Gerewol Festival: The Heart of Africa

Chad

Gerewol Festival Holiday in Chad

Few Western travellers will ever get to experience the Gerewol festival – one of the most spectacular in Africa, yet one that has barely been changed over centuries. This week-long festival occurs when the semi-nomadic Wodaabe people travel across the Sahel on foot, camel or donkey, and come together to feast, dance, race and – ultimately – to find a lover or a partner. The classic image from the Gerewol festival is one of the young men with elaborately made-up faces, ‘displaying’ to young women in order to attract them. Not only does this Gerewol festival holiday allow you to experience these rituals, but having worked in this area for several years, we have built up plenty of local contacts and friends, meaning we are welcomed as guests and are able to camp beside them in this incredibly remote region. You’ll be immersed in life far from the mainstream, combined with centuries-old traditions and rituals; this is a highly unique opportunity to see the world from a completely different perspective and experience the deep traditions of Africa.

Itinerary

N’Djamena → Durbali → Gerewol festival → N’Djamena

Day 1: N’Djamena

Arrive in the capital of Chad today, and transfer to your hotel (Le Meridien Chari or similar). You can choose to stay here and rest up for the adventure ahead, or to head out and explore.

Day 2: Durbali

Drive across the Sahel to the Durbali region where the Gerewol festival is celebrated by the Wodaabe people. We’ll camp here overnight.

Day 3-7: Gerewol festival

We have five full days to experience the Gerewol festival – a celebration which has barely changed for centuries. The Wodaabe from across the Sahel region congregate in the area with their cattle for what could be described as a mass courtship ritual. Unusually, it is male beauty that is prized by the Wodaabe, and the young men wear traditional jewellery, feathers and make up before performing in front of the young women – a fascinating spectacle. There will be plenty of dancing and singing, and perhaps some camel racing, as well as plenty of time to meet local people and share stories with them about the culture and rituals. You can also head to one of the Sahel’s most important markets, in Durbali.

Day 8: N’Djamena

We return back to N’Djamena, where day use rooms are available to freshen up. After heading out to a restaurant for a final farewell dinner, transfer to the airport for your onward flight home.

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What's included

Accommodation

1 night at the hotel (Le Meridien Chari or similar)

6 night at the camp

Meals

Day 2-7: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8: Breakfast and Lunch

Guided tours

Five full days of Gerewol festival experience

Transport

Transfers as per itinerary

Support

24/7 phone/WhatsApp support line

English-speaking guide

ABTA and ATOL bonded

Not Included

International flights

Meals not mentioned

Optional tours and activities

Personal expenses

Highlights

Watching camel racing, singing, dancing and male beauty contests

Camping in the Sahel

Meeting the Wodaabe tribespeople

Durbali market

Drive across the Sahel to the Durbali

Witnessing the Gerewol festival

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