Africa

Is Chad Safe to Visit? Chad Safety Travel Tips

For those willing to experience the African adventure, Chad might be part of the destinations list. Situated in the center of the continent, Chad has got some notorious neighbors, such as Libya, Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria and Central African Republic and, because of the political turmoil of these countries, Chad is seen as a problematic place to visit, too.

Apart from its bad fame, Chad and its 1,284,000 square kilometers is home to impressive and unique views. This country can be divided in three geographical areas, a beautiful transition which makes Chad at least interesting: The Sahara Desert, the Sudanian Savanna and the Semi-arid Sahel.

While its views and touristic attractions seem appealing to every tourist, planning a holiday to Chad should not consist only of geographical and touristic research, but also of the conditions of safety and security in this country. Professional security advice is compulsory when deciding to go on a trip to Chad, so here is a Chad safety guide that could prove useful for you. Whether its notoriety will make you stay away from Chad or not, it is up to you.

Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Chad

Overall Risks in Chad: HIGH 

From banditry to petty crimes, a trip to Chad includes unwanted experiences which can be avoided if you make sure you are well prepared and informed before planning the trip.

Being informed is the first step you can take, therefore making sure that you have a high degree of self-security awareness should be a priority. Chad has been reviewed as one of the most dangerous countries to travel by FCO and it has also been assessed as a critical-threat destination for tourists. Therefore, you need to make sure you know how safe is Chad for tourists and to be prepared.

The following list of factors should make you reconsider your future travel to Chad, because this Chad safety guide aims at making you aware of the real situation in this country.

Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Chad: HIGH 

Cases of theft and petty crime are very common in this region.  The latest statistics found that the year 2017 brought an increase of the crime rate. What is more, these attacks do not happen only during nighttime, but also during daytime, especially in crowded areas.

Robberies and car-jacking on roads have also increased and foreigners seemed to be the target victims.

  • How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Chad?

It is advisable to use police or military escort when travelling in the cities of Chad. You should also carry a radio or communication equipment, as phone coverage is not very good here. You might also consider carrying small sums of money and leaving important documents at the accommodation, in order to reduce the chances of losing your goods.

In case unwanted events happen, you should give a call to high authorities, which will for sure prove helpful in these situations. For the Police and for the Fire Service, make sure you have a note of the following emergency numbers: 2020 and +1.215.942 8226.

Violence Risk in Chad: HIGH 

The rates of crime are high in Chad, so you should take into consideration the fact that you might encounter violence at any corner. These facts have happened in the last years and the ways in which violence might occur could take you by surprise.

Violence in Chad comes in many shapes. Whether it is political or religious, ethnic or economic, they pose a threat for the tourists especially. From public demonstrations to workers’ strikes, such events might end in violence, even if they seem peaceful in the at a first glimpse.

Criminals may use scams and even stage specific situations which could confuse you. Usually, vehicle passengers have been the target of criminals, especially because they carry large luggage containing valuable objects. Thieves could also operate at night or during the day in places which have not been locked and through open windows.

Banditry is a common risk in Chad, as well, especially when you travel in the East of the country. Each month, one to three cases of carjacking followed by violence have been reported. 

Travelers should remain very vigilant when driving or walking on the roads of major cities in Chad. They should avoid public gathering, especially if they seem to be political-related and also pay attention to the people around them. Assault can be avoided if treated correctly and with proper vigilance and measures taken.

Tourists should avoid large gathering of people and should leave that specific area immediately, as they could end in violent behavior.

Scams Risk in Chad: HIGH 

Scams in Chad are methods only criminals use in order to steal goods or attack foreigners. They seem to be diverse and difficult to observe, but not impossible to avoid. An example of scam is staging traffic accidents in order to create a diversity and attract potential vulnerable victims. They could also follow people, especially expatriates in public places such as markets. 

  • How to avoid getting scammed in Chad?

In short, scamming in Chad is quite diverse and may easily catch the unprepared tourist off-guard. This is why, as a main tip, we recommend you to always expect the unexpected and keep an eye on your surroundings, even if you’re in crowded or safe areas. Most people think that, if they’re in crowded areas, scammers or criminals won’t target them – but it’s the other way around, especially if they look like common tourists. One way to minimize the attention you get as a foreigner is to blend in with the locals.

