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RC88COR
Posted (edited)

ZAKOUMA - DAY 4

 

full day safari - continued

 

We headed back to Tinga in our elephant euphoria. On the way we came across the massive buffalo herd we had seen stampeding earlier in the day, but this time they were quietly grazing in a wet meadow. I love the colour variation of these buffalo.

 

We also saw a huge hamerkop nest, and an eagle with a snake kill, but I wasn't fast enough with my camera.

 

Photos to follow.

 

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Kitsafari

you've brought back so  many great and wonderful memories of a magical place. and you had marvellous sightings as well - so many genets and civets. and a striped hyena - fantastic !

 

i'm envious you got to see the massive herd of elephants too. 

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optig

Since I've been on two safaris to Zakouma, I just love seeing your photos. Zakouma is still one of my favorite safari destinations.

 

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AfricIan

Stunning @RC88COR, brings back so many great memories.  You did really well with the ele's, it took until after 6pm (ie  over 12hours after leaving Tinga) before they broke cover for us so seeing them in broad daylight must have been so special.

Its also good to know the remaining 2 Rhino are doing well, did you hear if AP are planning to try bring any more in?

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RC88COR
10 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

you've brought back so  many great and wonderful memories of a magical place. and you had marvellous sightings as well - so many genets and civets. and a striped hyena - fantastic !

 

i'm envious you got to see the massive herd of elephants too. 

@Kitsafarithank you, glad this TR is bringing back so many great memories for people who have been to Zakouma.

 I hope this TR helps spread the word about how awesome Zakouma is and I wish everyone who loves safaris and wildlife has a chance to visit at some point.

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RC88COR
8 hours ago, optig said:

Since I've been on two safaris to Zakouma, I just love seeing your photos. Zakouma is still one of my favorite safari destinations.

 

@optig thank you, Zakouma is simply awesome! Great that you have been twice. 

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RC88COR
Posted (edited)
On 3/3/2021 at 11:57 AM, AfricIan said:

Stunning @RC88COR, brings back so many great memories.  You did really well with the ele's, it took until after 6pm (ie  over 12hours after leaving Tinga) before they broke cover for us so seeing them in broad daylight must have been so special.

Its also good to know the remaining 2 Rhino are doing well, did you hear if AP are planning to try bring any more in?

 

@AfricIanthank you! Yes, seeing such a large Zakouma elephant herd ranks at the top of my most amazing wildlife sightings.

 

I haven't heard of any new plans to bring more rhinos to Zakouma. 

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RC88COR
Posted (edited)

ZAKOUMA - DAY 5

 

morning safari

 

Well, the Day 5 morning safari was quite the adventure!

 

We started off visiting the crocs and pelicans at a nearby waterhole. Then our Tinga Togi guide heard that a cheetah coallition was spotted by the local community not too far from Tinga Camp. We rushed over to the area and found the people who had sighted the cheetahs had waited for us so they could point out the direction the cheetahs had headed - such a nice gesture. They were as excited as we were and hoped that we would find them. 

 

Off we went on an off-road adventure through super tall dried hilly grasslands. The ground was pocketed with deep fissures made from the ground drying up after the flooding that happens every year in Zakouma. It is really remarkable to know that the dry Zakouma terrain I was now bouncing around through was just months ago a flooded wetland. Zakouma is flooded for a good 6 months of the year, so safaris have a short window of about 5-6 months before the rains and flooding returns. You can see the high water marks on the trees left by the flooding. 

 

We scoured the area for the cheetah coalition, but were not able to find them. Apparently, it is extremely rare to see cheetah in Zakouma. They are there, but rarely seen.

 

We continued our morning safari and came across a beautiful tower of Kordofan giraffes, a tree full of baboons, some tiang, and a pride of sleepy lions.

 

Here are some photos from the morning safari.

 

 

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RC88COR

ZAKOUMA - DAY 5

 

afternoon safari

 

After lunch I was thrilled to find out we were headed to the Zakouma HQ. It would be our first stop on our afternoon safari. I had asked if we could visit the HQ because that is where the Zakouma rangers monitor the elephant herds. We were told the HQ was in the midst of moving to another building and that there was not enough there to be of interest. I persisted, and I am so glad I did!

