The African country of Chad is not the most popular tourist destination in the world, but it still attracts an audience of dedicated travelers. Maybe you are on a quest to see every country in the world, or you just want to go to a destination you’ve never been to before.
Chad’s sparse, almost lunar landscapes are one of the main draws for intrepid travelers who make their way to this country. The Bongor Massif is home to prehistoric rock art and stark mountains.
Even more strange is the Gore Crater, a unique landscape that used to be volcanic. You can also see the Sahara Desert, the world’s biggest desert, and go on an intrepid camel trek. Like many other African countries, Chad is home to spectacular wildlife which you can view from a safari.
Zakouma National Park is home to lions, elephants, and Kordofan giraffes. The beauty is that this park is much less crowded than some of Africa’s more popular game reserves.
But while this storied country is rich in history, culture, and amazing sights you can’t see anywhere else, what’s the best time to visit Chad? Here’s our take.
The Best Time to Visit Chad in 2024
The best time to visit Chad is during the dry season, which lasts from September to May in most of the country. During this time, the landscape is still lush thanks to the rainy season, but you won’t experience as much disruption from the weather as you would during the rainy season.
Chad doesn’t have the four seasons that many people in the Western world are used to — spring, summer, fall, and winter. Instead, the country experiences a rainy season and a dry season.
This is common in many tropical and sub-tropical locations around the world. The division of the rainy and dry seasons depends on where you are in Chad. In the north, which is part of the arid Sahara Desert, the dry season lasts practically all year, with just some rain between November and March.
Central, semi-arid Chad has a rainy season lasting from June to September. The rainy season is the longest in southern Chad, lasting from May to October.
Wherever you are planning on going, the dry season is the best time to go. That is because the dry season is the time when it is easiest to travel around the country. Chad is still a developing country that has some infrastructural challenges, such as poor roads.
Rain makes it very difficult to get around the country, while during the dry season, the roads are passable if poorly maintained and dusty.
Since Chad is so large, and many of its best attractions are remote landscapes only reachable after driving for several days out of the capital, it makes sense to time your trip based on when it is easiest to drive.
Visiting during the beginning of the dry season also has additional benefits. One of the most famous local festivals, Gerewol, happens in late September. This annual festival organized by the Wodaabe people is a courting ritual where men put on makeup and perform to attract women.
It is a unique experience any visitor to Chad should see. The dry season is also the best time to visit Zakouma National Park and spot the famous African wildlife.
The African Parks website recommends visiting Zakouma during the latter part of the dry season — March, April, and May. This is when your chances of spotting wildlife are the highest, thanks to migrating buffalo herds, roan antelope, and even birds that mingle around the surviving water sources in the park.
The early dry season also has its charms when it comes to Zakouma National Park. What other people consider fall is the best time to see migrating birds, such as pelicans, thanks to the abundance of water in the park at the time.
Cheapest Time to Visit Chad
The cheapest time to visit Chad is during the rainy season, which lasts from May to September or October, depending on the region. This season is not as popular among tourists, so prices tend to be lower.
However, prices don’t fluctuate as much depending on the season as they do in more popular tourist destinations. Chad doesn’t attract enough visitors for tourism to really affect prices.
You should be aware that visiting Chad will be expensive no matter when you go. Although the country itself has a very low cost of living, traveling is difficult. Chad is remote, which means you have to take several flights to get there from most global destinations.
Traveling within the country is also expensive because you often have to pay for private drivers. Most destinations are only possible (or at least strongly suggested) to visit with a guide or organized tour group.
Although the rainy season is slightly cheaper than the dry season, the tradeoff may not be worth it. Keep in mind that traveling to Chad during this time is usually a logistical headache.
Least Busy Time to Visit Chad
The least busy time to visit Chad is definitely the rainy season. In the south, this lasts from May to October and is somewhat shorter the further north you go.
However, Chad is not at all busy with tourists, no matter what time of day you go. Each year, the country only receives about 40,000 international visitors each year, and many of these are aid workers or people in the country for a purpose other than tourism.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, Zakouma National Park, only receives a little over 2,000 visitors annually. Many of those visitors are locals who want to learn more about their own country’s natural heritage.
The lack of crowds is a big reason why nature lovers are turning to Zakouma in Chad instead of some more popular parks in other countries that are also more crowded.
