Zakouma Photo Safari Introduction
Most of Africa’s iconic safari destinations host thousands of travellers from around the planet each year. It is thus quite remarkable that Zakouma National Park in the country of Chad has remained off the radar for so long, yet it produces spectacular photographic opportunities in pure wilderness.. The park is open for only 11 weeks of the year and at 8 persons per group, there are less than 100 tourists that who visit this camp and the park each year. The contrast of adventure and the remoteness make it one of the most exciting destinations in Africa today. Tourism is virtually brand new to the region and thus you have freedom to explore and experience the reserve and its wildlife in a unique way, a far cry from the set and scheduled operations of other safari experiences in Africa. This is a safari destination that no one is talking about because no one has been there. It is in the heart of a 350 000ha unfenced wilderness where lions roam as they have for time immemorial. This is a wild Africa that excites, entices and is very, very full of life.
We will only be taking 4 clients on this trip and there is no single supplement for this safari.
In 2015, C4 Photo Safaris’ guide, Kyle de Nobrega visited Zakouma to experience this wilderness and gain valuable experience of the area and the wildlife before leading this unique photo safari. Kyle returned amazed at the vast potential of Zakouma as a wildlife photography destination. C4 Photo Safaris has partnered with African Parks and Camp Nomade to run this very special and unique photo safari into one of Africa’s most unknown destinations. C4 photo guide Kyle De Nobrega will host this safari in conjunction with Anthony Kaschula. Anthony is a born and bred Zimbabwean whos family have been living in Africa for the last 5 generations. He was raised and educated in Zimbabwe and South Africa and in addition to holding one of the highest guiding qualifications on the continent, also has 2 university degrees – a BSc in Ecology and Environmental and Geographical Science and a MSc in Tropical resource Ecology.
What makes Zakouma incredibly special is the attraction to water in the dry season. Once the water dries up, the animals and birdlife are attracted in numbers un-paralleled, to the pockets of drying pools in the rivers and marshes. Thousands of waterfowl gather in the floodplains, with herds of Tiang, Lelwels Hartebeest, Defassa Waterbuck, Olive Baboon, buffalo and Kordofan Giraffe coming to the water almost all the time. Lion are very common and hunt the buffalo and other antelope as they come to the pools of water. Incredibly common are the relaxed groups of Olive baboon always gibing your camera something to point at. The sounds of thousands of Northern Crowned Cranes honking from every angle becomes the norm and the sight of both species of Pelican fishing in droves are commonly seen from the comfort of your armchair. Spur winged geese and the unmistakable White-faced Ducks congregate in impressive numbers. If one is lucky, the large herds of elephant come to drink along the banks of the waterways. It is more likely though, to spend some time with the small groups of bull elephants along the pans.
Zakouma offers so much more than a normal safari. The opportunity to photograph wildlife on foot is quite unique. With this flexibility and freedom, spending time on the floodplains with waterfowl and antelope offers incredible opportunities to work with a particular subject. On the whole the wildlife and birds are fairly relaxed and can be approached on foot with relative ease.
Flight trips can be arranged to get an appreciation and understanding of the ebb and flow of Zakouma and puts the perspective of wildlife attractions into view. This is the best way to view the elephants that roam together in tight knit groups of over 400. Viewing lions on their kills from air in the green floodplains is common, and seeing over a thousand Buffalo moving in formation through the Sayel woodlands is quite phenomenal.
Lastly, one of Zakouma’s greatest attractions are its queleas. Watching queleas flocking down from their roosts to drink in their millions is something that you can’t see such a scale or spectrum anywhere else in the world. The formations of the birds moving in waves avoiding hundreds of predating Kites creates scenes that are fantastical, action filled and simply out of this world.
Zakouma serves as sanctuary for West & Central African biodiversity, due to its year-round availability of water. Some 66 mammal species are found in the park, of which 16 are large mammals. Notable species include the Kordofan giraffe, with 50 per cent of the African population residing within the park. Larger predator species include lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena, striped hyena & wild dog, while smaller species include civet, serval, caracal, jackal, honey badger, African wildcat & the pale fox.