 

We arrived at the Zakouma HQ building. It is a high security building that is an ochre colour with a turret and a small tower - very distinctive, but I don't have any photos as you are not allowed to take photos in this area.

 

We walked up an outdoor metal staircase to a small room. Inside the room was a ranger sitting infront of a series of large computer screens. On the wall, above the computers are a series of markers indicated the years of proaching crimes that happened in Zakouma and the number of elephants killed. It is a sombre reminder of the state Zakouma was in when African Parks took over management and the great success of this conservation story.

 

The ranger proceeded to show us how African Parks monitors the elephants, lions and rhinos of Zakouma. We were shown how they track the location of the elephants and how the GPS collars bing allowing them to track their routes and overtime document patterns and behaviours. We could follow the route of the large elephant herd we had seen yesterday. It was utterly fascinating! It gave me a deeper understanding of what it takes to conserve and manage Zakouma, and a heartfelt gratitude to all those involved in the conservation of Zakouma National Park.

 

Afterwards we headed back to Riguiek Pan in hopes of experiencing the red billed quelea water dance that happens in the evenings around sunset. The queleas in massive numbers flock to waterholes for a final drink before heading en masse to their sleeping trees. The sound of the queleas - their murmur - is mesmerizing! I was in awe. 

 

 

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RC88COR

ZAKOUMA - DAY 6

 

morning safari

 

We had another lovely morning safari with lots of wildlife sightings. 

 

Here are a few photos.

 

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RC88COR

ZAKOUMA - DAY 6

 

afternoon safari

 

And here are photos from the afternoon/evening safari. The atmospheric kordofan photos are some of my favourites taken on this safari. The 2 young lions in the last photo proceeded to get up and intently follow our vehicle closely for a few nerve-racking minutes. 

 

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RC88COR
Posted (edited)

ZAKOUMA - DAY 7

 

morning safari

 

This was our last safari at Zakouma. We were to start heading back to N'Djamena as soon as we returned to Tinga Camp as we had a long drive ahead of us that included an overnight in a tented camp along the way. 

 

Here are a few photos from the morning safari, Tinga Camp and the local villages on the outskirts of Zakouma. I am saving a surprise for the next batch of photos. 

 

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RC88COR
Posted (edited)

ZAKOUMA - DAY 7

 

morning safari - continued

 

Besides being a truly outstanding guide and naturalist, our private guide Zarek Cockar also had a hawk eye. He pointed out many species before the local Tinga Camp guide did. Zarek saw a chameleon on a tree that was about 100 feet from our vehicle during a night safari! He also spotted two different cobras that took most of us 5 minutes to differentiate the snake from the surrounding foliage and branches. 

 

We were heading back to Tinga Camp and running a bit late when our Tinga guide Togi spotted the cheetah! We were driving very quickly through the same area we had searched for the cheetah coalition on day five, and Togi and Zarek had their eyes peeled. Zarek said he had a sense we would see a cheetah there today. The cheetah was far off the road and lying under a tree. We were all ecstatic! We ventured closer to the cheetah and watched him for about 30 minutes. The cheetah was trying to rest, but the flies were bugging him, and eventually decided to get up and try to find another place to rest away from the flies. I managed to get a few photos, although they are not that sharp due to the distance; but in the end it didn't matter, we saw a cheetah in Zakouma, probably the rarest animal sighting you can have in Zakouma. What a way to end our awesome Zakouma safari week!

 

I will start to post the Ennedi portion of the trip next on this same trip report.

 

 

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gatoratlarge

Excellent!  I love it!  Thanks for pressing on through the report---I can hardly stand it when days go by on a great trip report without a posting---you're like me.  Once started I go headlong until it's finished!:D

 

A cheetah is indeed a rare sight in Zakouma, as is a striped hyena!  Did you see any serval or honey badger or other nocturnal types?  I'll have to go back to your list at the beginning.  Indeed I loved the Kordofan giraffe in the surreal light at dusk on the pan!  And the elephants constantly crossing for an hour?  I understand the tears!

