N'Djamena stretches out for several kilometers along the north bank of the Chari River. The road along the river, Avenue Felix Eboue/ Avenue Mobutu, don't give really good views at the river because of the many buildings between this road and the river.
The place to be in N'Djamena, from where you have a splendid view at the Chari River, is the terrace of the le Meridien Chari Hotel, while you are drinking your (not cheap) beer, juice or softdrink.
One of the most striking buildings in the citycentre is the Grande Mosquee. From far you can see the high minarets, so this mosque is an important landmark to find your way in town.
Chad has about 7,5 million inhabitants. In the north live people of Arab descent, mostly Muslims. In the south of the country live the black Africans, mostly Christians and Animists.
During the 7 days I spent in N'Djamena, I walked a lot in the citycentre. It was not because of there were many ''must see activities'' in town, the citycentre itself was for me the ''must see activity''.
I enjoyed the pleasant relaxed atmosphere of this subsaharian sahel city and the many daily activities in the streets.
In every street or around every corner you can have new surprises, like this high heaped up lorry, while it tried to pass a very narrow street, edged with colourful piles of matrasses.
In the centre of N'Djamena you will find hundreds of streetstalls and small shops, not only in the Grand Marche, but also in the whole area around.
In these stalls and shops you can buy almost everything. Anyway you find stalls with vegetables, fruits, nuts, dates, snacks, drinks, soap, clothes, shoes and kitchen utensiles.
I could walk around in this area for hours. And, when I needed something and I didn't see it at first sight, there was always somebody to show me the right stall or shop.
The most central point of N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, is the Grand Marche. Most minibuses have their terminal station at or near the Grand Marche.
In reality N'Djamena is divided in two cities, each with its own character and atmosphere. At the west side of the Grand Marche is the commercial area with wide green streets and colonial architecture. Here you can find the embassies, the airlines, the banks, the patisseries, the supermarkets and internetcafes. At the eastside of the Grand Marche you can find the local residential areas with mud-brick houses, small shops, streetstalls and lively African bars.
From Douguia you can visit the Hadjer el Hamis, the Elephant Rock. The rock is of vulcanic origin and has the typical reliefs of the Sahel zone.
You need a 4WD to reach the rocks because of the soft sandy tracks. From far you can allready see the ''sugar bread'' rocks rising up in the plain. When you come closer to the rocks, you recognise the shape of an elephant.
You can climb up and reach the legs of the elephant. There are kids around to show you the best way up.
Behind the Elephant Rock at the eastside, you can find another rock. Also at this side you can walk up to the feet of the rocks. From here you will have a breathtaking view at the surrounding plain. If the air is not too dusty, you can see very far. At this side of the rocks you can also find a enormous cave.
It can be extremely hot, so it is not advisable to walk up in the middle of the day. Only at the plain you can find some shade under the acacia trees.
In Douguia in the cite touristique we hired a boat and made a boattrip on the Chari River. We did see a lot of birds, but not the expected hippos.
But most of all we enjoyed to look at the small mud-brick villages along the river. We saw the local people with their daily activities, like fishing, washing, walking or just sitting at the riverbank. We saw also many dug-out canoes.
The river forms the national border, so what you see at the other side of the river is Cameroon.
Douguia is one of the tourist centres of Chad. It's a nice shady place at the Chari River north of N'Djamena.
There is a small hotel and restaurant with a swimmingpool. You can make boattrips on the river and discover from here the area around Lake Chad by 4WD. You can camp for free at the riverbank, if you take your diner in the restaurant.
Douguia is also known of the ''Declaration de Douguia'' in April 2001, as result of the UNAID meeting by the ministers of health of the four countries of the Lake Chad Basin.
Between the Avenue Charles de Gaulle and Avenue Felix Eboue, both important east-west arteries, you can find the cathedral of N'Djamena. The Place de la Liberation and the Presidential Palace are just east of it.
Opposite the cathedral you can find the National Museum in a lovely colonial building.
A very enthusiastic guide opened all the rooms for me, one by one, after he had closed the frontdoor. At this private tour he showed me in the rooms the interesting palaeontological, archaeological, historical and ethnographical artefacts.
The enthusiasm of the guide was also a wonderful part of the museum.
The Grand Marche in N'Djamena is the lively centre of the city. Here all the minibuses have their terminal.
The 7 days I spent in N'Djamena, I came from the campsite by minibus and started my walk in town at this market.
In and outside the market, you find many streetstalls and small shops. In some shops you can also change money.
There are some local restaurants around the market with good and very cheap food, mostly chicken or fish. It's not always easy to find these places, because they are at the backside of the shops, reachable by narrow alleyways and not very well signposted.
At lunchtime these restaurants are very crowded with the local people and traders. We enjoyed to have lunch here.
It is pleasant to wander around N'Djamenas streets. The people there are friendly, but not as outgoing as probably in other african countries.
Have a look at the colorful dresses of the women in the city!
The city of Aeche, in the east of Chad, next to the border to Sudan was once the capital of the Ouaddai kingdom.
Quartier Diguel Est, N'Djamena, B.P. 6473, Chad
Good for: Couples
Good for: Business
The rooms are fine but the unmissable aircos can be noisy, bring your earplugs along.more
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