Even if you visit during the “busy” season, it’s possible that you’ll spend your whole trip without seeing another foreigner. Beating the crowds shouldn’t be a factor when planning the timing of your trip to Chad.
The Worst Time to Visit Chad
The worst time to visit Chad is the rainy season, which lasts from May to October or November. The heavy rains make getting around the country very difficult, adding an extra hurdle to a trip that is logistically challenging at the best of times.
Chad doesn’t have many paved roads, and many major roads, as well as smaller paths, are poorly maintained. The already bumpy driving conditions are exacerbated during the rainy season.
The trouble is that the roads are the only way to get around the country because there are no railways or other transportation alternatives. Rainy season causes periodic flooding, which can carry away bridges and flood out roads, rendering them impassable.
The Canadian government actually warns about poor road conditions becoming worse in its travel advisory for Chad. Getting around the country is often impossible during this season.
Many of Chad’s main attractions close completely during the rainy season. Even if you are willing to brave the rains to visit during this time, you may be sorely disappointed by the lack of things to do during your visit.
For example, Zakouma National Park is closed to all visitors during the rainy season, which in the region of the park usually lasts from May to October. Popular accommodation options such as Tinga Camp and Camp Salamat are completely closed.
The reason the park closes is for visitor safety. Visitors explore the park by driving along roads that become impassable during the rainy season.
In fact, on its official website, the park explains that it has to regrade all the roads at the end of every rainy season to make sure that the park is passable once tourists arrive again. That shows the extent of the damage the rains make to the park’s infrastructure.
The rainy season is also just plain uncomfortable. The constant rain makes it difficult to stay dry unless you have high-end waterproof clothing and shoes. The rainy season is also the hottest time of the year in Chad, making any trip a hot, humid affair.
The heat makes travel difficult even in the north of Chad. The north doesn’t receive as much precipitation, so it should be more passable during the rainy season.
However, this region, dominated by the Sahara Desert, becomes unbearably hot during the rainy season. The rainy season is also when the country is slightly less crowded, and travel may be slightly more affordable because those working in tourism are so desperate for income they lower their prices.
However, the tradeoffs are simply not worth it since the rainy season makes getting around practically impossible. Unless you must visit Chad between May and October for work, you should avoid it.
Things to Consider
Still unsure about when to visit Chad? This quick list of things to keep in mind can help with that final decision:
- Prioritize getting around. It makes no sense to time your visit based on the cheapest or least crowded times to visit in a destination that is hardly a tourist hotspot. Instead, think about when it will be easiest to get around.
- Be mindful of your safety. Chad is suffering from ongoing civil unrest and even armed conflict in parts of the country. Read travel advisories before you go. Another factor affecting the timing of your trip is safety, so follow the news beforehand and cancel if there is widespread unrest.
- Consider joining an organized tour. There is safety in numbers, and a tour will handle all of the difficult logistics of navigating the country on your behalf. If you don’t join a tour, you should hire a local driver to help you get around.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few additional questions that can help you with planning your visit to Chad:
When should I go to Chad?
The best time to visit Chad is during the dry season. This varies depending on which region of the country you are in but usually lasts from October or November to May.
Is Chad tourist friendly?
Chad is a challenging country to visit. It doesn’t have much in the way of basic infrastructure, including roads that are passable all year round, let alone tourist infrastructure. However, travelers who brave these challenges to visit the country are rewarded with unique experiences.
What are the seasons in Chad?
Chad has two seasons, like many countries in its latitude. It has a rainy season, which lasts from May to October, and a dry season.
Can you drink in Chad?
The answer depends on the region. Alcohol is taboo in most of northern and central Chad, where the people are largely Muslim. It is more common in the south and in some smaller central villages.
Is Chad safe for solo female travelers?
It is recommended that women visit Chad in a group. The country is going through high levels of instability, which is also causing a high crime rate.
So, When Should You Visit Chad?
The best time to visit Chad is during the dry season, which lasts from October or November to May. Logistically, this is the best time to visit because the roads are not passable during the rainy season.
Chad’s main attractions, including Zakouma National Park, are likely to be open during this time. So, with so much to see and do, what are you waiting for — book your trip to this unique country today and experience all that it has to offer!