Some of the most notable herbivores include elephant, Kordofan giraffe, Central African Savannah buffalo, Western greater kudu, red-fronted gazelle, Lelwel’s hartebeest, tiang, Western roan antelope, Defassa waterbuck, Buffon’s kob, warthog, red-flanked & Grimm’s duiker, oribi, Nigerian Bohor reedbuck and Harnessed Bushbuck Three species of primate are found in the park: the olive baboon, patas monkey & tantalus monkey. A total of 388 bird species reside within the park boundaries. Zakouma’s floodplains, rivers, marshes & pans are a valuable stop-over and breeding ground for birds, & the south-eastern wetlands form part of the RAMSAR site “Inundation Plains of Bahr Auok & Salamat” – one of the largest in the world. Some 40 raptor species are found in the park, along with abundant populations of northern carmine bee-eaters & red-billed queleas. Zakouma is also home to the Abyssinian ground hornbill.
Zakouma Photo Safari Intinerary
About your host, Kyle de Nobrega
A naturalist guide by trade, a wildlife photographer by passion, a birder at heart, Kyle has truly dedicated his life and time to wilderness regions and the natural world. He is constantly on a mission to explore, find and ultimately share the fascinating jewels of the bush. From taking photo’s of the spoor left behind by a beetle grub to painstakingly lying on a rock waiting for a certain bird to fly by, he thrives.
About your host, Anthony Kaschula
Anthony (Ant) Kaschula is a third generation Zimbabwean who specializes in providing close to nature, true wilderness experiences in what are regarded to be some of the continent’s wildest and furthest flung destinations.
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Days 1 & 2: Hilton Hotel, Chad
Meet and pick-up at N’Djamena International Airport in Chad for an overnight stay at the Hiton Hotel.
A tranquil hotel in the heart of Chad, located in a scenic and peaceful area along the banks of the Chari River. The hotel boasts a secure gated entrance, a dedicated airport shuttle and offers unique views of the local flora and fauna. Business travelers can unwind after a busy day in the relaxing atmosphere of the hotel with a range of recreational amenities. Bask in the warm sun alongside the sparkling outdoor pool or spend the afternoon at the hotel spa.
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Days 2 – 8: Camp Nomade, Chad
You will be transferred to the N’Djamena International Airport for your charter flight to the Camp Nomade in Zakouma.
Camp Nomade is erected in Zakouma’s prime wildlife-viewing areas during the driest part of the dry season. It has a very short season, from mid-December to mid–April, making it very exclusive and highly sought after. The camp is modelled on the traditional nomadic camps of the Sahel region and is beautifully decorated with brightly coloured local carpets, nomadic bells and brassware. There are eight tents with a maximum capacity for eight guests, plus their private guide. Each tent consists of a black mosquito-net ‘box’ which offers 360-degree game viewing from the comfort of your bed with a stretch canvas above to provide shade. There is an individual bathroom for each guest made from local grass fencing screens with a rustic bucket shower and hot water.
Over the next few days the daily activity will be:
05h30 Early morning Game drive/ Walks.
13h00 Rest and own time.
15h30 Game drive/ Walks.
19h00 Dinner under the stars and then retire to bed for another day of more great photography!
Please note the times mentioned above are estimates and can change.
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Day 9: Hilton Hotel, Chad
After an early morning game viewing you will enjoy brunch. You will then be transferred for your flight transfer back to N’Djamena International Airport. A Hilton Hotel representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you back to the Hilton Hotel for your last nights stay.
Day 10: N’Djamena International Airport, Chad
After your last breakfast at the Hilton you will be transferred back to the N’Djamena International Airport for your international flights home. This is unfortunately the end of the Safari.
Highlights and what to photograph:
- Excellent, open sightings and photography.
- Large herds of Buffalo at sunset/dusk create atmospheric scenes with dust.
- Elephants can be photographed by air, however there are a number of bulls that hang around in the region near the Head quarters and airstrip wandering to the nearer floodplains and pans.
- Queleas are very likely to be seen early in the morning coming down to the floodplain before sunrise for the first drink of the day.
- Large colonies of bee-eater and other birds.
- Flights over the reserve. This is an option and cannot be sold prior to arrival as the planes may be required for conservation work, which makes them unavailable. Flying will cost in the region of around $ 350 per person a flight (an estimate) and it will be on a donation basis.
- Virtually everywhere you look there is a wild animal of some description and many of the animals are in numbers not seen elsewhere and are new species or different subspecies to what one will see in southern or east africa.