What you need to know about Ndjamena
N’djamena formerly Fort-Lamy capital of Chad, located on the southwestern border, adjacent to Cameroon. It lies on the east bank of the Chari River at its confluence with the Logone River in an alluvial plain that is flooded during the rainy season (July–September). The city was founded in 1900 across the Chari River from Fort-Fureau (Kousseri), where French colonial troops defeated and killed the Sudanese adventurer Rābiḥ az-Zubayr, who had established a military hegemony in districts east of Lake Chad. It was named Fort-Lamy after a French major who also died in the battle.
- The official currency of Chad is the Central African franc. It is denoted by the ISO 4217 code XAF. The franc is nominally subdivided into hundred centimes. It is also the currency of five other states in central Africa: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
The use of credit cards is very limited and ATM cash machines are only available in main cities and generally will accept only Visa cards.
Visa Credit Cards can usually be used in the international hotels and the more internationally inclined restaurants of the main cities. However, it is always advisable to have cash because frequently these credit card machines do not work or are down without connection. You will not be able to use Travellers Cheques.
N’Djamena has a semi-arid climate with a short wet season and a lengthy dry season. Despite the fact that the city receives on average approximately 510 mm (20 in) of rain annually, due to the area’s very high evapotranspiration, N’Djamena still falls into the semi-arid climate category. The wet season lasts from June to September, with the heaviest precipitation occurring in August. The dry season essentially covers the remaining eight months. Based on annual temperatures, N’Djamena is one of the hottest major cities on the planet. In only one month of the year (August) do average monthly high temperatures fail to cross the 32 °C (90 °F) mark. The city’s highest temperatures are usually seen between March and June, just before the onset of the heavier rains. However, outside of the warmest months of the year, nights in N’Djamena are generally tolerable.
French and Arabic are the official languages of Chad. Chadian Arabic is the most popular language. English is not widely spoken, and the vast majority of police officers do not speak English.
Health and security
- Medical care in N’Djamena is very limited. Outside of the major cities, basic medical care is difficult to find and often non-existent.
Chad has no public ambulance services. Although International SOS has one private ambulance, it does not have permanently installed medical equipment – all supplies are mobile. N’Djamena has several clinics that are in the process of outfitting ambulances to provide services.
It is advised that private medical insurance be purchased, covering medical evacuation, prior to arriving in Chad.
- There are two medical clinics — International SOS and Europ-Assistance — in N’Djamena that offer “international standard” medical care. These are not walk-in clinics; advance membership is required to access services.
N’Djamena has four hospitals, which should only be used in an extreme emergency:
Walia Hospital / Cabrini – This facility has CT scanning and ultrasound capabilities. It also has a digital x-ray facility and laboratories. Maintenance is a chronic issue, and equipment is often offline. (235) 6657-6845.
Hospital Referance / General – This is the main public hospital in N’Djamena. It is poorly supplied, and the sanitary conditions are not up to international standards. It does have a laboratory, x-ray, and ultrasound. Blood is NOT screened. (235) 2251-4059.
- Armed robberies, particularly from cars, in residential areas of N’Djamena are common. Foreigners are sometimes targeted.
Be vigilant and take particular care in the capital. Keep doors locked and windows closed. Don’t carry large sums of money, jewellery, or other valuables. Avoid isolated or less developed areas of towns and don’t travel alone at night.
- Road travel can be dangerous due to the state of the roads and quality of driving. Accidents involving motorbikes are particularly common. Crowds can quickly gather around the scene of an accident and, while rarely violent, can be intimidating. Try to make contact with the police or other local authority immediately if you are involved in an accident.
- You should travel in convoy, keep doors locked and carry spare fuel and supplies. Police checkpoints are common: you may be asked to show your passport, driving licence and vehicle registration documents. Don’t travel by road after dark.
- The Chad National Museum, with its beautiful and polite staff, showcases the different periods of the country’s history and anthropology. The prehistoric tools, masks and the signature treasure of the museum – skull of the Toumai Man (whom the Chadians believe is the world’s earliest human ancestor) are fascinating things to see.
- The Grand Marche (Central Market) is a nice place to visit as there are lots of colourful things to see and buy, such as Chadian rugs and jewellery as well as other handmade crafts and artefacts. Travellers are however advised to go in groups and accompanied by a Chadian local.