Now, when it comes to subtle scams, you have to learn when to interact with strangers and when not to do so. For example, street vendors that try too hard to persuade you to buy something are most likely trying to sell you a product for a bigger price. Naturally, you probably already know that vendors with high-quality products won’t try extremely hard to make you buy something. Then, you should also avoid those that praise their merchandise too much – anything else than just the basic features of an item may imply that the vendor is trying to make an item look better than it is.

Last but not least, you can avoid scammers that “work” on the street via various actions – fake care accidents or situations – by simply walking away and ignoring those that approach you – or simply refusing them. If you’re not involved in what’s happening, it is better to walk away. If you’re being, for example, blamed for a fake accident, it is better to call the authorities and have them decide what happened instead of the scammer. Overall, if you’re paying attention to your surroundings and are alert at all times, you’ll be able to avoid any scams!

Kidnapping risk in Chad: HIGH 

Kidnaps in Chad are also connected to terrorism. They happen mostly around the Lake Chad Basin and close to the borders with Central African Republic and Sudan.

The terrorist group Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa are operating nearby and the chances they might kidnap and ask for ransom are high.

  • How to avoid getting kidnapped in Chad?

Avoiding a terrorist attack or a kidnapping is difficult job, especially because nobody is ever prepared to encounter such a situation in the middle of the day. Incidents such as this one could be avoided especially if you stay vigilant and avoid crowded places, whoch have proved target locations for terrorists in the last years.

Terrorism Risk in Chad: HIGH 

The risk of encountering a terrorist attack in Chad is pretty high, especially because in 2015 there were a number of attacks in the capital. These attacks happened in June and July and caused over 50 fatalities and around 100 injured. In the following two years, numerous attacks have been made by the terrorist group Boko Haram, which is still active and dangerous. These unfortunate events are expected to take place in other cities as well and they seem to be indiscriminate.

  • How to avoid terrorism in Chad?

Even though the security in N’Djamena, the capital city of Chad, has been reinforced in time, along with the police check points, there is a number of places that should be avoided when walking in Chad. Public places such as markets, hotels and shopping centers should not be frequented by tourists, as they are usually the target places to carry out such attacks.

Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Chad: HIGH 

In general, traveling alone in Chad is not safe. The chances of going through an unfortunate event increase if you are a women traveling solo in Chad. You might be a victim of rape or kidnap in extreme cases, or theft and violence which are not wanted either. In order to keep safe and avoid going through a traumatizing experience, you should contact a guide or make sure you are always accompanied by someone you can trust and who can protect you.

  • How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Chad?

Given that rape and kidnap cases are reportedly common throughout Chad, the best thing a solo woman traveler can do is to simply stick to the areas means for tourists – places of interest, sights, official buildings, and so on – and, if possible, to find a group of tourists that they can travel with. As you’ve seen so far, Chad is a dangerous country and, by extension, solo travelers are not going to have an easy time enjoying their trip while also protecting themselves.

This is why we strongly recommend you to either travel with a group or befriend some tourists after you get to Chad. Then, as a general rule to avoid all types of conflict and crime, you should do your best to stay away from remote places, rural areas, the city outskirts, shady alleys, poorly lit streets and also travel during the day only! You must also try to avoid drawing attention towards you – dress like a local and not like a tourist and, naturally, avoid displaying expensive gadgets, jewellery, money, and so on.

Rape Risk in Chad: HIGH

As mentioned above, crime and most types of assault are reportedly common in Chad – this also includes sexual assault. For example, the authorities have reported that crime occurs even in some of the capital’s residential areas – from petty theft to armed robberies that could put you in serious danger. Then, they also warn foreigners and tourists that they may be targeted by criminals if they don’t take the required safety measures when traveling through Chad.

Given the countries current safety status, so to say, you can expect a small incident to escalate and turn violent, especially if you don’t comply with the attackers. In short, a simple robbery can turn into violence or sexual assault if you’re a solo woman traveler, for example, or if you fail to comply with the requests of the criminals.

