Niger Republic Tour

Explore the best of Chad


Chad, officially the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in north-central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west.
Population14.45 million (2016) World Bank
CurrenciesCFA franc, Central African CFA franc



DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION Your centrally located Niamey hotel
DEPARTURE TIME Times are subject to change due to local traffic conditions.
DURATION 8 hours (approx.)
INCLUDED All taxes, fees and handling charges
Entrance fees 1 Bottled water
Tour escort/host Private hotel pickup and drop-off
Private tour Transport by private vehicle


Gratuities (optional)
Food and drinks (light refreshments available for purchase on Site)



Spotting wildlife in Niger’s Aïr & Ténéré Natural Reserves Tour

 Day One 

After breakfast, get to your vehicle for a trilling adventure of Africa’s hidden jewel. Sure, you can come to Africa and spot the Big Five, but here’s a reserve hosting other beasties who came to visit and just never left.

The Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves of northern Niger protect a fabulously desolate landscape of rugged mountains and immense sand seas considered the finest in the Sahara. At 77,300 sq km, this is the largest – and some might say most spectacular – protected area in all of Africa, and the scale of this place is stunning.

Heading northeast from your base camp in Agadez you cross the Aïr Mountains (pronounced ‘eye-ear’), nine granite massifs the size of Switzerland, and travel 500km to reach the vast and stunning dune systems of the Ténéré Desert. It goes without saying that this scorching hot, completely arid region is the stuff of serious expeditions. Almost overlooked amid this enormous landscape is an unanticipated diversity of wildlife that ekes out a living here.

Although many large animals have been killed by poachers and Tuareg nomads who have roamed this desolate place in small numbers for centuries, the region’s sheer inaccessibility has allowed many animals to survive. This includes oddly out-of-place populations of hyenas, cheetahs, baboons and ostriches, remnants of a time when this part of the Sahara was lush and fertile.

More typical of arid rock and sand habitats are fennec foxes, sand cats, Addax antelope and Dorcas gazelles. The elegant scimitar-horned oryx, a true desert specialist, was last seen here in 1983 and may be extinct, but no one knows for sure. Birds are surprisingly abundant, in part because this is the first patch of green they see as they migrate south from the Mediterranean. Many of the 165 bird species are resident breeders in pockets of woodland that grow in slightly wetter mountain canyons and wadis.

Return to hotel

A parade of cultural costumes with basic introductions. Swimsuit category follows, and finally an evening wear segment. Elimination of participants as about five emerge as finalists. Final appearances, each one of the finalists answers a couple of quick questions. Audience waits in anticipation. Compere announces judges’ decision and the winner is crowned.

Basic routine of a beauty pageant. Whether an international one like, Miss Universe, or Miss World, or a local or national affair: Miss Nigeria, Miss Kenya, Miss Campus, etc. it’s always a female affair with the finest ladies on parade. But somewhere in Africa, a beauty pageant is organized, and the contestants are not females, but males.

Welcome to the Gerewol, an annual beauty pageant among the Wodaabe tribe, where the men wear the make-up, while the women decide the winner. 


The Wodaabe are a nomadic cattle-rearing splinter of the Fulani tribe found in the Sahel region on the edge of the Sahara, mostly in Niger and Chad. As the rainy season comes to an end in September, they arrive in the town of In-Gall, about 70km from Agadez, to procure salt and celebrate the Festival of the Nomads, the annual Cure Salée with other nomadic tribes.

Cure Salée: Salt Cure

The Cure Salée (Salt Cure) is an ancient celebration of the fattening of cattle and is used to prepare for the journey further down south to survive the dry season. The official festival lasts three days featuring camel races, songs and dances, storytelling, animal trading, medicinal cures, etc. but festivities stretch on for weeks among the groups staying behind. In the ‘90s, the Niger government became involved with organizing the festival.



For the Wodaabe, the week-long Gerewol symbolizes a time for love through a courtship contest where the men beautify and adorn themselves to try and win a lady. A key part of the festival is dance. During the seven-day period, several dance routines takes place with the men standing shoulder to shoulder and moving around slowly a circle. As they go by, eligible women would tap on the shoulder of the ones they are attracted to.


“Ladies, ladies all around, who’s the finest dude in town?”

However, the highlight of Gerewol is the Yaake dance which lasts hours under the desert sun – a show of stamina, fueled by a strong fermented bark concoction with alleged hallucinogenic effect drunk by the participants.



Every guy wants to win this one and they take time to preen themselves up. Elaborate make-up, painted faces, darkened lips to emphasis their white teeth, eye shadow, plaited hair, bird plumes headgear to emphasize height, beads to show wealth, etc.

While they dance before the women, a jury of three who are usually the daughters of past winners, have the task of chosen the most attractive male. At the climax of the Yaake, each of the jury chooses a winner who she takes as her lover – an affair that might last a day, or become a marriage. Gerewol affairs carry no social stigma or moral restriction, so a married man can get picked and end up with a second wife, while sometimes a man may lose his wife to another.


gerewol10 gerewol8

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