Gerewol and red arabs

Other Destinations

Trip Duration Days - 11 Days

Gerewol and red arabs

Price Starts from € 3800

Route designed to witness the Gerewol ceremony in Chad. During the month of September, the Peul-Mbororo nomadic herders are concentrated in the Dourbali region three hours from N'Djamena, the capital of Chad. This gives us the opportunity to live with one of the most exciting towns in the African Sahel and see the unfolding of their culture and aesthetic beauty during the three-day ceremony that is based on unifying the clans and that the Mbororo women find a partner. Men display their full potential to attract girls looking for a partner and we will be living with the different clans to enjoy and photograph this entire ethnographic show.
During these ten days of travel we will also visit other Peul nomadic communities and the Red Arabs who camp near Lake Chad during the month of September.
Date: September 22 - October 2, 2020

Duration: 11 days/10 nights

Price per person (group 6-10 pax in shared double room): €3.800
The price includes:
-International flight
-all transfers
-hotels with breakfast
-specified meals -mineral water throughout the trip-
-anthropologist guide
-ground transportation in a private vehicle (4x4)
-gasoline and tolls
-mentioned excursions
-entrance fees to the places detailed in the itinerary
-basic travel insurance
Price does not include:
-unspecified meals
-visa + management
-cancellation insurance
-any service unspecified on the itinerary

 Night flight to N’Djamena, Chad.
 Arrival in N’Djamena in the morning. Hamit, the local guide will greet us at the airport with a sing that will put Last Places. Transfer to the hotel to rest a few hours. Hotel Le Process or similar.
After a few hours of rest, we will have breakfast and talk about the day’s activities. We will leave the Chadian capital towards Dourbali. Route to the Woodabe tribe region to attend a Gerewol ceremony, arguably one of the most spectacular tribal festival in the world. It is a large concentration of nomadic groups belonging to the Peul-Mbororo cultural group that display all the arts to “link”, trade and make deals… it is worth getting lost for a few days in this great feast of the African Sahel and enjoying unique images that happen once a year. Camping. FB (full board)

Breakfast and two full days to immerse in the annual festival of the Peul-Mbororo or Woodabe people. It is a minority town in Chad but very recognizable. They are nomadic shepherds and are distinguished from the rest by their greater height, their fine features and their natural elegance, which are complemented by a delicate cult of body beauty. Many declare themselves Islamic but all of them maintain animistic beliefs and carry out practices of ancient magic and fetishism. Its medicinal remedies and talismans are in high demand by other tribes. They maintain a unique and close harmony with livestock. The Woodabe, like transhumant shepherds that they are, move the cattle to the beat of the seasons. In July and August they look for the pastures grown after the occasional rains and then take the herds to the In Gall area to carry out the “salty cure”. It is the so-called Worso, a time of meeting between the various clans, which they take advantage of to catch up on news (weddings, births, deaths), to resolve disagreements, perform initiation rites to adulthood and organize camel races. Also, to prepare the party that now begins: the Gerewol.
Our camps are close to yours and we assist in the preparations. For example, men's makeup and clothing. First the sisters help them, smoothing their hair, braiding it to compose drawings, and stringing talisman bags. Then they alone paint themselves in ocher, yellow or reddish tones, depending on the moment and to highlight the whites of the eyes and teeth.
They change their conical hats for headdress-headbands with multiple decorations that finish off with a large ostrich feather. They have several outfits arranged -which one is more striking and careful-, they drink a potion that, according to them, manages to attract women and they try smiles, grimaces and visas. The various clans meet in a common place following the instructions of the ringmaster.
The party begins with several dances: the Rummi (welcome) and the Yakee (call to the lineages) to finish off with the Gerewol. Here the men change the zebu skin skirt for a white one, and they are distributed in long lines, shoulder to shoulder, swaying to the beat of slow and repetitive chants that increase in rhythm and volume. They show their teeth -very white in contrast to the black of the lips- and they move their eyes in a peculiar way.
The ceremony lasts several hours and aims to attract the attention of the women, also dressed in gala, who individually join the dance to signal the man they have chosen. They do this by touching their hearts with their hands, and immediately the couple is discreetly lost at night.
The ritual is repeated several days, with which we can attend its different phases. In the hours of rest, they themselves will come to our tents to sell us a necklace of simply take an interest in our lives. At night, with the ecstasy of the dance, someone will take us by the arm to place us in a place where it is better to see the procession.
 On the second day, we will greet each other as neighbors of a lifetime. On the third day, at the farewell, there will always be hugs and tear. Camping. FB

