A landlocked country located in north-central Africa, Chad is an ethnically diverse, resource-rich semi-desert country that’s largely unknown to the outside world.
Despite its lack of global attention, Chad, which has a population of 16.43 million people (as of 2020), boasts a lot of interesting places and features, including:
- More than 200 ethnic groups
- Over 100 languages spoken
- Vast gold, oil, and uranium reserves
- Three climatic regions (the Sahara Desert, the Sahel belt, and the tropical region)
- A national park that’s teeming with a diverse variety of mammal and bird species
Bordered by the countries of Nigeria, Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and Niger, “The Babel Tower of the World,” as it’s called due to its ethnic and cultural diversity, can make for an interesting vacation destination.
If you’re a bold, adventurous explorer who isn’t strongly fazed by higher-than-normal crime rates, Chad might just be the destination you’ve been looking for.
Here’s some helpful information about this fascinating African country that we hope will help you in all the planning stages of your trip.
Warnings & Dangers in Chad
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
Due to the high risk of violent crime, kidnapping, unrest, and terrorism, Chad isn’t widely considered to be a safe country. Chad is generally believed to be quite dangerous, especially for foreigners. If you decide to visit this country, you’re strongly advised to seek professional advice regarding security to make sure you’re as safe as possible.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : HIGH
The main modes of transportation in Chad are buses and taxis, and they’re also the cheapest ways to get around. According to Smart Traveler, public transport in Chad, which includes buses and taxis, isn’t the safest and most reliable. We’d say that Chad’s transport and taxis risk is quite high.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
Pickpocketing and other petty crimes usually occur in commercial and market areas, and their rates tend to increase at night. Local police and security forces, or people pretending to be them, may try to obtain money from travelers through the use of fake fines and intimidation. Since the risk of pickpockets in Chad is high, you should certainly seek professional security advice before making your trip.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : HIGH
Chad’s population is quite vulnerable to floods, epidemics, and food and nutrition insecurity. Despite global humanitarian efforts to combat these problems, the issues continue to greatly impact the people of this north-central African country. You can expect a high natural disasters risk in Chad.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
A report by Numbeo shows a high level of worry regarding “being mugged or robbed,” at 68.75%. Compare that to New York City, where the level of worry is at 46.05% (moderate). This data shows us that Chad has a high mugging risk.
TERRORISM RISK : HIGH
Chad has seen an increase in terrorist attacks over the past several years. Terrorist groups like Boko Haram (BH) and ISIS-WA have been known to terrorize both civilian and military targets, and the attacks have only been rising. Because of this, we can conclude that Chad has a high terrorism risk.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
There are no online sources that address scams in Chad specifically, but police impersonation, nepotism, and bribery are widespread problems. Corruption among investors and government officials is also common, meaning that anyone closely involved in these sectors should be extremely careful. This information tells us that Chad has a high scams/corruption risk.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Although there’s no data about crimes against women travelers in Chad, both the US and the UK governments have issued level 3 travel advisories, which suggest that people should reconsider travel to this country. And since women tend to be targeted more in places with limited economic opportunity, women are strongly advised against traveling to Chad, especially on their own.
TAP WATER RISK : MEDIUM
With one of the world’s lowest rates of sanitation services and access to clean drinking water, Chad has a long way to go in this area. That said, access is improving in urban areas, such as N'Djamena, the capital of Chad. Thus, the tap water risk is medium to high in urban areas and high in rural areas.
Safest Places to Visit in Chad
Despite the country’s high levels of crime, ongoing conflicts, and lack of access to sanitation services, Chad is distinct and impressive in its own way.
The country may be characterized by extremes of many sorts, but for the hardened adventurer, this may be exactly what they’ve been looking for.
Some of the best places in Chad include:
As Chad’s capital and largest city, N’Djamena fuses modern and traditional cultures.
It’s not uncommon to see modern buildings juxtaposed with mud-brick shanties, a stark reminder of the economic state of this country.
Even so, the city is filled with culture and life.
You can explore the history of Chad by checking out the national museum and buying souvenirs at the central market.
This city, which used to be the site of the French Colonial Fort Archambault, is situated on the Chari River, about 350 miles away from N’Djamena.
Sarh’s warm, the wet climate makes it ideal for cotton production, which is the city’s main export.
Although there aren’t many tourists in Sarh, the city has a vibrant performing arts scene, which is sure to entertain for hours on end.
Zakouma National Park
Located in southeastern Chad, Zakouma National Park covers approximately 1,150 square miles (3,000 square kilometers).
Regarded as one of the most successful conservation efforts in Central Africa, the park features a wide array of mammal and bird species.
You can even enjoy a relaxing dinner while relishing the views of the African bush.
