The Central African Republic of Chad is one of the largest countries in Africa and a partly very extreme landscape. The north of the country is occupied by the largest dry desert on earth, the Sahara, with its hostile conditions. In addition, the volcanic Tibesti Mountains lie in the north and with the Emi Koussi and its 3,451 m, it is also the highest point in Chad. In the western and central part of the country, where the Sahel zone also runs, the Chad Basin and Lake Chad are located. The south then the region with tropical to subtropical dry forests, in which diversity in flora and fauna can be explored – especially in the Zakouma National Park. And in between: dry and thorn savannahs, gallery forests and the rivers and floodplains of Chari and Logone. The landscape of Chad finally becomes unique through a deep, reddish shining canyon, the huge, wind-carved rock arch Aloba or the palm-lined Ounianga lakes. Nature worth seeing but also in the form of multi-colored dunes and the Archei Gorge, where you will encounter rock carvings and thus traces of civilization and culture. Culture in Chad also includes semi-nomadic cattle breeders who live between the Sahel and the savannah and differ from one another through their individual way of life and, in particular, through their specific hairstyle. And if you go all the way to the southwest, directly on the border with Cameroon, you will find the capital N’Djamena there.
a miracle in the desert
They are wonders in the desert – the lakes of Ounianga in Chad in Africa. And they are the only phenomenon in this country that has received the title of World Heritage Site from UNESCO. These natural water resources extend over twenty square kilometers in the vast expanse of the Sahara. You donate life for the people and for the animals in an otherwise life-threatening region.
The Sahara was once a blooming landscape
The seascape of Ounianga are the last remnants from a time of more than ten thousand years when the Sahara was still a flourishing landscape. But then this area in the heart of Africa became increasingly drier due to climatic changes. The dust of the desert remained – with one exception – the lakes of Ounianga. While other watercourses became more and more saline due to permanent evaporation, the cool water remained usable for living beings here.
A permanent water temperature of 17 degrees
For a long time, scientists puzzled why the lakes of Ounianga alone were spared the process of salinization. The explanation was clear: The deeper areas in every lake keep supplying the surface with fresh water. This is the only way to understand that the temperature of the lake constantly fluctuates around 17 degrees even under the heat bell over the Sahara. Shifting dunes limit this wonder of the desert, and the steady wind provides additional cooling.
Healing powers from minerals and mud
The area around this part of Chad was populated very early on. This is indicated by finds that archaeologists cataloged there. And to this day the lakes of Ounianga are a preferred destination for people who grow fruit and vegetables on the banks and who claim to be successful ungulate breeders. The unusual ecosystem has been the target of interesting studies for a number of years. Scientists came to the conclusion that the mud of the lake landscape with its minerals and algae has been shown to have healing properties. It is said to have a healing dermatological effect.
Zakouma National Park
The Zakouma National Park is 3000 km² and is located in the southeast of Chad. Here you can experience the real nature of Africa and see a variety of animals such as giraffes, lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, wildebeests, buffalo and many other rare species. Located south of the Sahara and above the fertile rainforest areas, Zakouma Park has become a safe haven for the wildlife of Central and West Africa. Previously, there was great damage due to poaching. From small planes, the poachers hunted the park’s elephants and reduced their population from 3,000 to just 1,000 in 2010.
African Parks took over management of the national park that same year, and effective law enforcement and community networks virtually eliminated poaching, with few elephants killed in the past six years. The elephant population is finally on the rise again, with over 500 animals registered in 2016, the first increase in over a decade.
Now that security has been restored, Zakouma is now a sought-after tourist destination. This also benefits the neighboring communities, whose livelihoods have improved considerably. Zakouma is an inspiring success story of today. For visitors to the park who want to see the rare species of birds and other impressive animals on safaris and take spectacular hikes through the beautiful terrain, it is a very worthwhile excursion destination.