 

Anticipating the next installment!

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jeremie

Great TR!!!!! Hope to now see your Ennedi part too! Both places is top on my list too! Probably after Ndutu, and Gabon/Dzanga/Odzala. I'll be there in the next 5 years!

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RC88COR
56 minutes ago, gatoratlarge said:

Excellent!  I love it!  Thanks for pressing on through the report---I can hardly stand it when days go by on a great trip report without a posting---you're like me.  Once started I go headlong until it's finished!:D

 

A cheetah is indeed a rare sight in Zakouma, as is a striped hyena!  Did you see any serval or honey badger or other nocturnal types?  I'll have to go back to your list at the beginning.  Indeed I loved the Kordofan giraffe in the surreal light at dusk on the pan!  And the elephants constantly crossing for an hour?  I understand the tears!

 

Anticipating the next installment!

 

Thanks @gatoratlargeYes, I was on a roll.

 

I saw an African wild cat (I can't find my photo), and I think we saw a serval, it's in my notes, but no photo and my memory is foggy on seeing it. (My memory is clear on seeing a serval in the Ngorongoro crater - with many photos.) We saw tons of civets and genets, probably +25 of each. And we saw quite a few bush babies. I did not see a honey badger, but we came close to seeing an aardvark (saw it's burrow). I really wanted to see a leopard in Zakouma, next time. 

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RC88COR
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, jeremie said:

Great TR!!!!! Hope to now see your Ennedi part too! Both places is top on my list too! Probably after Ndutu, and Gabon/Dzanga/Odzala. I'll be there in the next 5 years!

 

Thanks @jeremieI will start the Ennedi portion of the TR tomorrow. I have so many photos!

 

I think Chalo Africa is doing another Zakouma/Ennedi trip in March 2022 with Zarek Cockar the Kenyan guide that was with us in Zakouma. That should be an awesome trip!

 

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RC88COR
Posted (edited)

TRIP ORDER:

1st - Ennedi

2nd - Ounianga Lakes

3rd - Ouadi-Rimé Ouadi-Hachim Faunal Reserve

4th - Zakouma

 

When the domestic commercial flights from N'Djamena to and from the Ennedi region were cancelled last minute we had no choice but to do the entire 1st, 2nd, and 3rd leg of the trip by land in 4x4 vehicles. We lost a couple days of Ennedi/Lakes time due to this flight cancellation because the extra days would be needed to travel the portions we had originally planned to fly. But that did not deter us, we would still do everything as originally planned but faster ... It would turn out to be an epic road trip through the Sahal, the Sahara, and the Ennedi Plateau - an adventure of a lifetime! 

 

We drove approximately 2000 miles (3200 km) in 10 days.

 

N'Djamena

We stayed in N'Djamena at the Radisson Blu Hotel at the beginning of the trip before heading to Ennedi, then 1 night after Ennedi before heading to Zakouma, and then 1 night after Zakouma before departing Chad. I think this hotel is the best option in N'Djamena. I had no complaints and would recommend it. 

 

Here are a few photos.

 

Tomorrow I will start the Ennedi portion of the trip. I have so many photos to share.

 

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inyathi

@RC88CORI've only just caught up with this having been offline for a while, fantastic! this brings back some great memories, I'm very envious of that cheetah sighting and a striped hyena is quite special, they are not easy to see in Africa, I've only ever seen them once at Ndutu in the NCA in Tanzania, never in Zakouma. I'm looking forward to reading about Ennedi and Ouadi Rime, I've not been to either and they would certainly draw me back to Chad for another visit. 

