04-Mar-2011 -- I stayed in N’Djamena, Chad from 20 Feb to 4 March from professional reasons and I intended to make a couple of tries on yet undescribed CP on Saturday, 26 and Sunday, 27 February. My job didn’t run at the expected pace during the first week of my stay so I had to schedule a meeting on Saturday morning till noon this day. I decided then to cancel my try for that day. On the next day, Sunday 27th I failed my try on 13N 15E. This left me sadly considering to come back home with no CP visit at all in my bag.
Things changed one more time during the second week, allowing me to speed up my job to the point of having a complete day off on Friday, 4 March. In a hurry I joined a travel agency to hire a car and a driver with the objective of visiting 12° North 16° East on that given day. They were able to manage obtaining the circulation permit (as a non-national you cannot circulate without authorization in Chad) on time. And off we went with my driver named Alkhali!
I choose this particular CP because it is at a short distance from N’Djamena the capital city, so I speculated it would be reachable in one day. The only map of the area I could find is the French National Geographic Institute road and touristic map. This map clearly shows that the CP is located on approximately half way of the track leading from Dourbali (103 km ESE of N’Djamena) and a small village named Am Tanabo given at 48 km NE from Dourbali. The map also shows that at least two tracks may be used to reach the point: one crossing the 16th meridian south of the point and one crossing the 16th meridian north of the CP wich seems to be the closest of the Confluence. I planned to reach the CP by driving on the north track until the intersection with the 16th meridian than make my way with the car or by foot (depending on the local conditions) to the CP. I allowed me the entire day time to make the round trip.
We started at 07:30 a.m. and reached Dourbali after 1 hour and a half driving on the dirt track from N’Djamena to Dourbali. We had to ask our way in Dourbali to reach the beginning of the track to Am Tanabo. The track is usable by a 4X4 car at low speed but it was evident that this would have been much more difficult during the rainy season wich usually starts in June. At some point, we went on the south track without noticing it and we found ourselves crossing the 16th meridian at 3.96 km south of the CP. At that point there was no track at all in the direction of the CP but the vegetation was clear enough to allow us to take our chance with the car through the bush. Once more this would not have been possible during the wet season because we crossed dry ponds some of which were over 100 m large. We reached the CP after 10 minutes of driving at walking speed.
The CP is located in a plain savannah at approximately 300 meters in altitude. No human activity is visible although the area is evidently used by shepherds to feed their animals, and by wood harvesters. The only wild animals I saw were a couple of squirrels fleeing as we approached the point. I experienced much difficulties to zero the point because of the tall dry grass and the sunlight that blinded my GPS screen.
Interestingly, the area between Dourbali and the CP is sparsely populated by Peul people. Peul are sedentary shepherds who farm cows, goats, and donkeys. During the dry season they dig wells to find water for their livestock. They usually find water after digging 3 to 6 meters deep after one day of hard work.
This area is covered with ponds during the rain season which dry up slowly from October to next June. In the middle of the dry season the people of Dourbali use these almost dry ponds to handcraft earth bricks. One of these “brick mines” is located 500 meters east of Dourbali. All stages of the brick making are visible. The maker first fills a cast with natural concrete made of mixed earth and manure. Bricks then dry up in the sun initially lying flat on the ground, then being turned on the side for complete drying. All dry bricks are then piled on the pond side to be sold on site. Brick making develops a precarious economy: bricks are sold at a unit price of 15 CFA Francs (0.03 US-$/0.02 €); all unsold bricks at the start of the rainy season will melt under the rain as there is no way to shelter the production.