  • How to avoid getting raped in Chad?

In order to avoid any kind of dangerous situations while traveling through Chad, it is highly recommended that you follow the authorities’ advice. Namely, if you plan on traveling outside of the capital city, you should do so only accompanied by a military or police escort – and also carry proper communications equipment with you. Then, no matter what area of the town/ capital you visit, you shouldn’t do so on your own – even the crowded city center, for example, may require you to be accompanied or even protected by a personal guard.

It is also not recommended for you to travel on a motorbike or by foot. If possible, when traveling over long distances, pick a sturdy car, so to say, and don’t get out of it – or stop driving – until you are in a safe zone. Naturally, the vehicle’s doors and windows should be closed at all times during transit. Last but not least, to avoid any type of unwanted scenarios, do not walk alone during the night, leave all of your valuables back at your accommodation, and try to blend in with the locals.

Risks for People Traveling with Children in Chad: HIGH

Since most of the country comes with a rather strict travel warning, it is highly recommended that you consider not bringing your children with you, especially if you are not part of a large group – be it made of friends or family. This is because, first of all, people/ groups with children are usually more susceptible to criminal attacks, since they’ll have a hard time protecting themselves and the children as well. Moreover, the simple fact that you have a child with you may make you the target of petty theft or armed robberies.

Then, there are also health concerns that you have to take into account. For example, Chad comes with medical facilities of poor condition and may not be able to offer you or your children the necessary treatment in case of serious injuries. On top of that, there are also more than enough diseases and viruses that you have to worry about and protect yourselves against – malaria, measles, and so on. Protecting both you and your children won’t be an easy task.

  • How to avoid unwanted scenarios?

In order to avoid any unwanted scenarios, it goes without saying that you must be prepared for anything – be it a small disease or affliction, an accident, or an encounter with some criminals. As mentioned, you will have a hard time ensuring your children’s safety in such conditions. This is the main reason why we don’t recommend you to travel with them.

However, if you decide to do so, then – first and foremost – prepare a first-aid kit that would tend to all of their medical needs, minor injuries included. Given that you can’t fully rely on Chad’s hospitals, it is better to be able to provide them with proper medical assistance until they are transferred abroad for treatment. Then, make sure to explain to them, if possible, all of the risks that come with doing certain things that may make them to contract diseases – such as drinking water from unsanitary places and so on.

In short, you’ll have to keep an eye on them at all times and make sure that they don’t get in any trouble or danger that might ruin your trip and signal an emergency return home.

Natural Disaster Risks in Chad: HIGH

As expected, one of the main issues that Chad faces is the lack of permanent potable water supplies. On top of that, sources also report that, due to improper waste disposal, water supplies and soil may get polluted – thus worsening the initial problem, that of lacking potable water. As such, it is recommended that, if you plan a long trip, to stock up on plastic water bottles – with either bought or boiled water.

Then, also keep in mind that Chad is the subject of constant desertification, as it has to deal with droughts that are periodic in nature. Depending on when you visit the country, you may find yourself caught within a drought, so to say, with little to no possibility of getting fresh/clean water if you’re not in one of the country’s major cities.

Lastly, as other natural hazards, it is worth mentioning the occasional locust plagues that Chad is affected by, as well as the northern hot and dry winds that can impair travel. Therefore, we recommend you to check local and online weather sources before starting to travel, especially if you plan to move between cities. By doing so, you’ll know whether you should bring more water with you or, if required, cancel your trip entirely.

Transportation Risks in Chad: HIGH 

The quality of the roads in Chad is poor. Traffic accidents are common, due to the state of roads and due to heavy raining happening in this region, which usually lead to heavy flooding. Road travel is mostly dangerous during nighttime, given the fact that they are not illuminated and many pedestrians use the roads to walk. They could be difficult to observe, especially from distance and accidents may occur.

In order to be safe when traveling from one place to another by car, you should make sure you lock your doors, carry spare fuel and many supplies, as you might not find resources on the way.

Also, you should make sure that your vehicle is in good conditions and well-checked, because car-repairing centers are not common at all in Chadian cities. You might end up sleeping in your car until help arrives, which is definitely not a nice experience for anybody. 

