“During Gerewol, young men paint themselves and perform to seduce young women. This deeply traditional and vibrant event is equally as seductive for the handful of lucky travelers who witness it each year.”
Camping in the Sahel | Meeting the Mbororo tribespeople | Durbali market | Witnessing the Gerewol festival | Watching camel racing, singing, dancing and male beauty contests
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Responsible tourism: Gerewol festival vacation in Chad
This tour travels visits a very remote region, which has barely been touched by the presence of humans, and we strongly believe in maintaining its pristine nature. The nature of this trip means that most nights are spent camping. We strive to ensure that we leave these areas as we find them and our team have been trained in strict no litter policies, meaning that we take all refuse to either be recycled or properly disposed of back in N’Djamena. Washing of dishes is carried out well away from any water sources so as not to contaminate them.
Where there are tracks, we stick to them – not always possible as there are few tracks in this area.
Our travelers are specifically briefed on not to buy souvenirs made from endangered species – people in remote parts of Chad do not always have the same respect towards wildlife as most travelers will have, and can sometimes offer such things for sale.
As with many of the trips that we offer, this tour has a strong focus on local culture and different ethnic groups. Where possible we try to ensure that local people benefit from our presence.
We spend time with the Mbororo people, a semi nomadic group that live through the Sahel, and the focus of this trip is on their annual Gerewol festival. Through long association with this area, our local team has established solid relationships with certain Mbororo communities and our presence here is very much welcomed – we feel that it is very important to be seen as guests here rather than outsiders come to merely look. We are able to spend time with the communities learning about their traditions and customs.
We are careful not to disrupt the traditional way of life of the Mbororo. As a way to say thank you for allowing us to visit, we bring traditional gifts, such as sugar, tea and so on – we do not bring modern accoutrements that may change their way of life as we feel that it is important for all tribal groups that any move towards a more ‘modern’ lifestyle is made on their own terms and not imposed upon them. We give gifts to the elders of the villages who will then ensure that they are distributed appropriately, rather than just giving them to individuals, which can cause problems, jealousy and fights within small communities.
These are very traditional areas with certain codes of behaviour, and the people here are not that accustomed to outsiders. We ensure that our travelers are appropriately briefed in order so as not to offend local sensibilities.
We buy supplies from the Mbororo where this is feasible – usually meat and other foodstuffs, and try to have a positive economic impact upon the communities we visit.
We work with Chadian drivers and guides, and at the end of each tour encourage our travelers to leave unwanted clothes that they can then distribute to their extended families. We do not encourage travelers to leave these for the Mbororo as we feel it is important that they are able to maintain their traditional lifestyles, which have generally served them well throughout the centuries in often difficult environments. We do not feel that the emulation of western culture, of which western clothing is just the start, would be wholly beneficial for the Mbororo.
Reviews of Gerewol festival vacation in Chad
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 11 Oct 2016 by Tony Camacho
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Interacting with the Mbororo people was a very rewarding experience. They were friendly and very obliging when it comes to taking photos. The work which had been done before the trip started in order for the group to be accepted was obviously of the highest standard.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Arrive a day earlier to acclimatize as it is a very hot destination and it is better to be well rested before the start of the trip. I arrived a day earlier and left Chad later than most of the people and it meant being rested and enjoying the pool in the hotel in Ndjamena.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
I think that the interactions with the locals were positive.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
I was really impressed with the service I received from this operator before the trip began. Gerewol had been on my to do list for years and my interactions with other tour companies left me a bit concerned about the logistics and as a result I did not book a trip in the past. The moment I dealt with Jim I was satisfied that he was not a fly-by night operator. He was very responsive when any questions were raised prior to the trip and I enjoyed the professionalism of his ground operator SVS in Chad. Tomaso from SVS is a competent and caring person and that made for a very rewarding experience.