The unknown desert landscape of Chad

Text: Angelique van Os | Photography: Henk Bothof

Chad, situated in Central Africa and completely enclosed by land, was for years not difficult to reach due to various (civil) wars. Many people do not realise that the country has been accessible again since 2008. There have been a number of minor incidents, such as in Tibesti in 2018, which has been well resolved by the army.

The camel caravan quenches its thirst at a water pool.


Fortunately the tide is turning, so it is possible to visit one of the most beautiful desert areas of the Sahara. For example, Henk went straight through the Ennedi, a desert area where many impressive rock formations can be found. Also special is the fact that nomads like the Arab Rouge and the Toubou (they live in the north of Ennedi, Tibesti and Ounianga) wander around, with large herds of camels, sheep and donkeys. The hundreds of drinking animals are a special spectacle.

Tibesti mountains

The Tibesti is another desert mountain range, which consists partly of dormant and three active volcanoes in northern Chad. There are natron lakes and salt extraction takes place. The mountain range forms a triangle of about 560 km long. The Emi Koussi is with 3415 meters, not only the highest peak, it is also the largest and highest in the Sahara. The Tibesti are also known for very old rock paintings. Henk has not been here, but has seen rock drawings at Mandenguil, Ennedi.

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Ounianga Lakes

In the middle of the desert are also the fairytale lakes of Ounianga, which are all interconnected. The total of eighteen lakes consist of freshwater and saltwater. Henk experienced the enchanting waters as an oasis of peace, surrounded by palm trees and rich in colours. In some places small communities have established themselves and villages have been created. In other places there is no soul to be seen and you only camp under the stars. Not for nothing is this area part of UNESCO.

Authentic communities

It is not only in the north and the Sahara that itinerant nomads can be found, but also in the Sahel you will find these people who lead authentic lives according to age-old traditions; like the Fulani also called Peul. This includes the Wodaabe and the Bororo. The Bororo can be recognized by their facial tattoos. The Wodaabe are known for the annual Gerewol festival. Henk has also been here. Soon a separate photo story will follow. In the south, among others, live the Sara nomads They have scarifications.


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