is one of young men with elaborately made up faces, ‘displaying’ to young women in order to attract them. Not only does this Gerewol festival holiday allow you to experience these rituals, but having worked in this area for several years, we have built up plenty of local contacts and friends, meaning we are welcomed as guests, and are able to camp beside them in this incredibly remote region. You’ll be immersed in life far from the mainstream, combined with centuries-old traditions and rituals; this is a highly unique opportunity to see the world from a completely different perspective, and experience the deep traditions of Africa.

Please note: Gerewol is held at the end of the rainy season, around the last week of September. However, the exact dates are not usually confirmed until June and may be shifted by a couple of days either side. For this reason, we recommend that you do not buy flights for your Gerewol festival holiday until the date is confirmed.

Itinerary

Day 1:N’Djamena. Arrive in the capital of Chad today, and transfer to your hotel (Le Meridien Chari or similar). You can choose to stay here and rest up for the adventure ahead, or to head out and explore.
Day 2:Durbali. Drive across the Sahel to the Durbali region where the Gerewol festival is celebrated by the Wodaabe people. We’ll camp here overnight. (BLD)
Day 3-7:Gerewol festival. We have five full days to experience the Gerewol festival – a celebration which has barely changed for centuries. The Wodaabe from across the Sahel region congregate in the area with their cattle for what could be described as a mass courtship ritual. Unusually, it is male beauty that is prized by the Wodaabe, and the young men wear traditional jewellery, feathers and make up before performing in front of the young women – a fascinating spectacle. There will be plenty of dancing and singing, and perhaps some camel racing, as well as plenty of time to meet local people and share stories with them about the culture and rituals. You can also head to one of the Sahel’s most important markets, in Durbali. (BLD)
Day 8:N’Djamena - We return back to N’Djamena, where day use rooms are available to freshen up. After heading out to a restaurant for a final farewell dinner, transfer to the airport for your onward flight home. (BL)

Price information

£2425To£2499 excluding flights
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Travel guides

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Reviews

4 Reviews of Gerewol festival holiday in Chad

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Reviewed on 14 Oct 2019 by

The most memorable part of the holiday was the Wodabe tribe. Read full review

Reviewed on 08 Oct 2019 by

The most memorable part of the holiday was the early morning walks to see the Woodabe camp coming alive. Read full review

Reviewed on 09 Oct 2017 by

The colorful festival itself with all the singing and dancing was of course the highlight of the tour. All the big smiles and greetings that we received from the tribe members during our stay with them, should be mentioned as well. Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Oct 2016 by

Interacting with the Mbororo people was a very rewarding experience...the work which had been done before the trip started in order for the group to be accepted was obviously of the highest standard. Read full review

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.

Planet

This tour travels visits a very remote region, which has barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining its pristine nature. The nature of this trip means that most nights are spent camping. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of back in N’Djamena. Washing of dishes is carried out well away from any water sources so as not to contaminate them.

Where there are tracks, we stick to them – not always possible as there are few tracks in this area.

Our travellers are specifically briefed on not to buy souvenirs made from endangered species – people in remote parts of Chad do not always have the same respect towards wildlife as most travellers will have, and can sometimes offer such things for sale.

People

As with many of the trips that we offer, this tour has a strong focus on local culture and different ethnic groups. Where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence.

We spend time with the Mbororo people, a semi nomadic group that live through the Sahel, and the focus of this trip is on their annual Gerewol festival. Through long association with this area, our local team has established solid relationships with certain Mbororo communities and our presence here is very much welcomed – we feel that it is very important to be seen as guests here rather than outsiders come to merely look. We are able to spend time with the communities learning about their traditions and customs.

We are careful not to disrupt the traditional way of life of the Mbororo. As a way to say thank you for allowing us to visit, we bring traditional gifts, such as sugar, tea and so on – we do not bring modern accoutrements that may change their way of life as we feel that it is important for all tribal groups that any move towards a more ‘modern’ lifestyle is made on their own terms and not imposed upon them. We give gifts to the elders of the villages who will then ensure that they are distributed appropriately, rather than just giving them to individuals, which can cause problems, jealousy and fights within small communities.

These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travellers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities.

We buy supplies from the Mbororo where this is feasible – usually meat and other foodstuffs, and try to have a positive economic impact upon the communities we visit.

We work with Chadian drivers and guides, and at the end of each tour encourage our travellers to leave unwanted clothes that they can then distribute to their extended families. We do not encourage travellers to leave these for the Mbororo as we feel it is important that they are able to maintain their traditional lifestyles, which have generally served them well throughout the centuries in often difficult environments. We do not feel that the emulation of western culture, of which western clothing is just the start, would be wholly beneficial for the Mbororo.

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