Long seen by travellers as a place to get through rather than visit, few visitors in Chad do more than spend a couple of days in N’Djaména, the busy, broken-down capital, on their way between Niger and Cameroon. And as the government increasingly loses its grip on the nation, travellers are getting fewer and further between. Even many NGO workers dread drawing this assignment. Travelling here certainly poses many problems: few roads are paved, it gets hot as hell in summer, the costs are among the continent’s highest, and the police and soldiers are quite nervous these days. But, of course, there are rewards in this struggling but interesting country for those who take the Chadian challenge and you will soon discover a wealth of warmth and culture beneath the rough exterior.
Known for its endless Sahelien expanses, Chad has a few surprises up its sleeve, too, like boat rides on Lake Chad or strolling the shady streets of southern towns where the dusty landscape, fed by small rivers, is interspersed with incongruously green scenes providing a quasi-tropical break from the rigours of the road. The best destinations – the otherworldly desert landscapes of Ennedi and the teeming wildlife of Zakouma National Park just South of N’Djaména – lie way beyond backpacker budgets but are both world class.