Getting there & away
Minibuses (US$0.40, 15 minutes) and clandos (motorcycle taxis, the only ones allowed to operate legally in the city; US$2) run from Rond-point de Chagua in N’Djaména out to the border town of Nguelé. From there you can catch a motorcycle taxi over the bridge into Kousséri where there are regular minibuses to Maroua. You may have to pay ‘taxes’ on both sides of the border. You can also enter Cameroon further south, via Léré or Bongor.
The main route between Chad and Niger is a sandy track looping round to the north of Lake Chad from N’Djaména to Nguigmi, via Mao. There are Land Cruisers daily to Mao and then one on Wednesday to Nguigmi (US$25, six hours). Cheaper pick-ups and big lorries go other days, but you’ll probably have to do the journey in stages via Massakori and Nokou, which can take several days. Get your passport stamped in Mao (you’ll be asked for US$6, but resist paying as best as you can: this money is not going into the treasury) and Nguigmi.
Once in Niger, from Nguigmi take a pick-up or bush taxi to Diffa (US$5), from where there is plenty of public transport to Zinder; there are also two weekly SNTV buses between Nguigmi and Zinder (US$16, 10 hours) going on to Niamey.
The easiest way to Nigeria is through Cameroon. Follow the directions above to reach Maroua, from where you can take a bush taxi straight to Maiduguri or a minibus to the border at Banki. You could also hop a boat across Lake Chad from Bol, though seek local advice first.
Air connections between N’Djaména and other African cities – including Addis Ababa (Ethiopia; US$820 one way), Bamako (Mali; US$680), Kano (Nigeria; US$365), Khartoum (Sudan; US$850) and Niamey (Niger; US$620) – continue to grow. Air France flies direct to Paris five times weekly for around US$1000 return.