Placess to Avoid in Chad
Hotspots for violent conflict and terrorist attacks include Chad’s borders with Sudan, Libya, the Central African Republic, and the area around the Lake Chad Basin.
Northern Chad has seen violent conflict with armed rebels, and terrorist attacks, especially by Boko Haram (BH), have been an ongoing problem.
Stay away from large public gatherings, especially protests, since they can turn into violent eruptions.
At the same time, be hypervigilant when you’re in remote areas since kidnappings are more likely to occur there.
Currently, the western Tibesti region that borders Niger and the Sila and Ouaddai regions are in a state of emergency due to fighting between rival ethnic groups.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Chad
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. That’s because there have been instances of security forces, or people pretending to be them, extorting money from foreign nationals. Only carry with you the cash amount you need.
- Don’t travel at night. People become more vulnerable targets at night and, therefore, crimes like pickpocketing and mugging tend to occur more after dark.
- Always carry identification with you. You have to present this when asked by the police. Otherwise, you could experience severe delays when traveling within the country or, even worse, be prohibited from traveling.
- Be careful whenever you’re taking photos. You need to have a government photo to partake in any sort of photography. Even with a permit, it’s illegal for you to take photographs of police and military assets and personnel, government buildings, and airports. So, if you’re a photographer, be mindful of the laws.
- Know the laws regarding precious gems. Selling these gems without a license or exporting them without government permission is illegal. Also, if you do have precious gems in your possession, avoid carrying them out in the open so you don’t fall victim to theft or robbery.
- Never be alone, especially in remote areas. You’re more likely to get kidnapped if 1) you’re alone and 2) you’re in a remote place. Stay in the areas with higher traffic and always be with a group of people that you know.
- Stay away from large crowds. Although it’s usually better to be in higher traffic locations, like urban areas, to reduce the possibility of getting kidnapped, there are still some things you have to be aware of when in more crowded places. One of them is large public gatherings. Because they can suddenly turn dangerously violent without warning, it’s best to keep your distance from large crowds.
- Closely monitor the news. This will keep you up to date on what’s going on around Chad and the countries surrounding it (due to ongoing violent border and ethnic conflicts, it’s very important to be on top of these things). That way, if a situation gets out of hand, you can get ready at a moment’s notice and leave.
- Listen to the advice of local authorities. This will keep you abreast of the local happenings and help you decide whether to stay or leave the area.
- Research the country in advance. If you don’t do your due diligence and learn about Chad in depth before arriving, you could find yourself in some very hot water. Chad has plenty of cultural and natural beauty, but you need to research the country in advance so you can make the most of your trip.
So... How Safe Is Chad Really?
Chad isn’t the safest country to visit, mostly due to ongoing violent conflicts, terrorist attacks, crime rates, and corruption.
However, Chad can be a wonderful country to check out for the right type of traveler.
Ideally, people who plan to travel to this north-central African country are extremely seasoned travelers who have visited and/or lived in high-risk locations, especially in central Africa, and can keep their composure in dangerous situations.
Although Chad doesn’t see a lot of tourism, places that draw the most tourists include N’Djamena, Sarh, and Zakouma National Park.
Wherever you are in Chad, always be aware of your surroundings and avoid large crowds at all costs.
Places you should avoid are Chad’s borders with Libya, Sudan, and the Central African Republic and around the Lake Chad Basin.
Also, avoid remote areas since kidnappings are more likely to happen there.
If you’re a highly experienced traveler who knows how to respond to a wide array of serious emergencies, such as violent conflicts, you still might want to visit Chad, which will certainly offer you a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Just do your homework ahead of time and you may be up for the vacation you’ve always been dreaming of.
How Does Chad Compare?
- Visas - Foreign nationals traveling to Chad have to present a passport and a valid visa. However, citizens of the following countries are exempt from this requirement: Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Benin, Republic of Central Africa, Gabon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Niger.
- Currency - The XAF (Central African CFA Franc) is the official currency of Chad and five other central African countries (Central African Republic, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea). The best place to exchange your currency is at the international airport when you arrive.
- Weather - With Chad’s hot and tropical climate, you need to dress lightly. And because of Chad’s rainy season (May-October in the south and June-September in central Chad), it’s also advised that you wear waterproof clothing.
- Airports - N'Djamena International Airport, located in the country’s capital, is Chad’s only international airport. The airport serves both civilians and the military alike, and you may see installations on either side of a single runway.
- Travel Insurance - This is extraordinarily important, especially when traveling to high-risk destinations. You need to buy a policy that covers all medical costs overseas, and it’s also best to avail of a policy that protects you in other dire situations like the loss or theft of valuable possessions and canceled flights. If you cannot afford travel insurance, you cannot afford to travel. Purchase travel insurance that protects you in as many extreme situations as possible, and you’ll set yourself up for a safer vacation.
Chad Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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