The Gerewol Festival and Ennedi Mountains tour, Chad
Description of The Gerewol Festival and Ennedi Mountains tour, Chad
This is Africa travel as it’s meant to be: raw and untamed, surprising and endlessly exciting. Using superb local connections honed over years, you’ll be welcomed into local communities, exploring cultures that stretch back centuries, and reaching parts that very few other travellers can.
You’ll begin in the Durbali region, spending four days in the company of the Wodaabe people as they come together from across Chad to take part in the colourful Gerewol Festival, one of the most exhilarating in all of Africa. Expect to see traditional singing and dancing, horse racing and elaborate costume in an authentic mass courtship ritual. Festivities often continue well into the night at an annual event that is entirely authentic, making no concessions either to modernity or the outside world – it’s a thrilling and fascinating experience.
Leaving the festival and your Wodaabe hosts behind, you’ll head through the majestic Ennedi Mountains into the vast expanse of the Sahara. Many of the people you’ll encounter on this journey are surprised to see foreigners but welcoming. Pausing occasionally to pick up supplies along the way, you’ll pass remote wells where thirsty camels drink eyed by Saharan crocodiles, follow ancient caravan routes, camp in the pristine wilderness, and emerge into the Ounianga oasis, lakes surrounded by dunes and palms with a backdrop of multi-hued mountains.
This is no holiday. This is a spellbinding odyssey that takes you into parts of Africa very few others reach, to have experiences that would be next to impossible without the organisational skills and connections of a specialist travel company.
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PlanetThis tour 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.
PeopleAs 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 one of the focuses of this trip is 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 also spend time in the traditional lands of the Tubu people, one of the Sahara’s most traditional ethnic groups who are quite wary of outsiders. Through long association with this area, our local team has established solid relationships with certain communities and our presence here is 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 or the Tubu. 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 and Tubu 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 and Tubu people.
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