We will say goodbye to our Woodabe hosts and visit for two days other nomadic Peul communities, but with different customs to those of the Woodabe. Aesthetics and particular way of life that we will discover living with them for a couple of days. Camping FB

Day 8: PEUL NOMADS – MAO (6h)
Breakfast and route to the Lake Chad region to meet another traditional Chadian group, the Red Arabs. They are known by this name because of the predilection of the women of this Arab tribe for the red color. We will arrive at one of its camps near the town of Mao, the former capital of the Kanem Bornu Empire.
Before visiting the Red Arabs, we will stop in Mao to meet the descendants of the Kanem Emperor: history of medieval Africa in its purest form. Camping. FB
Day 9 and 10: MAO – RED ARABS
For two days, we will live with the Red Arabs to know aspects of their daily life, and admire their tribal beauty. Its elongated tents made of branches and covered with palm leaf mats stand out. This tribe depends on its herds of dromedaries with which it moves throughout the country and even crosses to Cameroon or Niger in search of new pastures. Camping. FB
Farewell to our hosts and route to the capital. Shower in a hotel and late flight home. BB

Chad Visa
A valid passport and a visa are required for travel to Chad. Applications for visas have to be made in advance in Paris. Last Places assists all travelers that need any type of help applying for the visa. We recommend that passports be valid for six months from date of arrival.

Vaccines and Travel Health
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is essential for entry to Chad. Malaria is prevalent in the country. It is wise to take Malaria prophylaxis when travelling through Southern Chad. If you only travel to desert areas there are less chances of getting malaria mosquitoes. Said this, we recommend to bring anti-malaria tablets. Water supply is unsafe to drink, visitors should drink bottle water. Visitors should also avoid eating unpeeled, unwashed fruit and vegetables.

Security in Chad
Chad has experienced in the recent past war and social unrest. Today, a strong government, petrol income, and a general improvement in people’s lives make Chad one of the safest countries in West and Central Africa where to travel too. N’Djamena is a safe city though one must be careful in markets with pickpockets as in most parts of the World. The Tibesti Desert region, bordering Libya is often closed to foreign travellers due to the chaos reigning in Libya. One must check the situation before travelling there. Another area that needs special attention is the Sudan border where Darfur conflict has caused the displacement of thousands of people into Chadian territory, creating big refugee camps at the border.

When to go to Chad
Travelers can visit Chad all year around. Last Places offers trips to Chad all year around. Said this, the best time to visit Chad is from December till April with an average temperature of around 25ºC and very little chance of rainfall. The month in which you decide to visit will largely depend on your ability to deal with high temperatures, as the heat can rise to around 40ºC during the hotter months between May and October. Ennedi and other deserts can be visited all year around but southern tribes and Zakouma National Park can only be visited between December and April. Afterwards the region gets flooded and completely impassable.

Currency in Chad                                                                                 
The unit of currency is the Central African Franc (FCFA). Visitors should bring enough cash for their needs. Money can be exchanged at the airport or at the bank. Euros are changed without any problem. Credit cards are only accepted in larger hotels, and cash withdrawals are not possible. Few ATMs in N’Djamena accept foreign cards.

Time in Chad
GMT +1

Electricity in Chad
Electrical current in Chad is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round pin attachment plugs are in use.

Communications in Chad
The international dialing code for Chad is +235. There are many more mobile telephones than fixed lines and the mobile coverage around N’Djamena and other main centers is much more reliable than fixed lines. Internet access is rare out of N’Djamena.

Language in Chad
The official language of Chad is French, though in desert areas, very few tribal people speak French or understand it. Teda and Arabic are the common languages north of N’Djamena. In this case a local translator is needed. French is spoken widely in the South of Chad.

Prohibitions in Chad
Do not take photographs of government buildings, or use binoculars near them, as this could lead to arrest.

Chad is a secular country, however Islam is strong in the north and centre of the country. It is thus quite difficult (and not recommended) to search for or to consume alcohol, at least outside of the cities. In the bush villages (including the Muslim ones in the centre of the country) you can drink artisan beer served in calabashes, but do note that it packs a deceptive punch and is to be avoided if you are concerned.

In N'Djamena, in the larger cities, and in the south of the country, alcohol consumption is not a problem!