Zakouma National Park, Chad

Zakouma National Park shelters the last intact Central African savannah ecosystem and is Chad's prime destination for wildlife safaris. 

Photo credit | African Parks

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We've teamed up with African Parks, a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the responsibility for the rehabilitation and management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. Experience remote areas of Africa on one of our partner expeditions and directly support African Parks conservation efforts. 

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Chad Landscape

Zakouma National Park

Zakouma National Park – a lesser-known outpost at the heart of the mother continent that shelters the last intact Central African savannah ecosystem and provides hardcore safari enthusiasts with a Chad wildlife experience unlike any other, is on our radar for 2018. It’s remote, it’s pristine, and it’s authentic – everything we look for in a Ker & Downey® Africa destination. 

Where exactly is Zakouma National Park?

The park is located at 10.8375° N, 19.6556° E, 860 km from Chad's capital, N'Djamena, which makes for a 12-14-hour drive. The first of Chad's national Parks to be established in 1963, it encompasses approximately 3000 sq. kilometres of one of the last remaining intact Sudano-Sahelian ecosystems in Africa. Due to its location in the Chadian Basin, the park is almost completely flat, with the exception of some striking granite inselbergs towards the south-west territory near Ibir. The floodplains that lie towards the east of the park offer unbeatable grazing which means that game viewing in this region is spectacular throughout the dry season between February and April.

About Zakouma National Park

Zakouma falls under the decidedly competent jurisdiction of African Parks, a leading conservation NGO that focus their efforts on saving wildlife, protecting parks, developing communities, promoting tourism and enterprise in developing nations, and providing management and infrastructure to oversee it all. In fact, it’s a little hard not to gush about the exceptional work they do. African Parks go into the hardest parts of the continent to assist governments who struggle to manage and protect their parks. The Chadian government had the foresight to entrust the management of Zakouma to this efficient team, and the results were incredible.

When African Parks took over the management of the park in 2010, elephant poaching was out of control. Zakouma is considered one of the last safe vestiges for central African wildlife, but demand for ivory has been sky high over the last decade, and the park's fast dwindling elephant population suffered terribly. By 2010, the original herd of 4000+ was reduced to 450, as poachers and Sudanese gangs took to horseback and shot into herds with AK 47s and belt-fed machine guns.

African Parks took control, studied poaching patterns and found that the only way to safeguard the elephants would be to conduct operations all year round (the park normally closed down during the wet season), which required the building of all-weather airstrips throughout the park. This, along with good planning, and stockpiled food, equipment and fuel now allow them to be present 12 months a year and follow elephants around as they move. Satellite collars on key herd members, rangers on horseback and the tight management of ranger patrol schedules have also contributed to curbing the poaching problem.

By visiting the park with a responsible travel provider like Ker & Downey® Africa, you can rest assured that you are contributing to the protection of the wildlife and environment of this unique country while experiencing an untouched slice of Africa.

Photo credit | African Parks

Zakouma National Park

Wildlife When to go

Wildlife in Zakouma

African Parks are in the process of reintroducing rhino into the park, and once complete, it will be home to the full Big Five - elephants, lions, central African savannah buffalos and leopards. Not to mention the fact that it is home to one of the only known population of West African Giraffes and 400+ bird species and sub-species variations (including the black-crowned crane and the sought-after black-breasted barbet).

Wildlife When to go

When to go to Zakouma

The best time to go to Zakouma is in January. This is the best time for game viewing and for all round good weather conditions. The park has two very different seasons - the wet season from May/June until October, and the dry season that runs from November to May. During the wet season the park is not passable for tourists. Roads are normally reopened in mid-November to admit visitors. At this time, game is quite dispersed because there are still large bodies of water around, but the environment is beautifully lush and green, which makes it great for nature photographers.

From January going into February, the water starts to dry up, which means the animals and birds tend to congregate in certain areas around large bodies of remaining water. The weather is also nice and cool, so if you're staying over at a camp it's quite pleasant. March, April and May are hot, hot, hot but the wildlife viewing is spectacular. This is when you'll be able to see vast herds of animals, but you'll have to ready for 40°C - 45°C/104°F temperatures and a few early rain showers around the second half of May.

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Start planning your Zakouma National Park safari

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