Because there has been an ongoing conflict between Chad and Libya, travelers are also exposed to the risk of being victims of landmines. These might still be active and be a real danger for the visitors. Even if de-mining efforts are in process, the risks of getting hurt are really high. Landmines occur where uniformed security elements are present, which is near Chad’s border regions. In order to be safe while visiting Chad, avoid visiting these areas and the following regions listed.

Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Chad: HIGH

Naturally, there are not so many facilities of this type in Chad. In fact, you may not find a bar/pub within your accommodation either. It is also safe to say that you should not look for such places to visit as they can swarm with criminals or people that are not so welcoming towards strangers. Chad is, at the moment, not the country where you can have a couple of drinks and a good time, partying side by side with the locals. There are multiple conflicts within the country, not to mention the alarmingly high level of crime that targets both locals and foreigners.

Therefore, we strongly recommend you to avoid any kind of night-clubs, pubs, or bars and to stay away from the parts of the city that have such facilities in them. It’s better if you simply enjoy the music – or some alcohol – in your own hotel room.

Health Risks in Chad

As mentioned above, Chad comes with poor medical facilities, while the capital’s hospitals are reportedly stretched and also subject to strikes. Because of this, you shouldn’t fully trust the country’s medical or emergency systems and make sure that, no matter what happens, you have a secondary plan. In terms of health, such a secondary plan involves you traveling with proper travel health insurance, as well as with enough money to cover the cost of emergency medical transfer, medicine, or treatment that you may be subject to. This and staying away from trouble is the best that you can do!

Moreover, pay attention to water-borne diseases and malaria, as they are common in Chad. Reports also suggest the return of measles and poliomyelitis, as several cases have been identified throughout the country. As mentioned, drink only bottled or boiled water and do your best to avoid ice in any of your drinks, as it may be based on polluted water.

List of Vaccines You Need in Chad

In order to visit Africa, you must acknowledge that a visit to a doctor who can advise you properly about the health risk this continent exposes you to is compulsory.  As most of the countries in Africa, Chad is very limited when it comes to medical care, so you need to make sure that you are prepared for everything in advance.

Among the most common diseases found here are malaria and water-borne, poliomyelitis and measles. The HIV virus is also very common here. As the last statistics discovered, in 2016 approximately 110.000 people suffered from this disease.

As medical care is limited even in the capital of this country, including ambulance service and hospital care, you must make sure you are prepared with important telephone numbers which can help you in case of trouble. Be prepared with large sums of money as well, because medical costs in this country are very high.

In this respect, you should keep in mind that there is an international SOS assistance service, which you can contact at these telephone numbers: 1.215.942 8226 or +1 215.942.8189

As general advice to avoid health problems during your stay in Chad, make sure that you drink only bottled or boiled water, as tap water is not safe to drink. Take all the preventive measures before leaving and your health will not suffer during this trip.

Most Dangerous Areas in Chad

  • N’Djamena 

N’Djamena is the capital of Chad and also the biggest city in the country. As it is large and crowded, N’Djamena poses many threats. The most reports of car-jacking and thefts have been reported in time in this city and its residential areas are usually home to armed robberies and acts of violence.

Travelers are also advised to avoid road travels outside N’Djamena, too. They should restrict road travel around the borders. In most of the cases, specific areas neighboring the borders are off limits and you do not have permission from the government to visit them.

The Lake Chad Basin region and the Sahel region are also high-threat locations and should be crossed off the destination list.

Concluding Remarks: Is Chad Safe to Visit?

If you are a risk taker and those previous warnings did not make you change your mind, make sure you still take into consideration some important factors:

  • Follow up to date information
  • Be vigilant in public places
  • Be prepared to change plans and have back-up plans in case some events interfere
  • Stay aware when encountering new people
  • Keep an eye on your friends and family accompanying you
  • Take care of your belongings when walking in public places
  • Contact your embassy to receive proper information

Having these in mind, you are put on the right track and you have the big picture of how safe is Chad for tourists. Decide what is best for you and, if that decision implies visiting Chad, enjoy your safe trip.