Lakes of Ounianga in Chad



Lakes of Ounianga includes eighteen interconnected lakes in the hyper arid Ennedi region of the Sahara desert covering an area of 62,808 ha. It constitutes an exceptional natural landscape of great beauty with striking colours and shapes.There are 18 lakes altogether, in two groups about 40 km apart. . The saline, hyper saline and freshwater lakes are supplied by groundwater and are found in two groups 40 km apart. With their high quality freshwater, some of these lakes are home to aquatic fauna, particularly fish.In 2012, Lake of Ounianga listed in UNESCO World Heritage list.


Located in North-Eastern Chad, in a hot and hyperarid desert setting with less than 2mm rainfall per year, the Lakes of Ounianga comprises a total of 18 lakes, in two groups, displaying a variety of sizes, depths, colorations and chemical compositions.

About Lakes of Ounianga

  • The property also displays a range of striking aesthetic features, with varied coloration associated with the different lakes and their vegetation, and the presence of dramatic natural desert landforms that all contribute to the exceptional natural beauty of the landscape of the property.
  • The shape and distribution of the lakes, combined with the effect of the wind moving the floating vegetation in the lakes, gives the impression of “waves of water flowing in the desert”.
  • Lakes of Ounianga represents an exceptional example of permanent lakes in a desert setting, a remarkable natural phenomenon which results from an aquifer and associated complex hydrological system which is still to be fully understood.
  • The aesthetic beauty of the site results from a landscape mosaic which includes the varied coloured lakes with their blue, green and /or reddish waters, in reflection of their chemical composition, surrounded by palms, dunes and spectacular sandstone landforms, all of it in the heart of a desert that stretches over thousands of kilometres.
  • About one third of the surface of the Ounianga Serir Lakes is covered with floating reed carpets whose intense green colour contrasts with the blue open waters. Rock exposures which dominate the site offer a breathtaking view on all the lakes, of which the colours contrast with the brown sand dunes separated by bare rock structures.
  • The beauty and aesthetic values of the property have been well conserved. Although a good number of people live around lakes Yoan and Teli, local initiatives are assuring the compatibility between human activities and conservation of the site’s values.

Best Time to Visit

The annual Gerewol festival, when young men preen and prance to attract a partner, is the best time to visit Chad. It takes place in late September, just before the dry season from late October to March – this is the best time to visit Chad and also to visit Lakes of Ounianga.

About Chad

Chad has always been some place where travellers wave goodbye to their comfort zone and say hello to adventure. Even when it is safe to visit, which sadly it is currently not, the art of travel here is demanding in every sense of the word. This, though, is part of the country’s allure, an opportunity to break emphatically away from all that you know, and come to a place that promises experiences, good and bad, that happen nowhere else. But if Chad is such a demanding place to travel, why ever bother? Picture sublime oases hiding in the northern deserts, stampeding herds of wildlife running through national parks and deep blues awaiting boats on Lake Chad – put simply, when Chad is accessible it’s a country and an experience that can never be forgotten.

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