 

@AfricIanAccording to the last Zakouma newsletter I read, this was January's, they had just started work on building a new rhino holding area and the next move is scheduled for the end of this year, fingers-crossed, I don't know for sure why it's taken this long, I would hope that from the botanical analysis they were doing, they now have a proper understanding of exactly why the last rhinos died, so that they can be sure that the new rhinos won't have the same problems, I think the holdup was just down to Covid as so many things are. The two cows Goose and Boppa are doing well, but they do desperately need a bull, I fear if they go too long without breeding they could develop fertility issues, as this is a known problem with other rhinos, I think I recall that they had originally planned to bring in the new rhinos last year, but Covid stopped them, but I don't know that certain. They haven't as far as I know, said how many new rhinos they intend to bring in, so I guess we will have to wait and see. The rhino monitoring manager was sent over to Akagera in Rwanda for two weeks, to gain some more experience, I would certainly hope that by this time next year, they will have a bunch of new rhinos in residence and then I hope a bit of breeding can get underway and it won't be too long before the first Zakouma calves appear. :)       

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Posted (edited)

ENROUTE TO ENNEDI - DAY 1

 

Our first day enroute to the Ennedi Plateau was a long driving day, but quite interesting due to the many villages we passed through and getting a sense of the Sahel landscape. We had lunch under a tree in a scenic area and then stopped for the night at a guesthouse in Abeche, the last big town before heading into Ennedi.

 

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ENROUTE TO ENNEDI - DAY 2

 

Today we started to see less of the Sahel and more of the Sahara, more sand and less vegetation. We stopped for gas and supplies at Kalait a desert trading town. The road soon disappeared into the Sahara as we ventured further into the desert. We set up camp late afternoon near a large rock formation and had a lovely sunset dinner. 

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RC88COR
Posted (edited)

ENNEDI - DAY 3

 

Today we reached the outskirts of the Ennedi Plateau in the morning. Seeing the huge rock formations start to appear was jaw-dropping. I had dreamt about the Ennedi for years; now I was there and it was beyond words.

 

We passed a sheep herder, a camel herder and then through a small village, the last village we would see for days. 

 

The weather was good, not too hot, about 28-30C. 

 

We were headed for one of the highlights of the Ennedi Plateau - Bachikele (next post) - which we reached in the late morning. 

 

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RC88COR

ENNEDI - DAY 3 - continued

 

Guelta de Bachikele

We arrived at the Guelta de Bachikele in the late morning. We walked the length of the gorge under the soaring 120m high rock walls. I was in awe. 

 

Here are a bunch of photos.

 

 

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RC88COR
4 hours ago, inyathi said:

@RC88CORI've only just caught up with this having been offline for a while, fantastic! this brings back some great memories, I'm very envious of that cheetah sighting and a striped hyena is quite special, they are not easy to see in Africa, I've only ever seen them once at Ndutu in the NCA in Tanzania, never in Zakouma. I'm looking forward to reading about Ennedi and Ouadi Rime, I've not been to either and they would certainly draw me back to Chad for another visit. 

 

@AfricIanAccording to the last Zakouma newsletter I read, this was January's, they had just started work on building a new rhino holding area and the next move is scheduled for the end of this year, fingers-crossed, I don't know for sure why it's taken this long, I would hope that from the botanical analysis they were doing, they now have a proper understanding of exactly why the last rhinos died, so that they can be sure that the new rhinos won't have the same problems, I think the holdup was just down to Covid as so many things are. The two cows Goose and Boppa are doing well, but they do desperately need a bull, I fear if they go too long without breeding they could develop fertility issues, as this is a known problem with other rhinos, I think I recall that they had originally planned to bring in the new rhinos last year, but Covid stopped them, but I don't know that certain. They haven't as far as I know, said how many new rhinos they intend to bring in, so I guess we will have to wait and see. The rhino monitoring manager was sent over to Akagera in Rwanda for two weeks, to gain some more experience, I would certainly hope that by this time next year, they will have a bunch of new rhinos in residence and then I hope a bit of breeding can get underway and it won't be too long before the first Zakouma calves appear. :)       

 

@inyathithank you! Great, keep an eye out for more posts on Ennedi and then Ouadi Rime. I have lots of photos to share.

 

@AfricIanthank you for the update on the Zakouma rhinos, good to know. 

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gatoratlarge

This is the part I've been most curious about!  Awesome photos!  Why did they cover the car in canvas?  The tents look pretty comfortable, did it get chilly at night?  Were you on roads in Ennedi or did the guides just drive on the sand/dunes?  So curious about this area...

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